When one thinks of space exploration and watches, the first watch to come to mind is (and should be) the Omega Speedmaster Professional. The watch has been available for 56 years, having been introduced in 1957. It was originally intended to be a racing watch, hence the speed in Speedmaster, but, as is known, when NASA was seeking out a watch for the astronauts to take into space, the Speedmaster was chosen. The style of the watch has changed very little since the design update from 1963 except for some additional models released along the way providing some different appearances and styles. The Omega Speedmaster is a timeless watch with a strong following, and given its sporty looks and rich history it is easy to see why. The Speedy has a bit of a history in entertainment as well. Let’s take a look at a few appearances the Speedmaster has made on screens both big and small.
Guns at Batasi (1964)
A very early appearance of the Speedmaster comes from the film “Guns at Batasi” from 1964, where Richard Attenborough can be seen with a Speedmaster in the film. Attenborough plays Regimental Sergeant Major Lauderdale who is at a remote African outpost who ends up stuck in a coup d’etat and must protect those in his care. During the film he consults his Omega Speedmaster to check the time. Pretty cool to see a Speedy this early on in a film.
The Last of Sheila (1973)
Jumping ahead almost a decade we find James Coburn as Clinton Green who’s wife is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Clinton invites a group of her friends to his yacht for a murder-mystery party that turns into a real murder mystery. No mystery, however, is his watch which is an Omega Speedmaster Mark II. A slick 70’s styled variation on the Speedmaster that has recently been re-released by Omega.
The Right Stuff (1983)
Leaping to the 1980’s, we have the story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts selected by NASA on April 9, 1959. The film details the selection of those astronauts for the space program. True to history, the actors wear Omega Speedmasters in the film, including Dennis Quaid and Scott Glenn.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Another astronaut movie that keeps things historically accurate by using a number of Speedmasters, is the great Apollo 13. All of the astronauts trapped in the Apollo craft are wearing Speedys as well as a number of characters on the ground in mission control, so the watch gets a fair amount of screen time.
Event Horizon (1997)
Based off the appearance of the Speedmaster in Event Horizon it seems that Omega is still supplying watches for space travel into the 2040’s. In the year 2047 a group of astronauts are sent off to investigate the disappearance of the spaceship Event Horizon. They find the ship and learn the horrifying truth behind its vanishing. The Speedy has a short appearance floating through the halls in the opening sequence of the film.
A former FBI profiler, Frank Black, moves his family from Washington DC to Seattle, where he joins the Millennium Group, a mysterious organization of former law enforcement officers committed to battling a crime wave that grows as the turn of the millennium approaches. Frank is able to put himself in the mind of criminals unlike any other, his gift is also his curse as his life slowly crumbles throughout the three seasons. Beginning in the second season Frank began wearing an Omega Speedmaster which is seen several times throughout the season.
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Reacher is a former Major in the US Army Military Police Corps who leaves the Army and roams the United States taking odd jobs. No matter where he goes he manages to find a problem that needs to be solved. In this first movie based on the book “One Shot” Reacher sets out to confirm for himself that a suspected sniper is really the right guy and ends up finding his answer and much, much more. Detective Emerson wears a Speedmaster that can be seen as he interrogates the suspect.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-)
After the events in The Avengers the need to seek out and deal with threats to the US becomes even more apparent. This is where Phil Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division comes in with his elite team of agents who are ready to take on supervillians as they arise. Agent Coulson wears his Omega Speedmaster as he leads his team and keeps us all out of harms way.
There you have a few Speedmaster appearances from over the years. The iconic watch has had quite the history and is still going strong for Omega with new designs and re-releases as evidence of this. There are sure to be many more appearances made in films and television by this popular watch.
by James Enloe
for more watches on the screen, check out James’ site: Watches in Movies