A deep dive into the Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012-65. "The Moonwatch."
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
As an avid Speedmaster collector and enthusiast I believe that the Omega Speedmaster Professional reference 105.012-65 is a must-have piece in the collection of every true vintage Speedmaster aficionado.
While all Speedmaster Professionals are generally referred to as ’The Moonwatch’, the 105.012-65 is considered to be the Moonwatch, as it was the actual reference worn by Neil Armstrong (and presumably Buzz Aldrin) during the historic Apollo XI moon landing mission.
Though there were many Speedmasters in space before and after the 105.012-65, the 105.012-65 is the actual watch that “walked” on the moon for the very first time.
Therefore, arguably the most significant Speedmaster reference ever.
Through years of collecting, buying, and selling vintage Speedmasters, I have had the privilege of having dozens of 105.012-65 Speedmasters pass through my hands.
By documenting them and recording their serial numbers along with their respective production dates obtained via Extracts Of The Archives from the Omega museum, I noticed that there are in fact two iterations of 105.012-65. One of which I like to refer to as the ‘Moon-Spec’ 105.012-65.
A ‘Moon-Spec’ 105.012-65?? What the heck is he talking about?? I’m sure most reading this are scratching their heads in wonder...
So let’s take a deeper dive into the 105.012-65 reference shall we?
*Warning, we’re going to get pretty geeky here!
As we all know, production of the Omega Speedmaster Professional reference 105.012-65 began during the first quarter of 1966, with the very last examples of the reference leaving the Omega factory around mid April of 1967.
During the ~15 month production run of the 105.012-65, the reference had gone through several nuanced changes which I have not found to have been observed, documented, or mentioned in any of the leading Speedmaster blogs, publications, or collector forums.
By comparing the watches in my archives I have put together a timetable which depicts these changes and puts them on a timeline.
It goes without saying that I have not had the opportunity to document each and every 105.012-65 ever produced and likely never will, yet I feel that the data that I have accumulated thus far can give us fairly accurate reference points to the the evolution of the 105.012-65 during its production run.
If you haven’t read my blog post covering the evolution of the Speedmaster Professional caseband (mid-case) I suggest you go and give it a read. (Link here)
Early examples of the 105.012-65 reference produced in early 1966 show the same MK1 caseband profile of the previous 105.012-63 & 105.012-64 references.
However, examples produced (roughly) between March and August of 1966 (228.826.XXX - 24.004.XXX serial range) exhibit a different type of caseband. The MK1.5 “Thin case”
The reason why Huguenin Frères produced a different type of case with a thinner mid-band (3.42mm vs. 3.85mm on the MK1) is unknown.
Additionally, the MK1.5 case features a wider "footprint” at the bottom of the lugs.
The caseback of the 105.012-65 features a double bevel with the Hippocampus logo in the center, SPEEDMASTER writing on top and the Omega logo at the bottom.
The inside is stamped with reference S 105.012-65.
Around mid November of 1966 (24.014.XXX serial range) the S in front of the reference number is omitted, and casebacks which appear on examples produced from mid November 1966 until the end of the production run in Q1 1967 feature a reference stamp of 105.012-65 sans the S in front of it.
As we’ve all learned, the most common dial variant observed on the 105.012-65 is the “B2. Close T” Speedmaster Professional dial, while examples of the 105.012-65 reference produced at the very end of the production run in early 1967 (24.533.### - 24.537.### serial range) can exhibit the “B3. Spaced T” dial.
There is however a second variant of the “B2. Close T” dial which for consistency sake I will refer to as the “B2.MK2 Close T” dial, a dial variant that I have yet to see observed, documented, or referred to in any Speedmaster literature, blog, or collector forum.
Based on the data I have accumulated, the B2.MK2 dial makes its appearance around mid/late April of 1966. (22.827.XXX serial range) and disappears around mid/late June of 1966 (~24.003.XXX serial range).
Let’s take a look into the fine details of the B2.MK2 dial and see how it differs from the more common B2.MK1 dial.
First off, the B2.MK1 dials were printed in two separate stampings.
