THE VERY FIRST SPEEDMASTER WITH DISPLAY BACK
APOLLO XI 1980
The very first OMEGA Speedmasters with display back appeared in 1980.
As we wrote in a previous review (that you can read here), the first Speedmasters in steel equipped with display backs were produced in 1985.
But it was not the first time OMEGA introduced such displays on their Speedmasters… Actually, the very first time was in 1980, and it was on very specific gold versions that we are going to review in this new article.
This model comes in two numbered and limited series in yellow gold or in white gold. As indicated on the original certificate provided with the watch, these series were produced as a tribute to the flight requalification by NASA in 1978 for the Space Shuttle program.
Yellow Gold Model
OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XI Yellow Gold advertising (1982)
The yellow gold version (ref. BA 345.0802), estimated at 300 watches, was delivered from 1980 to around 1988, with half being sent in 1980 to the German market only. It seems that barely a dozen were delivered with a leather strap (ref. BA 145.0039).
White Gold Model
OMEGA Speedmaster Apollo XI White Gold
(exposed during The Ultimate Speedmaster Exhibition, with the Davidoff Brothers)
The white gold version (ref. BC 345.0802) is far more rare, only about 20 having been made, all of which were sent to the German market from December 1980 to February 1981. It seems that all of these were fitted with white gold bracelets. Please note that it is the first White Gold Speedmaster ever produced by OMEGA.
Two types of dials for each model
It is noteworthy that two types of dial can be found on both gold series. The visible differences are in the typography and the position of the SWISS MADE inscription. It could be that only one of these two dial versions is in solid gold, but that is yet to be verified.
The dials lack the T countermark because they don’t have luminous markers.
A very special display back
It is the first Speedmaster with sapphire-crystal display back. Furthermore, it is the only Speedmaster Moonwatch with a snap-on instead of a screw caseback.
Caliber 861 L
The caliber 861L has 19 jewels (instead of 17 on the caliber 861s of the time). It is rhodium plated, about 15 years before it was adopted for the standard-production calibers 1861/1863.