To mark the 40th anniversary of the Speedmaster in 1997, OMEGA brought out a product in an entirely new guise – a white Missions valise containing 23 Speedmasters in tribute to the space missions of the three NASA programs: Gemini, Apollo and Skylab.
40 such valises numbered xx/40 were put on public sale.
In addition, 5 “hors commerce” (not for sale) valises numbered H.C. I/V to V/V and 5 “épreuves d’artistes” (artists’ proofs) versions numbered E.A. I/V to V/V were produced.
The limited-series number is on a small rectangular plate inside the lid of the valise.
The 23 watches inside each valise are:
– 22 Missions models: Gemini V to XII, Apollo 7 to 17, Skylab 1 to 3. These 22 watches are based on the standard Speedmaster Professional (PIC 3570.50) but display the mission badge in the subdial at 9 o’clock. Their casebacks are engraved with the name of the mission and the number of the valise, for example: Gemini VI – 40/40,
– The Replica model (PIC 3598.50), a remake of the first Speedmaster (the reference CK 2915 of 1957).
The suitcase also contains a spare caliber 1861 movement (which at this time was an all-new movement and successor of the caliber 861). All the 23 Speedmasters of the set are fitted with the 1861.
All the dials of these Missions and Replica models are luminova dials (luminova was introduced in 1997).
The Speedmaster Missions Valise (1997)
Reference PIC 3599.99
The watches in the valises were initially not sold individually.
We have nevertheless seen some individual examples inscribed xx/40 on the caseback, coming from three different sets, leading to the supposition that at least three sets had been taken apart and the watches sold individually.
In addition to the cased sets, 21 of the 22 Missions models were produced in small unnumbered series of between 100 and 150 copies of each mission, according to OMEGA, and sold piecemeal in 1998.
The 22nd model, Apollo XIII, had already been produced in a series of 999 watches in 1995, so OMEGA probably thought it unnecessary to make them again as individual pieces.
The casebacks of these individual models are standard and have no additional inscriptions.
They were delivered in Mission boxes covered in a white material like that used for space suits, and which was also used for the boxes of the Speedmaster X-33. It is also possible that some examples were delivered in standard presentation boxes.
The Replica models were made for several years as individual pieces, with a different reference (PIC 3594.50).