1957 was the beginning of one of the most important triumphs in all of human history.
It was October when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first satellite to successfully orbit the planet, igniting a decades-long race between the world's most powerful nations. Ironically, it was also the year that Omega began production on a new chronograph. But little did Omega know that their watch-- designed to function as a racing chronograph--would wind up at the heart of mission to conquer space and set foot on the surface of the moon.
The Reference 2915-1 Speedmaster was the brainchild of designer Claude Baillod. The black, stepped "pie-pan" dial is reminiscent of Italian race cars of the period. In fact, it was a close association with auto racing--not space flight--that drove the Speedmaster's design.
But the Omega Speedmaster's enduring association with NASA is so often cited as a reason for its collectibility that "Apollo-era" Speedmaster Professionals (such as the Reference 145.022) remain some of the most desirable examples of the model. The fact that it's been on the Moon often eclipses its true heritage. Still, its earliest iterations have become highly collectible, with the Reference 2915-1 becoming something of a legend in its own right, due mainly to its extreme rarity.
One salient feature of the Speedmaster's design--what set it apart from chronographs of the period--is the bezel. While most of the chronographs at the time featured a tachymeter scale on a chapter ring on the dial, Baillod placed the tachymeter on the stainless-steel bezel (which Omega referred to as a "Tacho-Productometer Scale"). This made it easier for the wearer to measure speed with "no calculating, no paperwork," according to the advertisements.
We take this feature for granted, given the remarkable continuity of the Speedmaster's design throughout its nearly six decades of production, but at the time it was nothing short of revolutionary. The Speedmaster was meant to be a tool watch, along with the Seamaster and Railmaster: purpose-driven watches intended to make a job easier. Its this legibility that would prove invaluable in the Apollo 13 mission, for example, when the astronauts used their Speedmasters to make life-saving calculations that would permit them to return to Earth--and without the Reference 2915-1, the progenitor of the Speedmaster line, that could never have happened.
Another distinctive feature of the Reference 2915-1 is the broad arrow hands. Later references of Speedmaster would bear alpha and, from the 1960s on, baton hands. The Reference 2915 would feature broad arrow hands until the introduction of the Reference 2915-3 in 1959.
The Reference 2915 only saw three years of production. While exact production totals aren't known, estimates number between 3300 and 4200. This scarcity, as well as the fact that so few examples have appeared intact on the vintage market, makes the Reference 2915-1 rare indeed.
It's the grandaddy of the Speedmaster, the grail of grails, rare as hens' teeth. This expression bears a 1.5 million serial, putting its production roughly in 1958. With its matte black dial handsomely patinated, and sharp bevels, it's as honest as they come.
We've used the word "iconic" before, but in no other instance is that word best used. The Speedmaster Reference 2915-1 is an icon among icons. It's the alpha of Omega--Speedmasters, that is.
Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Speedmaster Reference 2915-1. Omega Caliber .321 Manually-Wound Chronograph movement. Circa 1958.
Stainless steel case is in very good condition, with sharp bevels on the lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have some signs of wear and use in keeping with its age, particularly on the sides of the case and on the backs of the lugs. Stainless steel bezel is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in very good condition with no signs of major discoloration or hand drag. Luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands have gained a fine even patina over time. Omega crown. Omega case back is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear.
Includes one 20mm tan leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle