Welcome to the Speedmaster World Cup. In the absence of Euro 2020, we thought our beloved readers might enjoy a tournament of a different kind. We’ve assembled eight groups (A–H), each governed by a different Fratello team member. Each writer has been assigned four watches, which they will pitch to you during the group stages.

All we need you to do is vote for your favorite to move on in the competition. The next round will be the quarter-finals, which will see the eight group winners go head-to-head for your votes. The four winners progress to the semis. Following that, a third-place play-off will precede the final round, due to be held on Sunday, December 13th (get the beers in…).

If you haven’t done so yet, also make sure to cast your votes for the Speeedmasters in group A, group B, and group C.

Group D

My connection to the Omega brand starts with my dad’s Omega Seamaster DeVille. He bought his Seamaster in 1966 and still wears it to this day. What I somehow never found out until recently is that my dad’s dream watch wasn’t his Seamaster DeVille. Not too long ago, he confessed that the watch he always wanted to buy was an Omega Speedmaster Professional.

…we not only share our passion for Omega but our passion for Speedmasters as well.

When I asked him why he didn’t buy one, he answered: “I already had a good watch.” It made me smile but also felt a bit sad that he didn’t buy his beloved Speedmaster. My dad explained his love for the Speedmaster in relation to the Apollo space program. It was a crazy realization that we not only share our passion for Omega but our passion for Speedmasters as well. When I showed him the Moonwatch Only book, I showed him my favorite Speedmaster Limited Edition of all time. He agreed on the unique nature of my favorite Speedmaster LE. So it’s not just my favorite in this Group D of the Speedmaster LE World Cup. It’s my dad’s and mine.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project 2008

The visual impact of the Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project 2008 alone reveals this is something exceptional. The story behind the Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project 2008 reads like a spy novel. It is a story of the secret Alaska project, incredible technical innovation, and remarkable design.

…the “Lunar Surface Chronograph.”

The Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project was presented at Baselworld 2008. A total of 1970 pieces were created of the watch that commemorates the unique prototypes of the Alaska Project. As part of the Alaska Project, Omega set out to create a watch that could withstand the extreme temperatures on the moon in a project that was called the “Lunar Surface Chronograph.” The result? This spectacular piece. But it took a while…

Alaska I

The first result of this quest came in 1969 in the form of a big chunky titanium watch known as the Alaska I Prototype. To protect the watch from the extreme temperatures, Omega came up with a bright red aluminum outer case to serve as a heat shield. The dial of the watch was coated with white Zinc Oxide, which is highly resistant to solar radiation. Lastly, the sub-dials have the famous “rocket hands.”

…it’s simply stunning.

In 1970 Omega came up with the Alaska II Prototype based on a regular Speedmaster with an Omega Caliber 861. The watch took the discussed characteristic elements from the first prototype to create an iconic second prototype. It’s this watch that is the inspiration for the Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project 2008.  The bright white dial, the rocket hands, and the slightly changed red anodized aluminum outer case, they are all there. Put it on one of the two white velcro straps, and it’s simply stunning. Add the Ian Fleming-like Alaska Project story, and this is on the top of my and my dad’s list!

Speedmaster Apollo 11 35th 3569.31

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 35th Anniversary

I am usually not the person that likes a special edition of a watch that pretty much looks like the regular model. But I’m also the guy that likes pretty much everything black. However, there are some beautiful exceptions. And the Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 35th Anniversary is one of them. It’s one of the very few Moonwatches with a black and white panda dial. And because of that, it has become a Speedmaster fan favorite.

…a very special Speedmaster.

The watch was based on the regular 2004 Speedmaster Moonwatch, the 3570.50. The case, bracelet, and caliber 1861 movement of this Apollo XI 3569.51 are precisely the same as those of the regular Speedmaster Professional from that era. But as Robert-Jan mentioned in his Speedy Tuesday article about the Apollo XI 35th Anniversary, the visual differences make this a very special Speedmaster.

