The last Speedmaster to house the original Caliber 321 movement before Omega transitioned to the simpler Caliber 861, the vintage Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” ref. 145.012 signified the end of an important era for this famed Omega chronograph.
We have selected an Omega Speedmaster 145.012-67 from 1968 as our vintage watch of the week, so join us as we uncover all the charming details of this 54-year-old watch.
Omega Speedmaster 145.012-67 Key Features
Case: 42mm, Stainless Steel
Bezel: Black “Dot over 90” Bezel Insert
Crystal: Plexiglass, Signed with Omega Logo
Dial: Black, Step Dial, Stick Hour/Minute Hand, Teardrop Seconds Hand, Applied Logo
Lume: Tritium, Patina Hour Markers and Hands
Caliber: 321 Manual-Winding Movement
Strap: Tan Leather Strap (After Market)
Brief Omega Speedmaster 145.012 History
The 145.012 was the sixth Speedmaster reference and it debuted 10 years after the original Speedy was introduced in 1957. Omega produced the Speedmaster ref. 145.012 from 1967 to very early 1969. The ref. 105.012 preceded it and the ref. 145.022 succeeded it.
There are two variants (although they are identical) of this reference: 145.012-67 and 145.012-68, and the serial range is 2406xxxx – 27xxxxx.
As you likely already know, Omega Speedmaster was selected by NASA for the U.S. space program in 1965. Michael Collins was one of the three astronauts (along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin) of the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first humans on the Moon in 1969. As Michael Collins flew the Columbia command module around the Moon while his crewmates took their steps on the lunar surface, he had on his wrist the NASA-issued Speedmaster 145.012 chronograph.
Astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard also wore their Speedmaster 145.012 chronographs while they were on the Moon during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission. Their Omega Speedmasters were donated to the National Air and Space Museum Collection in 1977.
The Speedmaster 145.012 retained many of the features of the previous 105.012, which is to say it has a 42mm steel case, a black bezel with a tachymeter scale, and a black dial with three counters. However, Omega furnished it with taller and larger chronograph pushers, which is one way to tell this reference apart from its predecessors.
This Speedmaster 145.012-67 (circa 1968) has an asymmetrical case with crown guards and “Lyre” (a.k.a. twisted) lugs – a combination beloved by collectors. It also features the prized BASE 500 “DON” bezel, characterized by a black dot over the “90” number on the tachymeter scale and a hallmark of Caliber 321-powered Speedmasters.
Another fantastic vintage detail worth pointing out on this Speedmaster 145.012 is the step dial. Note the slightly elevated ring at the center of the dial, which is placed adjacent to the minute markers and home to the tips of the hour markers. This elevation makes a step, hence the nickname “step dial.” Omega introduced these step dials to the Speedmaster in the early-1960s and eventually phased them out in the mid-1970s.
Also, if you look closely at the seconds hand, you’ll see that it has a teardrop-shaped end. This would eventually be replaced by a seconds hand with a square end. There are examples of the Speedmaster 145.012 with teardrop-end seconds hands and square-end seconds hands – and both are correct because this was the era of the transition from one style to the other.
On the dial is the applied Omega logo- yet another classic design detail of early Speedmaster watches that would eventually be replaced by painted logos by 1969/1970 with the ref. 145.022 (only the earliest examples of the 145.022 had applied logos). Also, note the “Professional” inscription under “Speedmaster” – this was introduced in the preceding ref. 105.012 (older Speedmasters didn’t have it) and continues to be a part of the design of the most current iterations of the Moonwatch.
One of the starring features of the vintage Speedmaster ref. 145.012 is one that you can’t see unless the caseback is taken off. Of course, we’re talking about the Caliber 321 movement that powers the watch. This Lemania-based hand-wound movement is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful chronograph movements ever made, especially given its compact size.
Along with the time, it powers a 60-second chronograph register, a 30-minute counter, and a 12-hour counter. It uses a column wheel to activate the chronograph functions, which is considered better quality than cams. Column wheel chronograph movements require more labor to produce and they are not only better looking but also offer smoother operation.
Caliber 321 utilizes a horizontal (also known as lateral) clutch system. It has 17 jewels, operates at 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz), and has a power reserve of 44 hours.
As mentioned, the ref. 145.012 was the last of the early Speedmaster to run on Caliber 321; Omega switched to the easier-to-manufacture Caliber 861 will the following reference 145.022. However, recognizing the importance of this movement, Omega revived Caliber 321 in 2019 and uses it in select modern Speedmasters.
Collecting the Speedmaster Professional 145.012
This particular example of a 145.012-67 is in honest, vintage condition. As indicated by the surface wear on the case and bezel, scratches, and light nicks, this watch was clearly loved and worn frequently out in the real world. Yet, the caseback engraving is still visible (these don’t always survive) and it retains its correct 24-tooth crown.
The dial with light wear and patina is in great shape considering its age. The tritium lume plots on the dial have aged to dark beige while the hand lume is slightly darker (a common occurrence on older Speedmasters.)
Given its “end of series” status, it’s considered a must-have for serious Speedmaster collectors – it marked the end of a Speedmaster generation. Yet, reference 145.012 is often cited as the most affordable of all the vintage Caliber 321-powered Speedmaster watches. But like so many important vintage watches these days, its value has risen significantly over the last decade or so.