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Omega released the Speedmaster in 1957, in the midst of a craze for racing chronographs. The first reference of Speedmaster, the CK 2915, contained the Lemania Caliber .321 movement, developed by famed movement-maker Albert Piguet in 1946. The CK 2915 ran for two short years before by the Reference CK 2998, which is a historically-significant Reference in Omega's history.
On October 3, 1962, Walter M. Schirra orbited the Earth in a Mercury rocket with the call-sign Sigma 7. The mission that Schirra piloted, Mercury Atlas-8, was the fifth manned space mission in the Mercury program. Schirra orbited the Earth a record six times, making his the longest manned spaceflight ever achieved at that stage in the Space Race.
And the watch on his wrist: the Reference CK 2998, which Schirra purchased for his own personal use in the flight. The Reference CK 2998 ran until 1963, and underwent eight sub-references in its four year run. It was ultimately discontinued and replaced in the Omega catalogs with its successor, newly-named ST 105.002 in keeping with the Mopics coding system Omega implemented in 1962.
Early Speedmasters, particularly those dating from the early days of the Space Race, are especially desirable. However, their relative scarcity--due to the brevity of their production runs--make them difficult to find on the vintage chronograph market, and the prices are often astronomical. Fortunately for collectors who dream of strapping a CK2998 to their wrists, but don't have the resources to obtain a vintage version, there's the First Omega in Space.
In 2012, to commemorate the watch worn during Schirra's historic spaceflight, Omega released the "First Omega in Space." It captures the look and feel of the CK2998, with a case size smaller than the most recent reference of Speedmasters at 39.5mm, and without the crown guards of today's Speedies. Like the CK2998, the logo on the dial of the First Omega in Space is applied, and the hour and minute hands are the "alpha" hands that were present in the Speedy until the Reference 105.003 debuted in 1964; likewise, the dial lacks the inscription "Professional," since the CK2998 predates the Speedy's flight qualification by NASA in 1965.
The only departures from the original are the crystal, the case back, the bezel, and the movement. The crystal of the First Omega in Space is sapphire instead of the standard hesalite, and the case back is adorned by a medallion embossed with the hippocampus seen on Speedmasters until the post-Moon Reference 145.022 was released in 1971. While purists questioned the choice of the Calibre 1861 movement instead of the legendary Caliber .321 used in Schirra's actual Speedmaster, the Caliber 1861 was also flight-qualified by NASA, and is just as venerated in collectors' circles for that fact.
The First Omega in Space is a worthy successor to its progenitor, the Reference CK2998, and is a great addition to Omega's limited editions of Speedmaster. This one comes with a full set of box and papers and a case number of 3549. As true to the original as can be without being an exact replica, the First Omega in Space deserves a place in the possession of even the most discerning vintage collectors.
Stainless steel case is approximately 39.7mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Reference 318.104.22.168.01.001, Omega Caliber 1861, circa 2012.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in excellent condition with minimal signs of handling, including a slight scratch on the side of the case near 9 o'clock. Dial is in excellent, like new condition with no blemishes or signs of discoloration or hand drag. Bezel is likewise in excellent condition. Omega crown; Omega case back is in excellent, like-new condition, complete with case back sticker.
Includes one 19mm Omega dark brown leather strap with white contrast stitching and Omega signed clasp. Also includes two 19mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle.
Also includes original Omega box, papers and warranty card.