The definitive story of the Speedmaster Ultraman

For a long time, Speedmasters collectors have talked about models equipped with an orange central chrono hand, and the possible link with a Japanese TV Series. The question was whether such a configuration could be original or not. We had never answered to it, until we have had more precise and verified information about it.

We are now able to state about the origin of this amazing watch.

Ultraman is the name of a Japanese science-fiction TV series (and of its main character) created by Eiji Tsubaraya and released from 1966 to 1967. Ultraman is a superhero who protects the Earth against various monsters and aliens, see the origin of the story taken from Wikipedia.

The first series begins when Science Special Search Party (科学特別捜査隊 Kagaku Tokubetsu Sōsa-tai) member Shin Hayata is flying his plane and a red sphere of light crashes into his Mini-VTOL. The sphere turns out to be the transport (Travel Sphere) for a giant red-and-silver being who calls himself Ultraman. Feeling remorse for having killed the human, he merges his essence with Hayata to save him. In return, Hayata serves as the human host for this being, and whenever danger threatens, and the resources of the Science Special Search Party are not enough to counter it, he raises and activates a power-object and artifact called a “beta capsule” and transforms to Ultraman to save the day.

Following this series, Tsubaraya produced The Return of Ultraman in 1971. The Ultraman series, involving superheroes and monsters, have inspired others series like Message from Space: Galactic Wars (original title Uchū kara no Messēji: Ginga Taisen aka San Ku Kai) in the 70s.

Some of you will probably ask: what’s the relationship between the Ultraman series and our beloved Speedmasters?

In The Return of Ultraman series, a close-up of a special Speedmaster Professional was revealed in episode 8: this Speedmaster had an orange-red chronograph second hand. For this reason, collectors gave it the nickname “Ultraman”.

A few years ago, most Speedmaster collectors (including ourselves) were not totally convinced that this hand was originally fitted to the Speedmasters of that time, only very few examples had been observed.

After several years of observation and the contribution of many Speedmaster collectors, we were able to track about 25 examples with full or partial serial number information:

1) They are all references ST 145.012-67.

2) They are mainly in the serial range between 26.075.xxx and 26.079.xxx, with some exceptions observed in 26.07x.xxx.

3) They were produced in an extremely short time mostly in June 1968.

4) They were not destined to a particular country.

Here are more details about the models we have observed (with dates and countries of delivery obtained from the extracts of the archives delivered by OMEGA):

#26.073.96x: 17 May 1968, delivered to Thailand
#26.075.50x: 29 June 1968, delivered to Bahamas
#26.076.33: 06 June 1968, delivered to South Africa
#26.076.86x: 6 June 1968, delivered to Sweden
#26.076.88x, 31 May 1968, delivered to Austria
#26.077.12x, 13 June 1968, delivered to Switzerland
#26.077.19x, 6 June 1968, delivered to Sweden
#26.077.23x: 14 June 1968, delivered to Mexico
#26.077.24x: 21 June 1968, delivered to Switzerland
#26.077.30x: 14 June 1968, delivered to Switzerland
#26.077.39x: 9 August 1968, delivered to Denmark
#26.077.48x: 14 June 1968, delivered to US Navy 6th Fleet
#26.077.53x: 7 June 1968, delivered to Sweden
#26.077.56x: 21 May 1968, delivered to Sweden (watch n. 1)
#26.077.56x: 5 June 1968, delivered to Sweden (watch n. 2)
#26.077.64x: 6 June 1969, delivered to NAAFI
#26.077.79x: ?, delivered to France

#26.078.04x: 17 June 1968, delivered to Angola
#26.078.05x: ?, delivered to US NAVY Exchange

#26.078.76x: 14 June 1968
#26.078.80x: 25 June 1968, delivered to USA
#26.078.84x: ?, delivered to USA

#26.078.85x: 28 June 1968, delivered to Switzerland
#26.078.91x: 24 June 1968, delivered to the European Exchange System (US Army)
#26.078.95x: 17 June 1968, delivered o Finland
#26.079.13x: 25 June 1968, delivered to Denmark (watch n. 1)
#26.079.13x: 25 June 1968, delivered to Denmark (watch n. 2)
#26.079.14x: 24 June 1968, delivered to Germany
#26.079.15x: ?, delivered to Hong Kong
#26.079.17x: 24 June 1968, delivered to the European Exchange System (US Army)

#26.079.18x: 20 June 1968, delivered to Germany
#26.079.54x: 25 June 1968, delivered to USA (watch n. 1)
#26.079.54x: 25 June 1968, delivered to USA (watch n. 2)
#26.079.64x: 27 June 1968, delivered to USA
#26.079.73x: ?, delivered to USA
#26.079.74x: 28 June 1968, delivered to USA

#26.079.78x: 2 July 1968, delivered to USA

Its appearance during the japanese TV series, a very narrow block of serial number and production dates, as well as various witnesses from original owners (or relatives to them) opened the idea that it could well have been an original option back in 1968.

But we wanted to be totally convinced and with the help of the OMEGA Museum (and their watchmaker) who carried out precise hands measurements, we noted that the Ultraman chronograph hand dimensions are specific and thus does not come from any other OMEGA model such as the Flightmaster, the Chronostop, the Seamaster radial ST 145.006 or the Speedmaster Mark II. See the table below for a comparison.

The original drawing and illustrations showing the dimensions of the Ultraman chronograph hand compared to those of other OMEGA models with a similar hand. Two Ultraman models were used and showed identical dimensions.

