The Speedmaster 376.0822 was nicknamed ‘Holy Grail’ by Chuck Maddox for one simple reason: according to himself he searched for this watch with the intensity that King Arthur searched for the Holy Grail. He began calling the Speedmaster 376.0822 “the Grail” because he was that obsessed with it.
It is not the first Speedmaster that received a nickname by its collectors, as the ‘Broad Arrow’ for example was used before for the CK2915. However, we could say that it was surely one of the first nicknames given by collectors to a Speedmaster. Chuck loved the Speedmaster 376.0822 for a couple of good reasons, most important was the combination of the Speedmaster ‘Moonwatch’ case and the use of the legendary Lemania 5100 movement. This movement, dubbed caliber 1045 by Omega, was already used for the Speedmaster Mark IV and Mark V and a number of other variations.
With the Lemania 5100 based movement inside, the Speedmaster Holy Grail received a more ‘toolwatch’ look, with the centralized chronograph minutes hand, the day and day indicators and the extra sub dial at 12 o’clock, being a day/night indicator (or 24-hour indicator, as you wish). Not only that, but during that time (1987) Omega also used the famous reference 1450 bracelet. An almost ‘Presidential’ bracelet that is considered by many (including me) as one of the best Speedmaster bracelets that has been produced.
Until recently, there was little known about this watch besides the documentation on the Chronomaddox website. After Chuck’s passing in 2008 (read my interview with him here), all of his work has been transferred to that website and it has not been touched ever since.
You have to realize that for a long time, it did not really matter that much if a watch had received service parts or not. You just did not know about this, like you did not know what the original/initial execution looked like of a watch (read this article here from almost 20 years ago about this watch, today you’d see a lot is ‘wrong’). Even ‘official’ materials (Journey Through Time) from Omega displayed the Speedmaster Holy Grail with a wrong set of hands for example, which is easy to explain, as the image in there was taken of a prototype of the reference 376.0822. Only later on, the use of time-correct parts became a very important aspect when collecting Speedmasters and made it almost disgraceful to use ‘just’ authentic replacement (service) parts.
Chuck’s research was great and many people relied (and still do) on it. However, modern times play a role and in the meanwhile the Omega museum and archives opened up for collectors and journalists to perform proper research themselves. Also the people working there spend many hours on researching watches and historic events.
This, and the fact that authenticity became a much more important aspect when collecting watches (as much higher prices are involved these days, compared to when Chuck Maddox bought his Holy Grail over 15 years ago), led to some great initiatives to get the absolute truth out there on watches like this Speedmaster 376.0822. Even with access to Omega’s archives in Bienne not an easy task to perform. The owner of the the www.omegaholygrail.com initiative did an effort to get all the details right for example.
However, the authors of the Moonwatch Only books did some extensive research on the Speedmaster Holy Grail, and recently published it on their website. Although the Speedmaster 376.0822 was not mentioned in their first edition of Moonwatch Only, where the focus was solely on the hand-wound Speedmaster models, in the 2nd edition of the book there’s a chapter about other Speedmaster models as well, including the Holy Grail. Where it was assumed that there were around 1500 Holy Grail watches produced, new research lead to the fact that 2000 of these watches have been produced.
With the same academic approach how they wrote the Moonwatch Only book, authors Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié now documented the Speedmaster reference 376.0822 Holy Grail in a way that will help collectors to identify and buy a correct model. Or at least enable them to do a proper risk analysis before they buy one, so they are aware of things that are incorrect and need an additional investment.
The only way to investigate the Speedmaster Holy Grail and determine the exact executions in 1987 and 1988, one has to dive into the Omega archives in Bienne. Rossier and Marquié must have spend quite some time there, as they went through a lot of data and images to get a grip on the exact bezels that were used, the story about the two different end-links for the 1450 bracelet (808 and 809) as well as the countries to which the Speedmaster Holy Grail was shipped.
The result of their research of the Omega Speedmaster 376.0822 “Holy Grail” is an exciting read. Many images are used to explain the correct parts of this Speedmaster, as well as one of the original 1986 datasheets of this watch. The style and use of images and charts is identical to those in the Moonwatch Only books, so those of you who have one of those, will recognize the lay-out immediately. I don’t want to reveal too much, so just head over to their website and have a look.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more