Many years ago when I was 12, as memory serves, I decided it was time to put aside childish things and become a real man. Unfortunately, based on my estimation, my anaemic, bespectacled, violin-playing self was the furthest thing from the badass, wheel-kicking, villain-dispatching examples of manliness I saw perpetuated by heroes such as J. J. “Lone Wolf” McQuade, who invaded both my television screen and Jungian psyche every Friday evening. Fortunately, I had chanced across an article about cigar smoking, in one of my favourite magazines on manliness, Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Apparently, according to it, manliness could be acquired in but two easy steps.
Step one: acquire a cigar. Now New Yorkers, please forgive the elegiac memory conjured by the name Nat Sherman, whose flagship store tragically closed this year after falling victim to the COVID pandemic. I recall summoning my courage to take the bus to this wondrous emporium dedicated to high art of cigar smoking after school, and sauntering up to the counter to ask for a cigar. The astute Brooks Brothers-bedecked salesman eyed me and asked, “Young man, who is this cigar for?” Determined to brazen my way through my mendacity, I replied, “For my grandfather, of course.” To which he queried, “And what type of cigar does your grandfather smoke?” Panicking as I eyed the seemingly endless sybaritic possibilities arrayed behind him, I blurted, “Well, only your finest cigars of course.”
With that, he retrieved something from the upper shelf and placed a panjandrum of a double corona, with the darkest possible Maduro wrapper, on the tray in front of me. “Something like this?” he asked with a smile. Relief flooded through my body. I nodded. As I admired the mirror polish on his Peal loafers he expertly applied a guillotine cut to this Herculean appendage with the gusto of a rabbi performing a bris on Rocco Siffredi. Mazel tov!
Part two of the easy two-step Gentlemen’s Quarterly pathway to alpha masculinity was to smoke said cigar. An hour later, I lowered myself gingerly into the steaming hot bathtub, whimpering as I scalded my delicate nether regions, before finally settling in. I had read in the aforementioned magazine that to truly ascend to the very Karakorum of manliness, I should enjoy my cigar while luxuriating in a hot bath sipping a single malt whiskey while perusing my favourite novel. As I did not know what single malt whiskey was, I had poured out a small measure of every brown liquor in my parents’ drinks cupboard into a coffee mug and this vile potion now sat next to me beside the well-creased copy of Madame Bovary by my hero Gustave Flaubert.
“Huzzah! Onwards to the higher echelons of masculinity!” I thought to myself with the image of my 12-year-old self emerging Zarathustra-like from the chrysalis of my cigar, like a Nietzschean Superman. “I shall soar with the eagles,” I proclaimed as I took a sip of the repugnant cuvée, set flame to the Rubirosa-proportioned cheroot clenched precipitously between my molars and filled my embryonic lungs with a massive volume of smoke generated by what seemed like the totality of the Dominican Republic’s gross national product. The effects were instantaneous. I projectile vomited what seemed like every meal I’d eaten in the last six months. It felt like the room was spinning with such ferocity that I was unable to haul myself out of my vomitus bath water. I began hallucinating. Finally, after what seemed like hours of struggle, I managed to flop to the floor, press my face to the cool tile which offered a small measure of relief, and sobbed quietly to myself. Zarathustra I was not.
The point to all this is that it took me almost 20 years to overcome this first disastrous attempt at cigar smoking. Meaning that, in comparison to most of my friends, like the inimitable Nick Foulkes or the incomparable Ahmed “Shary” Rahman, who seem to have been jettisoned from the womb blowing smoke rings with Behikes in their tiny baby fists, I’ve come into the hobby quite a bit later in life. Yet, somehow, feeling the full force of this passion in what I can only describe as the autumn of my life has made it all the more consuming for me. Cigar smoking has also provided me with some wonderful friendships including that of the two gentlemen I mentioned, The Rake’s editor Tom Chamberlin and Edward and Eddie Sahakian of Davidoff London. It has indeed been a balm of conviviality.
It was exactly like this with the Omega Speedmaster, a watch that I had a passing awareness of for the majority of my life, before suddenly and irreversibly becoming absolutely obsessed with it a mere four years ago — so much so that it is the single watch that I collect in the greatest depth and largest number. But perhaps even more than becoming enchanted with what I believe to be the single most iconic sports chronograph of all time, Speedmaster collecting has brought with it some of my most treasured new friendships, specifically with the founders of the mighty Analog/Shift in New York, James Lamdin and Vincent Brasesco; Georgetown University School of Foreign Service graduate and vintage watch impresario Eric Wind; the two greatest repositories of Speedy knowledge and all-around great guys, Roy and Sacha Davidoff; the fascinating and elusive William Roberts, aka @Speedmaster101; the founder of Speedy Tuesday and, to me, “Mr. Speedmaster” Robert-Jan Broer; and the amazing team at Omega — the brilliant Gregory Kissling, the warm and effusive Jean-Pascal Perret, and the absolute legend that is their CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann.
One thing that is unique to Speedmaster collecting is that the community behind it is incredibly warm, which is not necessarily true for other brands. Everyone I’ve encountered through the Omega Speedmaster, whether they’re collectors, vintage dealers or from the brand itself, made me feel increasingly welcome to the brotherhood of Speedmaster devotees. In the end, that’s perhaps what I love best about Speedmaster collecting, the sense that you belong to a family.
So to do my part to enrich this family I’m pleased to announce that all of the watches in this story, which comprise my personal / Revolution’s permanent Omega Speedmaster collection will be on display at the new Revolution Watch Bar in Singapore where Speedy-lovers can make an appointment to check them out by emailing [email protected]
We’re calling it the Temple of Speed, where devotees may come to be steeped in all things Speedy. We will also host events, webinars and assemble some great reference books — including, of course, the mighty Moonwatch Only which you can peruse here or at home. But what’s even better is, you can actually look at and examine the actual watches discussed in this iconic tome and in my article.
The watches in this article are not for sale, but if you have never seen a real Ultraman or a Grey Racing, for example, here is your opportunity. Because I feel the best way to spread Speedmaster passion is by sharing it with others.
Do note that some watches may not be available at a given time, as I may be wearing them, but we will try our best to accommodate requests. Lastly, with regard to the vintage watches I own, I’ve also made a note on where I purchased them. This is so that if you are searching for a vintage Speedmaster, you’ll know to look to reliable and reputable sources like the Davidoff Brothers, Analog/Shift, Eric Wind, Fratello Watches and, hopefully, us. So without further ado, here is the story of how I become a Speedmaster devotee, as well as details on the watches in my collection as a result of my four-year whirlwind romance with the Speedy.
