The Omega Speedmaster Professional - A Case Study.
Updated: Mar 3
In this first Blog post I will cover a subject that I have found to have been grossly neglected by all the leading Speedmaster literature and blogs, and that is the Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL mid case.
We all know about the evolution and changes made to the dials, hands, bezels, pushers etc. But what about the mid case?
This post will cover the evolution of the “Pre-Moon” Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL mid-case from references 105.012-63 to 145.022-69.
As we all know, in mid 1967 Omega had commissioned La Centrale Boites to manufacture the cases for the Speedmaster Professional (along with other Omega models) resulting in a slightly different mid-case profile with the infamous ‘flat-top’ lugs which differ from the cases made for the same reference by Huguenin Frères during the first quarter of 1967. But what about the cases made before and after the 105.012-66 CB/HF? Were they all the same?
If we look at ‘Moonwatch Only’ which is most everyone’s go-to Speedmaster bible (myself included) , one would be led to believe that there were only two types of Speedmaster PROFESSIONAL asymmetrical mid-cases used throughout all references manufactured from 1964-1970 (and onwards). The HF, and the CB. However, that is not the case (pun intended).
In fact, the shapes and dimensions of the mid cases have changed with every reference and some sub-references.
In this post I will share my observations based on years of collecting, photographing, buying, and selling vintage Speedmasters.
Additionally, by obtaining Extracts Of The Archives for most of them, I have been able to put together a chronological timeline of roughly when these changes have occurred.
(*Keep in mind that this information is only based on watches that have passed through my hands and it is subject to change, and/or become more accurate the more examples I am able acquire and document).
For the purpose of this post I have curated five untouched examples of Speedmasters in museum quality condition which depict the subtle differences between each mid-case type used from 1964-1970.
It was important for me to only use the best quality watches I could find as they are untouched and as close to ‘factory-fresh’ condition as possible with no polishing, alterations, or extensive wear to their cases.
Here are the watches featured in this comparison:
1) 105.012-65 serial number: 24.004.825 produced on September 14, 1966.
2) 105.012-65 serial number: 24.002.022 with a unique MK1.5 case. *Extract in Route.
2) 105.012-66 CB serial number: 24.955.511 produced on August 22, 1967.
3) 145.012-67 serial number: 26.546.570 produced on September 16, 1968.
(Also used to depict the ‘MK2’ 105.012-66 HF case as the profiles and dimensions are identical).
4) 145.022-68 serial number: 27.324.784 produced on March 19, 1969.
5) 145.022-69 serial number: 31.006.578 produced on March 18, 1971.
As you will note in the pictures below, all seven mid case types have a different profile, shape, and lug dimensions.
The brushed sides are highlighted in Red to show the differences between them.
MK1 Speedmaster professional case.
Observed on references 105.012-63, 105.012-64, 105.012-65.
This is the first generation of the Speedmaster Professional case manufactured by Huguenin Frères from 1964 to 1966 (came with a double-beveled caseback).
The brushed profile of the sides ends at a point at the tip of the lugs.
Drilled for pressure-fit pushers.
MK1.5 Speedmaster professional case.
Observed on references 105.012-65 produced between March-August 1966.
(22.826.XXX - 24.004.XXX serial range)
This unique case shape was manufactured by Huguenin Frères.
This Mark has a thinner mid-band (3.42mm vs. 3.85mm on the MK1) and appeared around March of 1966.
Observed on 105.012-65's produced between March and August of 1966, including Neil Armstrong's watch.
(Click here if you are interested in taking a deep dive into Neil Armstrong's watch and what is the true 'Moon -Spec' 105.012-65 Speedmaster).
The MK1.5 case shows a wider "Footprint" at the bottom of the lugs.
The reason for the change in the case shape between the months of March-August 1966 is unknown.
The MK1 case goes back into production on subsequent examples of reference 105.012-65 produced from September 1966 to April 1967.
Fitted for pressure-fit pushers.
MK2 Speedmaster Professional case.
Observed on references 105.012-66 HF.
The second generation Speedmaster Professional case was manufactured by Huguenin Frères in the first quarter of 1967.
This is the first Speedmaster case to feature a single-beveled caseback.
The brushed profile of the sides is taller, and the lugs are distinctively narrower than all other case types. (with the exception of the MK4 version which is in essence the same caseband only fitted for screw-in pushers).
This case was only made for a short period in early 1967, making the 105.012-66 HF a rarer sub-reference than the 105.012-66 CB.
MK3 Speedmaster Professional case.
Observed on reference 105.012-66 CB, 145.012-67 SP2.
The manufacture of the Speedmaster Professional case by La Centrale Boites started around July of 1967.
This case differs from every Speedmaster Professional case that came before and after it.
Easily recognizable by the the distinctive ‘Flat-top’ lugs.
*Even though the 105.012-66 reference was replaced in 1968 by reference 145.012-67, the CB caseband was still used until late 1968 and several examples have been documented to have a caseback manufactured by Huguenin Frères stamped 145.012-67 SP2 married to the 105.012-66 CB caseband.
MK4 Speedmaster Professional case.
Observed on references 145.012-67, 145.012-68, 145.022-68, 145.022-69.
In 1968 the manufacturing of the Speedmaster Professional case went back to Huguenin Frères, the midcase profile went back to the MK2 shape & dimensions, with the only difference (between the MK2 & MK4) being the pusher holes which were made to accommodate screw-in pushers.
The MK4 case is interesting as it is shared by all 4 references manufactured between 1968 to early 1970.
The MK4 case is phased out around the first quarter of 1970 with the first batch of the 145.022-69 reference. (28.4##.### - 29.11#.### serial range).
MK5 Speedmaster Professional case.
Observed on reference 145.022-68.
This unique midcase type only made an appearance for a brief period during March-May of 1969 with the “Transitional” 145.022-68 reference.
Manufactured by Huguenin Frères.
The reason for this change in case shape in unknown.
The brushed side profiles of the lugs have a distinctive ‘Banana-like’ sweeping curve and a wide footprint on the bottom of the lugs.
MK6 Speedmaster Professional case.
Observed on references 145.022-69, 145.022-71, 145.022-74.
This mid case shape continued into the mid 70’s and the early 145.022-74 reference.
*For an unknown reason (maybe volume of production?) many of these cases which were manufactured during 1970 and early 1971 (145.022-69 reference) have the brushed grain on the sides go in a slight angle rather than perfectly horizontal.
The shape of the Speedmaster Professional midcase kept changing with every reference after the 145.022-74.
This post will be updated once I am able to curate fine examples of the later references.