Speedy Tuesday — Apollo 16 Astronaut Charlie Duke Signing My Speedmaster "Are you really sure you want me to do this?" play video by Robert-Jan BroerFebruary 04, 2020 MIN READSpeedy Tuesday — Apollo 16 Astronaut Charlie Duke Signing My Speedmaster
During our Speedy Tuesday event in Frankfurt last year, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke was our special guest for the day.
Charlie Duke was selected for the Apollo program by NASA in 1966. In 1969, Duke served as an astronaut support crew member for the Apollo 10 mission and was the CAPCOM for Apollo 11. The CAPCOM was the single person at the Mission Control center who was directly in touch with the astronauts in space. Duke’s first words to the Apollo 11 crew on the surface of the Moon were: “Roger, Twank…Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!”.
Charlie Duke as CAPCOM for Apollo 11 (on his right are James A. Lovell Jr. and Fred W. Haise Jr.). Image by NASA
Duke was also appointed backup lunar module pilot for the famous Apollo 13 mission. Before the mission took place, Duke caught the German measles and this resulted in command module pilot Ken Mattingly being replaced by Jack Swigert. Duke did have a role in Apollo 13’s safe return though, as he worked together with astronauts Young and Mattingly in the simulators to develop emergency procedures for the crew.
Duke served as the lunar module pilot
On April 16, 1972, astronauts Young, Mattingly and Duke were launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Duke served as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 16 mission, Young as commander, and Mattingly as command module pilot. The mission lasted 11 days, 1 hour, and 51 minutes. Duke also served as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 17 in 1972. He retired from NASA in 1975.
During our Speedy Tuesday event in Frankfurt Duke talked about his time as Apollo astronaut and below you can watch our video of his talk (you can find more videos of our events on our Fratello YouTube channel).
It was nice to see that Charlie Duke was very approachable for all Speedy Tuesday guests. He happily signed some books and images. One of the guests brought a scratch pen though (thanks Tom!) and I asked him if I could have it for a minute as well. On my wrist that day was the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Edition from 2015, commemorating the Apollo 13 mission of 1970 (in this article we explain why there’s a Snoopy on the dial). It is a watch that I cherish a lot and I am happy to own all three Apollo 13 commemorative editions (so far).
The Command Module
In the past, I have purposely marked another Speedmaster of mine, by sheer coincidence also a Speedmaster Apollo 13 model. When visiting Houston back in 2015, I scratched the case of my Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 from 1995 on the Command Module displayed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. I thought it would be nice to have a “mark” on the case from something that flew in space. Unfortunately, I have no picture of me doing this. Only former Hodinkee editor and friend Blake Buettner witnessed the event. This means I can’t show you any picture or video of me leaning over towards the command module and deliberately scratching my Speedmaster on its hatch. Perhaps, if the brand releases another Apollo 13 edition I will have another opportunity…
This time, Berti was standing next to us and switched on his camera to record the signing.
However, when we were in Frankfurt for our event, I asked Charlie Duke to sign the case flank of my Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Edition (a hands-on review of this watch can be found here on Fratello). After he asked if I was really sure I wanted this, I gave him the scratch pen and he went ahead. This time, Berti was standing next to us and switched on his camera to record the signing. Only last week we came across this short video in our archives and decided to share it with you. It is only a short 18 seconds video, but I am happy to have it. The result of Duke’s signing can be seen below.
Surely something special
Some people were a bit in shock that I “ruined” a Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award. Especially since this particular model is currently enjoying a surge in market value. But I didn’t buy it to sell it. I bought it because I love the watch and the history behind it even more. Rather than holding onto items, hoping they appreciate in value, I prefer to wear and use these things to enrich my life. The story behind my latest scratched Speedmaster is certainly an enriching one in my book. For fans of Space exploration history, the fact that Charlie Duke signed the case is surely something special. Learn more about Omega’s relationship with Space on the brand’s official website.
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About the author
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in… read more
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