Speedmaster CK 2998 Blue Limited Edition 2998 pieces – 2016 – Watchfinder.com
Meeting Lindy Hemming, the genius who costume-directed six Bond films, including Casino Royale, as well as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Wonder Woman, was an amazing experience for a cinema buff. What was even more impressive was that she took one look at my jacket and asked, “Is that a Cifonelli?” gesturing to its signature shoulders. I was immediately in awe. The outfit in question happened to be a blue linen double-breasted 6×1 jacket paired with a vintage azure Hawaiian shirt gleaned from Les Puces in Paris. And the watch on my wrist, believe it or not, was my first-ever Speedmaster — specifically, the CK2998 Blue Limited Edition from 2016. Even though it was made in 2,998 examples, it had quickly sold out. As I had been invited to the 2017 London launch of the “Commander Bond” Seamaster Diver 300M, which included a boat ride up the Thames in the company of EON Productions and legends like Bond executive producer Michael G. Wilson, Lindy Hemming and Raynald Aeschlimann, I had arranged to purchase a pre-owned version of this watch from watchfinder.com which was delivered to my hotel just in time for me to wear it for the event as I found its blue colourway to be the perfect complement to my ensemble.
Why this model? I had long lusted after a CK2998-1/2 with a lollipop seconds hand and am to this day kicking myself for not purchasing a tropical-dialled watch from the Davidoff brothers, which they’d shown me a good six years ago. So when Omega created their homage to this model, I was sold. Strapping it on, I instantly realised that Omega makes the best vintage tribute watches in the business. How can I state that so empathically? For example, the bezel of this tribute watch features a tachymeter with a “base of 1000” which references the very earliest bezels of this model. Yet Omega made the incredible act of audacious subversion by crafting the bezel out of blue ceramic and then filling its tachymeter with luminous indices. “The process of painting in the luminous material in the tachymeter is very delicate and can only be done by hand,” says Gregory Kissling. “The thickness of the tachymeter scale is just 0.2mm. We start with a white luminous base. On top of that, we add a transparent lacquer mixed with luminous paint. This has to be heated to 120°C for it to set, then we polish the surface of the bezel to remove any excess lacquer.” The high-performance, scratch-resistant ceramic bezel is joined by a sapphire crystal that perfectly replicates the look of a vintage acrylic crystal, but is infinitely more resilient — meaning that Omega is great at making watches look vintage, but which perform to modern standards.
Then there was the design. The stunning multi-coloured, stepped cream and navy dial is also a departure from the original CK2998’s matte black dial, and actually references the 1997 Golden Panda, which was the first Speedmaster to use this unique design. Combined with the CK 2998’s famous Alpha hands and lollipop chronograph seconds hand of the earliest versions, and blue colourway, the iconography is actually an amalgam of Omega Speedmaster codes that together create an all-new watch. But, just as importantly, this highly curated combination of Speedy elements demonstrated that the people who designed this watch were as geeked-out about their history as their fans.
The case at 39.7mm in diameter was exactly the same as the vintage watch, and looked both purposeful and elegant on the wrist. Finally, the movement was the ultra-reliable manual-winding calibre 861 that has been in every Speedmaster since 1969. Over the course of the next few weeks, I would look at this watch over and over on my wrist thinking to myself, “Wow. The people who made this watch, genuinely love watches.” Such was the inchoate passion it resonated with.
This model was priced at USD6,500 when new, and today trades for about USD7,500–8,000 on the pre-owned market, which, considering how much some of Omega’s other limited editions have gone up, makes it actually a very attractive purchase to me. It’s an insanely beautiful watch. I wear it on both a beautiful Omega cream and blue NATO strap or on a vintage-style flat-link polished and matte bracelet offered by Fostners. To me, both combinations are absolutely magic! If you’ve never tried on a CK2998 Blue, I think you’ll find this watch to be one of the most elegant Speedmasters ever created. Sort of the playboy’s Speedmaster. The perfect watch for someone steeped in Omega history and looking for a Speedy that exudes incomparable style.
Speedmaster 45th Anniversary Silver Snoopy Limited Edition 1970 pieces – 2015
So there’re a few key factors that go into a watch ascending to Grail status, which was exactly what the Omega Speedmaster 45th Anniversary Silver Snoopy Award had achieved.
How did it go from a retail price of USD8,000 to a secondary market value of almost USD40,000? Well, it means that there are a helluva lot more people that want to buy that watch than there are pieces available. But why did this particular Silver Snoopy launched in 2015, made in a limited edition of 1970 examples, capture the hearts and minds of collectors around the world so overwhelmingly? Part of it is the story that underlies the watch, part of it is the sheer brilliance of the design — but I have always felt that the most important reason is that people look at this watch and simply feel uplifted.
OK, so back to the underlying story. Back in 1970, Omega was awarded the Silver Snoopy award by NASA. This is the highest honour an external supplier can receive. Less than one percent of all suppliers receive it and it represents outstanding service to the Space Program. Omega was probably well on the way to this achievement, but in 1970, something extraordinary happened that totally sealed the deal for them. A total electrical failure on board the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission meant that the astronauts had one shot to make it back to Earth. They could slingshot themselves around the moon and use this momentum to return home, but there was one problem: the angle of their re-entry. Too steep and they would burn up, too shallow and they would bounce off the atmosphere. The astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise used their Omega Speedmaster, ref. 105.003, to time a crucial 14-second engine burn to position the craft precisely. The Speedmaster was instrumental to the crew’s safe return, and this incredible service and legacy of reliability and precision is encoded in every Speedmaster today.
Which brings me to point number two, which is that to celebrate this achievement, Omega created what has to be one of the coolest watches of all time with the words “What can you do in 14 seconds” printed along the seconds track from 0 to 14 as an indelible reminder of Omega’s inextricable link with human history. Then you have Snoopy lying face down in the middle of the continuous seconds counter at nine o’clock with a thought bubble that reads, “Failure is not an option”, which was the modus operandi at mission control throughout the Apollo 13 crisis. Even cooler, Snoopy is fully luminous, as is the tachymeter inside the watch’s ceramic bezel. But that’s not all, because flip the watch over and you’ll see the exact Silver Snoopy medallion awarded by NASA dancing on a bed of blue enamel that perfectly evokes the stars in space. I have to admit that I was very late to the game in 2017, but thanks to the kindness of a certain individual, I managed to get allocated a Silver Snoopy. The hushed tones of reverence when I unboxed it in the Omega boutique to switch the strap over to a Speedy Tuesday Black and White NATO were highly amusing.
The third and most important reason beyond being a symbol of human resilience and above being a masterful work of design, is that the watch just makes us all smile. It somehow reconnects us with the innocence of childhood, while providing an undeniable feeling of optimism. During 2020, which has been a year of tremendous challenges all around, I found myself frequently wearing my Silver Snoopy as a beacon of positive energy and hope.
Speedy Tuesday Radial Dial Limited Edition 2012 pieces – 2017
Speedy Tuesday I, as it’s now being called, is one of my favourite Speedmasters. Because through it, I was introduced to two incredible men: Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, and founder of Fratello Watches as well as the creator of the #SpeedyTuesday hashtag, Robert-Jan Broer. To be fair, I of course knew Aeschlimann and had interviewed him before, but only became fully aware of how game-changing a leader he was through this extraordinary watch, which was the first limited-edition timepiece to ever be launched on social media. The watch also introduced me to the mind of Broer and demonstrated his astute understanding of Speedmaster lore.
