A poignant point of evolution in the lifetime of the Speedmaster was in 1968, when Omega replaced the reference 145.012 with the succeeding reference 145.022. It was with this reference that Omega replaced the fabled caliber 321, which had served the Speedmaster in the preceding decade, with the new shuttle cam chronograph caliber 861.
However, the truly monumental moment in the Speedmaster’s lifetime would come in the following year, when it became the first watch to be worn on the moon.
On July 21st, 1969 astronauts Buzz Aldrin wearing the ST 105.012, Neil Armstrong, also, wearing the ST 105.012 and Michael Collins wearing the ST 145.012 successfully landed the Apollo 11 lunar module on the moon’s surface. The Speedmaster had now earned itself a place in horological history unlike any other.
This new badge of honor elevated the Speedmaster from an object of great utility, to a highly desirable object of great utility. Henceforth, there was essentially a shift in the way that the chronograph was perceived. Whereas, prior to the Apollo 11 mission, most luxury retailers would’ve never thought to carry the Speedmaster, the same saw the timepiece in a very different light now.
It is speculated that one such luxury retailer was Tiffany & Co., which — at just about the same time — started taking Speedmasters into its inventory. Now mind you, it’s not that Tiffany & Co. did not previously carry Omega as a brand. But it did so with the brand’s dressier watches. Do a quick search on omegaforums.net and you’ll find a good number of Tiffany stamped Omega watches on show.
Perhaps a now famous instance is the 18K white gold Elvis Presley Omega wristwatch that Phillips sold at the Geneva Auction Week: Seven sale for USD1.5mil; now a proud property of the Omega Museum.
But not a lot of Tiffany stamped Speedmasters. Phillips’ own research has revealed only three instances of the 145.022 Speedmaster — specifically the 145.022-69 — which bear the Tiffany stamp. This, therefore, falls in line with the timeframe and theory that it was only after the lunar landing that Tiffany & Co. thought it okay to have their own logo stamped onto the watch dial.
There are, however, some bumps in this theory. Take for instance, the Tiffany stamped 1966 105.012-65 that is pictured in the Moonwatch Only book. The owner of this particular specimen has even posted about it on omegaforums.net with a picture of the watch accompanied by an extract from Omega stating the extra logo on the dial.
Okay, so we adjust the theory to say that perhaps Tiffany started stamping Speedmaster dials as of the watch being certified Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions by NASA in 1965. Even then, the question remains: If Tiffany did start such an exercise, why are there so few of these Speedmasters around today?
The answer to that question remains elusive for now. But hey, thanks to the piece pictured on the top of this page, which has turned up in the Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS Auction catalog, we at least know to dig up more about the Tiffany stamped Speedmasters.
For now, the ST 145.022-69 instance from the Phillips Hong Kong catalog is one of three that has turned up in their research of the watch, all of which fall within the 30.585.xxx serial range and have the stepped dial and DON bezel. Omega’s archival information further states that all three instances were produced in 1970 and delivered to Tiffany & Co. in the US. The logo positioning on all the three instances are supposed to match up with the Tiffany stamp in this particular “Cowboy” font.
Price estimate on this one is listed as USD15,000 – 25,000 in the catalog, but with the way that vintage Speedmasters have been climbing the price ladders, we can only assume that a watch — with only three other instances known of — is sure to garner a fair bit of attention.
In the meantime, check out these two links, from two separate online vintage dealers who have previously listed a Tiffany stamped ST 145.022-69 and also the upcoming Phillips auction details in Hong Kong:
Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS Auction, 27 May 2019 6:30pm HKT
The Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction: EIGHT, 28 May 12pm HKT
JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong (map)