Here is the last of our series about the Omega Speedmaster. For this one we’re going to show you some highly rare and limited editions of the ‘Speedy’, including a real Astronaut watch! In our two first articles, we’ve been explaining you how all about the early pre-moons and how the Speedmaster became the Moonwatch and then showed you some very cool 1970s editions and the premises of the Alaska Project. Some of them are very rare birds, but coming from the serial production. Now we’re moving to the limited production, and not the worst one to be true.
The Apollo XI commemorative series
The Speedmaster has been produced in many limited, numbered or commemorative editions. However, one of this editions is more famous and highly collectible, the Apollo XI: the series that pays tribute to the largest achievement of the Speedy, when the ‘Eagle’ landed on the Moon, the 20th July 1969. Thus, it became the Moonwatch. The whole collection of the Speedmaster Apollo XI Editions is however quite complicated. With the help of the authors of Moonwatch-Only, here is an overview.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 Yellow Gold: The first of the lineage, the ref. BA 145.022, that you can see detailed bellow. Presented in yellow gold (case, bracelet and dial) with an unique burgundy bezel and engraved “the first watch worn on the moon” and “Apollo XI 1969” on the caseback. Edited at only 1014, including 38 offered to astronauts, President Nixon and Vice President Agnew.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 1980 Yellow Gold: the ref. BA 345.0802, also a full yellow gold watch with a black bezel, the same as a classical Moonwatch. It is one of the first Omega Speedmaster that comes with a display caseback, and thus shows the Calibre 863 (decorated version of the 861). It is engraved “Apollo XI 1969” and “first watch worn on the Moon” around the caseback. Around 300 numbered pieces produced.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 20th Anniversary: The first of the series that celebrates an anniversary. Ref. ST 345.0022. The left side is engraved with the serial number and “Apollo XI 1969”. No specificity on the dial or the bezel. Produced at 2000 pieces for the USA and 4000 for the rest of the World.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 25th Anniversary: Ref. ST 345.0062 for the steel edition. We are talking about 4 watches here: one in steel with a black dial (2500 pieces), one in white gold with a silver dial (500 pieces, the only one to be chronometer rated), one in platinum with a skeletonized dial (50 pieces), one in platinum with a skeletonized dial and diamonds (5 pieces). The caseback is in sapphire and the left side is engraved “Apollo XI 1969-1994”. You’ll discover in details the white gold and steel editions later in this article.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 30th Anniversary: ref. ST 145.0223. Certainly the closest to the original Moonwatch. Same case, bracelet, dial and bezel than a Speedmaster Professional. The main difference is the full and engraved caseback, with “Hello Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed“. It has been produced in 9999 pieces.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 35th Anniversary: Ref. SU 145.0227. A very appealing one, with its ‘panda’ dial – a white face with black sub-counters. Under the mention Professional at 12 is written in red “July 20, 1969”. The caseback is also specific with the logo of the Apollo XI Mission. It has been produced in 3500 pieces.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 40th Anniversary: Ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.002 in steel. Two different watches here, one in steel (7969 pieces) and one in platinum (69 pieces). The two differences with a classical Moonwatch are a gold chip located in the small second sub-counter at 9 and an engraved caseback, both with an Eagle, the logo of the Apollo XI Mission.
- Speedmaster Apollo XI 45th Anniversary: Ref. 3184.108.40.206.06.001. The last of the lineage, that was presented this year at Baselworld. It is the only Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch that comes with a titanium case but also a Sedna gold bezel and golden hands and indexes, a laser cut dial in dark grey and an exclusive NATO Strap. Limited to 1969 pieces, all already sold.
Here is a gallery of all these editions:
A real Astronaut watch, Ken Mattingly’s own Speedmaster BA 145.022
The Omega Speedmaster is usually coming in stainless steel, with a black tachymeter ring and a black dial. So this full yellow gold edition should sounds unfamiliar to you. But what’s make this precise example so special is its owner. Yes, it is a true astronaut watch! And also one of the rarest editions of them all.