OK, let me back up here for a second. The Omega Speedmaster Alaska III is one of those mythical unicorns in vintage watch collecting. The name “Alaska” was essentially a code word created by NASA for special projects. And the challenge posed to Omega was to create timepieces with extraordinary resilience and visibility to use in space. The first Alaska Project was a cushion-shaped case made in titanium and bestowed with a massive red head shield. This case was the inspiration for the Speedmaster Mark II. The hands in the minute and hour counters for the chronograph are made distinct by being shaped like red space capsules. In 1972, this was followed up by Alaska Project II, carried over the dial of the first Alaska Project combined with a bead-blasted traditional lyre-lug Speedmaster case. Notably, the chronograph minute and hours counters featured very cool radial indices.
So this is the deal with the Alaska III that makes it so impossible to acquire. If someone tries to sell a watch from the batch of 56 issued to astronauts that has made its way into public hands, men in black suits from the US government will knock on your door and politely, but forcefully, ask for it back. Indeed the only watch I know of that had been publicly sold was the watch at the 2017 Philipps auction (where Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona was sold for USD17,752,000), which was one of the four spare watches and therefore somehow didn’t provoke the ire of the US government. If you want to learn more, read this amazing article by Fratello Watches.
So let’s talk about that auction for a second because it came into play quite significantly. I had just had a magnificent booze-fuelled lunch with Eric Ku, Ben Clymer, and Ahmed Shary Rahman and we were comfortably ensconced in the Phillips salon. I’d secretly had my eye on the Alaska III being sold. Bidding started, but to my shock, it quickly skyrocketed out of my comfort zone and I had my paddle rudely ripped from my hands by my wife. Anyway, it wouldn’t have mattered because when the dust settled, the hammer price was USD187,500. As I was drowning my sorrows in Negronis at the Four Seasons Hotel across the street, I expressed my disappointment to Rahman who came up with a brilliant solution, “If you like the Alaska III, find a Speedy Tuesday — it’s the closest thing you can get,” And he was absolutely right.
OK, so if you’re a Speedmaster fan, you would have come across the hashtag #SpeedyTuesday which was created by Robert-Jan Broer in 2012 to encourage devotees to post images of their Speedies on the second day of the week. This soon became an incredible social-media phenomenon and community symbol for all things Speedmaster. Now what is amazing is that Aeschlimann and Broer decided in 2017, on the fifth anniversary of Speedy Tuesday, that they would launch a special limited-edition Speedmaster, which could only be acquired by direct messaging or emailing Omega. And, upon its launch, it basically broke the Internet. Why? Because the watch in question was so damnably cool — and its inspiration was Alaska III.
The Speedy Tuesday Radial Dial Limited Edition Speedmaster was remarkable because it took a watch that was out of reach for basically all but four people on earth, and gives them the next best thing. It is a masterpiece of design acumen where the radial dials are now in silver, but also coated in luminous paint, as was every second mark on the dial, creating a watch that in the darkness transforms into a totally different animal and offers the pragmatic ability of being able to time things in the dark. The watch took advantage of the most significant communication medium today, social media, as its launch platform. The only problem was, of course, finding one, as all 2,012 pieces had been sold out immediately at launch.
Amazingly over lunch with a friend in Zurich, he explained that he somehow ended up with two watches and that he would be willing to sell me one. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The Speedy Tuesday watch came with both a leather strap as well as a black and white NATO strap. However, to me, it looks particularly sublime on an all-brushed flat-link bracelet such as the one offered by Forstner, which perfectly complements its all-brushed matte case.
When it was launched, the Speedy Tuesday retailed for USD6,500 and today goes for about USD11,000. I still think it’s a decent buy at this price and the trick here is to put it on an all-brushed flat-link bracelet, which, to me, utterly transforms it.
BA 145.022-69 Apollo XI Tribute to Astronauts gold number 81 limited edition of 1,014 -1969 – Speedmaster 101
Remember the story of the Alaska III, one of four spare watches that could actually be sold to the public? Well, little did I know that while I was sitting in Phillip’s auction hall in New York, across the Atlantic, a very cool dude named William Roberts was on his farm in England bidding on the watch. Incredibly, as the auction neared its climax he suddenly suffered an Internet blackout, no thanks to the dodgy WIFI in rural UK, and only managed to come back online in time to make the final bid and win this unicorn.
Now what I also didn’t know was that William Robert was also known on his website as @Speedmaster101 and he had dedicated a considerable amount of his life to sharing and spreading Speedmaster knowledge with a focus on some of the rarest and most obscure vintage iterations. Basically, the guy is a legend. And finally, what I absolutely didn’t know was that in a few weeks, our paths would cross in — of all places — the airport in Hong Kong, and that, thanks to him, I would acquire my first and most beloved vintage Speedmaster, the all-yellow-gold BA 145.022-69, one of the 1,014 limited-edition watches created in 1969 to commemorate the moon landing.
OK, so anyone who knows me well will acknowledge that my sartorial comfort zone falls into the territory of Asian pimp, evinced in particular by my penchant for yellow-gold watches and jewellery. Indeed, for all my pretence at gentlemanly attire, I am probably most comfortable in a leopard-print shirt, with gold skull rings on my fingers, and Cazal sunglasses clamped to my face, MC Hammer-style. Yes, call me Gold Member. It is not for no reason that one of my favourite Instagram humour pages @hodonkee has compared me to Leslie Chow from The Hangover. And, as such, it will come as no surprise that when I started to do research on Omega’s vintage Speedmasters, thanks to the invaluable tome Moonwatch Only, I quickly zeroed in on Omega’s very first special edition and its first all-gold Speedmaster launch in my birth year of 1969.
Putting aside my Leslie Chow-like proclivities, this is why the Apollo XI 1969 Tribute to the Astronauts was such a compelling watch to me: following the success of the moon landing, Omega created this stunning tribute watch that was unlike any Speedmaster before, in that it was made in solid 18K yellow gold; not just the case, but also the bracelet, and even the dial which reads “OM Swiss Made OM” for or massif, or solid gold in French, so there was no mistaking it. The unique square applied indices were crafted from onyx and featured yellow-gold surrounds. Hands were flat blackened baton elements and the watch featured a unique burgundy coloured bezel.
Now, according to Moonwatch Only, there were two types of dials: those with an oval “O” in the Omega logo, belonging to earlier watches; and those with a normal “O”, which is believed to have appeared in watches later in the 1,014 production run. Adding to that, there were three different types of casebacks: thin and unpainted engraving for early watches; thick and unpainted for middle of the series; and then thick with burgundy paint for the last watches. Incredibly, at a NASA banquet dinner on 26 November 1969 in Houston, nos. 3–28 of these watches were presented to astronauts including Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong. Three of these watches were also awarded posthumously to the crew of Apollo 1, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. The watches given to astronauts have a further engraving that reads “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time”, which never fails to move me when I consider the enormity of what NASA had achieved in such a short period of time. And that’s why this Speedmaster is so evocative to me. It reminds us of what human beings are able to achieve with their ingenuity, courage, determination and faith — a message that resonates particularly powerfully in a year like 2020.
But back to William Roberts. Thus enchanted with the BA 145.022-69, I began looking for one in earnest. One thing to understand is that you need to be very careful when searching for one. As this is a 51-year-old 18K gold watch, finding a well-preserved example with a sharp original case is far from easy. Finally, thanks to a chat with @CK2915 on Instagram, an individual in possession of one of the most beautiful tropical CK2915-1’s in existence, he mentioned that he had a friend named William who was looking to sell one. A quick exchange on email and I received pictures of the watch in question. I understand why he wanted to sell it. The watch was technically not perfect in that it didn’t have the right bezel. The previous owner had preferred the black and gold bezel first seen on the Apollo XI yellow gold from 1980, and had swapped out the burgundy-coloured one which could no longer be found. And also, although the watch was an early number “81”, it featured a dial with a regular “O” instead of an oval “O”. But looking at the condition of the case and, in particular, the bracelet — the claps on these tend to fatigue — I was sold. I queried as to when we could meet, and it turned out that we would both be transiting through the Hong Kong International Airport, and so, we arranged to meet at the Airport Express terminal in town — me on the way in, and William on the way out.
As I opened the pouch containing the watch, William, a suave-looking guy in an effortless old-money sort of way, and I began to chat. He explained that he needed to sell the watch to fund a purchase. Incredibly enough, this purchase turned out to be the Alaska III from Phillips, and he had me in stitches recounting the Internet blackout story. I’ve always been a firm believer that the watches you were meant to own find their way to you, and that’s the way I feel about the BA 145.022-69 number 81, which now wears a burgundy service bezel that can be distinguished by its dot next to 90. Neither this nor its normal “O” — I am actually inclined to believe that it is entirely possible for this to be the original dial — bother me in the slightest. Its presence on the wrist is incredible and people never fail to notice it and be awed by how stunning this Speedmaster is.
As an aside, the limited-edition homage watch for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 made in Moonshine Gold and featuring a burgundy ceramic bezel and the calibre 3861 introduced last year, is every bit as gorgeous and makes a great alternative if you prefer a modern watch. For me, I love the old watch and am constantly in awe of what incredible condition it’s in — certainly far better than most objects of a similar age, yours truly in particular.
William and I became friends and he even invited me to his farm to look at what has to be the single greatest private Speedmaster collection in the world. Honestly, I cannot even begin to describe how staggering it is. Anyway, if you want to watch the interview from my visit to his farm, you can do so here. Bear in mind that at this stage, I was still a Speedmaster novice.
Prices of this reference are slightly soft at the moment. After soaring up considerably in 2018 to the USD70,000–80,000 mark, they’ve come down quite a good bit this year and you can pick up a very nice example of this iconic Speedmaster for between USD40,000–60,000. However, do note to watch out for watches where the bracelets have been swapped out for more modern versions, or without gold bracelets at all, as this is a very expensive and almost impossible-to-find part.
Tintin Limited Production 2013–2015, 1,000-2,000 watches believed to have been made
Part of what drew me to the Omega Speedmaster Tintin was its totally unique visual appearance in the design history of the Omega Speedmaster. The other part of its allure is, of course, the story behind its genesis — which had, like every great superhero origin, come about by accident. The legend goes like this. In 2013, Omega was in the final stages of a partnership with Hergé, the creator of Tintin. Why? Well, because Tintin is one of those universally revered characters, a great and beloved ambassador for courage, determination and resilience. Also, one of Tintin’s most famous adventures tells the story of him travelling to the moon. What better narrative for a partnership with the official Moon Watch, right? The original design for the watch featured a massive, thickly printed red-and-white racing track meant to evoke the red-and-white livery of Tintin’s rocketship, as well as an image of him at 11 o’clock. But, unfortunately, the partnership fell through, leaving Omega with a considerable number of dials featuring this unique racing track. Ever the Swiss pragmatists, they launched the Speedmaster without the image nor any mention of Tintin, and simply with a red-and-white racing dial at the 2013 Basel Fair, leaving the majority of collectors and journalists somewhat perplexed by this oddball watch. We know all this because Robert-Jan Broer of Fratello Watches diligently reported it here, back in 2013.
Over the next two years, Omega would make somewhere between 1,000–2,000 of these watches, presumably to finish off the supply of dials they had. The watch, which retailed for 70 euros more than a standard Moon Watch was not particularly successful, and accordingly, Omega discontinued it. When this happened, people somehow started to find this Speedmaster appealing. Why? Well, there has never been another Speedmaster with more visual impact. Thanks to its red-and-white racing track, you can spot a “Tintin” from across the room. Racing-dial Speedmasters are amongst the most coveted watches out there, and this is the only cal. 861-based watch made in any kind of volume. Also, in comparison to the Black Racing Dial, the Grey Racing Dial and the Japan Racing Dial, the red-and-white racing track of the “Tintin” is far bolder and more striking. There really is nothing like it. All of this is well chronicled by Michael Stockton in this article from 2016.
In 2018, amused by the bizarre legacy and visual dynamics of the Omega “Tintin”, I eventually bought one, which I paired with one of Omega’s red-and-black NATO straps. As something of a lark, I wrote this story: Could the Omega Speedmaster Tintin be the next Paul Newman Daytona?
At the time, the watch was trading at around the USD5,000–6,000 mark. By the end of the year, the secondary market prices of the Tintin had jumped by 100 percent to between USD10,000–11,000. Interestingly, the Tintin now has almost approach-price parity with the Japanese Racing Dial, which was made in a limited edition of 2,004 pieces for the Japan market. This makes sense, as the Tintin is also believed to have been made in a quantity of around 2,000 watches at maximum. It’s perhaps not the first Speedmaster I would recommend, but if you like its attention-grabbing optical pyrotechnics, then I feel that it is the Speedy to collect.
BA 145.022-69 Tropical – The Keystone
My relationship with tropical-dial watches is complex in that while I love them, they also tend to appear on watches that I generally can’t afford. The very first Speedmaster I saw with a tropical dial, where the lacquer of the dial had changed to a warm chocolate brown because of its reaction to UV light, was a magnificent CK2998-2 with a lollipop seconds hand that was shown to me by Speedmaster experts Roy and Sacha Davidoff. As I’d mentioned, I had passed on the watch as it simply wasn’t within my buying power six years ago.
Now that my Speedmaster appetite had been irreversibly whetted, I found myself looking at the vintage reference where tropical dials appear most abundantly, the 145.022-69. To learn more about this fascinating Speedmaster and why the dials changed colour, I consulted this article by William Roberts, whose website represents an incredible wealth of knowledge and passion.
As an aside, there is no other watch where enthusiasts share knowledge so openly. There is also no other brand that empowers vintage collectors by having a dialogue with their extraordinary museum curator and archivist Petros Protopapas. Omega will actually examine your watch and issue you an extract from the archives to authenticate your vintage Speedmaster. This will in particular come to bear in the next watch I would purchase, but for now, let’s return to the ST 145.022-69 with tropical dial.
This is a significant model because it was the first Speedmaster to feature the calibre 861. This chronograph movement was created as a more industrial solution to the calibre 321, which required a great deal of human labour to set up properly. It’s funny, in the context of today, that such is the reverence for the cal. 321 that Omega eventually brought the movement back, recreating a highly labour-intensive movement in the age of industrialism, simply because fans wanted it. The main difference is that the cal. 861 features a shuttle cam instead of a column wheel, and runs at a higher vibrational speed.
So, why is it that so many of the BA 145.022-69 turned this magnificent shade of milk-chocolate brown? There have been many theories postulated, the majority of which have to do with the material used to colour the dials black being unstable and reacting to sunlight over time. According to Roberts, the BA 145.022-69 ran from serial numbers 2842 0XXX – 3162 9XXX. Of which, serials 2911 XXXX and 2960 XXXX bear dials that are known to develop a very consistent patina. There are, of course, many other references of the Speedmaster that can evince tropical dials. Roberts shows off some incredible tropical 2998s, 2915s on his site. And in the book Moonwatch Only, you will find images of tropical dials on almost all the cal. 321 Speedmasters, including the 105.012. A few years ago, we sold this stunning 145.022 with a tropical dial.
But the important thing based on Robert’s research, is that the vast majority of tropical-dial BA 145.022-69 watches fall within serial numbers 2911 XXXX and 2960 XXXX. Do they fall outside of this range? Definitely, here is one that we bought for our permanent collection that is out of range. But, in general, if you’re buying your first tropical-dial Speedmaster, you would want it to correspond to the generally accepted serial number range for extra reassurance. What’s great about the BA 145.022-69 is that they seem to have become tropical abundantly enough that they come up regularity at auctions and with vintage dealers. You should be able to buy one for well under USD20,000. As with all vintage Speedmasters, originality of condition, and how well preserved are the case and dial, are all factors to consider. A watch accompanied by a recent Omega service guarantee and an Extract from the Archives is the best way to assure originality. Watches with “DON” or “dot over 90” bezels that appear before 1970 will also command a premium. I bought this example that ticks all the boxes at keystone.com, which seems to be a reliable source for cool vintage watches. And I need to give a shout-out to @watchgirloffduty for helping me broker the deal.
If a tropical-dial BA 145.012-69 is out of your price range, or if you simply prefer a modern watch with functional and stable Super-LumiNova indices, then consider the following. From 2007 to 2013, Omega produced their own tribute to the tropical-dial Speedmasters, the reference 3188.8.131.52.13.001 chocolate-dial Speedmaster. If you want to learn more about tropical-dial Speedmasters and this reference, check out our story here.
145.012-67 Ultraman 1 – Analog/Shift James Lamdin
There are certain watches that capture the imagination of collectors beyond all others. This has to do with a combination of compelling mythology, stunning and unique looks, and just the right amount of rarity — meaning it was produced in enough numbers that you can find one if you look hard, but at the same time it’s far from easy. To me, that watch is the 145.012-67 “Special model fitted with orange chronograph hand”, known as the “Ultraman”.
To be precise, an “Ultraman” is an Omega Speedmaster model 145.012-67, one of the three models that went to space and the very last Speedy to feature the hallowed calibre 321. But what sets this Speedmaster apart is an unusually long orange chronograph hand (18.80mm, to be exact) and a unique black satin dial found only in ref. 145.012-67 with movement numbers ranging between 26.076.XXX – 26.079.XXX.
The watch received its evocative sobriquet because of its appearance in the 1970s Japanese TV series, The Return of Ultraman. There has been some evolution of thought in the last few years regarding the number of Ultraman watches that were ever made. The math breaks down as such: of the 28,000 or so 145.012-67 made, only 3,000 watches fall within the correct movement range. And of those 3,000 watches, according to Moonwatch Only, just 50-odd Ultraman watches are known to exist.
However, in recent discussions with the Davidoff Brothers, Roy Davidoff feels that the number is closer to a few hundred watches. He explains, “What we do know is that they are all 145.012-67 watches that were made and delivered in June of 1968 to different parts of the world.” While the Ultraman watches are very rare, they have been showing up in auction or with secondary dealers with increasing frequency in the last few years.
James Lamdin, the founder of Analog/Shift, my favourite New York-based vintage watch specialists says, “I’m going to say that this is because the prices of these watches have seen a very dynamic growth in the last few years.” A few years ago, they were USD10,000 watches. In early 2018, they started to hit the USD20,000 mark; and by the end of the year at various auctions, they even hit USD70,000. In 2019, prices of vintage Speedmasters softened or, more likely, stabilised and consolidated after a few years of frenzied growth, and now, an Ultraman can be had for between USD40,000–60,000, depending on the condition and pedigree of the watch.
To be completely transparent, I was the guy who paid a price in the USD20,000 range for my first Ultraman back in 2018. The person who convinced me to set this new benchmark was William Roberts, who put it succinctly: “Just because no one has ever paid that amount for an Ultraman, doesn’t mean the watch is not worth it.” That’s because, to me, these watches have extraordinary potential for the various reasons I’d stated earlier.
It is important to note that the dial of the Ultraman has a completely different texture than the matte finish you’ll find on other 145.012 watches. It has a satin or silky finish to it that is subtle, but distinct. From a rarity perspective, a few hundred watches in existence means that they are rarer than, say, a “Paul Newman” Daytona. And from a mythology perspective, I cannot think of a cooler name than “Ultraman”.
Finally, it is a Speedmaster with amazing presence on the wrist. The simple addition of the massive totemic orange hand made its appearance utterly unique and incredibly compelling, and unlike any other Speedmaster. And there is probably no better experience than to press the start button on the watch, feel the column wheel of the calibre 321 engage the chronograph lever, and see the mighty orange hand start its imperious march around the dial.
Please note that while there are other vintage Omega models with an orange chronograph seconds hand, theirs are not as long as the hand of the Ultraman, and therefore cannot be retrofitted to create or Frakenwatch an Ultraman. This is one of the vintage Omega Speedmasters that I would never buy without an Extract from the Archives from Omega. On the Extract, it must state under Remarks: “Special model fitted with orange chronograph hand.” Without this, there is no verification that your watch is an actual Ultraman, even if it falls within the right movement range.
