The Omega Speedmaster is a quintessential piece in any watch collection. Launched in 1957, the Speedmaster – or Speedy, as it is known affectionately by collectors – has been a staple in the scene and has seen continuous commercial success even as it faced competition from numerous brands over the years.
Its claim to fame was perhaps driven by its provenance. Also known as the “Moonwatch”, the Speedmaster was made famous for the fact that it was marketed as the first watch that was worn on the moon. The intriguing thing to note is that the watch was never developed for such purposes, which makes this whole thing even more mind-boggling and interesting. In fact, one of the main drivers of the article was the fact that Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin – wore a Speedmaster on his inaugural trip to space earlier this week. This is a testament to the brand and the collection’s stellar reputation in respect to the rigours and stringent requirements that it meets for such environments.
Beyond that, the Speedmaster is also known for its great design. The watch features an iconic layout with three sub-dials, as well as a tachymeter bezel that is used to calculate speed. These elements remain timeless, although the merits of such aesthetics have been shared with many other successful chronographs as well (think Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and the Zenith El Primero). It is perhaps a common recipe, but one that has served the brands well over the years without the need to make drastic changes.
For this week’s article, we are focusing on Speedmasters – more specifically, the numerous iterations of the iconic watch that has been spawned over the years. Omega is known to create limited and/or special editions of the Speedmasters, and we will be selecting some of our favourite iterations of the Speedmasters that have been produced. What are some of our favourites? Let us find out!
The Original: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Co-Axial Master Chronometer 2021
We begin the article with the classic: Speedmaster Professional.
The Speedmaster Professional is the watch that brought the collection to prominence, with its historical roots to space travel. Early in 2021, Omega had refreshed the evergreen timepiece with some tweaks, most specifically to its movement and some minor detailing changes. For the former, the manual-winding movement now features a Co-Axial escapement, as well as a silicon spring balance that is now more resistant to magnetic fields. These have certainly made the Speedmaster a more robust watch.
Priced at S$9,200, the 42mm watch is certainly a must-have in any watch collection. Beyond its story, the Speedmaster is a robust and reliable timepiece that looks really great on a wrist. In addition, the manual-winding movement is a huge plus-point for us, and the new movement upgrades have certainly made this watch even more compelling than ever.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Speedy Tuesday II “Ultraman”
When it comes to Speedmasters, it is the minute details that can drive collectors crazy. The “Ultraman”, which is the second Speedy Tuesday piece that was launched in collaboration with Fratello Watches, proves this point.
The inspiration behind the “Ultraman” is simple. The watch derived its inspiration from (i) the Japanese Science Fiction TV Show, and (ii) a highly mysterious run of 1968 Omega Speedmasters that featured an original orange central seconds hand. With these in mind, the “Ultraman” was given some interesting orange elements (the central seconds hand, as well as the orange markers and selected wordings) and faux-patina treatment. The overall result is a modern timepiece with some vintage-inspired touches, which we thought worked really well with this watch.
As with most limited edition pieces, the “Ultraman” was sold within 2 hours of its launch online. The watch was limited to a run of 2,012 pieces, with each piece retailing at US$7,100 (approximately S$9,665). While some might not agree with this piece in terms of its price premium, many other Speedmaster collectors beg to differ. After all, the “Ultraman” is an interesting piece, and it is these minute differences that make these limited or special editions really special.
Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy 50th Anniversary
There is a special relationship between the Omega Speedmaster and Snoopy – an anthropomorphic beagle in the comic strip titled “Peanuts”.
Back in 1970, the watch manufacturer was awarded the “Silver Snoopy Award’, in recognition for the role that the watch had played during the safe landing of the Apollo 13. It was noted that the Speedmaster was used to accurately time the critical 14 seconds Mid Course Correction manoeuvre, and that allowed the spacecraft to avoid a disaster that was caused by a damaged service module oxygen tank.
The Silver Snoopy 50th Anniversary marks the special occasion, as its name suggests. This particular version features a white dial, as well as contrasting sub-dials and tachymeter bezel. We particularly like the colour combination here, which makes it stand out against the other iterations of the timepiece.
This version, launched in 2020, was priced at S$9,500. It is limited to a production of 1,970 pieces, and all of it has unfortunately been accounted for. There is no doubt about the popularity of this piece, and we certainly have a huge soft spot for it as well.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition
The Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition is one of our favourite special-run Speedmasters. For those who feel that many of Omega’s special editions are not that “special” after all, this particular Speedmaster will perhaps change your mind.
We first came across this Speedmaster when it was launched in Baselworld 2014. It was at the first glance that we knew this Speedmaster was a little different. The key differentiator lies in its materials, and the execution. The Apollo 11 45th Anniversary is firstly cased in both Sedna Gold and brushed titanium, which gives it a slightly different look and feel (especially when it is held in person, thanks to the use of the ultra lightweight material). But the unique selling point – which is still fascinating to us – is the reverse-engraved dial. The PVD dial, interestingly, is produced through this special engraving method that removes the negative spaces in between the different dial elements (think sub-dial, indices, and words). The end result is rather spectacular, especially when one sees the watch up-close.
Limited to a production of 1,969 pieces, we believe that this is perhaps one of the most compelling Limited Edition Speedmasters that was produced. It was originally priced at US$7,700 (approximately S$10,482).
Omega Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project
There are Speedmasters, and then there are the really special Speedmasters. The Alaska Project is definitely a piece that falls in the latter category.
Launched in 2008, the Alaska Project is a highly special piece due to its aesthetics – driven by a big red removable outer anodized aluminum thermal shield and a contrasting white textile strap. The red thermal shield is a tribute to the Alaska Project I and II prototypes, which was produced by Omega in 1969 and 1972 respectively to build the perfect space watch for NASA. The heat shield, notably, is able to withstand temperatures ranging from -148C to 260C within the lunar or spatial environment.
This is a highly unique Speedmaster, and one that is pretty special in our opinion. Not only does it look different, but it has an interesting story to boot as well. The watch is limited to a production run of 1,970 pieces, and it is definitely one of our favourites Speedmasters of all time.
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Between 1969 and 1973, Omega launched its very first commemorative numbered edition. But it was not just the fact that this series of watches is the brand’s first “limited edition” timepiece – this is one of the few rare Omega Speedmasters that is produced fully in gold.
This special edition – known as the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Edition – was produced to commemorate the special occasion of mankind’s first step on the moon fifty years ago. Based on the rare BA145.022, the model is a faithful reproduction which features a full 18k Moonshine gold bracelet and case (and dial), as well as a distinctive burgundy bezel. Other notable characteristics include the new Calibre 3861, a unique caseback, as well as the signature “crater box” that was shipped with the original model. This is definitely a treat for any die-hard Speedmaster collectors!
All these goodies certainly come with a premium. The 42mm Apollo 11 50th Anniversary is priced at CHF 32,000 (approximately S$47,377), which is quite a hefty figure for a Speedmaster. However, this full gold watch is indeed a special piece, and one that is pretty much unlike any other.
There are certainly two camps when it comes to these limited edition Speedmasters. On one hand, many appreciate the subtle differences and exclusivity that these special-run watches bring. For the rest, there are critics who deemed that there are way too many of such watches being produced, with very minute changes between these watches.
For us, it is perhaps a combination of both. Some special edition pieces do work for us, and some do not impress us as much. Thankfully, there are more watches that fall under the former category, and we do hope to see more interesting pieces in the coming years ahead.
What we have here is just the tip of the iceberg – there are certainly quite a number of other limited edition Speedmasters that deserve a mention as well. However, the selection today consists of some of our favourites, and notably, they are definitely some of the most interesting Speedmasters that are available out there (sans the base model, of course).
So, what are some of these special Speedmasters that have caught your attention over the years? What are also some of the ideal traits that you will like to see in the future iterations of these limited edition pieces? Let us know in the comments section below!