Omega Speedmaster Professional: four aficionado’s talk

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3650.50.00 Apollo XI 30th Anniversary

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3650.50.00 Apollo XI 30th Anniversary

This was written for the The Ace List by Ace Jewelers, in which it first appeared

The Omega Speedmaster Professional is a watch we just love to talk about, due to its interesting background. In 1957 Omega introduced this line of chronographs and since then, many different Speedmaster Chronographs have been produced. Rightly so the ‘Moonwatch’ was the first watch worn by an astronaut walking on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. We have asked four of our dear friends to tell something personal about their own Omega Speedmasters.

Tim Koppelman: Ref. 3560.50.00 ‘Apollo XI 30th Anniversary’, limited edition of 9999, 1999 [pictured above]

“When you grow up you notice that fictional heroes are great but actual heroes like the astronauts on the Apollo 11 moon mission in 1969, are even greater. Knowing that the Moonwatch was actually worn in space by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was what made me want a Speedmaster Professional. When I found this special, not so limited (9999 were made), edition I just had to buy it. The inscription on the case back says: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.” The exact words Armstrong used to announce the 1969 moon landing. The date and exact time of the moon landing are also engraved on the case-back. How cool is that?!”

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3595.52.00 Apollo XIII 25th Anniversaryv

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3595.52.00 Apollo XIII 25th Anniversaryv

Robert-Jan Broer: Ref. 3595.52.00 ‘Apollo XIII 25th Anniversary’, limited edition of 999, 1995

“The Speedmaster (Professional) has a magical appeal; not just because of its real history with links to the NASA Apollo program, but also because it is a timeless design with a perfectly readable dial. Whether you opt for a brand-new Moonwatch or one that is 50 years old, they are all interesting models and often there is a fascinating story behind the watch, explaining what made the owner choose the Speedmaster.”

Fun fact: Robert-Jan is the founder of leading watch blog FratelloWatches.com and every Tuesday they write about Speedmasters. They even named it #SpeedyTuesday.

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3578.51.00 Snoopy Award

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3578.51.00 Snoopy Award

Systke Hermans: Ref. 3578.51.00 ‘Snoopy Award’, limited edition of 5441, 2003

“Watches have only been a serious obsession with me for the past two years or so. When my husband bought his first Omega Speedmaster I was sold as well! My first ‘Speedy’ was the 57 Co-Axial with blue dial and red hands. But I already had my eye on the Moonwatch Snoopy Award, too. As a girl I was a fan of Snoopy, so I just had to have it. After a long search I found one, number 2125/5441. In all honesty, I think the case-back on this watch is even more beautiful than the front and I would prefer to wear the ‘Snoopy’ the wrong way round. I was ‘over the moon’ when Omega announced the Silver Snoopy Award at BaselWorld. Of course I ordered it right away, because you can never have enough ‘Snoopys’.”

Omega Speedmaster Professional 311.30.42.30.01.004 Racing / TinTin

Omega Speedmaster Professional 311.30.42.30.01.004 Racing / TinTin

Gerard Nijenbrinks: Ref. 311.30.42.30.01.004 ‘Racing / Tintin’, regular production, 2013-2015

“The design of a watch dial is very important for its attraction to me. It’s the interface with the human wearing and using it. For me the dial of the Omega Speedmaster Professional is simply perfect. There’s a lot of information available, however there’s nothing excessive (luckily not even a date) and the most important function, telling the time, is extremely easy to read in all light conditions. Almost equally important is the presence of the handwound Lemania-based chronograph movement. It’s right up there with the greatest chronograph movements in the world.”

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Press Release: The Omega Speedmaster and the world of space exploration

The source of many a myth and legend, the OMEGA Speedmaster has been the choice of astronauts and space agencies for half a century. This “common” object has become one of the most famous watches in the world and has been associated with some of humankind’s greatest adventures in space, earning it the name “the Moonwatch”.

Upon its release in 1957, the Speedmaster instantly changed the face of the chronograph wristwatch. Originally introduced as part of the Seamaster line, this chronograph was the first to have the timing scale on the bezel, a world premiere that secured the Speedmaster’s position as the most iconic chronograph ever created. The Speedmaster´s association with space exploration began in 1962 when NASA astronauts Walter “Wally” Schirra and Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper purchased their first flight-watches: the second generation Speedmaster model with the reference CK2998. These privately-owned chronographs were to be used on the upcoming Mercury program flights. And indeed, the very first Speedmaster to fly on a space mission was Schirra’s own CK2998 during the Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7) mission. Two and a half years later, towards the end of the Mercury program, the astronauts approached Operations Director Deke Slayton and asked to be issued with an official watch for use during training and eventually flight. As every piece of equipment from the Mercury program was being re-evaluated and re-designed for the upcoming Gemini and Apollo programs, the timing could not have been better. In September 1964, Deke Slayton issued an internal memo stating the need for a “highly durable and accurate chronograph to be used by Gemini and Apollo flight crews”. This memo landed on the desk of engineer James Ragan who sent a “Request for Quotations” and a specification sheet for wrist chronographs to different manufacturers. Of the brands contacted, only four responded and James Ragan asked each to supply three watches. OMEGA’s copy of the request was received by its U.S. affiliate in New York who proposed and delivered three Speedmasters with the reference ST105.003. The tests which ensued were designed literally to test the watches to destruction. The watches were subjected to temperatures ranging from 71°C to 93°C over a two-day period, after which they were frozen at -18°C. They were placed in a vacuum chamber heated to 93°C, and then subjected to a test where they were heated to 70°C and then were immediately cooled to -18°C – not once but fifteen times in rapid succession! When this had been completed, the watches were subjected to 40 G in six different directions and to high and low pressures. Their performance and ability to function was tested in an atmosphere of 93% humidity and in a highly corrosive 100% oxygen environment. The watches even had to endure noise levels reaching 130 decibels. Finally, they were vibrated with average accelerations of 8.8 G. In the end only one watch had survived: the Speedmaster. As a result of surviving the testing, the Speedmaster was declared “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions” in March 1965. Just three weeks later, the Speedmaster went into space officially for the first time on the wrists of Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young during their Gemini 3 mission. On June 3rd 1965 Edward H. White wore his Speedmaster on America’s first spacewalk, during the Gemini IV mission. Another four years passed and NASA was preparing for the first lunar landing. The crew had been selected and the decision was made that Neil Armstrong would be the first man to walk on the lunar surface. NASA had, by this point, adopted the most recent versions of the Speedmaster that was available at that time, the ST105.012 and ST145.012, for the Apollo program; however, as NASA still had quite a few ST105.003 in stock from the original supply, this model was also routinely issued to the astronauts. On the 21st of July 1969 at 2:56 GMT, Neil Armstrong stepped off the “Eagle” to become the first human to stand on another world. Buzz Aldrin was fifteen minutes behind him and the Speedmaster Professional became the first watch to be worn on the Moon. More than 45 years and countless missions later, the Speedmaster remains flight-qualified and boasts a huge following. In fact, no other piece of equipment – let alone a watch – can claim to have been used during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Soyuz, Salyut, Space Shuttle, MIR and International Space Station programs. Without any doubt, the Speedmaster is the ultimate space watch.

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Press Release: The ten most representative OMEGA Speedmaster models

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915

1. Omega Speedmaster – 1st generation (1957) 


The OMEGA Speedmaster is a definitive candidate for the most famous chronograph in the world. Without any doubt it also is the world’s most important one. Selected by astronauts, tested and certified by NASA and worn on the moon – it has credentials that no other watch can boast. 

It all started rather inconspicuously in 1957, the year OMEGA introduced its “Professional” line of watches that included the Seamaster 300, the Railmaster and the first Speedmaster. Conceived not for extra-terrestrial use but rather for an earthly desire – speed – the very first Speedmaster, the CK 2915, was intended for and marketed to car enthusiasts, motorists and racing drivers. Its tachymetric bezel placed – for the first time ever – outside the dial and crystal and designed to form part of the exterior case design, was yet another world premiere in OMEGA’s long list of achievements. Powered by the legendary manual-wound calibre 321, defined by the graceful lines of its symmetrical case design and proudly displaying time with hands featuring a “Broad Arrow” hour-hand, the Speedmaster became an instant bestseller.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2998

Omega Speedmaster CK 2998

 
2. Omega Speedmaster – 2nd generation (1959) 

1959 saw the introduction of a revised Speedmaster model, the CK 2998. While the symmetrical case and the calibre 321 were retained, new “Alpha” design hands replaced the ones found on the first model. The tachymeter bezel was also standardized in the black aluminium version still in use today. The CK 2998 was the very model purchased by Mercury astronauts Walter “Wally” M. Schirra and Leroy G. “Gordo” Cooper in 1962 as their private watch. It was worn by Schirra during his Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7) mission, becoming the first OMEGA Speedmaster worn in space, a full two years before NASA’s now-famous tests that led to the official selection of the Speedmaster for use in all of NASA’s manned missions. 