When it comes to a watch like the Ultraman, I would stress to purchase it only from a very reputable dealer. My first Ultraman came to me by way of Analog/Shift introduced to me by my buddy Jim Fisk, and I have since become great friends with the owners of the company, James Lamdin and Vincent Brasesco. If you are in the market for this kind of vintage horological finery, I would go to them. James has particularly skilled in sourcing Ultraman watches, and I’ve since bought a second watch from them that is in truly remarkable condition. These watches are available for you to view at the Revolution Watch Bar’s Temple of Speed.
If you’d like to read my story on both the vintage Ultraman, and the tribute watch created in 2018 as Speedy Tuesday 2 please check out my story, here.
Speedy Tuesday 2 Ultraman Limited Edition of 2012 Pieces 2018
The watch collecting community was abuzz with rumours that were reaching near-frenzied levels leading up to 24 June 2018. Why? Because Omega was about to launch its second Speedy Tuesday Limited Edition. Just like the first watch, it would be limited to 2,012 pieces, referencing the year the hashtag was created. And, just like the first watch, it was a collaboration between Omega and Robert-Jan Broer, and was launched purely via social media and online.
On the day it unveiled what was dubbed the Speedy Tuesday 2, Omega literally broke the Internet — such was the crazed global attempts to order the watch all at once. Why were we losing our collective minds? Because, this time, Omega had found their inspiration in one of the hottest and most mythical Speedmasters, the Ultraman. The fact that they did also demonstrated that Omega’s Aeschlimann, Perret and Kissling were totally tapped into the zeitgeist of Speedy collecting and perfectly understood what collectors wanted. What was most impressive was that the resulting watch surpassed even our loftiest expectations.
I wrote this when I first set eyes on it, expressing four reasons I loved it: “First, the appearance of the orange hour markers on the stepped part of the dial, which, to my mind, is a witty tip of the hat to racing-dial watches. Second, the word “Tachymètre, with its period- correct accent, is also rendered in orange along with the “Speedmaster” on the dial. Third, the first three minutes in the chronograph minute counter are painted orange, too — because Ultraman could only retain superhero form for three minutes. Dude, this was so cool that when I read this, I totally high-fived myself.”
But what is perhaps the coolest detail of the watch, and again something of a clin d’œil to Omega’s massively successful Silver Snoopy, is the hidden luminous Ultraman silhouette painted inside the continuous seconds marker. Under UV light, it glows — you guessed it — orange. Boom. Mic drop. Cue fireworks and DJ Khaled’s ‘All I Do Is Win’. The great thing about Omega is that I can only imagine other brands responding to a request for a hidden luminous orange silhouette with the typical Swiss-French mantra: “Mais non, c’est impossible. Non-non-non.” But Team Omega was immediately up for it.
Raynald Aeschlimann said, “We love the details that when taken together create such a love affair with our watches. And we always push ourselves to achieve what hasn’t been done before. That’s our culture at Omega. Remember that during the Space Programme, we were the ones pushing watch technology to the maximum with the Alaska Project. We were not instructed to do so; we took it upon ourselves to do it. That’s Omega.” If you want to read the full story on the Speedy Tuesday 2, the Ultraman check it out, here.
CK 2915 60th Anniversary Limited Edition 3775 pieces 2017
What I love about Omega is that they think about and use different approaches to create different types of watches. So when it came to the 60th anniversary of the very first Speedmaster, the watch that started it all back in 1957, Omega took a different and ultimately highly rewarding approach for the collectors.
The original Speedmaster CK2915-1 is a masterwork of design. It features a matte black dial with totalisers for both chronograph minutes and hours, the second of which was vital for auto endurance racers. After all, the watch was originally created for this audience, and as such, it featured a tachymeter, a scale that lets you calculate average speed over one kilometre.
Instead of placing this scale at the perimeter of the dial, Omega decided to move it outside the watch for greater visibility, and engraved it on the bezel instead. This set a design precedent that every major brand would eventually follow. The hands of the CK2915 feature the famous Broad Arrow elements, and both the dial and hands are painted with a considerable amount of luminous material.
Inside the watch, you would find the legendary calibre 321 designed by Albert Piguet, the technical director of Lemania. At the time, Lemania and Omega were part of the same group and the cal. 321 was to be the most advanced chronograph movement of the era.
The thing about the CK2915 is that even the most sophisticated collectors have rarely seen one, such is their rarity. What’s more is that very few survive today in their original condition. This is compounded by the fact that they are also very valuable watches, with good examples trading for well above a quarter-million dollars.And as with all rare vintage watches, it would probably be inadvisable to don this timepiece as a daily wearer.
But, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the CK2915-1, the powers-that-be at Omega did something rather incredible. They went about creating a totally faithful homage of the original CK2915-1 — albeit driven by a calibre 861 movement, as opposed to the original calibre 321. And when I say faithful, I mean that according to Omega’s Jean-Claude Monachon, Omega actually went about 3D scanning a CK2915-1 from their museum to analyse every single detail of the watch before proceeding to create their tribute.
That means the precise dimension of the bezel, the case, the pushers, the dial, the font, the indices, the hands — everything was analysed and used to create an incredibly faithful homage to the watch that started the Speedmaster legend in 1957. The result is so accurate that when I’m wearing my 60th-anniversary CK2915, many august collectors have actually reached out and grabbed my wrist to study it momentarily, before they realised it was the tribute watch and not a quarter-million-dollar vintage grail.
It is also important to understand that Omega had never used this approach, in terms of creating micron-accurate facsimiles of its vintage icons, before. Omega’s CEO Raynald Aeschliman says, “This was a very special occasion where we actually recreated all three of our vintage icons from 1957 — the Seamaster, the Railmaster, and of course, the Speedmaster — with such accuracy. It was done to also give collectors the possibility to access pieces like this, which are otherwise incredibly rare.” Personally, I loved the watch; to me, it is the equivalent of Porsche creating a run of dead-accurate 356 Speedsters (with an updated motor) to commemorate the anniversary of this automotive icon. I am not alone in my love for it. Daniel Craig wore his personal watch during the press images for No Time to Die, which were shot in Matera, Italy.
The 60th-anniversary CK2915 is limited to 3,557 pieces. It is an absolutely stunning watch and is trading for around USD6,500 — pretty close to its retail price and therefore a watch I consider something of a bargain. If you have a desire to get into vintage Omega, but want something practical enough that you can wear it during sports or even in the pool, I cannot overstate the amount of pleasure you’ll get from this amazing timepiece.
105.012-66 CB – Phillips
Vintage Speedmasters are full of intriguing nuances, and none more so than the 105.012-66 CB. In this instance, the critical difference has everything to do with the initials “CB” which stands for Centrale Boîtes, one of the most famous case makers in Swiss watchmaking history.
Just on its own merit, to me, the 105.012 should be considered one of the most legendary watches of all time. It was the specific model of Speedmaster worn by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong during the most seismic event of the mid-20th century, the Apollo 11 moon landing. Made from 1964 to 1966, the 105.012 ushered in the era of the iconic lyre- lug Speedmaster, featuring these beautiful and unique design elements that also served as crown and pusher guards on the right side of the case.
