Speedy Tuesday – Speedmaster Professional 145.022-69 from 1971
I’ve had a couple of Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022 models through the years, from the 145.022-69 to the 145.022-78 references. I kept selling and trading them at that point, they were approx 1500 Euro watches and were quite useful to flip for other more sought-after watches. But late summer 2015 I was approached by a reader who had this Speedmaster Professional for sale and after he sent me a couple of pictures I realized that I didn’t have a 145.022-69 in my collection anymore. Although I had hoped for a case back with straight-text inscription, it happened to be the pre-Moon case back instead.
So, after going back and forth to see in what price range we were talking, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the seller only lived 10km from my office so I could see it in the flesh without too much hassle. Like I explained in my article yesterday (here), I prefer meeting face-to-face when buying a watch. I took my loupe and case back opener with me, to have a closer look at the watch and its movement.
During the appointment, I asked if I could open the case and that was no problem for the seller. The watch itself had not been worn for quite some time and was covered with dust and dirt. The movement looked quite clean to me though, but I also noticed that one of the bridges was engraved with ‘cal. 865’ . Omega caliber 865 belongs to their Chronostop timepieces but seem to be sharing some parts with the 3 register chronograph caliber 861 movement. I guess that this part has been replaced during a repair or service with a part from the caliber 865 movement that the watch maker had in stock. To be sure, I wrote down the serial number. On the inside of the case back, there was the 145.022-69 engraved as well as some watchmaker’s ‘engravings’ (they some times do that during a service).
The rest of the watch seemed fine, although the set of hands didn’t match this particular reference. It had the caliber 321 hands, with the little triangle – or drop counter-weight – seconds hand. The crystal was severely damaged (scratches and a crack), but the dial and bezel were fine. I also studied the case and even though I could clearly see that this watch was used on a daily basis for a long time, the case was unpolished. The seller had this Speedmaster Professional on a later 1990s reference 1479 bracelet but also showed me the original bracelet it came with, the reference 1039.
However, I didn’t decided yet, as I had a few questions left that I wanted answers to. So I checked the serial number with Omega and the movement was indeed the original caliber 861 that came with the watch. The watch was produced on May 12th 1971 and shipped to The Netherlands on December 22nd. That also explained why the watch had the 1039 bracelet stamped ‘4/71’ (which means 4th quarter 1971). This is actually the last batch of reference 1039 bracelets. It would also have made sense if the watch came on a reference 1171 bracelet of course, as that one was already in production by then as well.
On the case back, there is the Seahorse logo and ‘Speedmaster’ word engraved. While there were already case backs with “The First Watch Worn On The Moon” engravings (straight-text) since 1970 and used on the Speedmaster Professional 145.022-69, the later ’round’ engraved Speedmaster case backs were introduced with the reference 145.022-71 Speedmaster watches.
Although a Dot Over Ninety (DON or DO90) bezel is a bit of a buzz word these days, it was only used till 1970. So there are Speedmaster Professional 145.022-69 watches out there who have a DON bezel, but this one was produced in 1971 and came with a later bezel. With later bezels, you have to look at the dot next to the 70 and the C in TACHYMETRE. This one has the bezel with a dot close to the 70 and a narrow C in TACHYMETRE. This bezel was used from 1970 to 1990. Then there is faulty bezel from 1970 as well, which is similar but instead of ‘200’ it has ‘220’ on the exact same position. A small mistake made by the supplier to Omega in those days, now highly sought-after (and paid for).
After having these things sorted out, it seemed that only the hands were a bit strange on this piece. Nothing to get worried about and I decided to pull the trigger on this one. I had the hands swapped, a new crystal fitted and put it on a nice leather strap. The bracelets needed a clean in my ultrasonic cleaner but I never actually put them on the watch, until now, for a couple of pictures.
So, what needs to be done? Well, the watch needs a thorough cleaning and the movement should be serviced at some point. The original 1039 bracelet needs to be taken care of as it lost its original brushed and polished finish a bit due to wearing. I am not going to touch the case, as it is fine as it is. I could have the bridge with cal. 865 replaced for an original one, from a donor movement, but I am not sure it is worth the trouble and effort. Most important would be to find a good pair of tritium caliber 861 hands. For the money I paid for it, there is still some room left to spend on this watch. At the moment, perhaps also due to the Christie’s Speedmaster 50 Auction of December 2015, the prices of the 145.022 references have gone up quite a bit. It is difficult to source a good one under €2500 Euro, especially the older 145.022-69 models. If there’s a DON bezel or faulty ‘220’ bezel, brown dial or a straight-text engraved case back, expect to pay a lot more.
I am pretty sure that a lot of people would have walked away from the watch when they saw it covered in dust, dirty and a cracked crystal. Clearly a ‘project’ watch, but after a first clean, a new crystal and a fresh leather strap, I was actually amazed how quickly it turned into a piece that I frequently wear.