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Monday, April 20, 2015

Astronaut Alan Bean’s Omega Speedmaster At Bonhams Space Sale

Alan Bean’s 18k gold Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI chronograph

There are several interesting items at Bonhams Space History Sale on Tuesday but for Omega watch collectors the highlight will no doubt be astronaut Alan Bean’s 18k gold Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI chronograph.

It is number 26 of 30 numbered watches that were given to President Richard Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew and 28 Apollo Astronauts, Bonhams said. Its estimate is $40,000 - $60,000. 

If you’re unable to make Bonhams auction in New York Tuesday you can see the two watches that were presented to Nixon and Agnew at the Omega New York boutique till the end of April.

The back of Bean’s watch up for auction is engraved with the words: “Astronaut Alan Bean—to mark man's conquest of space with time, through time, on time. Skylab Mission II [III] Apollo 12.” Bean was the fourth of 12 men to walk on the moon. He served alongside Commander Pete Conrad as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 12, the second mission to put a man on the moon. 

The Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI model was created in the fall of 1969 to commemorate Apollo 11’s successful moon landing on July 20 of the same year. It was presented at a gala dinner in Houston on November 25. 

Cassandra Hatton, Bonhams director of History of Science & Technology, explains that Bean did not attend the event because he was still under quarantine following the successful landing of the Apollo 12 mission on November 20. It was given to him at a later date.

Bonhams Space History Sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first American spacewalk, accomplished on the Gemini 4 mission by astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White. In addition to the Omega watch, the auction will present other items belonging to Bean, including the strap from his portable life support system soiled with moon dust, an uneaten meal that accompanied the mission and which Bean kept as a souvenir, and the water dispenser he used to re-hydrate his food.

Around the corner from Bonham’s Madison Avenue auction house, Omega’s 5th Avenue boutique is showing an exhibition of its historical watches that includes the timepieces numbered 1 and 2, presented to Nixon and Agnew. The reason they are in the possession of Omega is because the two US leaders declined to accept the gifts, Petros Protopapas, Omega Museum manager explains. That’s because the two felt it wasn’t appropriate for men in their positions to accept the watches. 

The back of the watch for Nixon and the front of the watch for Agnew.

The two timepieces are part of an exhibition of more than 50 historical Omega watches, along with advertisements and other artifacts on the second floor of watch brand’s New York boutique. All of the items are from the Omega Museum in Biel, Switzerland. The exhibition is open to the public for the remainder of the month. It will then travel to Omega boutiques in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Dallas.

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