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Omega first conceived of the Speedmaster in the late 1950s, with the intention of developing a line of purpose-driven or "professional" wristwatches. Brands such as Blancpain, Rolex, and Breitling dominated in the area of divers and automotive or aviation chronographs. The success of Blancpain's Fifty Fathoms and Rolex's Submariner proved the need for dive watches, which Omega answered with the Seamaster 300. Breitling's Navitimer and Rolex's Reference 3268 "Pre-Daytona" chronograph filled a niche for chronographs intended for use in aviation or automotive sports. Therefore, it only seemed natural that Omega would seek to develop a new line that would capitalize on these new bestselling chronographs.
Omega had already developed a chronograph for their Seamaster line, using the Caliber .321 movement. The Caliber .321--a sturdy, anti-magnetic movement that Omega acquired from Lemania in the 1940s--would form the base of what would become the Speedmaster. The name that Omega chose for this chronograph, like that of the Seamaster, indicates what they intended it to do: master speed. This notion is driven home by the innovative placement of the tachymeter scale, which Omega's designers placed on the bezel rather than in a chapter ring on the dial. The Speedmaster, with its striking black dial, hesalite crystal, and tachymeter bezel certainly stood out from other chronographs on the market.
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 (a Reference 105.012) on the surface of the moon.
Despite the popularity of the earlier Speedmasters, there's something to be said for the collectibility and popular appeal of the Reference 145.022, which straddles the period between the pre- and post-Moon landing Speedmasters. First produced in 1968, the Reference 145.022 is pivotal in the development of the Speedmaster. While the earlier References of Speedmaster--including those worn by the astronauts--contained the Caliber .321 movement, first designed by Albert Piguet in the 1940s, the Reference 145.022 was the first to contain the Caliber .861. Additionally, the sub-reference 145.022-69ST--the watch we offer here--was the first to feature a case back, released from 1969 to 1973, that commemorated the 1969 Moon Landing.
However, this particular Speedmaster dates from the earlier part of this Reference's run, and therefore has a "pre-Moon" case back with the iconic hippocampus logo. Its warm, "tropical" dial--a sure sign of wear and use in the sun over many years--is absolutely stunning and adds a uniqueness to this already collectible timepiece. With a clean, honest case and a nicely worn "Dot Over 90" bezel, this Speedmaster definitely has "The Right Stuff."
Stainless steel case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown and pushers). Omega Reference 145.022-69ST. Omega Caliber .861 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa late 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels on the lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case does show some signs of wear and use in keeping with its age, including some slight scratches on the side of the case near 9 o'clock and near the top pusher. "Dot over 90" bezel is in very good condition, with some signs of wear at 10 and 6 o'clock. Tropicalized dial is in very good condition with a fine overall patina. Luminescent elements on the hour markers have darkened over time. Omega stick hands have been professionally restored. Omega crown; Omega case back has some light scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm brown leather analog/shift strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle