Already in the early days of my interest in Speedmaster watches (late 1990’s), I am familiar with the gold Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI from 1969 as my friend and watchmakers has one. This watch was (and is) one of the coolest Speedmaster watches out there in my opinion. It isn’t so much about the gold in the first place, but that it has an interesting story to it.
A story we’ve told a couple of times here: There are a total of 1014 of these watches, #1 was offered to President Nixon and #2 was offered to Vice President Spiro Agnew. Both declined the watch though, for compliance reasons. During a banquet on the 25th of November 1969, 19 watches were offered to the NASA astronauts. Later on, other astronauts who couldn’t join the banquet or who did later missions (than 1969) also received their gold piece. This watch has the engraving “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.” A quote that Jim Lovell also gave during a Q&A session at the Speedmaster Event in Houston last May. There seems to be a bit of an uncertainty whether Apollo 13’s Jack Swigert and Fred Haise received one, but I’ve been told that they were offered one later on as well. However, they do not appear in any overviews of the watches given to astronauts. A number of watches (with another type of engraving) went to some Swiss managers of Omega and Lemania at the time.
In any case, all other watches of the 1014 pieces in total, were put on the market and have the “The First Watch Worn on the Moon” engraving. My watchmaker has one of those, of course.
Although this model is probably the best known gold Moonwatch model out there, Omega made a couple more. Not only the regular Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ was available in gold for a long time, they also made a number of special editions and limited editions. This article will list the gold Moonwatch models that we know of, now. My colleague Blaise did some digging too, to find some rare gold Moonwatch models as well. These are also listed in this article. I decided not to include the bi-color models (like this one or this one) or the non-Moonwatch models in gold.
1969 Apollo XI BA145.022
To start with the most famous gold 1969 Apollo XI model that I described above. It was introduced after the Moonlanding in 1969 and in production till 1973. There are a few versions produced, with different case backs. Unless you are able to get your hands on an official ‘astronaut’ watch (like we showed you here (Wally Schirra’s watch) and here (Ken Mattingly’s watch)), you will probably be looking at the following caseback:
The BA145.022 can be found for sale relatively often. However, to get one with its original Mooncrater box is a bit more difficult. There were two of them for sale last year on Chrono24, or €12.000,- Euro and one for €13.500,- Euro. It goes without saying that the models that have their original box will fetch more.
1980 Apollo XI 345.0802 ‘Stafford’
Introduced in 1979, but only delivered to the market in 1980. Chuck Maddox referred to it as 11 years after Apollo 11. I first saw this model on the wrist of astronaut Tom P. Stafford, when I was in Sochi in 2014. Both Ben of Hodinkee (here) and I wrote about it (here). This model was in production from 1980 till approximately 1987. I have a German Omega catalog from that period, stating a list price of 23.000DM, which is about €11.500,- Euro (just as a rough conversion, no inflation etc). This watch is not a limited edition, but it was a time limited production and the watches were numbered. The general assumption is that there are approximately 300 of these, of which half went to the German market. 20 pieces were done in white gold, all for the German market.
I was quite mesmerized by Stafford’s gold Moonwatch model, so I started to look out for one as well. I found and bought one last year, in Munich. Although I do have the gold bracelet, I also like it on a leather strap. See below.
As you can see, it has a display back (snap-on, not screwed-down) showing the caliber 861L movement. The ‘luxury finish’ variant of the famous Lemania based caliber 861. If you look closely, you will see that it is basically the same as the caliber 1861 movement Omega started using in 1997 for all Moonwatch models.
The white gold model is much rarer, but we’ve found a photo on OmegaForums.net.
1992 Jubilee 27 CHRO C12 3191.50 and 3194.50
In 1992, Omega celebrated the 50th anniversary of the caliber 321 movement (introduced in 1942), or the 27 CHRO C12 as it was called in those days. Reason for a gold commemorative models. A rare watch, that comes in two flavors. One has the nicely finished caliber 863 movement and is limited to 999 pieces (3691.50 for the leather strap model, 3191.50 for the bracelet model), the other one (3194.50 with bracelet, 3694.50 with strap) has the chronometer version of that movement, caliber 864 and is limited to 250 pieces. The latter also has a display back.
The above pictured Speedmaster Professional Jubilee 27 CHRO C12 is offered for 8700GBP.
1994 Apollo XI 25th Anniversary 3192.30
Another chronometer version of the Speedmaster is this white gold BC348.0062 (or reference 3192.30). Available with bracelet or strap (3692.30). We have covered this watch on Speedy Tuesday, as one of our readers owns one of these rare beauties. We also took photos of the one from the Omega Museum in Biel, which can be found here. Limited to 500 pieces, to commemorate the Apollo XI mission. It has the caliber 864 movement, which is identical to the caliber 863 but with Chronometer certification (COSC). This watch was delivered with a very special leather box, in the shape of a book.
There is currently a white gold 25th Anniversary ref. 3692.30 (old reference BC148.0062) for sale on Chrono24, with a €8300 Euro price tag.
1995 Speedmaster Professional MIR 3197.50
Perhaps the rarest gold Moonwatch model of them all, the Speedmaster Pro MIR. Only 7 of these were produced. Two on gold bracelets (3197.50) and 5 on leather straps (3699.50). The stainless steel MIR models are already rare, as these 1x production of 10 pieces, 1x production of 35 pieces were in space. This gold version was on board of the MIR spacestation for 365 days, July 1993 to July 1994. The last time one of these were offered was in 2007, during Antiquorum’s OmegaMania auction.
Regular Production Gold Moonwatch 3695.50
I end this 1st part with the gold Moonwatch models that was just part of regular production, references 3695.50 (leather strap) and 3195.50 (gold bracelet). These models came with the nicely finished caliber 1863 movement. Omega discontinued them a couple of years ago, as there was – likely – too little demand for full gold Moonwatch models.
There is currently one on offer on Chrono24 with a leather strap, for just below €8000 Euro.
End of Part 1
As you can read, there are quite a bit of variations of gold Moonwatch models. In the 2nd part we will continue with some more special gold ones to have a complete list (as possible) of all of them. Personally, I think a number of these watches are still undervalued. Of course, the first Apollo XI 1969 commemorative edition is well-known and comes with a certain price tag, but the others can some times be picked up for very interesting prices. They are quite rare though, which does require some effort on searching and identifying. Some times, they are even cheaper than some of the limited edition stainless steel models, which doesn’t make sense to me, as many of these gold models are also limited or numbered editions. My own Speedmaster Pro ‘Stafford’, ref. 345.0802 is a watch that I bought just to own one. Put it in the safe and be part of the modest collection of Speedmasters. However, I find myself wearing it very often, even though I am not a guy for gold watches in general. If you see a gold Moonwatch model, make sure to try one and don’t stare blind on the Apollo XI 1969 model, there are some rarer gold versions out there.
Gold Speedmaster ‘Moonwatch’ Image Gallery