Those were in essence Pre-Professional 105.003 dials that had the PROFESSIONAL print added at a later point.
If you study and compare any number of B2.MK1 Close T dials, you will be hard pressed to find two where the PROFESSIONAL print is identical, and/or in the exact same position.
If we look even closer still, it is noticeable that the ink used for the PROFESSIONAL print is of different consistency (and sometimes slightly different shade) than the ink used on the rest of the dial.
B2.MK1. OMEGA Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL print.
OMEGA font with no serifs.
The 3 strokes of the E are even in length. The bottom stroke is “pinched” towards the tip.
The middle stroke of the G passes the center point of the letter.
B2 MK2. OMEGA Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL print.
Entire dial print is executed in one pressing. The location of PROFESSIONAL is identical on each dial. OMEGA font with serifs. E with shorter middle stroke. The middle stroke of the G stops at the center point of the letter.
The 'Speedmaster' print on the B2.MK2 has the connecting stroke between the S and P situated a tad lower than the MK1.
B2.MK2 has rounder loops in the first two E's of 'Speedmaster.'
The cross line on the t sits a tad higher and is shorter than MK1.
The r is more "perked up"
B2.MK1 vs. B2.MK2 subdial numeral comparison.
The numeral 2 in all three subdials has a long overhang and a less pronounced curve to the middle section towards the bottom stroke. B2.MK2
The numeral 2 in all three subdials has a shorter overhang and a more pronounced curve to the middle section towards the bottom stroke.
The numeral 3 in all three subdials has a wider lower portion and a slightly narrower upper portion.
The numeral 3 in all three subdials displays an even width to both upper and lower portions.
The numeral 4 in the running seconds subdial has a shorter flat upper portion than the one observed on the B2.MK2 dial. B2.MK2 The numeral 4 in the running seconds subdial displays a wider flat upper portion, and a taller "leg" than the ones observed on the B2.MK1 dial.
T SWISS MADE T print.
Taller font than B2.MK2. Hardly noticeable serifs (if any). Entire T SWISS MADE T print is in very close proximity to the hashmarks and 6 o’clock hour marker. B2.MK2 Shorter font than B2.MK1 with pronounced serifs. Print positioning is lower than B2.MK1.
Now that we've covered all of those details, let’s examine a certain 105.012-65 Speedmaster.
A rather famous one… Neil Armstrong’s own “Moonwatch” Detailed images of Armstrong's watch from the Smithsonian National Air And Space Museum can be found here
As one can clearly see in the images from the Smithsonian, Armstrong’s watch checks both boxes when it comes to the B2.MK2 dial with the shorter middle stroke on the 'E' in Omega and the MK1.5 “Thin Case” with the wider footprint.
Armstrong’s watch bearing serial number 24.002.981 falls right at the tail end of this unique batch of watches which had the combination of the MK1.5 “Thin Case” in conjunction with the B2.MK2 dial, or what I refer to as the true ‘Moon-Spec’ “Moonwatch.”
Unfortunately Omega will not share the actual production date of Armstrong’s watch.
(I asked, and they refused, at least my request was. I don’t see any logical reason as to why this information should be kept secret or out of the public’s knowledge but, oh well?) Nevertheless having owned at least two examples bearing serial numbers very close to Armstrong’s (in the low triple digits) with production dates of June 9th and June 13th 1966,
I would assume that Armstrong’s watch was produced between June 13th to June 15th 1966. Based on the data in my archives after early/mid August 1966 (24.004.1XX - 24.004.XXX serial range) the B2.MK2 dial makes its exit, never to be seen again aside for that short ~90 day period of production.
From mid/late August 1966 onwards, the dial used on the 105.012-65 goes back to the B2.MK1, and the case goes back to the MK1.
*Again please keep in mind that I am making these statements only based on patterns I observed in watches that I have in my personal Archives. They are certainly not all of the 105.012-65’s ever produced, and not even the majority of them. Nevertheless, I feel that with several examples from each serial range observed, they can represent with fair accuracy the timeline of production and the subtle nuances and changes made within the 105.012-65 reference. The most important Speedmaster reference ever. (At least in my opinion). Thanks for reading!