What’s cooler than a gold Speedmaster Apollo XI from 1969? One that is complete with box and papers! The gold Speedmaster Apollo XI BA145.022-69 was one of the first special Speedmaster watches that I came across when I just started to become a Speedmaster collector. In an early stage, I was introduced to a local watchmaker and Omega collector, who happened to have one (and still has). It made a huge impression on me, and it never failed to do so from then on. In fact, I think it is one of the most beautiful Omega watches out there. Gold is not for everyone, and some purists might wonder why I don’t prefer a nice CK2915 or CK2998, but to me, this BA145.022 is just magic.
I spent a few days in Geneva recently, to go to the watch auction viewings together with Sacha and Roy Davidoff. One of the watches that I liked best was this Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 BA145.022-69 that was actually not on auction, but offered through a private sale that weekend. In a separate display, Phillips showed a few watches that could be ‘just’ bought. The gold Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 was one of them. There was also a Speedmaster BA145.022-69 on auction that weekend, which fetched CHF68,750.- Swiss Francs (lot 34).
We covered this gold Speedmaster so many times here on Fratello, that I don’t even know where to start referring to those articles. If you are not familiar with this reference, make sure to at least read this (astronaut Wally Schirra’s watch) and this (a more recent article on an early BA145.022) article about it.
Interestingly, this BA145.022-69 Apollo XI that was offered privately (and sold) has a very low number (#82). As you probably know by now, Omega produced 1014 pieces of this gold Speedmaster Professional between 1969 and 1973. Most of these watches that you will see have the later case back, with the red lacquer filled engraving. There are basically three different case backs for this model, where one was specifically for the astronauts (and members of the White House) and the other two for the market. The first ones for the market weren’t filled with red lacquer and had a finer engraving than the later ones.
The movement inside this gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 is identical to the one in the steel 145.022-69 from that time, the Lémania based caliber 861. This movement was introduced in 1968 and replaced the column-wheel chronograph caliber 321 movement. Slightly updated over the years, the caliber 861 (now 1861) is still used by Omega and by other brands (using the Lémania base caliber 1873).
On the dial side, you can recognize an earlier version by the typography of the “Omega” name. The “O” is oval on these first watches, instead of round. All models have the burgundy bezel with Dot-Over-Ninety. Some of the Speedmaster Apollo XI BA145.022-69 watches you will see have a gold bezel with black inlay, which indicates that the original one has been replaced. Unfortunately, Omega did not have them as spare parts, or at least not enough, so they used the bezel of the later 1980 Speedmaster Apollo XI BA345.0802. Resulting in the fact that those bezels also went out of stock (thank you, mine could need a fresh one). The solid gold dial (indicated by OM, or ‘Or Massif’, printed next to ‘Swiss Made’) with its thick square Onyx markers looks really rich and definitely underlines the era when this watch was produced.
The gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 watch you see here was sold on August 24th in 1970. It probably means it has been laying around for a few months, with a number this low. According to its legacy, the watch sold by Swiss retailer Zbinden to a person in Chile and forgot to take his booklet with him. As you can see the retailer sent it two days after the purchase to Chile, with a business card as well. Also interesting to note is the blue Omega brochure that came with the watch, one that I never have seen before (I didn’t take any detail pictures of it though). Zbinden still exists today and is an official dealer of Omega and many more brands. On the warranty booklet, you can find the serial number of the watch, but also the reference number BA345.022. Quite an unusual indication of the reference number for this watch, but in some cases, Omega used a ‘3’ instead of a ‘1’ to indicate it came with a (gold) metal bracelet instead of a leather strap.
Last but not least, this 18-carat yellow gold Speedmaster Apollo XI 1969 comes with the original crater box. Some steel versions at the time also came with a crater box, but those craters were printed. For the yellow gold edition, the crater box was textured. It would be something that you could see Omega doing today, with their boxes for special and limited editions. It is really quite special. Many of these old boxes have missing inserts or inserts that come loose (the glue probably doesn’t hold that long), but this one is actually good.
The asking price for this Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 1969 BA145.022 was CHF 140,000 Swiss Francs. We’ve been informed that this watch has been sold by Phillips during the auction weekend in Geneva.
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