You have to give credit where credit is due. Where the Speedmaster is concerned, whenever collectors have rallied around a particular reference from the six decades of its lifetime, Omega has always given the community an opportunity to own a piece of that reference as a thoughtful reissue.
Take for instance, the reissue of the all gold 1969 Tribute to Apollo 11 in 1980 with the BA 345.0802, the 1997 reissue of the Broad Arrow CK 2915, the 2008 Alaska Project II ref. PIC 3188.8.131.52.04.001, the 21st century reinterpretation and reissue of the CK 2998 in 2016 the ref. PIC 3184.108.40.206.02.001 and, of course, not forgetting the spec-perfect reissue of the 1957 CK 2915 last year, as part of the Speedmaster’s 60th birthday.
And now, Omega is creating yet another opportunity for the Speedy community to own yet another revered Speedmaster: The Ultraman.
In 1971, the creator the Japanese superhero series, Ultraman, Eiji Tsuburaya released a second run, aptly titled, The Return of Ultraman. On episode 8 of the 51 produced, there was a close up of a peculiar Speedmaster with a very prominent orange, central chrono hand.
Eventually when the watch was identified (probably by some watchnut) immediately the Speedy community attached the moniker, Ultraman to the watch. But as in most instances of mysterious, obscure watches that no one seems to have known of before, the community has always been doubtful of the watch and the authenticity of the orange chrono hand that was in it. That is, until very recently.
The speculation was that the hand was simply taken off some other Omega watch that is known to have had such a similar hand, just for kicks. What’s more is that not enough instances of the watch had been seen in the wild, to say for sure that this was a factory produced Omega, rather than a creative collector playing around with Omega parts.
Moonwatch Only, the definitive Speedmaster literature, co-authored by Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié, records that eventually, enough collectors came together to gather up 20 instances of the Ultraman, to establish that all these 20 examples were ref. ST 145.012-67, that they were all fitted with the caliber 321, that they fell within the serial range of 26.076.xxx and 26.079.xxx and that they were all produced within the very short timeframe of June 1968.
Ultimately, it was Omega themselves who came into the picture to verify the Ultraman as a specific production piece that the watchmaker did, in fact, produce in 1968.
For those who maybe thinking right about now that this was simply a banal exercise on Omega’s part to fit the orange chrono hand onto the Speedmaster, from one of the other watches that had such a hand and call it yet another Speedmaster — Omega has even gone the distance to examine the various orange chrono hands produced in that timeframe and definitively shown that the one made for the Ultraman was of a specific dimension that appears in no other Omega watch. As a matter of fact, all of the orange hands examined confirmed that they were made to specific dimensions for the specific watches.
The Ultraman’s orange chrono hand is 18.80mm in length, 0.90mm at its widest end and has a satin finish. The table below, with data republished from Moonwatch Only, logs Omega’s comparative findings.
Moonwatch Only, further, records that the dials of the Ultraman watches were different from the regular ST 145.012 ones in that the dials were pure black with a satin varnish. The regular ST 145.012 dials were dark grey with a matte varnish surface. There’s, also, the specific way in which the Ultraman’s hour indexes seem to have consistently taken on a caramel patina, that suggest that these dials were unique to the watch in question.
However, no one seems to know how many pieces of the watch were produced. Omega themselves, for the time being, have said that they are unable to say for sure how many genuine instances of the watch still exist. But needless to say, one month’s worth of production in the summer of 1968, does suggest enough for us to know that incredibly few could’ve been produced.
On a personal note, I do have further questions on the 1968 Ultraman. Sure would like to know why some instances of the watch had Pulsometer bezels and others had tachymeter ones or even a 0-100 scale. But that’s, perhaps for another time. For now, on to the reissued Ultraman being announced today.
The 2018 Speedmaster Limited Edition 42mm “Ultraman”
2012 pieces of the watch will be produced and WERE, available for reservation online. Beyond all of the orange accents on the new issue, the end game move from Omega has to be the silhouette of Ultraman’s face, on the 9 o’clock subdial, which lights up to reveal Ultraman when you use the included UV light that doubles up as the strap changer.
But there’s another quick tidbit for those in the know: The bezel on the new watch, if you’ve not noticed already, is the DON, or Dot Over Nighty that has become a thing of immense desire for many a Speedy collector. Coincidentally the 1968 Ultraman that were fitted with the tachymeter bezel had the DON bezel, too.
Reservations for the watch were received on omegawatches.com, priced at USD 7,100. Unfortunately, they’re all allocated. It took no more than 15-20 minutes.