You’re probably familiar with astronaut Ed White, who performed NASA’s first spacewalk in 1965 as part of the Gemini IV mission. In the pictures of that spacewalk, you can see him wearing two best UK Omega replica watches.
Unfortunately, Ed White died in a fatal accident with Apollo 1. His name will live forever, though, as the first NASA astronaut to “walk” in space. As a member of the Apollo 1 crew, White should have launched into space once more on February 21st, 1967. However, during a test on January 27th, he and fellow crew members Grissom and Chaffee all died in a horrible fire in the command module.
Speedmaster collectors often mention Ed White’s name when talking about the Speedmaster ref. 105.003. This is the Speedmaster model that Ed White wore during his Gemini IV flight and spacewalk, and it was also on his wrist during that fatal accident. A few questions arise when seeing Ed White wearing two Speedmasters over his spacesuit. Why did he wear two cheap 1:1 Omega fake watches, which specific watches did he wear, and where are they now?
Speedmaster “Ed White” 105.003
With the help of Omega and the brand’s access to the NASA archives, we’ll try to answer those questions. Although people have made many assumptions on this topic, it is good to have our research fact-checked by Omega (and, through Omega, by NASA).
The Speedmaster ref. 105.003 was the watch that NASA tested and qualified for all manned space missions in 1965. NASA initially received three of these watches for testing. After the qualification, Omega sent another batch of 24 high quality replica Omega Speedmaster 105.003 watches. Later on, NASA also ordered the Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012 references for use during the Apollo missions. The 105.003, however, was still in use at the same time as the 105.012 and 145.012. Consequently, all three references saw action until the end of the Apollo missions.
Omega confirmed that both AAA online Omega copy watches on astronaut Ed White’s wrist during the Gemini IV mission are Speedmaster 105.003-63 references. One of them was Ed White’s training watch, and, according to NASA’s former engineer James H. Ragan, “It was one of the first Speedmasters to be delivered after the tests performed by NASA.” The training watch was later sold by Ed White’s son to a collector in Japan. The late Chuck Maddox wrote about this on his website.
We know that the other 105.003-63 watch was destroyed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire. That top Omega replica watches had NASA’s internal serial number S/N 5 and reference code CF5503 engraved on the left side of the case. On the case back, it was engraved with SEB1210039-001.
With the 105.012 and 145.012 references, the NASA number changed from -001 to -002, and the CF5503 coding was shelved. Interestingly, the CF5503 engraving was originally meant for Gemini missions. The SEB1210039-001/002 engraving was for Apollo missions. The luxury Omega super clone watches used for Gemini, which only had CF5503 originally, later got an additional SEB1210039-001 engraving. These codes were internal references or product numbers for identification. Every piece of equipment NASA used was labeled and categorized similarly.
Omega serial numbers
That answers the question of what happened to these two Swiss made replica Omega Speedmaster 105.003-63 watches. Unfortunately, that means it is difficult to find out the exact Omega serial numbers of these watches. We do, however, know roughly where those serial numbers would have fallen. From the archives, we can tell that the serial numbers would have started with 20,252,6xx. The last two digits seem likely to remain unknown.
The other astronaut on Gemini IV was the command pilot James A. McDivitt, who would go on to become the commander of Apollo 9. McDivitt also wore a Speedmaster during the Gemini IV mission. It was a ref. 105.003-63 with NASA’s S/N 4, CF5503, and SEB1210039-001 engraved. This Omega fake watches for men is now part of the Smithsonian’s collection in the USA. The Omega serial number of this watch is also in the 20,252,6xx range. Interestingly, astronaut Frank Borman also used this particular watch during Gemini VII.
Why Ed White wore two watches
According to NASA’s former engineer James H. Ragan, astronauts kept track of not only the mission time but also their home (Houston) time. The same applied to Ed White during his 23-minute spacewalk in 1965. Swiss movements replica Omega Speedmaster 105.003-63 watches indicated the mission time of Gemini IV, while the other one indicated Houston time.
According to space-watch buff Philip Corneille, founder of Moon Watch Universe, both Gemini IV astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White wore two Omega Speedmaster chronographs. It was the first mission with two control centers, Launch Control Florida and Mission Control Texas.