Omega gave the world the 861 Speedmaster in 1968. Despite many loupe-carrying nerds decrying the changover from column wheel to cam switching, the movement proved so effective for Omega that it remained in production effectively unaltered until 1992. And even then, the change wasn’t huge moving the 1861. Effectively, you were getting a Lemania 1873 from ’68 until 2019. What a run. The 861 saw editions like the mission patches, Snoopy, Schumacher, and sapphire sandwich come and go but kept backing the act like Pete Townshend in The Who as band members came and went. I have three favorite 861 Speedmasters. They are the Italian Albino, BA145.022, and this: a somewhat unsung black and gold anniversary nod to the BA145.022 that goes by 345.0802 from 1980.
1979 marked ten years since Neil Armstrong walked down a ladder and wrote poetry. Even in 1979, Omega knew how to mark an occasion. These were not called limited editions, simply limited by production and individually numbered. This 345.0802 was made in fewer than 300 yellow gold examples and 20 white gold examples. All those 20 white golds went to Germany, interestingly. That’s it. In appearance, it’s similar to the BA145.022 or Moonshine we all love, but the red bezel is ditched in favor of black and it gained a display back. In fact, it’s amongst the very earliest display back Speedmasters and Omega rhodium plated the movement for the occasion (it may have been the first, but this is contested).
It’s the less successful, lesser known sibling to the BA145.022; Aldrin to the Armstrong. But it’s considerably more rare by the numbers. To my eye, it’s also just that slight bit cleaner as pure black and gold. It hits harder with the deep Speedy nerds (Speedheads? What are we?). Let me put it this way: Yes, Buzz Aldrin may be 5% less famous as second man on the moon, but he did also punch a conspiracy theorist in the face. In my book, that more than makes him equal first place.
This one is great too. The case is full, even back engravings and hallmarks still deep. Its dial shows no visible damage. Bezel is strong with no significant dings. Its comes from the name where Speedmasters are concerned, the Davidoff brothers in Geneva.
Find this 345.0802 here from Roy & Sacha Davidoff for 45000 CHF.