While the Omega Speedmaster was created as a racing watch, with its chronograph function and tachymeter scale, today this has long been forgotten and instead has become more famous for its exploits in space. Known as the ‘Moonwatch’, the Omega Speedmaster Professional made history by being flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space flights and becoming the first watch worn on the moon when it was on the wrists of astronauts during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
As a result, the Speedmaster has become a cult icon, and its hard not to see why. Collectors can buy into such a great story and with a generation that grew up idolising space travel and astronauts, this watch would certainly have to be one of the most important wristwatches ever made.
Many will know that Omega has released a lot of limited Speedmasters over the years, but of all, the most unusual would have to be the Speedmaster Racing Ref. 318.104.22.168.01.004, or as it is more commonly known, the ‘Tin Tin’.
First released in 2013, this watch created confusion and was largely panned as Omega ‘losing’ its way, with many accusing the brand of milking the Speedmaster name with yet another variation. As it was never officially marketed as a commemoration of ‘Tin Tin’, the general public just saw it as a red and white Speedmaster dial, with nothing else changed. What they didn't know, was that there was a very interesting story that makes this watch so particular and in my opinon, collectible.
The story was uncovered by the good guys at Fratello Watches, where they figured out that this Omega ‘Racing’ Speedmaster was actually supposed to be an official collaboration with Hergé the owners of Tin Tin. The red and white colours you see on the dial are representative of the similarly coloured rocket ship that Tin Tin used in the comic strips to land on the moon. Working together, Omega actually created this dial with a rocket ship on the subdial and a special caseback but towards the tail end, Hergé decided to pull out, leaving Omega with all of these dials.
While this may sound far fetched, Robert-Jan Broer, who is the founder of Fratello Watches and an authority of Speedmaster, has actually seen the prototype watch at Omega in Biel, but due to legal reasons, it is not allowed to be shown to the public (for now, I think).
Now with Omega left with all of these dials, they nevertheless proceeded to make a red and white Speedmaster, omitting the ‘Tin Tin’ name. The story really tallies up as when this was introduced, there was no publicity to it and it was quietly pulled a year or so lately without anyone really noticing.
While this wasn’t strictly a limited edition, it is estimated that 1000-2000 pieces were produced, making it in line with what an Omega limited would be. Aesthetically, it is a beautiful watch. The red and white checks are actually painted on and you can see a very nice depth and texture from this. Stories like this can only happen out of mistakes and this aberration in Omega’s production makes the Omega Speedmaster Tin Tin a highly collectible piece and a great investment.