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The Speedmaster has set benchmarks that, in our opinion, are hard to surpass: the first timepiece to be flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions, the first watch to be worn by an American astronaut during a space walk, the first watch to be worn on the moon.
Despite this extraterrestrial heritage, in the beginning the Speedmaster was only intended for terrestrial pursuits. Omega released the Speedmaster in 1957, in the midst of a craze for racing chronographs. The name "Speedmaster" followed the naming trend set by the Seamaster and Railmaster models, and was also a subtle nod to the innovative brushed stainless steel tachymeter bezel. The first reference of Speedmaster, the CK 2915, contained the Lemania caliber .321 movement, developed by famed movement-maker Albert Piguet in 1946. Over the next few years, the Speedmaster saw several changes in dial and hand configurations, but at its heart retained the design elements that would be carried down through the decades: the black dial with its triple-register layout, the domed hesalite crystal, and of course, the tachymeter bezel, signifying Omega's intention for the Speedmaster to be used in automotive sports.
The fact that the Speedmaster came to be used by NASA is somewhat serendipitous. Since the dawn of military aviation, pilots had used chronographs to time their flights. When NASA developed their space program, the first astronauts were, as one can imagine, pilots. The Speedmaster was already known to NASA for its personal use by the astronauts: Wally Schirra wore his own Speedmaster, a reference CK2998, aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 in 1962.
In 1965, NASA sent formal bids to twelve different brands whose chronographs the astronauts preferred for use in their flights. Chronographs from Breitling (already by then well-established for use in aviation), Rolex, and even a pocketwatch by Hamilton were considered by NASA. Ultimately a Rolex, a Longines and an Omega made the final cut, but the Speedmaster won out and was found to be the most durable and suitable of the bunch for use in the Apollo missions. The Speedmaster was one of the few pieces of equipment not made specifically for NASA, but given the watch’s outstanding quality, a custom model was deemed unnecessary, and Buzz Aldrin went on to wear his on the surface of the moon.
This particular Speedmaster is the last of the breed to utilize the Calibre .321 column wheel chronograph movement by Lemania, a Reference 145.012 circa 1967. With its characteristic applied-logo dial and "Dot Over 90" bezel, this example is in excellent condition throughout, with a nicely patinated dial, sharp unpolished case, Hesalite crystal, and of course a Pre-Moon style caseback featuring the Omega Hippocampus.
Stainless steel case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Reference 145.012-67SP, Calibre .321, circa 1967.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition, with sharp bevels on the lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case has minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including some light tool marks on the backs of the lugs and case back, but is in otherwise very good condition. "Dot over 90" bezel is in good condition, with only some minimal signs of wear at 6 o'clock. Dial is in good condition, with some signs of age. Luminescent elements on the hour markers have aged to a nice patina, but some has worn off, particularly at 6, 7, and 12 o'clock. Omega crown; Omega case back has some light scratches but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 20mm 1039 bracelet with 516 end links. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle