Our love of the Omega Speedmaster and it's (recently reintroduced) Cal. 321 is no secret. The problem? We are not alone in loving it, and finding an accessible 321 Speedy is becoming harder than ever.
This reference 145.012-67SP, however, may give the budget conscious Speedy hunter hope!
The 145.012-67SP is the last of the breed to utilize the Calibre .321 column wheel chronograph movement by Lemania, a Reference 145.012-67. With its characteristic applied-logo dial and "Dot Over 90" bezel, this example shows the signs of a life well lived. The bezel has taken on a beautiful fade to it, the dial has aged to a creamy yellow, and the hands have darkened from years of use.
Is this a perfect time-capsule Speedmaster? No - and that is exactly what makes it the perfect piece for somebody looking to finally add that .321 powered Speedy to their collection.
We all know the famous story of the Speedmaster and NASA.
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.
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 Tudor Monte Carlo?
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, and Ed White donned his Reference 105.003-64 for America's first EVA (extra-vehicular activity) on June 3, 1965.
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 pocket-watch by Hamilton were considered by NASA. Ultimately a Rolex, a Wittnauer and an Omega made the final cut, but the Speedmaster won out and was found to be the most durable and suitable for use in the Apollo missions. The Speedmaster was one of the few pieces of equipment used by the astronauts that was not made specifically for NASA, but given the watch’s outstanding quality, it became the first wristwatch to be flight-qualified for NASA in manned space missions.