Omega Speedmaster ST 105.003

Omega Speedmaster ST 105.003


3. Omega Speedmaster – 3rd generation (1963) 

The next development within the Speedmaster family was a decisive one. Introduced in 1963, and powered by the manual-wound calibre 321, the ST 105.003 is the exact model delivered to and tested by NASA. Responding to a request for wrist chronographs in October 1964, OMEGA’s North American agent furnished NASA with the required number of ST 105.003 Speedmasters, without knowing exactly what they would be used for and without informing OMEGA headquarters in Biel, Switzerland. These watches, as well as models from other competing brands, were tested almost to destruction in a series of tests that can justly be described as the toughest trials a watch had ever endured. Emerging victorious and functioning within the required specifications as the sole watch that had not suffered catastrophic failures in the strenuous trials, NASA declared the OMEGA Speedmaster as “officially certified” equipment for its manned space program. Following the successful trials, NASA procured further examples of the ST 105.003 and officially equipped its astronauts with the Speedmaster. This model reached further fame when it was worn for the first time outside the space capsule: on the wrist of astronaut Edward White, this model became part of America’s first “spacewalk” (extra-vehicular activity, or EVA) on June 3rd 1965 during the Gemini 4 mission.

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 105.012

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 105.012


4. Omega Speedmaster Professional – 4th generation // The original “Moonwatch” (1964) 

While the brand had no knowledge of what was going on in Houston – indeed NASA’s selection process was carried out without involving the respective companies’ headquarters – the Speedmaster’s design was steadily evolving. In order to offer additional protection to the chronograph’s pushers and its crown, OMEGA designed a slightly altered watch case. Its right side was slightly enlarged, thus enhancing the protection. As it turned out, this “asymmetric” case would be identified the world over as one of Speedmaster’s trademark design-elements. It was introduced to select markets in 1964 with the model ST 105.012 that also featured the mention “Professional” on the dial, as it was indeed prominent part of OMEGA’s professional line of watches. Powered by the same movement, the calibre 321, the model further evolved in 1967 to the reference ST 145.012, with the addition of a slightly improved method of attaching the pushers to the chronograph’s case. This model proved to be the last one to use the brand’s calibre 321, the very movement that guaranteed perfect timing during all six lunar landings up to and including the very last mission to land on the moon: Apollo 17. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 145.022

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 145.022


5. Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” (1968) 

In 1968, one year before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon, OMEGA introduced yet another milestone in the Speedmaster’s evolution: a new movement. Bearing the reference ST 145.022, the new model was powered by the OMEGA calibre 861, the successor of the storied calibre 321. The new manual-wound movement featured several new design elements and reflected OMEGA’s advances in watchmaking technology. Incorporating some production-related improvements as well, the new movement and its succeeding versions continue to power the Speedmaster “Moonwatch” to this very day. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II Racing

Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II Racing ST 145.014

 


6. Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II (1969) 

This model marked the first redesign of the classic Speedmaster Moonwatch case, thus introducing a new or second generation of Speedmaster models into OMEGA’s catalogue. Its birth year was 1969 and the name chosen was “Mark II” to signify that it was in fact the second generation of the manual-wound Speedmaster. Offered in various distinct iterations (stainless steel with black dial, stainless steel with grey and orange “racing” and “yachting” dials, gold-plated with a gilt dial and a very rare version in 18K yellow gold) and powered by the calibre 861, the Mark II’s barrel-shaped case, also referred to as the “Pilots’ Line” case, has its roots in a rather secret (at the time) project that OMEGA was working on: a further enhanced and strengthened version of the Speedmaster for prolonged EVA-use on the lunar surface. One version of this ambitious research project that spanned more than ten years and was code-named “Alaska” featured a strengthened and well-rounded watch case with hooded lugs and protected crown and pushers. When the research project shifted directions, some of the original ideas formed the basis of the “Pilots’ Line” cases and were introduced commercially in the form of the Speedmaster Mark II and the Flightmaster. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA 145.022

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA 145.022


7. A gold Speedmaster to celebrate the successful Apollo 11 mission (1970) 


Created especially to commemorate the most important event of modern times, this model was manufactured be¬ginning in the autumn of 1969, first in a special series of 28 num¬bered pieces. Bearing a different inscription (“To mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time”) along with the receiver’s name, it was offered to each of the astronauts active at that time at a gala dinner on November 25, 1969 at Hotel Warwick in Houston. Due to its success, a total of 1,014 of these watches were produced up until 1972. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 145.0031 Snoopy Award

