Michael Collins inside the Command Module during the Apollo 11 mission / ©NASA
The first 30 watches were numbered and issued to key figures who took part in the mission based on order of superiority, Collins was given number 19. The first two watches were intended for President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew, however, they both turned down their gifts and can now be found at the Omega Museum in Switzerland.
This timepiece features a Caliber 861 manually wound movement. The rear of the case is engraved with Collins’ name, the two space missions he took part in (Gemini 10 and Apollo 11) as well as the inscription “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.” This engraving alone makes the watch truly one of a kind.
“This is an incredibly rare watch,” said Jim Wolf, director of watches and fine timepieces at Heritage Auctions “This watch is a piece of space history and a piece of timepieces history.”
The rear of Michael Collins watch case / ©Heritage Auctions
In addition to the watch, the new owner will also receive a handwritten note from Michael Collins himself, which reads: “This Omega watch was given to me shortly after the flight of Apollo XI and has been in my personal possession ever since. I wore it seldom if ever, but I have wound it every decade or so, and I believe it is in perfect operating condition. Michael Collins, Apollo XI CMP.”
Although slightly worn, the fact that every mark found on the casing was likely made by Collins himself creates a patina of authenticity. In mid-May, the highest bid stood at $105,000 however, by the time the auction ended on June 1, its price had rocketed to $765,000. The new owner now possesses a real piece of history from when man traveled further than ever before.