A rare Omega Speedmaster watch that has been worn in deep space is going up for sale this Sunday at the Antiquorum Auction in Geneva.
Flown Speedmasters are rare as they have to have been worn in deep space and seldom reach the open market. This No. 48261214 watch is particularly special, having spent a total of 33 hours in open space, which is more time than any other watch.
Its historic significance is further amplified by the fact that it was once owned by Ukrainian–born Russian cosmonaut, Anatoly Artsebarsky.
Artsebarsky was the 35-year-old commander of Soyuz TM-12, leading the first joint Russian-British space mission in 1991. Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space, took off with him, along with Sergei Krikalev, who to this day holds the record for most time spent in space. Artsebarsky spent five months (145 days) at the MIR Space Station undertaking various projects and repairs and he wore his Omega Speedmaster on an unprecedented six space walks – totaling 33 hours.
While the astronauts were orbiting the earth, in August that year Gorbachev was under house arrest in Russia and a coup was underway, attempting to overthrow his government.
By the time Artsebarsky arrived back on earth in October, a number of former Soviet states had declared their independence and the USSR that he had left in May had changed forever. Immediately upon his return from space, Artsebarsky was made a Hero of the Soviet Union and given the Order of Lenin, as well as being made a Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR and receiving the Medal for Merit in Space Exploration.
Artsebarsky’s Omega Speedmaster is in good condition and still works perfectly. It is currently owned by a British financier and has all the necessary authentication, as well as a box signed by the cosmonaut himself, so is expected to attract a great deal of interest at auction.
Artsebarsky’s watch has a pre-auction estimate of CHF 20,000 (£13,634) – CHF 40,000 (£27,267).
Antiquorum Auctioneers managing director Julien Schaerer said: “It’s not every day that such a rare and historically significant watch is made available for auction, so we are delighted that Antiquorum has been chosen to represent Artsebarsky’s Omega Speedmaster. We are hopeful that its provenance, history and condition will make it one of the highlights this weekend, where we have more than 600 lots and some truly stunning timepieces on offer.”