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Apollo 13 Astronaut Jack Swigert’s Gold OMEGA Speedmaster Professional is for Sale

Jack Swigert OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XIII 0 Hero
Photo: Sotheby's

On November 25, 1969, OMEGA held a special banquet in honor of the individuals responsible for mankind’s first missions to space. Among those acknowledged were Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11, among others. To mark the occasion, the watch brand commissioned 28 special-edition Speedmaster Professional pieces in yellow gold, engraved and numbered on the back, in order of who had been with the NASA Space Program the longest. Following that event, however, OMEGA continued to gift these watches to different members of the Space Program, including the legendary astronaut Jack Swigert, whose timepiece is currently up for auction now via Sotheby’s.

Jack Swigert OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XIII 1
Photo: Sotheby’s

As the command module pilot, Swigert was an important part of the historical Apollo 13 mission, which was supposed to be the third-ever successful manned trip to the Moon until an onboard explosion resulted in an emergency reroute back to Earth. Swigert was instrumental in the survival of the three men on the craft, being the one responsible for timing the 14 seconds of fuel burning required to put the astronauts in a place where they could enter the Earth’s atmosphere at a safe angle. To do this, Swigert used his own OMEGA timepiece (not the one up for auction), which would be more accurate than the digital timers in the vessel. The events were brilliantly portrayed in Ron Howard’s 1995 film Apollo 13, in which Kevin Bacon plays Swigert (and utters the immortal words, “Houston, we have a problem”).

Jack Swigert OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XIII 2
Photo: Sotheby’s

With OMEGA being the official partner of the Space Program since 1964, all three men on the spacecraft were wearing (non-gold) Speedmaster Professional watches. The 18k version up for auction, however, is the one dedicated to Swigert following the 1970 mission. It’s engraved on the back with his name, mission title, and a quote: “To mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.”

Jack Swigert OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XIII 3
Photo: Sotheby’s

Along with the beautiful yellow gold OMEGA Speedmaster Professional, the winner of this auction will also receive several items from Swigert’s personal archives, including a mission patch, a commemorative coin, and an invitation to the Apollo 13 launch, among other things. Up for sale June 9, the lot is estimated to sell between $120,000 and $180,000 from Sotheby’s.