The current Speedmaster Professional, the descendant of the ref. 145.022, produced with minor changes from 1968 until this day, is often called the “Moonwatch.”
That is rather interesting because the 145.022 wasn’t the watch first worn on the Moon. This title goes to the ref. 105.012.
What is it?
The ref. 105.012 was the first of the “Professional” models.
It features the asymmetric case with a crown and pusher guard, flowing seamlessly into the lugs- sort of a thicker right flank of the case.
Both were in production since 1963. Therefore, it’s hard to speak of the 105.012 as a successor to the 105.003. It was just a slightly more modern, more avant-garde take on the very same thing.
How does the 105.012 differ from the 105.003 (save for the case)?
The step dial, save for the Professional inscription, remained very similar to that of the 105.003. However, the design of the recessed subdials has changed slightly. The edges seem to be sharper, the bottom plane of the subdials also has a slightly different appearance.
Unlike the 105.003, not all 105.012s featured tritium markings. That begs the question if the lume used was tritium, because 1963 was about the time when Omega was phasing out radium lume.
You’ll only find the dial without T markings on the 105.012-63.
The bezel remained the same “DON” as used on the 105.002 and 105.003.
It’s also worth remembering that the pushers are different, so replacements for asymmetric case Speedmasters would look rather
odd on a 105.003 if they’d fit at all!
The new pushers were shorter and wider – 5 x 3 mm vs. the 105.003’s 4.5 x 3.5 mm.
The fine differences within the reference
Theoretically, it’s one reference, but within what is supposed to be one model, you can spot some fine, yet visible things.
Most 105.012s (-63, 64 and 65) have a “double step” case back. This is not the case with the 105.012-66. The last version of the 105.012 (production ended in 1966 alright) which had a single step back.
The finishing tends not to be identical in cases from two different third-party case suppliers.
Two companies made Speedmaster cases – Centrale Boites (CB) in Biel, a long-time supplier to Omega, and Huguenin Freres, the renowned supplier to a variety of manufacturers (including Vacheron Constantin).
Interestingly enough, the CB cases tend to have a somewhat finer finishing to them.
The “lyre lugs” have distinctive facet lines, running from the bezel to the inner corners of the lugs.
In CB cases, these lines are sharp, finely done. In HF cases, they’re smoother, almost giving the impression that someone refinished the case at some point in the past, which, of course, isn’t true.
But with Omega factory service being all too well known for polishing the cases out and replacing most of the components (bezel, hands, dial), it’s understandable that you avoid what could possibly be a result of buffing out the case.
Now, it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down just because a Speedy case is by HF. Never let your guard down.
As mentioned before, if the watch is a -63, don’t worry about the absence of T markings. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
The Moon Shenanigans
Omega’s official marketing presents the 145.022, equipped with calibre 861 (Lemania 1873) as “the first watch worn on the Moon.”
Truth be told, there are two sides to their claims. Was the first watch on the Moon a Speedmaster Professional? Yes. Was the calibre 861 worn on the Moon? Yes. Only the first one wasn’t that Speedmaster Pro (145.022), and it wasn’t powered by the 861.
The Speedmasters used on the Apollo 11 mission were – according to NASA documents – 105.012s.
There were many theories concerning the reference numbers of the watches worn by Armstrong and Aldrin. Both 145.022, 145.012, both references, 2 x 145.012, 105.012 and 145.012. Well, now we know.
Both happened to be 105.012, making the cal. 321, not the 861, the original Moonwatch movement.
I don’t pretend to know why the 145.022 was marketed as the Moonwatch and why the calibre 861 became famous as the Moonwatch movement.
A wee bit of a chaos in the documentation, maybe?
Or maybe because it was better for something in production and not something discontinued, to enjoy that fame.
If it works, it works, and if it sells, it sells.
Availability and pricing
There is only one less common version of the 105.012, and that would be the 105.012-64. They are usually 500-1000 dollars more expensive than the other versions which go for between 9000 and 15000 USD.
Which – again – is a lot, because we’re talking about mass production, of a fairly common model.
If you really need a pre-Moon but don’t want to spend that much, you’ll be better off with a 145.012.
However, if you’re a “hopeless case” of a space geek with a ton of NASA stickers and gadgets everywhere, you might want to consider the 105.012.
You’ll need deeeeep pockets though. Not just for the watch itself but also for maintenance. Parts for the 321 are expensive since they’re becoming rare and hard to come by.
Oh, and if you’re more into the Speedmaster’s racing heritage, it’ll be a good choice as well. Omega advertised both the 105.012 and the 105.003 with an emphasis on motorsport.