Apollo 13 and the Omega Speedmaster
All three astronauts were wearing their cheap fake Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012 watches, supplied by them to NASA. It was the first “Professional” Speedmaster model that Omega produced. This made it slightly different from the Speedmaster that NASA had qualified in for manned space missions in 1965. Back in 1964, perfect replica Omega UK submitted the Speedmaster 105.003 (third generation) to NASA for testing by NASA engineer James Ragan. Unlike the watches that Rolex, Longines-Wittnauer, and (later on) Bulova supplied to NASA, the Speedmaster withstood all tests.
However, at the same time, Swiss made fake Omega UK also developed the “Professional” model with crown guards. This was the fourth generation of Speedmasters and had reference number 105.012. The caliber 321 inside of it was the same and remained in use until 1968.
A 14-second burn
On April 13th (10:08 PM EST), an accident occurred on board the Service Module. An oxygen tank exploded, leading to the abortion of the mission. This is where the famous “Houston, we’ve had a problem” quote comes from. The command center in Houston worked hard to get the crew back home safely. Swiger, Haise, and Lovell needed to relocate to the Lunar Module and, together with the command center, worked on several solutions to fix the problem(s) and save as much energy as possible. The 1995 movie Apollo 13, featuring Tom Hanks as Lovell, Kevin Bacon as Swigert, and Bill Paxton as Haise, brings you the full story of the accident and the problem-solving steps. If you haven’t watched it (yet), make sure to do so. I’ve noticed that Apollo 13 is always available on at least one of the usual streaming platforms (Apple TV, Amazon Prime, or Netflix).
After fixing the pressing issues onboard the spacecraft, the next challenge was to get it back on the right course. It drifted off course by roughly 60 to 80 nautical miles during the problem-solving events. This would result in the module re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere at the wrong angle, with fatal consequences. The astronauts would need to manually control the spacecraft, readjusting it to the correct course. For this, a 14-second burn of fuel was required.
The timing of exactly 14 seconds was crucial. However, Jack Swigert could not rely on the digital timers onboard the spacecraft. Instead, he had to use his luxury replica Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012-66, serial number 69, to time 14 seconds using the chronograph function. Needless to say, it worked, and the crew returned safely, splashing down in the South Pacific Ocean on April 17th, exactly 142 hours and 54 minutes after the launch on April 11th.
Now, it might seem that just any watch can time 14 seconds flawlessly. Remember, though, that only the AAA fake Omega Speedmaster survived NASA’s test, which simulated the abuse the high quality replica watches would receive during use in space.