Omega Speedmaster Ref. 145.0811 ‘Sapphire sandwich’

It was back in 1957 when Omega launched the first Speedmaster, originally as a racing chronograph. Little did they know that the Speedy would acquire world fame and a legendary status for a very different reason…

In the sixties, NASA started testing a number of watches for their space-going endeavors. These tests included heavy shocks, rapid temperature changes, and many more grueling challenges. The Speedmaster came out surviving all of it and was selected as the official watch for the Apollo missions. Mind you, Omega was at this point still completely unaware. So this is no strategic commercial venture like the later James Bond cooperations, but a selection on merits alone.

The Speedy was then worn on all Apollo moon missions and many later projects as well. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin wore theirs on that very first moon landing (although Armstrong left his in the cabin during the very first steps we have all seen tons of times). It even played a crucial role in bringing back Apollo 13 safely, for which it was later celebrated with a Snoopy award.

The Speedmaster Professional has remained virtually unchanged since those days. Sure, the 321 movement was replaced by the 861 in the late sixties, but functionally and aesthetically, the watch has been maintained in its pure form. And amazingly, it looks just as fresh and contemporary today as it did back then. The hallmark of a truly great, timeless design.

The one on offer here is called the Sapphire Sandwich because of its dual sapphire crystals. The top crystal, normally hessalite, is sapphire and the usually solid caseback is see-through on this model. This exposes the beautiful 1863 caliber, a specially made variant with a steel chronograph brake rather than a delrin (plastic) one. Of course, Omega did not want to put a plastic part on display, even though it is actually a perfectly functioning part.

Another characteristic is the “First AND ONLY watch worn on the moon” inscription on the caseback. “Normal” Professionals feature “The first watch worn on the moon”. While that latter statement is factually true, one Apollo astronaut came forward to say he wore a different brand on the moon, making the former statement factually untrue. It’s such quirky details that are oddly attractive though!


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Omega Speedmaster, Omega

Year of production (circa)