In Honor of Captain Eugene Cernan: Last Man on the Moon

Captain Eugene “Gene” Cernan–commander of the final lunar landing mission Apollo 17–died today. He was the last astronaut to leave his footprints on the surface of the moon.

Cernan, the son of Slovak and Czech immigrants, was born in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois. He received an electrical engineering degree from Purdue and later earned a Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He became a captain in the U.S. Navy, and in 1963, he was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA to participate in the Gemini and Apollo Programs.

Eugene Cernan
Cernan wearing what look like two Speedmasters on the Apollo 17 mission.

Captain Cernan holds the distinction of traveling into space three times. In 1966, he was the pilot of the Gemini 9A mission. In 1969, he was a lunar module pilot of the Apollo 10 mission. And in 1972, he was the commander of the Apollo 17 mission—the final Apollo lunar landing. He was the last human to walk on the moon, and as he left the lunar surface, Cernan spoke the following words:


“Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come–but we believe not too long into the future–I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”

Cernan retired from the Navy in 1976 and ended his NASA career. He later went into private business, eventually finding a small career in television. Cernan was also an Omega ambassador (here is an Omega commercial featuring Cernan).

Photos show that Cernan wore what appears to be curve-lugged Speedmaster ref. 105.012 on the Apollo 17 mission, making it the first and last reference to be worn on the moon. It is believed that he may have also worn a personal 105.003 on this final mission, though it has not been verified.

Eugene Cernan 2
A twisted-lug 105.012 seen here on Cernan’s wrist.

A recent documentary film, aptly titled, The Last Man on the Moon, tells Cernan’s incredible story.

Eugene Cernan passed surrounded by family. He was 82.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.