OMEGA themselves have now acknowledged the Speedmaster Ultraman as an official model, which has been chosen as one of the 60 Speedmasters for the poster illustrating the 60th Anniversary of the model.

In a nutshell, we would like to draw two conclusions:

1) This was a collaborative work and without the collectors’ interaction, it would not have been possible to move forward so efficiently on the subject.

2) This is very interesting to observe that back in the 60s, OMEGA produced some very small lots of Speedmasters with special features. Was it on request from some customers? Or a spontaneous initiative from OMEGA? No confirmation so far, but this is probably with the same philosophy that OMEGA released the ST 145.022-69 “Racing”… but that’s another story.

Coincidentally, two events will highlight the Speedmaster Ultraman in the coming weeks:

12 May 2017

Watches with Nicknames, an exhibition by the Davidoff Brothers.

1 June 2017

Bruun Rassmussen Auction will offer an Ultraman model with original papers and optional pulsometric bezel.

And what about the dials?

OMEGA Museum’s team has recently noted that the dial (at least of 3 examples observed) of the Ultraman was different than those of the standard ST 145.012s. So we had a more careful look at our own Ultraman… and indeed the dial is different in color and finish: the Ultraman’s dial is pure black and has a satin varnish, while it is dark grey (anthracite) and the varnish is matte on standard ST 145.012s. A similar satin finish has already been observed on rare blue-grey dials of the same period.

Furthermore, we all noted that the indexes have always a peculiar “caramel” patina on the Ultraman models…

These additional specific features (in addition to the unique orange hand) definitely confirm that the so-called Ultraman was a genuine model proposed by OMEGA for a short period in 1968, and not a kind of franken Speedy.

Comparative pictures to follow!

A big thank you to Petros Protopapas of the OMEGA Museum and his team for this remarkable finding.

Comparative pictures to follow!

Join the discussion 27 Comments

  • Paolo says:

    Hi, I have a speedmaster Ultraman with the red hand and a black satin dial. 26.077.23x, manufactured on 14 June 1968 And delivered to Mexico

  • BERNARD says:

    Hello, My Ultraman is also coming from Mexico, It was delivered on June 13th (confirmed by Omega archive extract). Movement number is : 2607712X My best regards. BL.

  • BERNARD says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mention the year of the extract : june 13th 1968. (back case is numbered 145.012.67).

  • Johnson Leung says:

    I have an Omega Speedmaster Ultraman, serial number 2607915x with orange hand and back case 145-012-67 SP.

  • Stephen says:

    I have this watch. I received it through my family. My relative was in the US Navy. It’s serial number is 26078052. Would you know to where it was issued? Naval issue, United States, or perhaps another country?

  • perry nguyen says:

    is the serial number 26079540 ref 145.012-67SP a Ultraman?

  • David B Weiss says:

    Has my Ultraman been added to your database? 26078843

  • Bernd says:

    I just received my extract from the archives today, stating I have an Ultraman as well. The serial # is 26078915. The watch is a ref. 145.012-67, produced on June 24th of 1968 and was delivered to the US Army (European Exchange System).

  • Bernd says:

    Thank you.

    Isn’t it strange that obviously none of these watches were delivered to Japan? Do you have any explanation for that?

  • Bernd says:

    Look at this one:

    https://www.shucktheoyster.com/omega-speedmaster-professional-145-012-67-sp-ultraman/

    Certificate states it’s legit and also that it was produced on the same day as mine.

  • Marko Ylöstalo says:

    Got today Certifigate from Omega, stating that My watch is 100% original. It was bought 1970 here in Finland, and havent been used since bracelet got broken in 1973 Made at June 17 1968 ref 145.012 SP serial number 26.078.952 delivered at Finland

  • Roger Cooper says:

    I have just stumbled across this site and am fascinated by the history of these ‘Ultraman’ watches. I bought my Speedmaster in 1968 from the official Omega dealership in Hong Kong – it was my 21st birthday present from my parents. Its got the red second hand and the serial number 26078189 with the back case 145-012-67 SP. Unfortunately it has lain unused in a drawer since the crown wheel became detached about 15 years ago.However I might get around to having it fixed one day now that I can probably afford it! Sadly no box or Omega documentation after all these years but strangely I still have the original Import form that I got from HM Customs & Excise when my ship arrived back in King George V dock, North Woolwich (now London City Airport!!)

    • Josephine Ingram says:

      Saw you on Antiques road show last night prompting my husband to get his Ultraman out to check!!! His serial number is 26079104. Have you had yours valued at all?

      • Roger Cooper says:

        As you could tell by my reaction, Richard Price’s valuation was pretty astounding….who knows what it might fetch at auction though, it could be an exciting day at Gardiner Houlgate …. I’m hoping 🙂

    • Roger Cooper says:

      Update….. Following it’s appearance on the Antiques Roadshow in Salisbury, I’ve decided to send my watch to auction despite the huge sentimental value it holds for me – I’m just too worried about wearing it out and about and I don’t want it to stay hidden away. Time for it to be appreciated by a keen collector I feel – I will at least have the memories.
      The winding stem has been repaired with an authentic original Omega part – luckily I had not lost the winding crown as these are no longer in production or available anywhere at all now. NO restoration was carried out – it was just serviced and is now fully operational. Should yo be interested, the Auction is on the 23rd October at https://www.gardinerhoulgate.co.uk/departments/4/Watches

  • Noel McAuley says:

    Hi, I have just acquired what I believe to be an Ultraman, ref 26077433 and with the orange hand having the same dimensions as you have supplied. How can I confirm it?

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