A few weeks ago I published the first part of our Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 Buyer’s Guide and in this 2nd part, I will discuss some more details. As always, the devil is in the details and it’s these details that can make your purchase to an awesome find or a huge drama. Huge is relative, as the prices for the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 are still very acceptable.
Speedmaster Professional 145.022 – Many small changes
The relatively low price is one of the reasons why it is so popular at the moment. As I wrote in part one, you can pick up a very nice 145.022 under $3000 USD on Chrono24 or eBay and I’ve bought one recently myself for much less (only needed a bit of cleaning and a new $50 USD crystal) from a private seller in my area. The other reason is that the Speedmaster 145.022 is an amazing looking watch, not much different from the current Moonwatch with its shuttle cam hand-wound Lemania chronograph movement but yet have this vintage look & feel because of the old print on the dials, bit of patina on the hour markers and hands, stepped dials and of course the marks and scuffs it received over time while being worn. Perhaps that makes the Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 the best of both worlds.
Because the Speedmaster 145.022 was produced over a longer period, you will soon find out that there are subtle differences to discover in this reference. Luckily, the supply of these watches is still substantial and it is much easier to find an all authentic and time-correct piece than, let’s say, the pre-decessors 145.012 and 105.012.
As previously discussed in part 1, the following ‘production runs’ can be identified:
- 145.022-68 ‘Transitional‘
In short, I could split them up in Pre-Moon and Post-Moon Speedmasters, referring to the Moon landing in July 1969. But to be honest that doesn’t cover the load, as many small changes were made during the production of the 145.022 reference. For your information: this 145.022 ‘Moonwatch’ never was on the Moon actually, as Omega only supplied 105.012 and 145.012 references to NASA after the certification took place. Only in 1978 Omega sent a batch of 56 Speedmaster Professional 145.022 watches after re-certification for the Space Shuttle program.
So, let’s say you’ve found a nice Speedmaster Professional 145.022 for sale, like I did a couple of weeks ago. I brought a loupe and a case back opener when I made the appointment to examine the watch. Now I can imagine that not every seller is happy to have the case back opened, or that you own a little tool to open up case backs, but I thought it was necessary to have a look at the condition of the movement (no corrosion) and at the movement number (not to be confused by the caliber number). The movement number is something I touched already in Part 1 of this Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 Buyer’s Guide.
Anyway, this number can be checked with Omega using their Extract of the Archives information. If you are not willing to spend CHF 150 Swiss Francs on that, you can use some of the tables floating on-line to get a rough estimation on the production year.
After having checked the movement (also make sure to look at the gasket, are they still ‘like silicon’ instead of hard and plastic like which indicates the watch hasn’t been serviced for a while), have a look at the inside of the caseback for inscriptions. Besides the 145.022-XX indicator, some times you see some indication that the watch has seen a couple of services. If you noticed that the watch has been serviced, pay attention to the following parts:
Basically, the dials of the Speedmaster Professional 145.022 can be divided in two different variations. The step dial and the flat dial. The step dial comes close to the dial of the 145.012 and its pre-decessors, except for the differences in typography and the applied Omega logo (except for the transitional 145.022-68 reference).
The 145.022-69 and 145.022-71 dials have the step dial, easy to discover as it divides the main center part of the dial with the outer part where the minute track is printed. This flange disappeared with the 145.022-74.
From the 145.022-74 and on-wards, the dial should be flat and have no ‘step’. To makes things a bit more complex, the 145.022-76 comes in a few small variants. Always having a flat dial of course, but the ‘S’ in ‘Speedmaster’ can be slightly different (the later models have a longer ‘S’).
You really need to compare dials when it comes to typography and printing, otherwise it can be hard to detect small differences. In all cases, these dials have tritium hour markers and hands. Some of them will have an amazing nice yellow-ish patina, others stay quite white. I’ve seen all-white dials on the 145.012-67 quite a bit for example, while some of the 105.003 models look like they have a bit of green-ish fungus on there. So there is also a bit of ‘personal preference’ in picking the right dial. I am personally not too fond of heavily discolored markers, but a little yellow is nice.
A little side note on the brown dials. These brown 145.022-69 dialed Speedmasters are heavily in demand and seem to fetch higher prices than ‘ordinary’ black 145.022 dials. It is basically a matter of preference, but please be aware that the brownish color was a result of using defective varnish. Climate conditions were of influence on the discoloration or ‘quick aging’ on these brown dials. If you find one, always make sure that the movement didn’t suffer from moisture / humidity as that caused the brown color in some cases.