Omega Speedmaster Professional ST 145.0031 Snoopy Award


8. Omega Speedmaster Professional “Snoopy Award Limited Edition” (2003)

A special model produced as a series limited to 5441 numbered pieces to commemorate the Silver Snoopy Award presented to OMEGA by NASA in recognition of the brand’s contributions to the Apollo program. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional 311.32.42.30.04.003 Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award

Omega Speedmaster Professional 311.32.42.30.04.003 Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award


9. Omega Speedmaster “Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award” (2015) 


In 2015, OMEGA introduced the OMEGA Speedmaster “Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award”, a watch that pays homage to the unforgettable mission 45 years ago and celebrates the teamwork, quick thinking, ingenuity and courage that brought Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise home safely. 
A closer look at the timepiece shows that Snoopy, the beloved dog from the Peanuts cartoon and a NASA mascot, decorates the dial and the caseback – a small tribute to the Silver Snoopy Award that OMEGA was presented with in 1970. 

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black 311.12.44.51.01.006.

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black 311.12.44.51.01.006

10. OMEGA Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon “Vintage Black” (2015) 

Inspired by the incredible discoveries NASA astronauts made while exploring space, OMEGA launched a statement-making timepiece in 2013 that caught the attention of watch fans and collectors around the world: the ceramic Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon. Combining the brand’s commitment to quality and innovation with its space legacy, OMEGA’s collection of ceramic watches includes now nine stunning models, one of which is known as the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon “Vintage Black”. These stylish timepieces are emblematic of OMEGA’s passion, pioneering spirit and keen sense of what the watch world wants.

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BaselWorld 2015: any Speedmaster wishes or predictions?

Omega Speedmaster Professional BaselWorld 2015

Omega Speedmaster Professional BaselWorld 2015

 

BaselWorld 2015 is around the corner.. Got any wishes and / or predictions?

We think a trio like the above would be great fun : an 1861-based rattrapante in steel, a red dial (not unlike the mythical red dial Rolex Daytona) and a fun ‘First Duck in Space’. What do you think Omega will bring out this year?

On a serious note, we expect one or two new ceramic models and and perhaps one or two nice limited’s – perhaps titanium again? As we’ll be in Basel Sunday ’till Tuesday, we’ll keep you posted!

While we’re at it – Omega, why not create another Speedmaster ’57 Replica using the First Omega in Space case? Or a ‘simple’ reverse panda inspired by the meteorite? The Speedmaster is such a great canvas..

Omega Speedmaster Professional BaselWorld 2015

Omega Speedmaster Professional BaselWorld 2015

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Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 45th Anniversary on Bracelet

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary 311.62.42.30.06.001 Bracelet

Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary 311.62.42.30.06.001 Bracelet

 

How about this Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary 311.62.42.30.06.001 on original Omega titanium bracelet?

Whoops – it’s been over two months since we last posted on SpeedyWatches.com! We’ll make it up soon and that’s a promise.

On a small note, we’ve been busy integrating a big part of our research and picture archive to WatchBase.com, where great things are happening!

Full details on the Speedmaster Apollo 11 45th Anniversary on WatchBase

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Speedmaster Racing : Japan vs TinTin

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 - Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 – Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

We’re sorry ladies and gentlemen – it’s been a while! So how about we make it up with a few shots of a pair not often seen – especially together?

Courtesy of our friends at Ace Jewelers and their Ace Photo Studio, today we managed to get the rare (2004 pieces) Speedmaster Racing Japan and Speedmaster Racing TinTin together. We recon this is a rather rare occasion, although there are probably a few of you out there who own the both of them..

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 - Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 – Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

Seeing the two of them together makes for an interesting opportunity for some astute observations – if we may be so bold. Both are obviously inspired by the racing theme. The 2004 Racing Japan fully takes on the 1969 Mark II look – including the different placement of the (shorter) lumi marks. The Racing TinTin on the other hand closely resembles the classic Speedy Pro, but with an outer rim inspired by the TinTin comics – although the collaboration was not meant to be. Similar in spirit, there are a few differences – both notable as well as less notable.

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 - Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 – Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

The Japan Racing features a base color that differs from your regular Speedy Pro and uses color-coded hands: white for keeping time, orange for measuring time. As such, it is quite a departure from the classic Moonwatch. The overall atmosphere is very funky and seventies. Originally released as a limited edition for the Japanese market in 2004 in 2004 pieces, this model has been steadily rising in demand in the last few years.

