Most of you reading this know that the Omega Speedmaster is the official Moon watch used by NASA Astronauts on all their EVAs (extra vehicular activities – space walks), including the astronauts who landed on the Moon. That story is well and thoroughly documented and we won’t go into it again here.
But did you know? Just like Yoda said to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ghost in The Empire Strikes Back, there is another.
“What!?” you say? Another Moon watch?
Yes. There is a ton of evidence that there was another Moon watch (in fact, we now know there were several different watches worn on the Moon), much of it dug up by Jake Ehrlich of Jake’s Rolex World, and documented on his excellent blog. And that other Moon watch was none other than the Rolex GMT-Master. Pepsi, please.
In fact, there’s a debate of sorts within the Rolex community about which watch Jack Swigert actually used to time the rocket burns that got Apollo 13 safely home. What there is no doubt about is that Swigert’s watch would not have made it to the Moon’s surface. At least, not on his wrist. He was the command module pilot.
Fred Haise, James Lovell, and Jack Swigert eating breakfast the morning of the Apollo 13 launch.
However, another command module pilot’s GMT-Master did make it to the lunar surface. That of Apollo 17 command module pilot Commander Ronald Evans. Knowing he wasn’t going to the surface, Evans asked his crewmates Eugene Cernan and Harrsion Schmitt to take his personal Rolex GMT Master with them down to the surface while he orbited above in the Command Module. We don’t know if either Moon-walker wore the watch while they worked outside, but at the very least, the watch was in the lunar lander. (Historical note: Commander Evans’ watch sold at auction on October 8, 2009 for $131,450.)
However, there’s strong photographic evidence indicating that Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Ed Mitchell wore his GMT under his suit during walks on the lunar surface. In fact, there’s a photograph indicating that he may have taken two GMTs on Apollo 14!
Ed Mitchell, back on the lunar module after walking on the Moon.
Now, we need to qualify all of this with the statement that a lot of this information is actually pretty well-known. Just as virtually all the early astronauts drove Corvettes (I believe Chevy supplied them, creating early brand ambassadors out of the astronauts), many of those guys wore personal GMT-Masters as their daily watch.
Even after the Speedmaster was approved by NASA for use on all spaceflights and space walks, NASA typically allowed their spacefaring employees to wear a personal timepiece as well as the Speedy. Thus, did a lot of Rollies make it to space.
A fascinating subject, no? And thanks to Jake Ehrlich of Jake’s Rolex World for writing so eloquently and thoroughly about the subject of Rolex space watches.