The Lesser Knowns; 3 Unknown Speedmaster Models
Since its inception in 1957, the Omega Speedmaster has seen countless iterations through to present day. After cementing its position as the first watch on the moon, its consistent popularity meant that Omega was to keep it as part of the brand’s core collection, and as the decades passed more and more unique variants were brought to market with varying levels of fame.
While we all know about things like the Alaska Project, and the Speedmaster Mark II, there are so many other cool Speedys out there that were either just a bit too obscure, or simply ahead of their time. To be frank, the list is a long one, but for the sake of this feature we are focusing in on three very unique and unexpected references from Omega that are just that right kind of weird.
Our list includes everything from unique case design, to an unorthodox caliber choice, to a historically significant Speedmaster that’s similar but yet slightly different from the norm in a handful of ways. Regardless of where your horological interest lies, one of these Speedys is bound to be right up your alley.
Speedmaster 1045 TV Dial
Arriving in the ‘70s on the heels of the “Mark” series Speedmasters, it’s clear that Omega wasn’t quite done playing with out-of-the-ordinary case shapes when it came to crafting the 1045. The best two-word descriptor for this watch came at the hands of Brice from Monochrome, referring to its design as “controlled eccentricity”. He couldn’t be any more right. It’s chunky, it’s outlandish, but it’s also not nearly as big and brash as the Omega Flightmaster or other more hefty offerings from the brand at the time.
Its “TV Dial” case—a popular design detail throughout watchmaking in the ‘70s—is relatively well balanced, though a tad thick on account of its modular Lemania 5100 based caliber. The self-winding movement displays chronograph seconds and minutes via central hands (the best/most practical feature of said caliber), with a 12-hour totalizer at six o’clock, running seconds at nine, and a 24h indication for the present time at 12 o’clock alongside day and date indications at three. Unlike the Speedy 125 that launched before it, whose 42x51mm case proportions made it a bit of a tank, the TV dial compact enough to still feel quite wearable overall.
Speedmaster Professional X-33
There’s a good chance that by now you may have seen an X-33 by now, but there’s a good chance you don’t know the full story of its creation. The model is still part of Omega’s current catalog, alongside variants like the X-33 Regatta and the Z-33 Spacemaster, the X-33 was very much a professional tool that found its way into the consumer catalog after the three years of development that led to its launch in 1998.
Unveiled at the Houston Space Center, the aptly nicknamed “Marswatch” was actually aboard the Russian Mir space station, being broadcast down to earth for the launch. NASA had been interested in upgrading the functionality of their watches in space, and though not meant as a replacement for the Speedmaster, The X-33 has since become the go-to watch of astronauts from around the globe. Through its prototyping phase between 1995 and 1998, a good number of watches graced the wrists of US and Russian astronauts, as well as Blue Angels and Thunderbird squadron pilot.
Of the many shifts in design during the prototyping phase, it was decided to forego screw-down pushers in the place of the broad pushers on the production model, as it was essential that the watch could be easily operated while wearing gloves. An increased volume to its alarm was also required, as their testers had concerns about being able to hear the alarm in the confines of a space station or other loud environments. While many might be quick to write off the X-33 on account of its quartz caliber, the origin story and high functionality of the piece give it way more credibility and cool-factor than it usually gets.
1994 Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 25th Anniversary Edition
If our first two obscure Speedys were a bit too outlandish for your classical sensibilities, this 1994 limited edition is more likely to be up your alley. Part of the brand’s ongoing series commemorating Apollo XI, a series that sees limited edition models surface roughly every five years, this silver-dialed white gold beauty immediately stands out amongst other conventional Speedy models, and not only on account of its dial.
On the “business end” the reference 3692.30 features a display caseback, allowing an unobstructed view of its rhodium-plated Omega calibre 864. The hand-wound caliber is a variation of the 861 that saw extensive use in the Speedmaster range, with one key difference. The 864 caliber is COSC chronometer certified, unlike its more common sibling. Limited to only 500 pieces worldwide, this Speedy reference can be a bit tricky to come by, but the combination of its 18k white gold case, uprated caliber, and exclusive availability make it a desirable addition to any Speedy fan’s collection.
Author Justin Mastine-Frost