RACING SPEEDMASTERS FROM THE 60s:
THE RAREST OF ALL RACING WATCHES.
It is now assumed that OMEGA put in production a few Speedmasters equipped with special components (dials, hands, bezels…) during the 60s. Famous examples go from the grey-blue dial Speedmasters, of which only very few pieces have been observed so far, to the so-called “Ultraman” with its orange chronograph hand and its specific dial with an uncommon satin finish.
But a very rare category particularly caught our attention: the Racing Speedmasters.
Until recently, we thought that all these special versions were the results of unapproved projects, whose components could have been distributed later and casually to retailers as spare parts. Then, in a second time, dials and hands could have been fitted to standard Speedmasters.
But that was before…
After extensive research and observations, we started to discover more information on all these exotic models. In the latest edition of Moonwatch Only, we already reported that the “Ultraman” was in fact an original factory-built model, which was sold worldwide during a short period in 1968.
Actually, it was harder for the Racing Speedies, certainly because of their extreme rarity, especially if we’re talking about those equipped with a 321 caliber.
Based on the latest information we have found, we are now convinced that these configurations correspond to special watches commercialized during a short period of time in an extremely limited quantity.
OMEGA probably tried to test the market and to understand if customers received them positively.
Two generations, three versions.
There are 2 generations of Racing Speedmasters – for a total of 3 versions.
All of them are characterized by a dial with a special minutes scale, bi-color indexes on two levels and a specific hands color configuration for the chronograph functions.
These features enhance the legibility of the chronograph, which is helpful in racing competition situations, hence its nickname Racing.
Note that this kind of configuration (colors, special minutes scales …) has also been proposed by other watch manufacturers.
1st Generation: Red Racing Speedmasters (caliber 321).
THE FIRST GENERATION has been produced in 1967-1968. The dial minute scale is white and the indexes are half red and half white. The chronograph hands are white, whereas the hands for the time of day are red.
However, there are two different versions:
a) Red Racing Pre-Professional
These models do not have the Professional mention on the dial, which is with an applied metal logo, and the same typeface for the words OMEGA and Speedmaster as in the very first Speedmasters CK 2915s.
b) Red Racing Professional
These models have the Professional indication on the dial, and the logo is painted in white. The typeface is identical to the standard Speedmasters of the same period. Note that the counters are smaller.
Pre-Professional Red Racing model (145.012-67, caliber 321).
Professional Red Racing model (145.012-67, caliber 321).
Only 11 examples of Red Racing Speedies have been observed / identified so far (5 Professional and 6 pre-Professional).
And 10 out of 11 watches share an interesting common feature: they were all delivered to Switzerland.
Furthermore, 3 of the 6 pre-Professional have their serial number in the same block of 10 numbers: they are in the range 26.545.31x and have been produced on 19 September 1968.
This probably means that they were produced together with the same features. This information strongly suggests that Racing models have been produced and commercialized in this original configuration, and are not the result of a later fitting.
Despite the absence of “Professional” indication on the dial, all the “Pre-Professional” examples have been observed on references ST 145.012.
2nd Generation: Orange Racing Speedmasters (caliber 861).
THE SECOND GENERATION is characterized by a dark grey dial and orange indices, with an Ω logo painted in orange.
The color combination of the hands is opposite to that of the first generation: white hands for hours, minutes and seconds, and orange hands for the chronograph indications. The orange chronograph second hand is different from the one fitted on standard Speedmasters: it has a triangular shape, like the “Ultraman” one.
Interestingly, the orange hour indices are coated with a luminous pigment.
Professional Orange Racing model (145.022-69, caliber 861).
We have identified 15 examples of Orange Racing Speedies.
Most of them have a serial number within 150 units (from 29.609.xxx). As for the 1st generation, all of them were delivered to Switzerland, in May and June 1970.
Note that at the end of the 1960s, OMEGA came out with the Speedmaster Professional Mark II (reference ST 145.014) series with a similar dial and hands.
And this orange version inspired also a limited series produced in 2004 for the Japanese market.
Lucky Swiss customers.
As a matter of fact, all the Racing Speedmasters have possibly been delivered to Switzerland.
Furthermore, it is very likely that most if not all of them have been commercialized as complete watches (meaning that their specific dial and hands have been fitted originally, and not later as spare parts fitted on standard Speedies).
Summary table based on MOONWATCH ONLY observations.
With less than 30 units identified in total (Red Pre-Professional, Red Professional, and Orange), we can consider that they are probably the rarest Racing chronos among all other famous Racing watches of the same period…
With this new information, collectors will have more elements to reflect a) on “real” or “original” Racing models, and b) on the valuations of such rare watches.
They will understand better the importance of those exceptional Speedmasters. And they will know that they need to distinguish them from standard models that could have been equipped with racing dials (probably sold as spare parts) at a later stage: that could have a significant impact on the price of the watch.
This gallery presents an extremely rare Red Pre-Professional Racing Speedmaster, reference ST 145.012-67 (caliber 321).
100% original, with its original 1039/516 bracelet and its original box, it has been produced in September 1968 and delivered to Switzerland.