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.
What's interesting is that not only has the Speedmaster become a pop icon in real-life space travel, it has also permeated into sci-fi, where none is more iconic than the ‘Ultraman’. In the early ’70s, a particular variant of the Speedmaster appeared in the Japanese TV show ‘Return of Ultraman’ and collectors quickly caught on to this. The Speedmasters used in the TV show were unique as they were a 1967 transitional model that had a bright orange chronograph seconds hand. As a result, the orange hand Speedmaster’s from that era have become known as the ‘Ultraman’. As they were transitional and rare, collectors pay a huge premium for this model. The Ultraman tie-in is very fitting as science fiction is very closely associated with space travel. It somehow seems that the Speedmaster was destined to be associated with space in every aspect.
Fast forward to today and one of the most prevalent hashtags on Instagram for watches would certainly have to be #speedytuesday. Created by the influential blog Fratello Watches, it started as a series of articles, where they wrote about different variants of the Speedmaster every week. The hashtag over the years caught onto Instagram and today, every Speedmaster collector posts a #speedytuesday shot of their Speedmasters every Tuesday.
In fact, #speedytuesday got so big, that it even caught the attention of Omega themselves, the result of which is what you see here. This is the second in the series of collaborations between Omega and Fratello Watches. The first collaboration sold out quickly and became an instant legend, with big premiums in the second-hand market.
How this all ties in is that, for the second series, the team drew upon the Ultraman as inspiration and reincarnated it. The result, as expected was another hit, as they all sold out quickly. In my opinion, I am a much bigger fan of this than the previous Speedy Tuesday watch. It is vintage inspired, with an old style applied Omega logo on the dial and crown and a dot over 90 bezel, a nod to the pre-1970’s Speedmasters where the dot in the tachymeter scale of the 90 was placed above the numerals (Yes, vintage collectors are peculiar like that).
Ultraman could only be in his superhero form for 3 minutes and Omega has signalled this by making the first three minutes of the minute counter at 3 o’clock in orange. Furthermore, as a tribute to Ultraman, a silhouette of his head is placed in the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock and is only made visible when you shine a UV light, which Omega provides as a package.
Just like all iconic designs, not much has changed with the Speedmaster for over 50 years. While the early Speedmasters had a different case, ever since Omega transitioned into their Speedmaster Professional line, it has consistently sported a black dial with rectangular luminous indexes, stick hour and minute hands with an arrow chronograph seconds hand and a 42mm asymmetrical stainless steel case with a black aluminium tachymeter bezel. Even with this limited edition featuring orange accents, it is still instantly recognizable. This Speedy Tuesday Ultraman is powered by the Calibre 1861, Omega’s in-house chronograph that is the descendent of the legendary 861 movement used in Speedmasters since 1969.
All of these details combine to make up a really great limited edition, and the market agrees with me. Omega has always been great at doing special Speedmasters and collectors are pushing prices up for all kinds of limited editions. Some examples include the Alaska Project, the Apollo Soyuz Meteorite, the Japan Racing and the Snoopy Award. Down the line, while the Speedy Tuesday Ultraman is already selling for a premium, I have no doubt it will be one of the most collectable modern Speedmasters out there.