NASA Astronauts and their Rolex Watches

The relationship between NASA and the Omega Speedmaster is well-known, with the Speedy being the NASA certified timepiece and the celebrated first watch on the moon.

What many people don’t know is that NASA astronauts also frequently wore Rolex watches, some even accompanying them in space! We went watch spotting in the NASA archives, and spotted a few Rolex watches worn during the moon missions:

 

GMT Master Pepsi Bezel Vintage

 

James Lovell

Apollo 13 commander James Lovell is known for the famous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” where he reports an explosion to NASA Mission Control. The mission’s moon landing was aborted, but tragedy still turned to triumph when they safely made their way back to Earth.

In the photo above, James is shown wearing a Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi, which was actually a popular choice among NASA astronauts during the Moon voyages. First produced in 1954, the GMT-Master was developed for Pan-Am Airlines to meet their need for a reliable watch that could display more than one time zone at once.

 


 

GMT Master Transitional 18k Yellow Gold

 

Jack Swigert

Jack Swigert was an expert pilot and NASA astronaut, most famous for his role as command module pilot for Apollo 13, the moon mission of 1970. Like many NASA astronauts, he also wore a Rolex GMT Master Pepsi. In this official NASA portrait however, he traded in his Pepsi for another GMT Master – the solid 18k yellow gold reference 16758 with a “Mocha” bezel and Jubilee bracelet.

 


 

GMT Master Pepsi
The Rolex GMT Master Pepsi was a popular choice among astronauts during the Moon voyages. Some of the astronauts who wore the Rolex Pepsi were Eugene Cernan (of Apollo 10 and 17), Jack Swigert (of Apollo 13), and Edgar Mitchell (of Apollo 14).

 


 

President Day-Date Yellow Gold Vintage

 

Michael Collins

Perhaps the most popular of all Moon missions was the Apollo 11, the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon.

Most people are familiar with Neil Armstrong (flight commander and first person to walk on the moon) and Buzz Aldrin (who famously wore the Omega Speedmaster on the moon). As they took their famous walk, it was Michael Collins who stayed behind and orbited the moon’s surface.

 

Datejust Turnograph

 

Michael wore the first documented Rolex at NASA, a stainless steel Rolex Turn-o-Graph. He was photographed with the timepiece during centrifuge training, as he prepared to go to the moon three months later.

Off-duty, Michael wore a classic 18k yellow gold Rolex President Day-Date, which became his daily timepiece for 34 years. It was auctioned off by Sotheby’s in 2019.

 


 

Datejust 36 Steel Yellow Gold

 

Frank Borman

Apollo 8 was the first mission to take humans to the moon and back. It also resulted in the iconic Earthrise photo, showing the Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface.Crew members James Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman were reported to have taken their personal wristwatches with them to the spacecraft. In the photo above, Frank is shown wearing his two-tone Rolex Datejust with a Jubilee bracelet.

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SEE MORE OF THE WATCHES IN OUR VIDEO:

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Photo Credits: NASA Image and Video Library

 

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