Thursday, October 8, 2009

The First Rolex Moon Watch To Be Auctioned [Part 2 of 2]

Part 2 of 2

Continued From Part 1

This next image of Eugene "Gene" Andrew Cernan is very interesting because he is wearing a Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on the outside of his space suit on a velcro strap!?! This photo just ads to the Rolex Moon Watch Mystery because the obvious question is if Omega was the official watch of NASA then what is an Apollo astronaut doing wearing a Rolex on the outside of his space suit!?!

The Saturn Rocket that would take the Apollo 17 prime crew to the moon is pictured below on its launch pad.

Apollo 17 was the first mission to be launched at night.

In this next photo we see NASA Apollo 17 Commander Ronald Evans with Gene Cernan as they head to the moon. It is fascinating to think the watch in this auction was likely on Ronald Evans wrist when this photo was taken.

The Blue Marble

As the Apollo 17 Mission sped away from Earth on December 7, 1972 to the Moon Ronald Evans took this very famous photo of the Earth known as "The Blue Marble." Antarctica is pictured on the bottom and we see the eastern coastline of Africa and the Island of Madagascar as well as the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Arabian Peninsula.

Apollo 17 was the last of seven manned lunar landing missions. The photo below was taken by Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan as he he adjusts the U.S. Flag on the lunar surface on December 12, 1972. Notice the Earth in the background looking the way the Moon looks from Earth.

The scientific objectives of Apollo 17 included geological surveying as well as sampling materials and surface features in the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon. This included exploring atmospheric composition experiments that included Lunar ejecta and meteorites.

Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt is pictured below examining a large Moon boulder.

In the photo below we see the Lunar Rover vehicle which was deployed as part of the Apollo 17 Moon mission.

The Apollo 17 Moon Mission was the longest Apollo mission in history lasting 504 hours. This was also the longest lunar surface stay time at 75 hours that resulted in the astronauts collecting 257 pounds (117 kilograms) of lunar samples (Moon Rocks) that utilized the Marshall Space Flight Center developed Lunar Rover which is pictured above.

Ronald Evans Lunar Mapping Photography

As Gene Cernan and Harris Schmitt explored the lunar surface, Ronald Evans stayed busy on the Command-Service Module named America taking photos of the lunar surface. In this first photo of Ronald Evan taken on Sunday, December 17, 1972, he is retrieving a film canister from the exterior of the spacecraft before returning to earth.

During Apollo 15, 16 and 17 the mission teams photographed approximately 20% of the Moon's surface which in the years to come provided invaluable for scientist on Earth.

This next iconic Moon photo of NASA Apollo Astronaut lunar module Challenger pilot Harrison H. Schmitt was taken by Gene Cernan.

In this next photo that Harris Schmitt took of Gene Cernan surrounded by the lunar rover and American flag the Apollo team was just beginning their third and final excursion of the moon surface.

Harrison Schmitt took the photo below on December 13, 1972 of Apollo 17 Astronaut and Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan as he salutes the deployed United States flag on the lunar surface during Extravehicular Activity (EVA).

Eugene Cernan's last words as he left the Moon were:

"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."

A plaque left on the ladder of the descent stage of Challenger reads:

"Here Man completed his first explorations of the moon. December 1972 AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind."

The Apollo 17 capsule splashed down on December 19, 1972 and the U.S. Navy SH-3A Sea King helicopter combat support squadron HC-1 Pacific Fleet Angels were sent from the deck of the USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) to recover the Astronauts as pictured below.

NASA's Apollo missions and conquest of the Moon were nothing short of amazing. They captivated the hearts and minds of all humanity. Despite the U.S. setting out to beat the Russians to the Moon, it was ultimately, as Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong put it: "One small step for man. One giant step for mankind."

What conclusion can we draw regarding the Rolex Moon Watches!?!? It is difficult to say. I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusion. As I have said before, if the Omega Speedmaster was the official NASA watch then the Pepsi Rolex GMT Master was the official watch of many of the NASA Astronauts.

I think I might start referring to the Pepsi Rolex GMT Master as The Rolex Moon Watch ;-))))))))))))

Ronald Evans Pepsi Rolex GMT Master coming to market took me by surprise. I identified Ronald Evans wearing the watch a few years ago in an article I wrote on Jake's Rolex Watch Blog, but I was not expecting to see it come to auction. I would like to thank my great pal John Towns in England for bringing it to my attention.

This fascinating piece of the Rolex Moon Watch Mystery puzzle once again leaves us with more questions than it answers. For instance, why did he Ron Evans go out of the way to bring his own Pepsi Rolex GMT master to the Moon?

Was it because, like Edgar Mitchell who flew on Apollo 14 before him, that he also knew that Jack Swigert depended on his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master to save the lives of the ill-fated Apollo 13 crew???

Why did Evan insist that Cernan and Schmitt take it down to the Lunar surface? In doing so was he making some kind of bold declarative statement?

Why did he hand etch the provenance into the back of his watch?

Actually, I know the answer to why all the NASA astronauts wore Rolex. It was because they all suffered from RISitus. Just kidding, but maybe I am serious ;-))))))))))))

And by the way, what was it about the NASA Astronauts that made them choose the Pepsi GMT Master? Maybe it was because it matched their space suits? I mean the whole red white and blue thing?

Actually it was probably due to the fact the Rolex GMT Master could keep track of multiple timings at the same time whereas the Omega could only keep track of one thing. If you think about it, a tachymeter scale does not make much sense when you are traveling at thousands of miles per hour and the tachymeter can only measure up to 500 Miles Per Hour.

In the future I intend to write a The Complete History Of The Rolex Moon Watches which will shed more substantial light on this topic. I have uncovered much more fascinating detail on the history of the Rolex Moon watches that will help to further separate the fact from the fiction and complete the puzzle as much as possible.

It is not surprising that the historically significant Rolex Moon Watch fetched more than $130,000.00 at the Heritage Auction Galleries Space Auction. Can you imagine owning a Rolex that was on the Moon!?!?! Just mind-blowing!!!

To see the watch lot on Heritage Auction Galleries please click here. To view the Space Auction catalog please click here.