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1968 Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022

The Omega Speedmaster is a legitimate icon of horology, and it is often said that no serious watch collection is complete without at least one example of the venerable “Moonwatch.”

Part of the reason why the Speedy occupies such a cherished place in the hearts of enthusiasts is that its design has changed in generally very subtle ways throughout the decades it’s been in production. However, not all Speedmaster watches are created equal, and countless differences exist between the various references that occupy the Speedmaster range. In our latest episode of What Is On My Wrist, Craft + Tailored CEO Cameron Barr takes a spin in orbit around a lovely 1968 example of the Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022, and explains exactly what makes these early “transitional” Moonwatch references so special. 

The Speedmaster’s history begins way back in 1957 as a watch intended for the race track. However, by the early 1960s, these wonderful chronographs had traveled to outer space and the model was on its way to becoming the official flight-certified watch of NASA astronauts. While the Speedmaster’s aesthetic design had been slowly evolving over the previous decade, its internal movement remained the same. However, that all changed in 1968 when Omega launched the Speedmaster Professional reference 145.022 with a new generation of manually-wound chronograph movements: The Caliber 861.

While the reference 145.022 itself would remain in production for approximately twenty years, the very earliest examples, like this particular one from 1968, feature a number of subtle details that separate them from later-era examples of the Speedmaster 145.022. Known as “transitional” models due to the fact that they possess several “Pre-Moon” Speedy design elements, but are powered by the more-modern cal. 861 movement, these early examples are ideal targets for today’s collectors due to the fact that they are the very last Speedmaster watches to have vintage aesthetic details such as applied Omega logos, dot-over-ninety bezels, and “Pre-Moon” casebacks. 

As the very first Omega Moonwatch to be powered by the Caliber 861 movement, the ref. 145.022 holds an important place within the Speedmaster’s long and illustrious history. However, while later-era examples of the reference 145.022 are often some of the most plentiful vintage Speedmaster watches and appear almost visually identical to their later-era siblings, these early transitional Speedys are truly rare and special, as they represent a critical turning point in the history of the legendary Moonwatch.

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