Now that Omega introduced their new caliber 321 movement, it is time to have a look at the most affordable Speedmaster Professional pre-Moon watch with caliber 321: the Speedmaster Professional 145.012. It already went up in value over the last few years, but the introduction of the new caliber 321 movement could give it another little boost.
This reference was produced in 1967 and 1968. Some have been delivered a tad bit later (in 1969), but it was replaced by the 145.022-68 in 1968. It is the last Speedmaster with caliber 321 movement (based on the Lémania 27CH C12). Also, it was the Speedmaster with this sought-after column-wheel movement that had the highest production, somewhere between 27000 and 28000 pieces in total. This basically means that you still will find a lot of them, it is the easiest caliber 321 Speedmaster to find on the pre-owned market.
The 145.012, together with the 105.003 and 105.012, was also the Speedmaster that Omega sent to NASA for use during Extravehicular Activities (EVA) by astronauts during the Apollo missions. We know now that the 105.012 reference was actually used by Neil Armtrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin during Apollo 11. Aldrin’s watch was worn on the Moon in July 1969, as the legend has it that Armstrong’s watch was left behind in the command module. However, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was wearing the Speedmaster Professional 145.012. Also, astronauts of later Apollo missions had the 145.012 instead of the 105.012 (and the occasional 105.003 that was still in use).
The good thing about the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 is that it was quite consistant in its configurations. No transitional models, no iterations during the production of this reference. Nevertheless, we receive quite a large number of messages from readers who want to buy a Speedmaster Professional 145.012. Most of these are questions about originality and pricing. This article is meant to give some insights into the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 and what to look for. I will also give some examples of do’s and don’ts and right and wrongs.
The Speedmaster Professional 145.012 is one of those references with caliber 321 movement that is still relatively affordable. Where its predecessor is way over 10.000 Euro, the 145.012 has (most of the time) a friendlier price tag. But perhaps not for long, who knows with the current craze for Speedmaster watches. Although it is the caliber 321 Speedmaster with the highest production, this doesn’t mean the market is flooded with them like it was the case 10-15 years ago. The well has dried up quite a bit, and you have to bring some good money to purchase one. This reference was actually the first Omega Speedmaster that I bought myself, in 1999. It was still in the pre-Euro era (although in 1999 the conversion rate was already communicated, the coin itself wasn’t there until 2002), and I paid 2000 Dutch Guilders for my Speedmaster Professional 145.012, which is now about 900 Euro in those days. Later on, I bought a couple more of those 145.012 references and I think the last one was in 2003 or 2004, for a whopping 1300 Euro. I can’t remember whether it had the correct bezel, but in those days, nobody really cared about these things.
The 145.012 is also the reference that was delivered with a red/orange second hand. Only few have been made this way, and are known as the ‘Ultraman’ due to its role in the Japanese series. This watch was also the inspiration for our Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday ‘Ultraman’ edition in 2018.
A couple of years ago, the price of the 145.012 was between 2500 and 3500 Euro, depending on whether everything was original (hands and bezel are the main concerns these days) and whether it came on the original reference 1039 bracelet. That was until the end of 2014. No more I am afraid. Keep reading.
As the 105.003 and 105.012 (and all other predecessors) went up in price, so did the Speedmaster Professional 145.012. People who bought one before 2015 can be happy, others – who are looking for one right now – can be a bit disappointed. As I’ve written above, the well dried up on the 145.012 and it will be hard to find a decent 145.012
Starting in 2016 already, the price went over 5000 Euro for a good 145.012 Speedmaster Professional. A year later, in 2017, the price for this reference already was at +7000 Euro and stayed in the 7K number for almost two years. Last November, the average price was above 8000 Euro. Based on Chrono24 sales data, the end isn’t near yet. Admitted it is a lot of money and the price increases were steep, but the significance of this reference and the column-wheel chronograph movement justify it for sure.
We receive a couple of emails on a monthly basis from people asking us for advice on the purchase of a reference 145.012 Speedmaster. Sometimes, they already even found one, but have doubts about the dial or hands.
A couple of them were about a dial in their reference 145.012 that did not have the ‘Professional’ printing. Although I can pretty much go along with the discussion that at the time of the production in the 1960s, Omega wasn’t always very strict when it came to selecting the right parts. This has mainly to do with the hands though, not the dial. The dial of a reference 145.012 should always have ‘Professional’ printed on there. Same as the logo, it should always be an applied logo. Trust us, we’ve seen three cases of 145.012 watches with non-Professional and printed Omega logos. Below, a late 145.012(-68) with the flat-end chronograph second hand.
