Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Normally, a box & papers should be the cherry on top of a watch purchase; the quality and flavor of the ice cream itself is far more important. However, a handful of watch presentation boxes have had so much creative effort and love poured into them that they become collectible in their own right. Rolex’s King Midas famously had very un-Rolex packaging, one of the wildest presentations ever: cradled in an ancient Greek vase. Or, consider the neo-vintage era Breguet Type XXs, which came in a riveted wing fuselage (pictured, respectively). Up there with those all-time great presentations has to be Omega’s more recent Apollo XI 50th Anniversary, which arrived on its own intricate Moonshine Lunar lander. It will be remembered as one of the greats, for us maniacs who care about such niche matters.
The effort wasn’t widely appreciated at the time, but it was only after that we all came to realize: this Speedmaster marked the end of an era. Shortly after and largely due to the 321 revival, Omega announced they were moving to a ‘limited production’ and not ‘limited edition’ strategy. This means of all those hundreds of limited edition numbered Speedmasters, a strategy of which Omega were particularly fond, this is the last: the true ‘Omega’.
It’s quite the odd final note to conclude on: bimetal details, ceramic bezel, flat-link inspired bracelet, a solitary Arabic 11 marker in moonshine to celebrate Apollo, and the posterior of Buzz Aldrin climbing down the Eagle onto the moon in the 9 subdial (which has garnered it the nickname astronaut a** in some circles). It was made in 6969 numbered examples, something which supposedly will not happen again (also, lol). It caseback displays this fact next to a laser-engraved footprint on a brass base, a finish Omega really owns. The design was controversial then and it remains so today. Whatever you make of the aesthetic, this was a daring move from Omega.
This was also the swansong to Omega’s era of laughably oversized and ambitious packaging, things have downsized since. I’m glad that the Amazon is no longer being felled for a bit of branding. However, I can’t help but feel a certain respect for the love Omega demonstrated for their Speedmasters through the details like a beautifully made, f*cking enormous box. The Apollo XI 50th is a dish that deserves the quality plating; it is retrospectively very clearly end to an era. However, before concluding I must cull our highly knowledgeable audience to weigh in on a ridiculous topic: what are the greatest watch presentation boxes ever made?
This example is unworn, and for once I believe it. Normally a dealer says unworn next to a picture of them wearing it and I facepalm every time. No, this example has the plastic bracelet protector on ant comes with the works, from a well-regarded Genevan retailer who specializes in Speedy.