A Question From A Reader: “Which Modern Speedmaster Is Closest To The Original Moonwatch?”
We receive quite a number of questions regarding the Speedmaster, and some of these messages are very similar. One of the recurring questions we receive about the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is in regards to its Moon heritage.
One of the Fratello readers asked us the following question: Which modern Speedmaster is closest to the original Moonwatch?
We do get this question quite often indeed, so today, we’ll share our answer (or opinion, as you wish). The number of different Speedmaster models in the current Omega collection can be a bit confusing for people. The Moonwatch is, by definition, a hand-wound watch, but not all hand-wound Speedmasters are considered Moonwatches. Think of the now-discontinued First Omega in Space, which is based on the original CK2998 reference (1957 to 1962). It is not really a direct descendant of the Moonwatch.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
The three references that made it to the Moon are the Speedmaster 105.003 and the Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012. These references were delivered to NASA after the qualification in 1965. Throughout the rest of the decade, Omega sent these watches to NASA and engraved them with their own serial number (SEB) like every other piece of equipment. Thus, you could say that the original Moonwatch is a 105.003, 105.012, or 145.012. The Speedmaster 105.003 and Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012 have become very sought-after in recent years, and there is no end to the demand in sight. The well of caliber-321-powered Speedmasters is drying up. The re-introduction of the Speedmaster Calibre 321 probably didn’t help either, as a vintage Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012 sell/sold for prices well below that of the new Calibre 321 model.
References 105.003, 105.012, and 145.012 are the ones to get if the Moonwatch heritage is very important to you. However, if we take into account that Omega never took the Speedmaster (Professional) out of production, we can easily determine which reference today would be the descendent of the original Moonwatch.
Reference 145.022 to 145.022
After the 145.012, in 1968, came the 145.022, which Omega produced until 1982. The 145.022 also saw several updates or changes, hence the -68/69/71/74/76/78 indicators after 145.022. Though Omega continued making the 145.022-78 until 1982, the brand had already introduced a new reference in 1981. That watch carried the reference 145.0022 (contrary to what some people think, this is not a service-case number, as it was with the 145.0012).
A new coding system for the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch reference numbers
The 145.0022 was replaced by the Speedmaster reference 3590.50 in 1988. That same year, Omega started using a new coding system called PIC (Product Identity Code) for its reference numbers. The 3590.50 was replaced by the 3570.50 in 1996, and that watch was produced until 2014. That year, Omega introduced a new “full set” Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch that came with a huge presentation box, a loupe, two extra straps, and a tool to change them. This Speedmaster model has the reference number 3126.96.36.199.01.005.
2021: A new Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
Since early 2021, Omega has had a new Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch (reference 310.30.42.50.01.001) with a number of changes and upgrades. For starters, the movement has changed to Omega’s caliber 3861. This movement is partially based on the previous 1861 but consists of 50% new parts that are non-interchangeable. This new caliber is certified as a Master Chronometer by METAS and features Omega’s Co-Axial escapement. Omega gave this model a different bracelet with a proper taper from 20mm to 15mm. This model also features the beloved dot-over-90 bezel, marking its return to the standard Moonwatch. The case design is different from the previous reference and is similar to the one used for the fourth generation Speedmaster, the 105.012. This Moonwatch case shape had also been used for the Apollo XI 50th anniversary models from 2019 and the Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary from the current catalog.
On the dial, you’ll find the famous “step”, as well as the chronograph second hand with a teardrop-shaped base. The version with a Hesalite crystal has a printed Omega logo on the dial and a closed steel case back with engraving. The sapphire-crystal version comes with a sapphire case back as well to display the Omega caliber 3861. All details and a comparison between the current Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch and the previous reference can be found here.
Is the Calibre 321 a Moonwatch?
And last but not least, there’s the Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 reference 3188.8.131.52.01.001. This watch was introduced in 2020 and is part of the regular collection. It’s a remake of the 105.003, using Gene Cernan’s Speedmaster that he wore during Apollo 17 as a blueprint. However, it does have a ceramic bezel and a sapphire crystal. The case, dial, and caliber 321 are very close to the original 105.003 though, as is the flat-link bracelet. You can consider this model a Moonwatch as well.
In the end, the 105.003, 105.012, and 145.012 were used for the Apollo missions, and the 145.022 was qualified in 1978 for the Space Shuttle missions (we’ve found one here, and as a matter of fact, it was the inspiration for the first Speedy Tuesday limited edition). But rest assured that the current Speedmaster Professional and its predecessors are considered official Moonwatch models as well.
Perhaps the only advice I can give you is to start with a new(er) reference. And if you happen to like it that much, begin your quest for a nice vintage model and use the modern one for daily wear. The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch reference 310.30.42.50.01.001 retails for €6,700 (including sales tax).
*This article was first published on April 12th, 2016. We have revised and updated it with new pricing information, correct reference numbers, and new images.