We receive quite a number of questions regarding the Speedmaster, and some of these messages show great resemblance. One of the recurring questions we receive about the Omega Speedmaster Professional is about its Moon heritage.
One of the Speedy Tuesday readers asked us the following question: Which modern Speedmaster is closest to the original Moonwatch?
Here’s our answer (or opinion, as you wish). The number of different Speedmaster watches in the current Omega collection can be a bit confusing for people. Although Omega refers to the dark Side of the Moon, Grey Side of the Moon, White Side of the Moon as well as the stainless steel and titanium Speedmaster Caliber 9300 versions and the First Omega in Space as ‘Moonwatch’ models, they are not. The Moonwatch is per definition a hand-wound watch and while the First Omega in Space is based on the original CK2998 reference (1957 to 1962), it is not really a direct descendant of the Moonwatch.
The two references that made it to the Moon are the Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012. These references were delivered to NASA after the qualification in 1965. Omega sent them to NASA in the 1960’s and engraved them with their own serial number (SeB) like they did on every piece of equipment. So you could say that the original Moonwatch is a 105.012 or a 145.012. Recent research also shows that the Reference 105.003 was flown occasionally as a secondary piece. The Speedmaster Professional 105.012 and 145.012 models are becoming more expensive and increased rapidly. The well of caliber 321 powered Speedmasters is drying up, and the 145.012 (which was always the most affordable caliber 321 reference) reach prices that were paid for CK2998 references only a few years ago.
So yes, the Speedmaster reference 105.012 or 145.012 are the ones to get if the Moonwatch heritage is very important to you. however, if we take into account that the Speedmaster Professional was never taken out of production, you can easily do the math yourself on which reference today would be the descendent of the original Moonwatch. The 145.012 was followed-up by the 145.022 in 1968 and was in production until 1982. The 145.022 came with several updates or changes, hence the -68/69/71/74/76/78 indicators after 145.022. The 145.022-78 was produced until 1982 but already in 1981 a new reference was introduced: the 145.0022 (unlike some people think, this is not a service case number as it was with the 145.0012.).
The 145.0022 was replaced by the 3590.50 reference in 1988. In that year, Omega started using a new coding system for their reference numbers called PIC (Product Identity Code). The 3590.50 was replaced by the 3570.50 in 1996 and ran until 2014. In 2014, Omega introduced a new “full set” Speedmaster Professional that comes with a huge presentation box, a loupe, two extra straps and a tool to change them. This new model has the reference number 318.104.22.168.01.005.
So in the end, you could say that the Speedmaster Professional 322.214.171.124.01.005 is the current ‘Moonwatch’ version. Of course, there have been some special and limited edition models based on the 145.0022/ 3590.50 and 3570.50 but let’s exclude them for now. The Moonwatch was also available with sapphire crystal, transparent caseback etc. But the original Moonwatch should always have a Hesalite (plexi) crystal and a stain- less steel caseback.
In the end, the 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 Speedy Tuesday limited edition). But rest assured that the current 3126.96.36.199.01.005 and previous 3570.50 are considered to be original Moonwatches as well.
In essence, nothing much has changed (except for caliber 321 via caliber 861 to the current caliber 1861 and some minor cosmetic changes). 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, start your quest for a nice vintage model and use the modern one for daily wear.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch reference 3188.8.131.52.01.005 retails for 4300 Euro (including sales taxes).
Thanks to Roy and Sacha Davidoff for letting us take and use images of their watches.
*This article appeared first on April 12 2016. We have revised and updated this article with new pricing information, correct reference numbers and new images.