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 - Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004 – Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan 3570.40.00

The TinTin is a model we’d recommend keeping a close eye on in the future. As indicated above, the collaboration with the TinTin heirs failed, but this apparently did not stop Omega in releasing this model. It is however not a limited edition nor is it numbered like the First Omega in Space. With Omega’s practice of releasing a limited edition Speedy whenever they see fit, we somehow feel this feeds to the appeal. An analogy with the brown-dialed Speedy Pro is easily made.

Did you notice the difference in ‘Omega Speedmaster Professional’ script on the two? The screw-pin bracelet versus the push-pin variation? There’s a world of details to be discovered when diving into the wonderful world of Speedmasters!

Find full details on the Speedmaster TinTin on WatchBase.com

And while we’re at it – how about this TinTin on SuiGeneric polka dot NATO?

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004

Omega Speedmaster Professional TinTin 311.30.42.30.01.004

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Rare and Unusual Omega Speedmasters @ AQ: part II

Rare and unusual Speedmasters from the AQ archives

Rare and unusual Speedmasters from the AQ archives

A few days back we highlighted some of the rarest and most unusual Omega Speedmaster models found in the Antiquorum archives and as promised, today we’re back for part two! This time we’re working our way up from 2003 – we sort of forgot at which page we left off last time 😉 .

Omega Speedmaster ref. unknown Racing Dial caliber 321

Omega Speedmaster ref. unknown Racing Dial calibre 321

First up is a Speedmaster in a rather peculiar configuration: a racing dial and telemeter bezel. While we don’t have our Moonwatch Only copy at hand and won’t comment on originality, it does seem legit and if so, it was a stellar buy at 3.080 USD including commission.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase 345.0809

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase 345.0809

A moonphase display is a somewhat whimsical complication. While of little use to most of us, it adds a touch of romance to a dial that’s hard not to love. Omega first introduced this feature to the Moonwatch in 1985, in a limited run of 1300 pieces of the reference 345.0809. The differences compared to the current Speedy Moon are subtle yet noticable; the current version uses rings around the subdials for an arguably more luxurious look, while the vintage one has a more utilitarian feel to it – save for that charming face on the moonphase disc. This example was sold at the 2004 December 1st New York auction for USD 3.680 including commission.

Omega Flightmaster X-33 Prototype 09/22

Omega Flightmaster X-33 Prototype 09/22

Enter Omegamania, the auction that caused quite a stir and achieved top results for a huge number of lots. The prototype pictured above is a wonderful mash-up of Omega’s most iconic lines: named Flightmaster, it used a case similar to that of the Seamaster Chronograph and would grow out to become the Speedmaster X-33 ‘Mars Watch’. The hammer fell at 16.520 CHF including commission.

Omega Speedmaster Moonphase 'Teutonic' TA 345.0810

Omega Speedmaster Moonphase ‘Teutonic’ TA 345.0810

And another Speedmaster Moonphase – although this one is arguably more of an acquired taste. The distinct eighties style ‘Teutonic’ case in two-tone (titanium and yellow gold), the white dial, the moonphase – somehow it seems to work. This rare Speedmaster (300 pieces) in seemingly perfect shape was sold for a quite impressive 9.440 CHF including premium.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project ST 145.0022-69

Omega Speedmaster Professional Alaska Project ST 145.0022-69

Boom. Holy grail alert – one of the original Alaska Project Prototypes. The Alaska Project was lead by Pierre Chopard from 1971 to 1973, trying to explore and improve the limits of the original Speedmaster Professional. Included in the sale was the red outer case, designed to improve its resistance to low temperatures. Final price? 64.900 CHF including commission

Omega Speedmaster Professional Italy DD 145.0022

Omega Speedmaster Professional Italy DD 145.0022

Indeed you’re right – we’re skipping a lot of the usual suspects and high-profile models. Here’s another one we love and that’s very rarely seen: the Omega Speedmaster Professional Italy DD 145.0022. Were it not for a friend of ours who owns one, we’d probably have a hard time locating one.. The two-tone is such a huge change compared to the regular Speedmaster look, although it -in our opinion- hardly detracts from the instrumental nature of the watch. This watch was made as a limited edition for the Italian market and sold at Omegamania for 14.160 CHF including premium.

We’re sorry guys – this is it for today. We’ll be back for more soon!

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