The absolute eye-catcher is the Panda dial with a white field and black sub-dials. This iconic combination shows the incredible versatility of the Speedmaster’s design perfectly. On top of that, the date of the moon landing in red gives the dial a bit of zing, making sure it’s the first thing that catches your eyes. A great little detail!

The Eagle has landed.

The second eye-catcher is the Apollo XI mission patch on the case back. Of all the Apollo mission patches, this one is surely the most iconic. It sits beneath a sapphire case back, its vivid colors resplendent. The eagle that Neil Armstrong referred to when he spoke the legendary words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”.

Omega Speedmaster Automatic 376.0822 “Holy Grail”

The story of the Omega Speedmaster Automatic 376.0822 “Holy Grail” is the story of Omega collector and expert Chuck Maddox. He compared his extensive search for the Speedmaster Automatic 376.0822 to King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. Maddox — who passed away in 2008 — spent an enormous amount of time chasing the first automatic Speedmaster that uses a Moonwatch style case. Because of his intensive search, Maddox nicknamed the Speedmaster Automatic 376.0822 the “Holy Grail.”

…the “Holy Grail”…

But as Robert-Jan stated in his article about the Speedmaster “Holy Grail,” it’s not just a matter of one man nicknaming a watch. Collectors also like to call this the “Holy Grail” because it ticks a lot of boxes. The watch is powered by the legendary Lémania 5100 based Omega caliber 1045. That movement, combined with one of the most iconic chronographs, makes this a practical step up from the regular Moonwatch.

Speedmaster 376.0822

The Lémania 5100 movement has all the functions of the regular Moonwatch. But next to being an automatic movement, it also added a day & date indication and a 24-hour scale. Because of the slightly thicker movement, the case of Speedmaster Holy Grail is a bit thicker than the case used for the regular Moonwatch at the time. But its design is in the same recognizable style. The 1450 bracelet is a real boon too.

…very much a limited production Speedmaster.

Finally, the production details make the Speedmaster “Holy Grail” name even more appropriate. A total of 2,000 watches were produced in 1987 and 1988. So despite not being a limited edition Speedmaster, this is very much a limited production Speedmaster. Finding one in original condition for a reasonable price could make you feel like King Arthur as well.

Speedmaster BA145.022-69

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA145.022-69

The Apollo XI BA145.022-69 is the original, the source of all life when it comes to Limited Edition Speedmasters. Although named a numbered and not a limited edition, other competitors for the title will have to take a deep, respectful bow for the 1969 gold Speedmaster BA145.022. Does it need any introduction? It’s like introducing Pele to Brazilian soccer fans.

…production took several years…

The Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA145.022-69 was created as a tribute to the NASA astronauts. A total of 1,014 numbered pieces were produced of this legendary 18-karat gold Speedmaster with a burgundy aluminum bezel and black onyx indexes. Because the production took several years, there are differences between earlier and later models that Robert-Jan covered in this article.

Presented to NASA astronauts

This gold speedy has a great story. Legend has it that the first two production pieces had very famous recipients. President Richard Nixon took the first. Vice President Spiro Agnew took the second. However, neither man accepted the watch set aside for them. Why? Simply because they were deemed too valuable. Given the ignominious end to Nixon’s presidency, it stands out as a particularly honorable moment. During a banquet in Houston on November 25, 1969, numbers 3 to 28 were presented to NASA astronauts.

There is only one first!

Numbers 1,001 to 1,008 were presented to astronauts that completed their space mission in 1972 and 1973. A small number of pieces were also presented to Swiss politicians, watch industry leaders, and various personalities. Numbers 33 to 1000 went on public sale from 1969 on. Nowadays, the Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA145.022-69 is a grail watch for many collectors as it should be. There is only one first!

Now the ball is in your court. Who is progressing to the next stage from my group in the Speedmaster LE World Cup? Vote below and let me know your choice in the comments section

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If you haven’t done so yet, also make sure to cast your votes for the Speeedmasters in group A, group B, and group C.