The Auction Hammer: Bonhams to auction Reinhard Furrer’s Omega Speedmaster Professional NASA 145.022 (live photos)
The Omega Speedmaster is getting more and more under the scope of collectors. For a few years now, some of the rare editions have been able to reach 40,000Eur or more. This is all due to a long and rich history, to a continuous production since 1957 and to the Space and Moon exploration. At Monochrome-Watches, the ‘Speedy‘ has always been one of our favorites, as we’ve been the very first to reveal you about the watches worn by Aldrin and Armstrong during Apollo 11 Mission. Don’t expect to see such watches on auction soon – that would be an unaffordable dream. Bonhams however will soon auction another true astronaut watch, the Reinhard Furrer Omega Speedmaster Professional, one of the very few to come with a radial dial.
Reinhard Furrer (November 25, 1940 – September 9, 1995) was a German physicist and astronaut. In 1977 Furrer applied for selection as an astronaut for the first Spacelab mission. He was finally selected for a space mission and had been a payload specialist on STS-61-A (D1), which was launched October 30, 1985. As most of NASA Astronauts, you won’t be surprised to learn that he was wearing an Omega Speedmaster Professional (if you want to know why and how the Speedy became the Moonwatch and the official NASA watch, take a look at the history of the Speedmaster). This watch specially designed for outer space is to be sold as part of Bonhams Fine Watch auction, taking place on December 10th in London, New Bond Street. This is a very special watch considering its pedigree and several very special features. And thanks to our friends of SpeedyWatches, we even have some live picture of this unique and highly collectible watch.
Before having a closer look at the specifications and special features of this rare bird, some clarifications on its pedigree are important. According to our colleagues of Fratello-Watches, Reinhard Furrer, as well as all the SpaceLab crew-members, worn a Omega Speedmaster especially released for NASA, produced in 1978. This year, NASA asked Omega a few watches for a re-certification of the Speedmaster, in order to prepare the future Space Shuttle program (1981 – 2011). This was part of the Alaska III project (some info about the Alaska I project can be found here) and Omega was once again part of the selected brands. Always according to Fratello-Watches, on the 2nd of November 1978, NASA announced that the Omega Speedmaster was selected, again.This selection program led to a 56-piece order by NASA.
This is one of these 56 pieces that Reinhard Furrer received in 1985. Unfortunately, Reinhard Furrer died young (in 1995) and the watch was given by his family to a friend, also astronaut, and which was the owner until now, as it will be for sale by Bonhams. It represents one of the only possibilities to acquire a REAL ASTRONAUT’S WATCH.
Now moving to the watch itself, we have to notice two specificities. First is the dial with its uncommon sub-dial prints. When usual Omega Speedmasters are coming with this configuration (horizontal numerical prints), this one instead comes with circular prints and thus is so-called a radial-dial. This alignment is unique to NASA-issued watches (that was first found in sandblasted and white dial Alaska Project prototypes). The other unique feature of this dial is the absence of the “Swiss-Made” printing at 6.
Also unusual are the case, the caseback and its engravings, that actually give a quite interesting explanation to the lack of “Swiss-Made”, as this watch can be considered as one of the “Made in America” ones. For you to understand, NASA supposedly wanted the majority of the parts of their equipment to be made in the USA. Omega, a Swiss registered company, had quite an issue here. The solution had been found with an American case maker, the Star Watch Case Company, which produced some parts in the USA. This special feature can easily be guessed from the star engraved on the caseback, next to “stainless steel”. Also on the caseback are engraved the production and serial numbers (P/N and S/N) that can attest of the pedigree and origin of this superb example of an Omega Speedmaster Professional.
To finish, here are the exact specifications of the watch: it is a technically usual Omega Speedmaster reference 145.022, fitted with a manually-wound calibre 861 (the cam-operated edition), with a 42mm case in stainless steel, with a classical steel bracelet (633 end-links) and tritium dial. It has been produced in 1978 and was part of a special 56-piece NASA order. What differs from an original Speedy are the case made by Star Watch Case Company, the caseback engraved with the NASA production number (P/N SED12100312-301) and serial number (S/N 1027) and the radial dial without “swiss-made”. A closer view on the dial shows tritium indexes and hands (that should be original to the watch). The crystal however is a service one (a genuine Omega spare-part with the logo engraved in the middle). For the rest, the watch is in a superb condition, with a very well conserved case (not over polished) and dial (no visible marks), a bracelet with almost no stretch and indexes / hands with a matching colour.
This watch is part of The Bonhams Fine Watch sale that will take place on Wednesday 10th December at 101 New Bond Street, London, UK. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000. Some say it could reach more…
Photo credits: Ace Photo Studio for SpeedyWatches and Bonhams.