Estimate: CHF10,000 - CHF20,000
ca. US$10,003 - US$20,007
Price realised: CHF162,500
Omega Follow Ref. ST 188.0002 An extremely rare and historically interesting stainless steel electromechanical prototype chronograph wristwatch with day and date, delivered to NASA in 1978 1978 43mm Width, 44.5mm Length Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
Manufacturer : Omega Year : 1978 Reference No : ST 188.0002 Movement No : 38’418’888 Model Name : Prototype Alaska III Material : Stainless steel Calibre : Electromechanical, OMEGA cal. 1255, 12 jewels Bracelet/Strap : Leather Clasp/Buckle : Stainless steel Omega pin buckle Dimensions : 43mm Width, 44.5mm Length Signed : Case, dial, movement and buckle signed Accessories : Accompanied by Omega Extract of the Archives confirming production on April 3, 1978 and delivery to NASA, further accompanied by photocopy of ATA Carnet detailing delivery of the watch to NASA, Houston, U.S.A on 3.04.1978, photocopy of a letter dated March 31, 1978 requesting the necessary documents to import the watch in the U.S.A. to NASA and an Omega pouch. Catalogue Essay Few words can stir the hearts of Omega collectors as much as the legendary space-oriented “Alaska Project” undertaking. However, it would appear that the true history and meaning of “Alaska Project” is relatively blurry to may connoisseurs. In fact, “Alaska” was not just one project but a succession of different NASA-related projects, starting with “Alaska I” in 1969 and ending with “Alaska IV” in 1979. The projects - known to only a very selected few within Omega - demanded the highest level of secrecy and consequently were code-named. Complying with OMEGA’s policy to code-name developments of complete watch-heads (instead of the development of movement-only projects) after the names of either cities, states or countries (such as the “Manhattan” project, with will yield the “Constellation” models) the name “Alaska” was chosen for all future endeavors that would have anything to do with space- and NASA-related activities. Contrary to well-spread rumors, it would seem that the name actually has nothing to do with the extreme temperature variations found in the northernmost State. After the successful termination of the Apollo lunar program with Apollo 17 that resulted in the last man on the moon, Captain Eugene “Gene” Cernan wearing his NASA-issued Speedmaster, the world’s population was stunned when news leaked that NASA was looking at a new way of space travel: a re-usable space vehicle. Around 1976 the “Space Shuttle” project, as it was finally called, started to become more than just a drawing-board reality, and with the new craft came the need for all NASA-equipment to be re-evaluated, re-tested and eventually re- qualified. To this end, OMEGA embarked in a continuation of its Alaska project, this time going beyond the scope of a mere mechanical chronograph. The project that would lead to the eventual qualification of the Space Shuttle chronograph was code-named “Alaska III” and it included three different proposals. One was a re-development of the already qualified Speedmaster Professional chronograph, only this time using the newer caliber 861 surrounded by a mat-finished case and a dial that featured a “radial” layout for its chronograph counters. The second proposal was also based on a mechanical caliber, only this time it was an automatic chronograph with Omega’s caliber 1045. And lastly the present lot: a rather revolutionary approach to use electronic technology and deliver a Speedmaster chronograph that employed a tuning fork as regulating organ. This resulted in Caliber 1255, in the guise of a model that became known as the “Speedsonic”, and was delivered to Nasa with the reference ST188.0002/999. OMEGA’s research & development department designed a dial that would enhance legibility under difficult lighting situations, thus ensuring that the various sub-dials would remain clearly visible for the astronauts that would eventually use the watch during their mission. According to archival information discovered at the vaults of the OMEGA Museum, three prototype pieces were produced and delivered to Houston with the date on the respective invoice indicating April 3, 1978. The outcome of NASA’s re-qualification process is a historical fact: NASA engineer Mr. James H. Ragan, the
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