A 1969 Omega Speedmaster watch that once belonged to Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has sold for US$765,000 (AU1.06 million) at the Heritage Fine Watches & Timepieces Signature auction in Texas.
The watch – one of 28 commemorative 18-karat gold Speedmasters made – was presented to Collins upon his return to Earth from the Apollo 11 mission.
“We certainly had high hopes for this auction, and thanks in part to Michael Collins’ incredible watch, the sale has truly reached a new stratosphere,” said Jim Wolf, Director of Heritage Auctions.
“It makes sense,” he said, “Apollo 11 was the first mission that put man on the moon, so it’s really the most important mission in the history of space travel. “
“Michael Collins played an extremely important role in this mission, and this watch is, without a doubt, a piece of space history and a piece of watch history.”
Commemorative watches were engraved with numbers and presented to US officials and NASA astronauts. Collins was assigned to Watch 19.
The first two watches were given to 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 expectations at the first auction, which was estimated at around $100,000 to $150,000.
Collins, who died in 2021 aged 90, is the oft-forgotten crew member who remained aboard the spacecraft during the Apollo 11 mission while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon.
Other top performers in the auction included a rare Rolex Oyster Cosmograph that belonged to Hollywood legend Paul Newman which sold for US$250,000 (AU$346,140) and a beautiful platinum watch Kari Voutilainen which sold for US$112,500 (AU155,763).
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