“It is very distinctive, it is very stylish – it is very Louis Vuitton… wherever you go in the world you will see people carrying the distinctive Louis Vuitton brand… whether it is a little bag or a huge suitcase. It talks of distinction and taste” – Cherie Blair at the London Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison Opening.
The Omega Speedmaster Man on the Moon watch is one of the few bargains in the luxury watch segment. The watch is an iconic piece which proudly touts “the first watch worn on the moon.” The watch is the official NASA certified timepiece for space missions in the 1960s and 1970s.
Do not confuse the watch with its slightly smaller automatic cousin. The only piece to get is the original manual wind piece with acrylic glass. The automatic version is not the moon watch.
Buying new the Omega can be had for a song. To the novice it is safer to buy the later 861 movement model from a reputable vintage watch dealer or buy new.
The watch has enjoyed very little change since the original 321 movement version. The 321 version commands a hefty premium but is still good buying. This is Omega’s version of the Rolex Daytona.
Care should be taken as this watch is not waterproof. This piece is ideal for the office or weekends off.
Something fascinating about watch collecting is how particular watches become so desirable yet other models remain forgettable. It is something that can be impossible to predict. I know Omega didn’t realise in 1957 when it released its first Speedmaster watch it would be involved in history making events that ensured a cult following by watch collectors worldwide. The Omega Speedmaster Professional has the honor of being the only NASA approved wristwatch as well as being the very first watch ever worn on the moon. The significance of this has cemented the Speedmaster’s importance in any watch collection. The decision left to be made is which model you should buy.
Omega has not drastically changed the Speedmaster Professional in its overall appearance or purpose, from its initial release in 1957, to its current model. The NASA approved watch remains a chronograph with a manual wind movement. The Speedmaster has however had many subtle and gradual refinements to improve its functional use and appearance. It is because of these changes and the event of the moon landing which affect the popularity of different models. Omega has also developed a Speedmaster watch range owing to the popularity of the original watch. The Speedmaster Professional models can be broken down chronologically into 3 categories: Pre Professional, Pre Moon Professional, Moon Professional.
The very first Omega Speedmaster chronograph, model CK2915 with a Cal. 321 movement, was only in production for one year and therefore high on a collector’s most wanted list. Its features are a silver bezel with engraved black print, broad arrow hour hand, and wide sword like minute hand. The bezel and hand design of this model were considered shortcomings for its practical uses and were changed on the next model, CK2998. This model was in production from 1958 – 1963. Its improvements were a slightly larger case at 40m, a black bezel with silver text, narrower hour and minute hand and seals in the chronograph buttons. Omega was still not satisfied with the main timekeeping hands. In 1964 Omega changed them for fine white stick hands. The sub-dial hands were changed as well to match. This model is ST105.003 and was produced for a year.
Pre Moon Professional
In March of 1965 the Omega Speedmaster was chosen by NASA to be the watch used for all manned space missions. NASA tested 5 various chronograph watches and the Speedmaster was the only wristwatch found to be reliable in all atmospheric conditions. Omega acknowledged the importance of this achievement by renaming the watch the Speedmaster Professional. Omega released the renamed Speedmaster at the end of 1965. This model, ST105.012, has a larger more modern case design with flared 20mm lugs and crown guards on the case. At the beginning of 1966 Omega changed the model number to ST145.012 but there were no significant changes to the watch until 1968. During that year Omega changed the movement of the Speedmaster to the Cal. 861. It was cheaper to produce and was more accurate. This movement is still being used in the current Speedmaster Professional models. The Omega logo on the dial was also changed from being applied metal to being painted on in white. The last of the significant changes made to model ST145.022 was a more durable and attractive flip lock bracelet.
The greatest moment in the Speedmaster’s history was 21 July 1969 when it was an essential part of mans first steps on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission was a milestone in history and the Speedmaster became the first watch to be worn on the moon. To commemorate this achievement the case backs of the Speedmaster Professional were changed. The engraved Hippocampus (seamonster) was removed and the phrases, “The first watch worn on the moon” and “Flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions” was engraved. The format of the text was changed in 1971 to incorporate the Hippocampus on the back as well. This case back design is still being used today on the Speedmaster Professional watches.
The Speedmaster Professional has remained relatively unchanged from 1972 to the present day. Omega has made changes only to the watch bracelet to reflect the trends in current watch design. From the success and demand of the Speedmaster Professional, Omega has focused on creating a Speedmaster range and limited edition Speedmaster watches. The watch range offers options to the consumer such as automatic models, smaller sizes, sapphire crystal, different colours and different metals. The most recent Speedmaster model released is the Broad Arrow, which is inspired by the very first model CK2915. Omega has chosen to launch limited edition Speedmaster Professional watches to commemorate the anniversary of the moonwalk and NASA space missions. These watches have been very popular with collectors.
The Speedmaster Professional is arguably one of Omega’s finest watch making achievements and the popularity of the Speedmaster Professional is constant worldwide. As with anything collectable the oldest or first edition is always very desirable. This rule of thumb also applies to the Speedmaster but I have found that due to the amazing history surrounding this watch all models have a strong value in the vintage watch market. All collectors have their opinion on which model they consider significant based on the evolution of the watch.
The success of the Speedmaster Professional in the collecting arena has assisted in original watch parts being available. This in turn has enabled worthy restorations of old damaged models. With patience, almost any watch can be repaired. Watches like the Speedmaster Professional are definitely worth preserving. As the only piece of space equipment available for wear to the public, the Speedmaster Professional provides the opportunity to own a small piece of space history.