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The Omega Speedmaster has set benchmarks that, in our opinion, are pretty hard to surpass. It was the first timepiece to be flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions and the first watch to be worn by an American astronaut during a space walk. Perhaps most importantly, it was 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 Calibre .321 movement, developed by famed movement-maker Albert Piguet in 1946. Over the next few years, the Speedmaster saw multiple changes in dial and hand configurations, but at its heart retained the design elements that would be carried down through the decades: the triple-register layout, domed Hesalite crystal, and of course, the tachymeter bezel, signifying Omega's intention for the Speedmaster to be used in automotive sports.
Who knows - had NASA not pinpointed the Speedmaster for use in manned spaceflight, perhaps it would only be regarded among the great racing chronographs like the Heuer Autavia or the Rolex Daytona?
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, military fighter 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 their own personal use. Chronographs from Breitling (already by then well-established for use in aviation), Rolex, and even a pocket watch by Hamilton were considered by NASA. Ultimately a Rolex, a Wittnauer (either the ref. 242T or the ref. 235T), and an Omega made the final cut, but the Speedmaster won out by a significant margin 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 famously wear his on the surface of the moon on the Apollo 11 mission.
The Speedy that we have here, the rare Reference BA 145.022, dates from 1969, the year of the successful Apollo 11 moon landing. It's considered the first special edition Speedmaster, released in solid 18K yellow gold to commemorate that momentous achievement. Only 1014 of these special watches were made, and the those numbered 3 to 28 were presented to the astronauts and NASA executives at a banquet in Houston on November 25, 1969 (#1 and #2 went to President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew respectively). The remaining 981 pieces were released for sale to the general public. The case back bears the inscription "Apollo XI 1969, The First Watch Worn On The Moon."
Unlike the Speedmasters worn by the astronauts of the early Apollo missions, it contains the later Calibre .861. This movement also designed by Albert Piguet, was Lemania's perfection of the earlier caliber and utilized a cam mechanism rather than a column wheel, and increased the beat rate from 18000 to 216000 beats per hour.
Although Omega has subsequently released a bevy of Special Edition Speedmasters (including a number of solid gold offerings), the BA 145.022 is a true rarity. This watch is an icon amongst icons - arguably the truest commemoration of one of our proudest achievements.
This beautiful example deserves to go with its wearer to frontiers unseen by mankind, don't miss it!
18K Yellow gold case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Reference BA 145.022. Calibre 861 manually winding chronograph movement. Produced December 1969 and originally delivered to Denmark.
Overall Condition: 18k yellow gold case is in very good condition with sharp bevels on the lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Light, normal signs of wear and use across case and bezel. Dial is in excellent condition with no noteworthy blemishes or signs of wear, and a light even patina. Bezel has faded lightly. Hands are in excellent condition. Case back shows light tool marks, with commemorative inscription: "Omega Speedmaster, Apollo XI, The First Watch Worn On The Moon."
Includes one 20mm brown leather strap with tan stitching. 10K Yellow Gold overlay JB Champion (Made in the USA) mesh bracelet available upon request for an additional fee.
Also includes Extract Of The Archives from Omega, confirming reference and serial numbers, as well as production in December 1969.