Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
So far, 2018 has been a good year for Omega fans. In July, Omega announced the release of the “Speedy Tuesday Ultraman” together with Fratello Watches. In September, the new Seamaster 300M models became available for purchase, and in October, the Speedmaster stole the show in the film “First Man.” Speedmaster enthusiasts had the chance to participate in an auction on Chrono24 featuring 22 limited edition Speedmasters. The auction ran from December 4 to December 11, 2018. Most bidders hailed from the US, with Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, and Singapore all in the top 7. That’s enough facts and figures for now; you’re probably wondering which models were the auction highlights.
The history of the “Moonwatch” is undoubtedly one of the most memorable in the watch world. The design of the Speedmaster, with its black dial, tachymeter scale, and central hour and minutes hands, is also not easily forgotten. However, that hasn’t kept Omega from altering the traditional look when creating some limited edition models. Such is the case with the Apollo XI. The stainless steel model of this 40th-anniversary watch is limited to a run of 7,969 pieces. The platinum model is limited to just 69 pieces. So what makes this particular watch unique? At 9 o’clock, you’ll find a sterling silver replica of the Apollo XI patch. A larger version of the same coin featuring an American eagle is included in the special edition box. An inscription beneath the well-known “Speedmaster” logo reads “02:56 GMT” in reference to the exact time of the first Moon landing. These details make all the difference to collectors and explain the exciting bidding war that continued well into the final seconds of the auction thanks to popcorn bidding. This watch received the most bids of any timepiece in the auction and ended up changing hands for just over $6,900.
The “Speedmaster Snoopy” was another clear auction highlight. Its NOS status (i.e., new old stock – unworn, like new) attracted many collectors. Of course, the history of this watch alone is enough to garner bids. NASA astronauts present “Snoopy Awards” to both employees and outside contractors who have played an important role in space missions. Omega received the award for their participation in the Apollo 13 mission – hence the appearance of Snoopy on the the small seconds dial at 9 o’clock. Only 5,441 examples of this model have been released since 2006. The watch up for auction was powered by the current Speedmaster caliber 1861, which builds on the legendary caliber 321, and came with its original box and papers. This coveted collector’s item sold for just over $13,600.
Omega’s goal with the Alaska Project series was to have their models perform even better under extreme conditions. The Alaska Project III aimed to tackle the issue of poor dial readability due to reflective watch glass. The “Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Limited Edition” was inspired by the design of the Alaska Project III. Introduced in 2017, this Speedy Tuesday was the result of a collaboration between Omega and the online magazine Fratello Watches, who are known as Speedmaster fans. Many enthusiasts value this model’s vintage-inspired reverse panda dial, which first appeared on a 1966 version of the Speedmaster. The silver subdials stand out against the Speedy Tuesday’s dark dial. The retro logo on the dial and crown are likewise crowd-pleasers. Anyone who missed the chance to get their hands on one of these models in 2017 had another shot in this auction. The model on offer came from a German Chrono24 dealer. The unworn timepiece was sold with its original box and papers to the winning bidder for around $8,700.
While the Speedmaster is known for accompanying astronauts to the Moon, Omega didn’t hesitate in releasing a model themed around the next frontier in space exploration: Mars. The three subdials on this model depict the Moon, Earth, and Mars. Although the model isn’t technically a limited edition, only 6,000 pieces have been produced, which is quite similar to some limited edition runs. The like-new timepiece from this auction came from a Finnish dealer and was sold with the original box and papers. Many collectors find this model particularly enticing due to the faded or washed-out look that some of the subdials develop over time. The colors of the Earth, Moon, and Mars subtly change due to sun exposure, giving each piece a unique look. This highly-coveted model has seen major prices increases over the past few years. The final bidder won the auction with a bid of just under $5,700.