In 2014, we already covered the Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz and the background of this watch: The Apoll0-Soyuz mission in 1975.
Two super powers forgot about the Cold War for just a moment by docking the Apollo and Soyuz spacecrafts at an altitude of 138 miles. Launched at the 15th of July in 1975, the docking took place on the 17th of July and lasted for 44 hours. After the docking, the American crew transferred from the Apollo to the Soyuz spacecraft.
All men in this mission, astronauts and cosmonauts, wore Omega Speedmaster watches. Interesting enough, commander Thomas P. Stafford (we had a look at his personal watch here), wore his gold Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI that he received. The other NASA crew members wore the issued caliber 321 Speedmaster Professional watches. All cosmonauts wore the later Speedmaster Professional 145.022 with caliber 861 movement.
Italy, one year later, in 1976. To commemorate the successful Apollo-Soyuz mission, Italian Omega distributor De Marchi requested a special Speedmaster for their market. For a long time, it was assumed that this batch of Speedmasters consisted of 500 watches. However, according to the Moonwatch Only book (if you don’t have it yet, order it) this number can’t be confirmed. On the original invoice that the authors of the book found, there was an order for 400 pieces. There are some assumptions being done regarding the other possible 100 pieces (assembled by the distributor himself for example), but there is no evidence of this. Below, a copy of the Extract of Records of 2008 (click here to see the process of producing Extract of the Archives today).
So, here we have the Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz watch. This exact watch was also featured in the wonderful ‘The Ultimate Speedmaster Exhibition‘ book by Roy & Sacha Davidoff. The watch is based on the regular Speedmaster Professional 145.022 model with caliber 861 movement. There are a couple of note worthy changes though, that I will touch later on.
This Speedmaster Professional, has the Apollo-Soyuz mission patch located at 12 o’clock. Normally, the Speedmaster has the Omega logo there. Where ‘Speedmaster Professional’ is printed normally, is now ‘Omega’. No mentioning of ‘Speedmaster’ on the dial. The Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz that we showed to you in 2014 in one of the Speedy Tuesday articles, had a strange set of hands. This model, has the regular white baton Speedmaster hands, filled with tritium.
The case of the Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz is also a tad bit different from the regular 145.022 models. The chronograph pushers have a larger diameter than the normal pushers (5.5mm instead of 5mm). This means that the case band also needed to be modified in order to make the pushers fit.
The caseback of the watch is special as well. Instead of the usual markings and “Flight Qualified…” engraving, this one shows the Gemini * Apollo * Soyoz (in Russian) and a bas-relief medallion of the Saturn 1B rocket. Closer inspection also shows an individual number, ‘006’ and an Omega logo. As the image below also shows, the end-pieces of the bracelet are numbered 633.
The bracelet on the Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz was also different from the regular reference 1171 at the time. This bracelet, reference 1168 (and not 1165 as the Extract claims) looks more like the famous Oyster bracelet that Rolex uses. It uses the same end-links as the 1171 bracelet, reference 633, as shown above. It actually looks good in my opinion.
The Omega Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz was delivered in a box as shown below. Nothing like the huge boxes you receive today with your numbered or limited edition Speedmaster. The papers show the sales date of 24th of August 1981. It is almost unbelievable that this watch sat in a shop for about 5 years. However, I am not sure how big the demand was for mechanical watches in those years. With the quartz crisis and so on, I can imagine that the demand was very low and the collecting community was small. Much smaller than today’s.
In my early years of collecting, late 1990s, I can only recall having seen one Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz for sale. In Rotterdam of all places. I think the price was around 10,000 Dutch Guilders, but I am not 100% sure about this.
Chances are very small you will find one for sale other than on auctions or specialist websites. These watches tend to stay in the inner circles of Speedmaster collectors. It is quite difficult to put a price on these watches. It is up to the buyer and seller to come to an agreement, but I expect high prices to be fetched. Especially when complete with box and papers.
It makes me wonder where all 400 pieces went and if they are still all ‘alive’. Perhaps some of them ended up in drawers and haven’t moved since the last 3 decades. With the internet, the market has become quite transparent and people who bought one back then, or inherited it later on, are able to search for value and demand for these quite easily.
Other Apollo-Soyuz commemorative Speedmasters are the one with the meteorite dial (2009) and the gold version from 1995. All the astronauts and former NASA people I’ve seen at Omega events, were wearing these meteorite Apollo – Soyuz watches at some point. Quite amazing.
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