Despite being a fan of watches and familiar with his grail watch, the Speedmaster, Jason never identified the watch on the pictures of his grandfather as a Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. The reason for this – probably – is that his grandfather used to wear the watch on the inside of his wrist. Once you know, you will recognize the Speedmaster bracelet (ref.1039) on his wrist on the photos.
Jason’s grandfather passed away in 1984 and he worked for the NSA (National Security Agency) until 1979 when he retired. He started working for the NSA straight out of high school at the time and must have bought the watch somewhere in the early 1970s. There are a couple of photos, also of him in the office, where he can be seen wearing the Speedmaster bracelet. When Jason’s grandmother passed away, he helped his mother to get everything in order at his grandparent’s place.
One box escaped from the eyes (and fingers) of the rest of a number of relatives, a box filled with two decades of bank receipts and other papers. However, in that same box this Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.022-69 Moonwatch also saw daylight again after being tucked away for many years. Neither Jason or his mother had any idea that this watch belonged to his grandfather. Coincidentally, Jason considered the Moonwatch to be his grail watch long before he found it in this box. Instead, a while ago he bought a Bulova Accutron Spaceview as it was far more affordable and had some space related history as well.
His grandfather worked in the field of cryptography for over 30 years, travelled often under assumed names (ranked General), was a Special US Liaison Officer and besides (and most important), was a wonderful family man. Unfortunately he passed away when Jason was too young to be able to ask him any questions regarding his work, or watch (even if he would know).
Jason told us that he always wanted a Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch since about 20 years ago, when he started to get interested in the 1960’s space race. However, he just assumed he would never buy one, as it was too expensive for him when he was younger and as he got older, his priorities were somewhere else. Jason writes “And now, when I could actually afford it, I could not justify it when I could be spending the money on our 90 year old house, or any of the more “grown up” things (like travel… we love traveling overseas). Home repairs kill a lot of dreams, lol!”.
FW – Did you already have a specific love for watches before you found this one (you obviously already had a Bulova)?
Jason – Yes, and in fact I had gotten the Accutron Spaceview because I assumed I would never get the Speedmaster! It was the closest I could get to the First Watch Worn on the Moon… I had it restored, found the correct Kreisler coffin link bracelet, and was very pleased. Then this Speedmaster falls into my lap and the Spaceview lost all it’s charm!!
FW – Did your grandfather wear the Speedmaster Moonwatch as a daily watch until 1984?
Jason – YES, can you believe it? I have many photos of my grandfather, and literally every photo taken post-moon landing until months before his death has that Omega bracelet prominently on his wrist. I never even realized he had it until I discovered it in my Grandmother’s house, as my grandfather wore the watch with dial facing inward.
FW – Do you know some more about the background of this Moonwatch? Do you know where it was bought?
Jason – Sadly I know nothing about the where and how. I have spoken to my great aunt, the last surviving relative from that generation, and she thinks that it was very much in his style to buy something like that – a good quality time piece that he could rely on, and his national pride syncing with Omega’s involvement with what we had accomplished in 1969 was probably the icing on the cake. She is unsure whether the NSA would have furnished him with the watch, but there may have been an opportunity to buy one via the NSA – like a perk as an employee. Her husband also worked there, but he too sadly has passed.
On to the watch that Jason found: It is an Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch reference 145.022-69. For this reference, Omega used a number of different casebacks. The pre-Moon caseback which has Speedmaster engraved in the center as well as the Seahorse logo. The other ones are the straight script casebacks that have ‘The First Watch Worn on the Moon’ engraved in the center. One version only comes with this horizontal text and the other one is similar but has ‘Apollo XI 1969’ engraved below the ‘The First Watch Worn on the Moon’ text. The latter one is a bit more rare.
The straight script caseback you see here, on the Moonwatch from Jason, was used between 1970 and 1973. Actually, these casebacks were all used at the same time (or have an overlap in time) and it is unknown when and how Omega decided how to pick what. My best guess is that they just used what was there during assembly of the watch. It wasn’t until Omega started using the 145.022-71 caseback reference using the ’round’ engraving.
This also means Jason’s Moonwatch uses the Lemania based calibre 861 movement. The hand-wound copped colored movement that appeared with the reference 145.022-68 in 1968 (with the applied logo dial). This movement had some iterations until it received an upgrade in 1997 with the calibre 1861 movement, with rhodium-plated finish and an extra jewel (compared to the 861 in Jason’s watch).
Jason had his watch serviced (as the reset button didn’t work properly) and tried it on a neat velcro strap and a leather strap (see below). The 1039 bracelet needs a few more links, but these are difficult to find.
Jason published his story on OmegaForums.net first and I decided to ask some follow-up questions about his great find. Jason allowed us to publish it for our Speedy Tuesday feature on Fratello Watches.