The abbreviation DON has become one of the Speedmaster buzz words in just a few years time. In a time where nobody could care less but just wanted to have a decent looking bezel, a lot of these DON bezels have been replaced. I plead guilty as well. DON stands for Dot Over Ninety of course, and indicates a certain time frame of the production and use of these bezels. For the 145.022 reference, the DON bezels are only used for the 145.022-68 Transitional and the 145.022-69. Later on, starting 145.022-71, the dot was located next to the ninety (in the right upper corner). You can also identify them by the dot near the 70, where the DON bezels have the dot located at the right lower side of the 70 and the later 145.022 references were positioned next to the 70 (in the middle). However, not every 145.022-69 was delivered with a DON bezel, there are also 145.022-69 references that had the non-DON bezel (if that makes sense). So don’t stare blind at the bezel when it concerns a 145.022-69. The DON bezels also had a É instead of an E in TACHYMÉTRE.
There is one bezel that is perhaps even more interesting than a DON bezel for a 145.022-69 reference Speedmaster. The ‘220’ bezel. This bezel was basically a misprint at Omega, where the tachymeter should have said ‘200’ – let’s say at 3.30 – it said ‘220’.
I already touched the subject of casebacks a bit in part one of this installment. There are basically four different casebacks used for the 145.022 reference Speedmaster Professional.
- Caseback with Seahorse and ‘Speedmaster’ written (145.022-68/69);
- Caseback with straight writing of ‘First Watch Worn on the Moon’ (145.022-69, 1970-1973);
- Caseback with straight writing of ‘First Watch Worn on the Moon – Apollo XI 1969’ (145.022-69, 1971/1972);
- Caseback with ‘Flight-Qualified by NASA for all manned space missions’ (145.022-71/-78);
Let me start by saying that the straight writing casebacks are the most rare ones, especially the one with ‘Apollo XI 1969’ engraved in it as well. It is more or less the same as the gold BA145.022 Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI (the one with the burgundy bezel, remember?) caseback, with the Apollo XI 1969 engraving.
The straight writing casebacks are the most sought-after ones, but please note that a number of these different case backs were used in the same period or at least with overlap. The plain caseback with only a seahorse and ‘Speedmaster’ written is considered to be the ‘Pre-Moon’ caseback, although these were used until 1971 for the 145.022-69 until Omega started using 145.022-71 somewhere during that year.
Always check the case back for certain deep scratches (most of the time you’ll find them near the little rectangular incisions for the removal tool) and make sure – if you don’t open it – that there are no pieces of seal coming out. Be very afraid for the condition of the movement when that happens.
Speedmaster bracelets, you could write a separate book on those. However, let’s keep it short and simple and make no rocket science out of it (as it wasn’t for Omega at the time as well). A number of different bracelets have been used for the Speedmaster Professional 145.022. From the reference 1039 with flexible links for the first years (up to 1971) to the most famous ‘145.022’ bracelet, the reference 1171. You will also come across bracelets with reference numbers 1116 (very similar to the 1990s reference 1479) and 1175 (similar to the 1171). One time, when I was in the shop of the Davidoff Brothers in Geneva, I met a person who had a Speedmaster on a Holzer bracelet. This bracelet looks a tad bit different and was produced in Mexico with a local supplier (Holzer).
Sure, I think one of the best tips one can give is to seek for help when purchasing a Speedmaster from the guys from OmegaForums.net for example. There is a huge Speedmaster community out there who are eager to help you out to identify a correct (or incorrect) Speedmaster Professional 145.022. If you are able to spend a bit, I suggest you buy the Moonwatch Only book from Rossier and Marquie that I reviewed here.
Some personal rules that I use:
If you come across a Speedmaster Pro 145.022 that you really like but has – for example – an incorrect bezel and hands: if it doesn’t speak to you other wise, let it go. Finding the correct parts is becoming a burden and it is better to wait for something better to come along.
A Speedmaster that is just plain dirty, needs a new crystal and has some wear: clean it yourself using a soft toothbrush, an ultra sonic bath for the bracelet and get an estimate on having it serviced (properly) without having to swap some crucial parts. A watch with no bracelet isn’t really an issue as well, but calculate a few hundred bucks to find the right one. If you are desperately seeking the 1039 bracelet, these can fetch around $800-$900 USD alone in nice condition. A 1171 bracelet, or the later 1171/1 (these were delivered as spare part since the 1980s) can be found for around $300 USD, will always work for any of the 145.022 references/years.
A Speedmaster Pro 145.022 that I would really leave alone without even thinking about it, would be one with a replacement dial. On the other hand, if one is offered to you for very little money, one could decide to use it as a daily beater watch or invest a bit in an original dial. But price is very decisive here.
In any case, always make sure to give the watch a full winding (ask the seller not to have it fully wound when visiting), pull the crown, move the hands around and use the chronograph. If everything works and feels correct (no heavy winding turning of the crown in general), you should be fine. However, always try to see if there is an opportunity to see the movement and look for corrosion.
If you have questions or additional tips (such as “Buy the seller” :- )), leave a comment! Let’s help each other out here!
A big thanks to all who contributed images of their 145.022 watches in the past. Credits for the header image to bexsonn.com.