Grail watch gets thrown around a lot. And yet, here we are. This is not the commercially retailed 2008 Alaska Project, which I like to call the space coconut. No, this is that watch’s inspiration. ‘Alaska’ Projects were the codename given internally at Omega for wristwatches intended to be supplied to NASA for actual flight use. Those not in possession of Omega, Museums, or NASA are vanishingly rare. That’s generally the rule, but here’s an exception.
The name Alaska was chosen at Omega to be as obscure as possible to avoid industry espionage. Alaska watches were produced prior the Apollo 11 moon landing missions and through subsequent missions. When Apollo missions ceased with 17, the Alaska I phase of Omega productions also halted. The internally titled Alaska II watches were a continuation project to create updated flight-qualified watches. They included special characteristics like a high-contrast white dial, lunar landing pod subdial hands, and some of these early examples were also produced with the thermal-insulating red case the latter 2008 Speedmaster made famous. That red case is also an hommage to this series. These Alaska II prototypes were actually delivered to Houston in 1970, but never wound up flying as the programme collapsed.
These test watches were not strictly speaking NASA issued hardware and so some have been able to reach the secondary market fully legally. Many will be aware of tales of NASA-owned Speedmasters being, shall we say strong recalled post-auction. You simply cannot own one, at least publicly. Worries are not such with these examples.
This 145.022 has an extremely clear dial, with golden tritium plots and a T Swiss Made T signature. The hour, minute, red chronograph, and lunar pod sub hands are all cohesively aged. Its bezel has a light grey patina. The case is full and shows small scuffs and light hits honestly. This is a watch no collector of ample ability is going to want to pass on, expect the auction to exceed this estimate . . .possibly wildly.
Find this Alaska II Prototype here as part of Phillips 2022 Geneva Auction XV set to hammer 7 May 2022 (estimated 107,000-213,000 USD).