In 1964 and ’65, the case of the Speedmaster 105.012 was made by Huguenin Frères SA, a case maker that had worked with Omega as early as 1957 with the CK2915. But for whatever reason, in the production year of 1966, Omega Speedmasters were made by two case makers — Huguenin Frères and the aforementioned Centrale Boîtes.
Even more intriguing is that the cases actually differ significantly. Specifically, the watches made at Centrale Boîtes feature an additional bevel that is unique from any other Speedmaster ever made. This is an additional vertical bevel that stretches in a straight line from the edge of the bezel to the end point of the lugs. Now, what is even more interesting is that this was not common knowledge until recent years, when vintage Speedmaster collecting grew significantly as a culture. As a result, many of these watches had this bevel polished out during servicing — meaning that to truly understand the unique beauty of this reference, you really need to look at a watch that is almost in new-old stock condition.
Which is exactly the condition of the example that Thomas Perazzi, the head of Phillips watches in Hong Kong, was auctioning in 2018. If you recall, I’d mentioned that I met William Roberts (@Speedmaster101) in Hong Kong. Well, I had flown in to attend this auction because I had seen images of this amazing Speedmaster in their auction catalogue. In the viewing room before the action started, I had the opportunity to talk to Paul Boutros who is head of the Phillips team based in New York and whom I had known for many years. As he showed me the watch, he remarked enthusiastically about its condition. The great thing about an auction house such as Phillips and someone like Paul Boutros, is that they have essentially done all the due diligence on the watches for you already. You can look at the Phillips lot notes for the watch, here.
This watch particularly had an intriguing caseback, which was engraved with the words “TAT Flying Club”, which Boutros was convinced had been done at the Omega factory. But most of all, its case was absolutely pristine — meaning that the additional bevel that separated two polishing planes on the lugs stood out in crisp relief. During the auction, the action was heated, but in the end Perazzi looked at me and, using some kind of Jedi mind power, compelled me to raise my auction paddle. And so, the extraordinary 105.012-66 CB became part of our permanent collection.
105.003 the “Ed White” – Eric Wind
Now fully in the throes of vintage Speedmaster fever, I became fixated with owning a straight-lugs Speedmaster. The only problem was that both the CK2915 and the majority of CK2998 iterations had soared out of financial reach for me. But there was one other straight-lugs Speedmaster that, to me, was just as iconic for several reasons.
The 105.003 is the last of the straight-lugs Speedmasters, but it is also the Speedmaster that passed all of NASA’s stringent selection test where all other watches failed. In addition to that, it is one of the three references that were officially certified by NASA, which includes the 105.012 and the 145.012 — and it is the oldest of these three. It is also ubiquitously known as the “Ed White”, named after the first astronaut to walk in space during the Gemini IV mission.
The legendary “Ed White” was also the chosen timepiece of astronauts Frank Borman, John Young, Gordo Cooper, Gene Cernan (Omega has this watch in their museum), Tom Stafford, and none other than Jim Lovell of Apollo 13. Remember when I mentioned that Omega won the Silver Snoopy award for its outstanding service to NASA, and in particular, because Jim Lovell was able to use his Speeedmaster to time the crucial 14-second engine burns to get the angle of their crippled craft just right so it wouldn’t burn up on re-entry? Well, he was wearing an “Ed White” or an ST 105.003.
This, and the fact that it was this specific model that allowed the Speedmaster to become the official watch of NASA, made it the single most historically significant chronograph around. It’s not for no reason that when Omega decided on a steel watch to house the reborn calibre 321, they immediately realised it had to be an “Ed White”.
What is even more amazing to me is that considering the incredible connection with human advancement, the prices of Ed White Speedmasters are still relatively low — hovering around the USD20,000–30,000 range. The 105.003 was made in 1963, ’64 and ’65 with the final year being the most abundant in terms of production. But, for me, the most important thing when it comes to these vintage Speedmasters is how original and well preserved every element of the watch is. Which is why I got excited when my friend Jim Fisk rang me up and said, “Eric Wind just received the highest-quality Ed White he’s ever seen in his life.”
Now, if you don’t know who Eric Wind is, he’s something of a legend in the watch community. He is, first of all, the single most educated man working in watches, as a graduate of Oxford University as well as Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He is also one of the nicest, kindest and most generous human beings around.
So, to be able to buy an amazing watch from a great person is one of those things that gives me true pleasure in life. The images of the “Ed White” arrived and I was blown away by how pristine the watch looked — not in a manufactured way involving laser welding, artificial ageing and other arcane arts which now dominate vintage Rolex collecting, but like a 55-year-old watch that had been lovingly cared for.
Now my thinking is that when you own something like this “Ed White,” you really become its custodian, which also comes with a certain responsibility to care for it and to also share it with people so they can enjoy it as well. It was actually this specific Speedmaster that gave me the idea of opening a gallery for the public to be able to examine amazing vintage watches.
145.022-69 Grey Racing – Davidoff Brothers
If you have even the slightest interest in vintage Speedmasters, then you will have heard of the Davidoff brothers Roy and Sacha, who are the unrivalled kings of this domain. I would say that they and Robert Jan-Broer are the three key figures in the growth of vintage Speedmasters, and even modern Speedmaster culture.
One of the rarest and most intriguing Speedmaster configurations is the category of “Racing Dial” Speedies. These emerged in the late ’60s and are classified under two versions: the Black Racing and the Grey Racing. To me, they are the single most visually stunning and beautiful Speedmasters ever created and continue to be a major design influences on modern Speedmasters such as the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, as well as 2020’s Alinghi Team Speedmaster, both of which feature black ceramic cases, stunningly decorated calibre 861 movements — and racing dials.
The Black Racing watches come in two versions with an applied Omega logo and are found in both 105.003 and 145.012 watches. These dials do not have the word “Professional” on the dial, and as such, are named the “Black Racing Pre-Professional” models. The same dial with a painted logo and the word “Professional” is found in both 105.012 and 145.012 watches.
“The late 60’s is an amazingly diverse period for Omega,” says Roy Davidoff. “I think that what you see is a lot of experimentation to create greater legibility. The Black Racing Dial Speedmasters are a clear effort at using colour to separate the time-telling indicators, such as the hands as well as the continuous seconds indicator and the hour indices, which are all coloured red, from the chronograph indicators such as the chronograph seconds hand, the minute and hour counter and the incredible racing track which are all coloured white.”
Sacha Davidoff adds, “No one knows why these dials made it onto the production watches. It is our belief that as they were reaching the end of the calibre 321 era they decided to use all these existing dials and put them on watches.”
The second and perhaps better-known Racing Dial is the Grey Racing, and that appears specifically on the 145.022-69 watches. “This is one of the most stunning dials ever created,” says Sacha Davidoff. “This time, the chronograph indications all use the colour orange, the racing track features the combination of a burgundy outer ring and orange indices, and the hands of the watch are traditional white baton units. Remember that Omega eventually released this exact colour combination for the Speedmaster Mark II, so it’s likely that they had also experimented with offering it as a dial option for the traditional Speedmaster.”
Roy Davidoff points out, “The dials from the Mark II Speedmaster are not interchangeable with the 145.022-69, so you cannot just swap the dial from one watch to the other. But in addition to that, almost all of the Grey Racing Dials were delivered to Switzerland in May and June of 1970 and have a movement number within a couple of hundred units from 29.609.XXX. At our shop, we will always authenticate if a Speedmaster was born with a Racing Dial by contacting Petros Protopapas the curator of the Omega Museum, and request an Extract from the Archives that reflects that this watch had a ‘special dial’ when delivered.”
Most notably, the Grey Racing was the inspiration for the also-highly-coveted Omega Speedmaster Japan Racing, a limited edition of 2,004 watches with a Grey Racing Dial created specifically for this market and which needs to be delivered with accompanying certification. As the Davidoffs have made an extraordinary effort to educate the public about vintage Omega Speedmasters — going so far as to hold their own exhibition and publish their own book on rare Speedies — I consider them the go-to place if you are in the market for a super-rare vintage watch.
When they contacted me with the opportunity to own a sublime Grey Racing watch with the rare distinction of featuring a drop counterweight seconds hand in orange, as opposed to the flat non-luminous orange hand most often found on the Grey Racing watches, I felt myself compelled to purchase the watch. The dial on this particular watch features an extraordinary patina where the grey and the burgundy and orange colours have softened and gained patina, but are still charmingly vibrant. This is the single most expensive watch in our collection, but also one of the most important to me.
145.012-67 Ultraman 2 with Holzer bracelet (Los Hombre Ultra) – Davidoff Brothers
In general, I was interested in assembling a collection of great single examples of important Speedmaster references. So how did I end up getting a second Ultraman? Well, to me, this watch, which was found by Roy and Sacha Davidoff, has a history that I found incredibly interesting and its condition could only be described as sublime. As I’d mentioned, only a few hundred of model 145.022-67 watches were Ultraman. These were made or delivered in June of 1968, but they went to many different parts of the world. This particular watch went to Mexico City.
At the time in Mexico, Speedmasters were imported as head-only watches due to trade restrictions on importing complete watches. The local distributor Holzer y Cia would then fit the watches to a locally manufactured “Jubilee” bracelet, which gave the Speedmasters a distinct dressy, rakish flair. If you want to read a great story on Speedmasters with the bracelet, check out this story by Fratello Watches.
So when I saw images of this pristinely preserved Speedmaster, with the fattest unmolested case I’ve seen on a 145.022-69, combined with a Holzer bracelet, I was absolutely sold. The Extract from the Omega Archives states that this watch was delivered to Mexico and that it was a “Special model fitted with orange chronograph hand”, defining it both as an Ultraman and as a Mexican Speedmaster, which, as such, should be wearing a Holzer bracelet.
I had the incredible pleasure of wearing this watch on my trip to Mexico City to last year’s SIAR watch fair where this incredible Speedmaster, which I’ve dubbed “El Hombre Ultra”, made its pilgrimage back to the city it was delivered to a full 51 years after it was born.
145.012-67 Ultraman 3 – Analog Shift
At this point you must be wondering why I would purchase a third Ultraman. And my response would be: Analog/Shift — specifically, its owners James Lamdin and Vincent Bracsesco who sent me images of one of the very best-condition Ultraman watches I have ever seen, complete with a bracelet with all-original full links and box and papers.
When it comes to vintage Speedmasters, you really are buying the watch, and so that’s where the value is. However, when you have the opportunity to pick up a watch in this kind of insane condition and it has the original box, accompanying papers, and of course, an Extract from the Archives, you don’t say no — and of course, I couldn’t.
So there you have it: if you come to the Revolution Watch Bar’s Temple of Speed dedicated to the Speedmaster, odds are, you will be able to see all three of these vintage Ultraman watches, which is also a good study on how vintage watches age in different ways.
Silver Snoopy 50th Anniversary
Leading up to 2020, there were temptations aplenty for me regarding adding new Speedmasters to our permanent collection — in particular, the stunning Moonshine Gold Speedmaster celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing, and the platinum 105.012 Moonwatch, which is the first Speedmaster to feature the incredible reborn calibre 321. I also love the modern Dark Side of the Moon Speedmasters, and was severely beguiled by the 50th-anniversary Apollo 8 watch as well as this year’s Alinghi Team Speedmaster.
But it was in October of this year that I knew without a moment’s hesitation what the next Speedmaster to join the ranks of my other beloved watches would be: the “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary, which is not only the single most uplifting watch of 2020, but also the perfect example of how Omega is such a brilliant creative force in modern watchmaking. Omega had big shoes to fill for this watch, as the two previous “Snoopies” have already become objects of cult collectibility. The 2003 Blue Snoopy is highly coveted, while the 2015 Silver Snoopy, named as such for the presence of a stunning Silver Snoopy medallion on an enamel sky on the caseback, is considered a modern Grail and sells for almost four times its original price.
But the 2020 Silver Snoopy watch, to me, ascends to the throne of the all-time-greatest special-edition Speedmasters for the pure exhilaration and joy it expresses. The watch features the iconic 42mm steel Speedmaster lyre-lugs case,but the dial is solid silver and laser engraved with incredible detail, featuring a dancing Snoopy in astronaut regalia against a bed of stars at nine o’clock. This is the exact iconography of the Silver Snoopy pin awarded by NASA.
Now this would already be quite a charming homage. But, turn the watch around and your jaw will simply drop. Because on it, you’ll find Snoopy again sitting inside his command and service module. He is connected via what Omega calls a “magic hand”, to the Master Chronometer-certified calibre 3186 featuring a Co-Axial escapement and silicon hairspring. When you start the chronograph, Snoopy and his spacecraft start to fly against the backdrop of space for precisely 14 seconds.
The Earth, which is represented by a photorealistic disc, is connected to the continuous seconds hand and spins, completing a full revolution each minute. I cannot think of a more joyful animation to celebrate the partnership between Omega and NASA — and more importantly, the courage and resilience that they both represent and that we can take inspiration from this year. Bravo, Omega. This watch is wonderful and well deserving of the Revolution Award for the Most Uplifting Watch of 2020.
So there you have it: a complete inventory of each and every Omega Speedmaster you’ll find at Revolution’s new Temple of Speed, found in our Revolution Watch Bar in Singapore. Make an appointment and you and your friends can check out any of our vintage Speedmasters and learn the story behind this incredible watch and its unrivalled contribution to human history, while enjoying one of our house cocktails and even a cigar. Here at Revolution, we feel that the best way to grow the audience for watch culture is to give them access to some of the most incredible watches made in the past 50 years, and beyond. We love the Omega Speedmaster and we’ve created this shrine, the Temple of Speed, to express this affection.
If you’d like to make an appointment to come view the collection, please write to us at: [email protected]