The hardest part of writing about cult watches like the Speedmaster Professional is to come up with a decent introduction. “Introduced in 1957…” or “If it is good enough for NASA, it is good enough for you” or “The first watch worn on the moon” would all do the job properly, but I think we will start with the fact that the Speedmaster was intentionally meant to be a watch for car drivers. The first advertisements (According to the Omega Saga book by Marco Richon) show a car driver, his convertible and a Speedmaster on his wrists. It wasn’t until 1965 when NASA selected this Omega watch to test it for their Moon race adventure. In 1966, Omega added ‘Professional’ on the dial to mark this special event.
As we all know, the Omega Speedmaster Professional went to the moon together with the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission. Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin was actually the first on the Moon to wear a Speedmaster, since Armstrong left his one in the capsule since the mission timer was out of order. Collins stayed aboard at first, but was also wearing a Speedmaster. Luckily, due to some research from collectors like the late Chuck Maddox, we know that the Speedmasters used were a pre-Professional ref. st105.003 (Aldrin) and st105.012 (Armstrong) and a Professional st145.012 (Collins). Although used on the Moon, we refer to these type of Speedmaster (pre-)Professional models as pre-Moon models. Confusing eh?
The year of production of these watches vary between 1965 and 1967, and the Moon landing wasn’t until 1969. So, all models before the landing are referred to as pre-Moon models. However, in 1968 Omega introduced a new movement for the Speedmaster Professional, caliber 861. A Lemania based movement with a higher beats per hour rate and that was a bit cheaper to produce than its predecessor, caliber 321 (also Lemania based). The old movement had a column wheel chronograph, which is a bit more complex (and thus expensive) to manufacture. Optically, this change in 1968 consisted of a new bracelet and a printed Omega logo on the dial instead of a metal applied Omega logo.
During the 1970s and 1980s, nothing changed much about the Speedmaster Professional. A few other bracelet models were introduced and in 1989 the first commemorative model for the 20th anniversary of the Moon landing was introduced. A stainless steel model with an inscription engraved on the side of the watch case. Omega started doing so every other 5 years and although we at MotoringExposure feel that you shouldn’t milk out certain models, we accept it from Omega for creating this cult watch.
In 1997, Omega started using a somewhat enhanced movement, caliber 1861 for the Speedmaster Professional. Besides the regular stainless steel model with plastic crystal, Omega also introduced models with a transparent case back that give a nice view on this legendary chronograph movement. Especially for these versions, Omega created a caliber 863 (and later on a 1863) with a nice optical finish.
Now, to cut a long story short (and the above is just a very short recap of the full version), we at Motoring Exposure love the Speedmaster (pre-)Professional (pre-)Moonwatch. The older the better, but make sure that everything is original and genuine. If you want to play safe, buy a more recent model (1970 and younger) or an entire new one. We prefer the all stainless steel model, with Hesalite (plexi) crystal and stainless steel caseback. This one is – although newer movement and bracelet – very close to the original Moonwatch.