Last week was very impressive auction week. First, the Omega Speedmaster CK2915-1 that sold for a over 230.000 Euro via the Swedish auction house Bukowski (click here for our report) and then there was the Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ reference 6239, owned by Paul Newman himself, that fetched a whopping $17,752,500 USD at the Phillips auction in New York.
Another great watch that was sold during that Phillips auction in New York last week, is the Omega Speedmaster Alaska III reference 145.022. As you know, it was exactly this model that inspired the Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday that we’re so proud of, and several years ago we actually had one in our hands (read our story about the astronaut’s watch we’d found back in 2012). Only 56 of these watches were issued to NASA, and all of them remain(ed) NASA property. So what is the story about the Omega Speedmaster Alaska III that was auctioned last week? Let’s have a closer look.
Omega Speedmaster Alaska III
A bit of background story to the Omega Speedmaster Alaska III might be helpful. For the upcoming Space Shuttle missions, NASA wrote another tender for a chronograph wristwatch that astronauts should wear during Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA). Omega submitted three watches for NASA to test, the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 (with caliber 861), an Omega chronograph ref.11003 and the Speedsonic with tuning fork movement. It was on November 2nd in 1978 that NASA qualified the Omega Speedmaster Professional once more, to be the official piece of equipment for astronauts.
After the qualification, Omega partnered with the Star Watch Case company (based in the USA) to comply with the US Government’s ‘Buy American Act’. Omega issued 56 watches to NASA, via their US distributor. 56 watches, head-only, with the radial dial that you’ve seen in our previous article on these watches. A more in-depth story on radial dials can be found here.
However, Omega created more than 56 pieces of these Omega Speedmaster Alaska III watches. There were four extra watches that were kept at Omega, as spare or ‘extras’. Then, as we reported earlier, there were about 40 extra radial dials made. Sometimes (last Saturday I actually did) you come across one of the watches equipped with a radial dial from that extra batch of 40. But the watch auctioned at Phillips is a ‘true’ Omega Speedmaster Alaska III of course. The case is different as it has the Seahorse medallion case back, and NASA’s internal product number engraved “SED12100312-301”.
The watch that Phillip’s auctioned isn’t one of the 40 extra dials, but also not one of the 56 pieces that were issued to NASA in 1978. Actually, it is one of the just four ‘extras’ that Omega made back then. How can you tell? Well, the 56 issues Omega Speedmaster Alaska III watches have, besides an engraved NASA internal product number, also an internal serial number. A 4-digit number that was engraved just below the product number. On Furrer’s watch that we had in 2012, we blurred it for legal reasons, but it was clearly there. On this Phillips watch, there’s only the product number. An ultra-rare piece, fewer available than the ones from NASA.
Keep in mind though, that the 56 pieces that were issued by NASA, can not be sold or traded on the market. These are government property and treated as such. If you ever come across one, handle it with care and wisdom, before you know there are some black helicopters circling above your house. I am not entirely sure if NASA has all 56 in their possession, as the one we had clearly wasn’t at the time.
Including premium, this Omega Speedmaster Alaska III sold for a whopping $187,500 USD. Auction information and result can be found here. Imagine how much one of the 56 issued Omega Speedmaster Alaska III watches would fetch.