Rare Omega Speedmaster shatters auction estimates




A 1969 Omega Speedmaster watch which once belonged to Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was sold for $US765,000 ($AU1.06 million) during the Heritage Fine Watches & Timepieces Signature Auction in Texas.

The watch – one of only 28 commemorative 18-carat gold Speedmasters made – was presented to Collins upon return to Earth from the Apollo 11 mission.

According to Jim Wolf, director of Heritage Auctions, “We certainly had high hopes for this auction, and thanks in part to Michael Collins’ incredible watch, the sale really reached a new stratosphere”.

“It makes sense,” he said, “Apollo 11 was the first mission that put man on the moon, so it really is the most important mission in the history of space travel.”

“Michael Collins was an incredibly important part of that mission, and this watch is, without question, a piece of space history and a piece of timepieces history.”

The commemorative watches were engraved with numbers and presented to US officials and NASA astronauts. Collins was assigned watch 19.

The first two watches were offered to then US President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. Both declined the gifts and in turn, the watches were given to the NASA astronauts who served the space agency the longest.

Collins’ watch exceeded early auction expectations, which was estimated the sale to fetch around $US100,000 to $US150,000.

Collins, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 90, is the oft-forgotten crew member who stayed aboard the spacecraft during the Apollo 11 mission while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon.

Among the other top performers at the auction was a rare Rolex Oyster Cosmograph that belonged to Hollywood legend Paul Newman that sold for $US250,000 ($AU346,140) and a fine platinum Kari Voutilainen watch that sold for $US112,500 ($AU155,763).

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