Eventually the watches became commercially available, though Dr. Torman notes quire a few changes were made from the prototypes. “They thought that the cachet of having the same watch as the astronauts were wearing would sell the watch. So the marketing people obviously get involved at some point and I had no interaction with them. But the case of the prototype watch was really terrific in its simplicity and functionality with its fixed bezel. The marketing people ultimately changed the case design to something more modern and less functional and eventually called it the ‘Mars Watch.’. With the commercially available X-33s, Omega put a high polish on the bezel and they changed the pushers from functional round ones to these square ones, which, as an aside, they had problems with as soon as they started selling these things. With the prototypes, there was a real emphasis on function, real functionality, not someone’s imagined uninformed vision of what a pilot’s watch should be.”

Today, Dr. Torman typically wears a recently made Rolex GMT-Master, though he is now a passionate and knowledgeable Patek Philippe collector as well. His next watch? A Patek Philippe white gold 3970. However, his Omega X-33s remain prized possessions that tell an incredible story in the history of aviation and horology.

A special thank you to Dr. Torman for sharing this story with us. You can also check out the current incarnation of the Omega X-33 here.