What we are talking about here is a reference BA 145.022 (the ST 145.022 should be familiar to you, as it was the classical Omega Speedmaster Professional in stainless steel). Technically, it is a Speedmaster Professional: same case’s design, same 861 movement, same dial layout. But it comes with a full yellow gold case, bracelet (slightly different from the usual steel bracelet, as it tapered a lot towards the buckle) and dial. This edition, nicknamed ‘Tribute to Astronauts” has been made only in 1014 pieces. It is also the first of the Speedy to adorn the mention “the first watch worn on the moon” and “Apollo XI 1969“. The other differences are a burgundy tachymeter insert for the bezel, applied indexes in black and circled with polish gold rims and black (non-luminous) hands.
What makes this one here more precious? Among the 1014 produced, the first 30 had been offered to the President Nixon, to the Vice-President and to 28 astronauts offered to them at a gala dinner November 25, 1969 at Hotel Warwick in Houston (according to our friends at Fratello-Watches). Later, in 1972, the Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 also received that same watch (numbered from 1001 to 1008). This one was offered to Ken Mattingly, crew-member of Apollo 16 mission. On the back is engraved his name and the commemorative sentence “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time” and the serial number 1006.
If the Omega Speedmaster BA 145.022 is already a very rare bird, that comes hardly on auction or for sale (plan a serious 15.000-20.000K€ if you want to buy one), the one we have here is purely a unique watch. For the story, this limited Speedmaster also exists in stainless steel, with the same engraving “the first watch worn on the moon” and “Apollo XI 1969” (the same as the public gold edition) in a unnumbered production, under the reference 145.022-69 Apollo XI. The legend (and Fratello-watches) says that it is even rarer than the gold version, with only 300 watches produced.
The unexpected meeting of two Speedmasters Apollo 11 25th anniversary
Both of them are limited and numbered editions. Both of them are barely vintage watches now (1994). Both of them are commemorative. And both of them are pretty rare and nice. Sometimes, life gives you the chance of unplanned meetings. It was the case that day we photographed all the Speedmasters you’ve seen so far, as two Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI 25th anniversary were reunited. The probability of such a fortuitous appointment is, let’s say, very low.
Presented in 18K White Gold (quite an unusual choice for a Speedmaster), this Apollo XI 25th edition was presented in 1994 (only 500 produced) and sports several specificities. First of all, its remarkable silver dial, with a lovely sun-ray pattern, creating reflections and changing from light grey to almost pearly white. The hands are also unique to this edition and made in polish silvery metal, as does the applied indexes. The white gold case is also specific, not only because of its material, but also because it is engraved on the left side with the inscription “Apollo XI 1969-1994”.
The main improvement is visible through the transparent caseback: the Calibre 864 – a chronometer rated and highly decorated evolution of the famous 861, with Geneva stripes, straight graining on the levers and polish bevelled angles on the bridges. The chronometer inscription on the dial, under the ‘professional’ at 6, attests of the adjustment work made by Omega.
Surprisingly, the white gold edition (ref. BC 348.0062) is the only chronometer rated edition of the 25th anniversary series. Because, yes, for this special commemoration, Omega launched not one but 4 watches. Alongside the white gold edition sits here the stainless steel version (ref. ST 345.0062) that only differs from a classical Speedmaster Moonwatch by its engravings in the case-band (“Apollo XI 1969-1994”) and on the caseback (number XXXX/2500). Two other editions, very rare ones, were also part of the collection: both made in platinum, both with a skeletonized dial – one with diamonds (only 5 made – ref. AT 445.0063) and one without (only 50 made – ref. AT 345.0063) according to Moonwatch-Only.
The book of Reference – Moonwatch-Only
This 3-part article is not made to be exhaustive and mainly focuses on the steps we believe important in the long and rich life of the Omega Speedmaster. However, if you want to have a really complete view on the Speedy, a book is clearly made for you: Moonwatch-only. Anthony and Grégoire have worked for more than 3 years to compile an amazing database of details and photos about the legendary Moonwatch.
The level of precision is actually quite incredible: the two authors have created a real must-have for the Speedmaster collectors. Another fact to point out, this book is going to clean the market from all the FrankenWatches out there (the vintage Speedmasters with wrong or fake pieces – dials, hands or crown) as all you’ll need to know before buying a Moonwatch is included. It features all the versions, from the 1957 CK-2915 to the actual Speedy, but also the limited and rare editions. Every detail has been inspected: all the types of hands, of dial or caseback. Even the smallest like the fonts of logos.
The book is quite expensive (250 Euros) but a level of information never seen before, as the authors worked closely with the Omega Museum that opened its archives and even divulged information that was still “classified”, justifies this price. You can order it here.