|Year of production (circa)
Omega Speedmaster Ref. ST145.022
This beautiful Omega Speedmaster represents a real sweet spot in the market. Here is why we love it:
In the late 80’s, Omega still used tritium lume. They continued to do so until the late nineties, actually. Tritium tends to lose its illuminating capabilities, and it tends to turn yellow over time. While that might be a technical fault in an engineer’s eye, it is the holy grail for vintage lovers. This specimen has gained a lovely warm vanilla type of tone over the decades.
Another big plus for this generation is the bracelet. Its short, rounded links and very short end links ensure a beautiful drape across the wrist. Much better than younger Speedmaster Professional bracelets with their overly wide end links.
So there is a lot of vintage charm to a Speedy like this. At the same time, they are some of the most affordable routes into the Speedmaster Professional universe. So yes, this is a real sweet spot in the vintage world!
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The Omega Speedmaster was introduced in 1957, as a racing chronograph. Little did Omega know that a different fate altogether awaited their creation.
When John F. Kennedy announced that the USA would put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960’s, NASA went into overdrive. The Gemini and Apollo missions would all culminate in “One small step for man…” in 1969.
One detail within that endeavor, is the selection of a proper watch for the space missions. NASA started putting a number of chronographs from different brands under extreme stress. Shock, temperature change, vibration, humidity, the watches were spared no horror. The Speedmaster came out on top in 1965 and was selected as the watch of choice. No slick marketing deals here. Chosen on merit alone.
Coincidentally, astronaut Wally Schirra already wore his personal Ref. CK2998 Speedmaster on a Mercury mission in 1962. In 1965, Ed White would go on the first ever spacewalk wearing a NASA-issued Ref. 105.003-65.
From 1965 onwards, all Apollo astronauts wore Speedmasters. Including Buzz Aldrin when he set foot on the moon, wearing his Ref. 105.012. Neil Armstrong had left his Speedy in the lunar module when setting those legendary first steps.
In 1970, Apollo 13 got into serious trouble after a service-module oxygen tank ruptured. With most systems down, the astronauts had to manually time 14-second rocket bursts in order to get back to earth. They used Jack Swigert’s Speedmaster for the job. Omega was awarded the Snoopy award in recognition of the crucial role of the watch in a safe return. A comic character featured on many special editions since.
Aesthetically, the Speedmaster Professional has not changed much since those days. A rough division can be made between pre-moon and post-moon Speedies. The transition point is the inclusion of the “Flight qualified by NASA” inscriptions on the case back, although some people erroneously mark 321 caliber Speedies as pre-moon and 861 caliber variants as post-moon.
For the keen-eyed, there are tons of subtle variations within the Speedmaster line. And that is before we look at the broader Speedy-scope, with all its special editions and interestingly-shaped Mark models. You can really go deep on Speedy-specifics. Regardless of which precise variant you settle on, you will have an iconic watch with the single best backstory ever.
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