Omega released the Speedmaster in 1957, in the midst of a craze for racing chronographs. Over the next few years, the Speedmaster saw several changes in dial and hand configurations. However, at its heart it retained the design elements that would be carried down through the decades, making it an iconic vintage watch: the black dial with its triple-register layout, the domed hesalite crystal, and of course, the tachymeter bezel, signifying Omega's intention for the Speedmaster to be used in automotive sports.
In its nearly six decades of production, the Speedmaster has set benchmarks that, in our opinion, are hard to surpass: the first timepiece to be flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions, the first watch to be worn by an American astronaut during a space walk, the first watch to be worn on the Moon.
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 Wittnauer and the Speedmaster made the final cut, but the Speedmaster 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 not made specifically for NASA that were included in the astronaut's accoutrements: given the watch’s outstanding quality, Buzz Aldrin went on to wear his on the surface of the Moon.
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.
The Speedy offered here features a few elements that puts it ahead of the pack. Firstly, it bears a "Pre-Moon" case back offered before the Moon Landing in 1969. It also has an original "Dot Over 90" bezel correct for the era, an increasingly hard to find element on any Apollo-era Speedmaster. Lastly, it comes fitted on a model 1039 bracelet, one of the most desirable accessories from the time, known for its flat and elasticized links on either side of the signed clasp.
All in all, it's an excellent example of a Speedy from the pivotal Apollo years, dating from circa 1970. An icon among icons, it deserves to boldly go with the wearer through life's adventures.