The Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 was introduced in 1968 and comes in many variations. We get a lot of “help” requests in our Fratello mailbox asking us about this exact Speedmaster reference and how to prevent from stepping into pitfalls.
In this first part of the Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 buyer’s guide I will answer some of the more generic questions that we get in our mailbox. In the second part, I will go into the details of the 145.022.
Why is the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 so in demand?
The Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 is the reference that has quite a bit to offer. First of all, it is a vintage piece that still comes at an affordable price (more later). There are a coupe of variations, each of them making it an interesting piece for a collector. You can go after a pre-Moon landing model, a Post-Moon model and if so, choose from a couple of different casebacks that Omega used to indicate that it is the watch that went to the Moon. Of course, the 145.022 didn’t go to the Moon, as Omega delivered the predecessors of this watch, the 105.012 and 145.012 with caliber 321 movement as official Moonwatch.
So why not go after a 105.012 or 145.012? Price has to do with that of course, where the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 is still relatively affordable, the prices of the caliber 321 column-wheel models are going up rapidly these days. Let alone the fact that it becomes more difficult to find one that has not been tempered with. The 145.022 can be found in an untouched condition more easily and if you are pushing it, find one with box and papers.
The Speedmaster Professional 145.022 has a long time span when it comes to production, and you could say that things only changed after Omega started using Super-LumiNova and the later caliber 181 movement in 1997. That is not really fair of course, as the original Speedmaster Professional 145.022 had a slightly different dial for a couple of years as well as some other minor differences. Omega also started using different reference numbers (PIC coding) or better said, they added a reference number as 145.022/145.0022 is still being used to indicate the case that is being used.
Another reason to go after a Speedmaster Professional 145.022 is that you will be able to find them in pristine condition but also in a pretty worn condition. Something that isn’t per definition a bad thing. Personally, I like my vintage watches to be ‘worn’ a bit and show signs of a previous owner who had fun with it. You can also search for dials that discolored a bit (or faded to brown entirely, although these seem to fetch quite high prices these days). Heck, they even come in blue and grey dials.
But let’s start with some basic things.
Omega Caliber 861
Omega’s caliber 861 is the successor of the caliber 321 that Omega used in the Speedmaster from 1957 to 1968. I’ve been told once by one of the former Omega Archivists that the caliber 861 was actually used since October 1968, but that is something I can’t confirm based on data. Let’s just say the caliber 861 movement was introduced in 1968. Omega did so for two reasons: the movement was more accurate than the caliber 321 that ticked at 18,000vph (instead of 21,600) and it was also cheaper to produce.
Omega also started using the caliber 861 for other Speedmaster variations, like the Mark II. The copper colored movement had a shuttle cam system for the chronograph instead of the column-wheel. The pushers therefore are not as silky in operation, but do their work precisely nevertheless.
Below an image of the caliber 861, taken from my Mark II, but is identical to the movements used in the regular Speedmaster Professional 145.022 up to the aforementioned 1997 when Omega started using the caliber 1861. Later on, the caliber 861 came with a Delrin brake and yellow (gilt) and rhodium plated movements as well as luxury finished models (861L and 863). I will go into some more detail in the second part of this article, but for now it is sufficient to know that the hand-wound caliber 861 movement was used in the Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 and that there are some different iterations of this movement. For the versions with a transparent caseback that used the 861L and 863 movements, the chronometer graded version (caliber 864) and the caliber 866 moon phase complication model, Omega also used different reference numbers so these watches are not in scope of this buyer’s guide.
Variations of the Speedmaster Professional 145.022
There are a couple of different versions of the Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 and especially if you are willing to also include gold and bi-color versions, it can get really interesting. In 1969 Omega introduced the often discussed Speedmaster Pro Apollo XI commemorative edition, with a production run of 1,014 pieces only. This is also a reference 145.022, but with “BA” as a prefix. You will find more information about this model in the article we did on all the gold Speedmaster Professional models. Then there is the bi-color model, indicated with “DD” before the reference number, click here.
However, if we only look at stainless steel watches, you could say there are a number of versions:
- 145.022-68 ‘Transitional‘
After that, the 145.022 becomes the 145.0022. The -XX indicates the production year of the caseback. Let there be no misunderstanding that this also indicates the production year of the entire watch. For example, the 145.022-69 was produced from 1969 to 1971. The fact that a caseback indicates 145.022-76 and -78 for example, does not mean that Omega did not produce any Speedmaster Professional 145.022 watches in 1977. Always refer to the serial or movement number (not to be confused with caliber number) that is engraved on the movement. The 145.022-78 was replaced by the 145.0022 around 1982/1983. On current models, you will find this number also on the inside of one of the lugs. Even with these serial or movement numbers it can get quite tricky, as they produced the movements with the serial numbers engraved in there during the production process of the movement, not when they assembled the watch. So a movement might have been on the shelf for quite a while while lower numbers were already used for watches. The only way to be absolutely certain about the production year of a Speedmaster is by using their Omega Museum website to request an extract of the archives.
The first 145.022, with the -68 indicator on the inside of the caseback is being referred to as the transitional model. It already has the new style hands and caliber 861 movement, but with the dial with applied Omega logo of the caliber 321 movement. In 1969, Omega started using the white printed logo on the dial. Those first dials still had the stepped sub registers – where the counters are somewhat deeper in the dial than on later models – and appearance of those caliber 321 models except for the hands and logo.
In the second part of this Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 buyer’s guide, I will go by these versions in more detail. The same goes for the bracelet styles that have been used, casebacks and bezels.
Where to look?
Before we go into the pricing details next week (which I can only do per variant, as it matters quite a bit whether you have a straight script caseback, brown dial, transitional model from 1968 or plain 145.022-69 model), I will give you some tips where to look for these Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 timepieces.
The best buys I personally had when it comes to Speedmaster watches, including the 145.022 models, are on eBay and by people offering them to me. The latter one is quite rare, so have a look at eBay and websites like Chrono24 (especially when offered by professional sellers, the prices are a bit high, but you do have some buyer’s security) and WatchRecon (that searches through a number of sales forums on-line). On eBay, these models run from $2700 for a nice 145.022-71 reference to almost $9000 Euro for a New Old Stock 145.022 from 1976, even without an original box and papers. I shouldn’t not go slamming someone’s sale, but that is quite high priced, especially without the original paperwork and box. Furthermore, for that kind of money I would start looking for a very nice 105.003 or a CK2998 with some work.
Auctions are another possibility, whereas Christie’s, Antiquorum, Auctionata, Watches of Knightsbridge and so on have their fair share of Speedmaster offerings. You will be happy to know that in December, a very nice Speedmaster only sale will be hosted by Christie’s in New York. More about that soon.
So, how do you make sure not to step into these pitfalls and end up with a watch that has been put together or has 3rd party parts on it? Our detailed guide line per reference number is most important to identify the good ones from the fakes. We will show you how to scan the Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 watches for faults and warning signs.
It is not rocket science (no pun intended), but you need to know what to look for and how to look for these things.
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