For the Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.012, it is mainly in the use of hands that might confuse people a bit. At some point in 1968, Omega started using the flats (or straight end) chronograph seconds hand instead of the drop-shaped chronograph seconds hand. So you might find 145.012 models with the newer type of hand, that was later used in the 145.022 as well. I can’t imagine though, that it would be ‘OK’ for Omega to finish-up a pile of non-Professional dials in a watch that is basically the 2nd generation of ‘Speedmaster Professional’ watches. A watchmaker might have been sloppy, but it is easier to assume that the dial has been swapped during a later period when the original dial was damaged for example, and a watchmaker just added a non-Professional dial he had in stock.
Although the easiest thing would be to say that these watches are faulty, I am always a bit reluctant to say so as I’ve seen odd things in the past as well and Omega is not as ‘strict’ as well in their claims whether something is correct or incorrect. But in the end, if they don’t know the answer, nobody knows (except for first owners with a good memory).
Except for the later Speedmaster Professional 145.012-67 versions with straight or flat-end chronograph seconds hands or the funky Racing dials (a story on the early racing dial Speedmasters can be found here), this reference is pretty straight forward.
Normally, the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 should come in an a-symmetrical case, have a Dot Over 90 bezel (DON), tritium ‘T Swiss Made T’ dial (with long indices) and tritium hands, single step caseback (with Seahorse engraved). What I’ve noticed, and my own Speedmaster Professional 145.012-67 is an example of that as well, is that the hour markers and minute markers seem to be very white on some models where other models have a bit of yellow-ish patina. It is a common difference in dials and hands of that era when different suppliers were used for dials (and tritium).
So don’t be afraid that someone tried to remove the tritium from the dial if an Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.012 looks very white, it is quite common. However, most collectors prefer the yellow-ish patina on the hour markers and in the hands.
Although I am not a purist when it comes to very small details myself, as I rather have a watch that is wearable and technically in perfect condition than a watch that is worn out but with all original parts, some aspects that I find important for a reference 145.012-67 are:
Less important but still interesting would be the original set of pushers and crown. On the other hand, this might conflict with the technically perfect working condition as the seal in the crown wears out at some point and the pushers wear out as well over time. I also mentioned the Dot Over Ninety bezel that is important, but personally, I think it is a bit overrated.
Also, make sure to get an extract of your watch. You can do this online, except if you are based in the USA. For some legal reasons Omega has to deal with otherwise, you have request an Extract of the Archives via an Omega Boutique. They can assist you with this process. It will set you back 150 Swiss Francs, but it is worth it. A write-up on how the Extract of the Archives at Omega work, can be found here.
I see heavily damaged bezels (remember that the inlay is made of aluminium and can easily be scratched) with the famous DON and I personally prefer a better-looking bezel, even if it means that it is a non-DON bezel. However, if this is important to you and a Speedmaster Professional 145.012 does not have the original hands and DON bezel, keep in mind that these do not come for free these days. Where you could pick up a set of hands for 200 Euro and a bezel for 100-150 Euro a few years ago, expect to pay around 1500-1800 Euro for a nice and genuine DON bezel and around 1000 Euro for a set of original tritium hands with drop shaped chronograph seconds hand. And you will find some offers that exceed these amounts.
The moment you start looking for a Speedmaster Professional 145.012 you will pay the highest price of course, but I also understand that if you are not in the watch trade, they aren’t being offered to you often. Expect to pay 7000-8000 Euro/USD for a good example on the forums, with all original parts and bracelet. On Chrono24 the prices might end up a bit higher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them going up as even the most produced caliber 321 Speedmaster is becoming a rare find.
Go eBay, Chrono24 or have a look at the sales forum of OmegaForums.net for example.
If you are on the hunt for a Speedmaster Professional 145.012 or which ever other vintage or limited edition Speedmaster, make sure to get a copy of the Moonwatch Only book (we reviewed the 2nd edition here). The reference for the Speedmaster. Although 250 Euro might seem steep on a book, imagine the cost of a mistake you make when buying a vintage 145.012 or limited edition Speedmaster
A big thank you to Simone, Michael, Dave, ac106 and SpaceFruit for the use of their images in this article.
*The first version of this article appeared here on December 8th, 2015.
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