The Life of a Collector Over the Moon: Moon Day & Watches

July 20th is a big day for anyone with an interest in space, exploration or Moon Watches. Observed annually on July 20th is National Moon Day. This day commemorated the first walk on the moon in 1969, reported by NASA as “the single greatest technological achievement of all time…“.


National Moon Day

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong spent 2 and a half hours on the moon followed by Aldrin who spent a shorter period on the surface. Armstrong became known as the first man to walk on the moon, describing his experience as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin and Armstrong were together on the moon for about two hours collecting samples and photographing before returning to the lunar module at 1:11am on July 21st. They spent the night on the surface of the moon before returning to the command module. Apollo 11 safely landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th. Read more about the Apollo 11 mission and the events that lead up to it on the History Channel.


Celebrating the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, New York auction house, Bonhams, is auctioning almost 300 celestial items in their 8th annual Space History Sale! Items from the beginning of the space race through the end of the Cold War Era will all be featured, including artifacts from both American and Soviet endeavors. Items used on the Apollo and Soyuz missions will also be found. Over the last 10 years, more and more space memorabilia has been emerging.

Highlights from the space auction

Highlights in the 2016 auction include:

  • A Sputnik-1 Model hand made at a 1:4 scale model
  • Control trainer used to prep astronauts for the Gemini space program, precursor to Apollo
  • Plaster casts of 15 NASA astronauts that were used to customize their space suit gloves
  • A Russian made space suit worn by American Don Pettit
  • An Apollo 11 navigational chart signed by Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon and wearer of the Omega Speedmaster Professional
  • Apollo 11 checklists, flight plan and emergency list

View the entire auction catalog or learn more about the auction happening July 20th at 1pm EDT in New York.

Watches Perfect for Moon Day

Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch”

Omega Speedmaser Professional Moonwatch

Worn by Buzz Aldrin on his trip to the surface of the moon, this is most likely the watch that enthusiasts associate with the moon. The Speedmaster Professional is also the only piece of equipment used in all of NASA’s piloted space missions since 1965.

Thanks to Buzz Aldrin for wearing this watch when he stepped onto the lunar surface, the chronograph has been known as the Moonwatch ever since. Armstrong left his watch inside the module when on the surface of the moon.

Looking at the watch itself, it was designed to stand out. Since it’s introduction in 1957, the Speedmaster has been characterized by precision, readability and robustness. The movement has only changed slightly over the last 59 years. From 1957 to 1968, the watch was powered by the calibre 321 but was later changed to the 861. This was then replaced with an even more enhanced movement with a high-grade rhodium-plated finish on the movement resulting in the 1861 and more embellished 1863.

Aldrin shipped his watch to the Smithsonian for inclusion in its displays and it turned up missing.

Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon 5002 & 6002

5002 and the 6002 Patek Philippe Sky Moon

The Sky Moon Tourbillon is one of Patek Philippe’s most complicated wristwatches. It features two dials in addition to 12 complications. The 5002 was introduced in 2001 and shows the time, retrograde date, perpetual calendar and a chart of the stars in the sky all on the front dial. On the back dial, there is another time display indicating the sidereal time as well as the meridian passage of Sirius and the Moon. There is an additional minute repeater on two cathedral gongs and the regulating organ is a traditional one-minute tourbillon.

The 6002 was released in 2013, providing an updated look to the original Sky Moon Tourbillon and no longer features the use of retrograde hands. This small change opens up the dial and features a traditional three aperture display for the perpetual calendar.

The 2013 release houses the grand complications in an 18k white gold case looking more like a piece of artwork than an engraved case. The 5002 only featured engraving around the flanks of the case while the 6002 has a fully engraved case from the bezel, flanks and including the lugs. The engraving alone takes more than 100 hours to complete!

Both watches provide a grand complication timepiece, and while the 6002 is distinctively different when compared to the 5002, they are both rare, exquisite, timepieces.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar Moonphase

Black Dial JLC Perpetual Calendar from SIHH 2016

Re-introduced at SIHH 2016, this Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, from Jaeger-LeCoultre, now features a stunning black dial. The watch is a high complication housed in steel rather than a precious metal.

This new black dial paired with the high polish hands and indices create a truly captivating look that can be dressed up or even worn more casually dressed down. The ultra thin case is just 9.2mm thick, housing the Manufacture’s Calibre 868 visible through the exhibition case back.

Since this watch is a perpetual calendar, it automatically adjusts for leap year. The watch will need no adjustment before March 1st, 2100 while the moon phase is accurate for the next 122 years.

Standing out on the dial, other than the bright moon phase, is a small rectangular window indicating the danger-zone for making adjustments. This window gradually changes to red when you should avoid any adjustments. The gear wheels are engaged in preparing the change of indication, taking place daily at midnight, and adjusting anything during this period can cause damages.

IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar IW5023-06

IWC Moonphase Portuguese Perpetual Calendar

The full moon has been steeped in mystery and legend since the beginning of time. The single moon display shows an accurate depiction of the orbit, only needing adjustment once in 577 years.

The watch itself features innovative IWC watchmaking content. The watch is timeless in design and enduring in creating. It is braced against shock, temperature and positional accuracy errors thanks to a Breguet overcoil hairspring, screwed balance and micro adjusters. The movement powering this watch is the IW 51613, giving this watch a superb 7-day power reserve.

Not only does the moon phase need one adjustment in your lifetime, everything is set by using the crown in it’s second position. The crown easily adjusts the day, date, year, decade, century and moon phase to line up with the current date!

Bonus Watch: Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th

Zenith Sriking 10th free fall from space

While the Omega Moonwatch may be one of the only watches to reach the surface of the moon, the Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th broke the sound barrier on a free fall from 128,000 feet in the sky, and reached a speed of approximately 833 miles/hour. This watch was the first watch to be worn on the outside of a suit and break the sound barrier. There have been watches going supersonic inside of airplanes and spacecrafts, but this incredible watch was directly exposed.

In 2009, Zenith was approached by Felix Baumgarner and the Red Bull Stratos project. The project was for Baumgartner to step out of a capsule 24 miles and complete the first free fall from that distance. The fall, which took place in October, 2012, took just 9 minutes and both Baumgartner and the watch landed safely.  The jump, and watch, set three world records: the first jump to break the speed of sound in freefall, the highest occupied flight in a balloon and the highest free fall. The watch itself was subjected to massive differences in pressure, temperature, altitude and acceleration.

Today, the watch now comes with an engraved case back featuring an image of Baumgartner and commemorative text reading “First watch to bread the speed of sound- mach 1.1; Learn to love what you have been taught to fear.” The 46mm watch features the classic automatic El Primero column wheel chronograph with flyback function. The watch is capable of timing events to 1/10th of a second, providing accurate measurements.

If you’re interested in watches that have been to the moon, broken records, or are just looking for a great moon phase, these watches are perfect for you and for celebrating Moon Day. Moon phase watches are highly sought after and are quite collectible. What are some of your favorite moon phase, or moon watches?

About Emily Smith
Emily loves the history of watches and loves learning how they work. She prefers Rolex and Omega watches but is learning the history behind other brands. Her watches of choice right now are her vintage Omega Ladymatic that is a mere 19mm and her newest addition, a 1973 Rolex Oyster with a navy dial. While she enjoys the look of vintage watches, she is excited to learn about new models and to build her collection.