Omega has revealed their first of their heavily anticipated watches celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first manned NASA mission to visit the surface of the moon, and safely return to earth. The watch is a re-creation of the reference BA 145.022 from 1969, capturing each detail from the exterior to the interior with a great deal of respect paid to the original. It’s a fitting tribute, not least for its use of gold as is tradition for 50th anniversaries, but for the fact that the original was made to celebrate the accomplishment of landing humans on the moon.
This isn’t a straight re-issue, though. Omega has proven themselves adept at applying the look and feel of their historic watches to very modern creations. This Anniversary Speedmaster takes this concept a bit further than usual, but there’s more than a few modern nods worth noting.
First things first, this Speedmaster captures the look of the original BA to an astonishing degree. That means an all gold case (42mm) and dial, with the distinctive burgundy bezel. This isn’t your average 18k gold, though. Omega calls this a “unique new alloy known as 18K Moonshine™ gold.” – we’ll leave it to you metallurgists out there to figure out what that might mean. The gold appears de-saturated compared to traditional 18k gold, and Omega claims it will resist fading over time.
The dial itself is gold as well, with a satin or vertical brush texture serving as a base for the onyx hour markers, black dial printing, and blacked out hands for both time and complication. It’s a dead ringer for the original, save for one detail. Above the center point of the dial is a ghosted “Au750” labeling the material of the dial. This is something we’ve seen on other Omega’s, for example the new SMP 300, which places a “[ZrO2]” under the center point, denoting the zirconium dial. They also used such a label on the dials of the 50th anniversary Trilogy set. This, like the previous examples, will likely divide collectors, and for good reason. It’s a subtle concession to modernity, and history will judge its use.
The bezel itself is worth noting, not only for its rich burgundy color reproduced in ceramic, but also for getting the small details right. On Speedmaster references 145.022 (including the BA) produced prior to spring of 1970 (<30M serials) the dot demarking 90 on the tachymeter scale is above the number, known as DON (dot over ninety) bezels, and these examples command a bit of a premium. If that sounds like an odd detail to obsess over, welcome to the world of vintage Speedmasters. Point being, Omega correctly recreated the bezel exactly as it would have appeared in 1969, including the DON, and the tilde over the “E” in “Tachymetre”.
Around back you’ll find the biggest departure from the original, not on the inside (more on that later), but rather, on the caseback itself. It’s an exhibition caseback, with a ring at the perimeter commemorating the anniversary, and depicting a portion of the earth on one side, and an inlaid lunar meteorite depicting the moon on the opposite side. Omega says they are to correct scale to one another.
Taking notice of the view through the exhibition caseback, we’re treated to a revamped version of the original caliber 861 you’d find in the original. The new movement is the 3861, and yes it’s manually winding. At a glance it looks like a modified caliber 1861 that’s been given a coaxial escapement, but we’re told that 50% of the parts are new, and not interchangeable with the 861. The movement is a METAS master chronometer, though it employs a lever and cam actuated chronograph, rather than a vertical clutch, so we’ll call it a nice marriage of high and low tech.
Unsurprisingly, there will be 1,014 examples built, just like the original BA 145.022. Of the originals, less than 1,000 were offered to the public. The first of the batch were presented to Apollo astronauts at an appreciation dinner in late 1969, with the first two going to President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. Clean examples of the BA 145.022 have sold at auction north of $60,000, which puts the CHF 32,000 MSRP of this 50th Anniversary Limited Edition into context.
Keep an eye on StockX to track the resale on these watches and more importantly, get your Bid in. If you act now, you may even be able to get on the waitlist of your local Omega Boutique.