SOLD – 1962 British Military Omega Speedmaster 2998-6 NAAFI
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This Speedmaster 2998-6 is in honest original condition that is consistent with its military provenance. It features its original stepped dial and steel alpha hands. The tritium luminous on the dial appears original and shows a nice patina. It also features the original dot over 90 “DON” bezel, “flat feet” crown and plexiglass.
Furthermore, this example is powered by a cal. 321 movement with its correct 18.9xx.xx serial number. The movement is clean and in full working order. The 39.5mm stainless steel case with straight lugs does not appear to have been appears to have been recently polished. The iconic Omega Hippocampus (Seahorse) emblem on the caseback is still crisp.
This watch is accompanied by an Omega Extract of Archives certificate showing delivery in 1962 to the British Military Suppliers NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes). This suggests that our example was most likely used by military personnel during service. The military were encouraged at the time to purchase items such as this through the NAAFI. Not many examples were delivered to the NAAFI, and as such, this example is part of a small collection of timepieces with this historical provenance.
The Speedmaster Professional’s History
Released in 1957 and based on Omega’s earlier chronographs from the 1920s and ’30s, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the most iconic chronographs of all time. The word “icon” tends to be thrown around a bit in the watchmaking industry, but the Speedmaster deserves its plaudits. Named after the purpose of the tachymeter along its bezel, the Speedmaster was designed for race car drivers and pilots who needed to time events, calculate average speeds and make other rapid calculations on the go, say while driving a racecar. While these adrenaline-fueled activities might be not for the faint-hearted, they aren’t the reason the Speedmaster has become such an iconic timepiece. Instead, the reason is somewhat out of this world; it went to the Moon.
Following a gruelling series of tests against several other brands, the Speedmaster got to debut in space during the Gemini program of 1965. Worn by astronauts on the outside of their spacesuit while fitted to a very long nylon strap, akin to a modern NATO, that would wrap around their arm several times; the Speedmaster quickly rose to fame thanks to its prominence in photos. Omega shrewdly used these images of the Speedmaster being worn during spacewalks in their marketing material to establish the connection between their watch and space. Given this was, by far, the most exciting theatre in which a company’s product could be used at the time due to the intense public interest in the Space Race, it proved to be quite the marketing success.
Following its use on the Moon during the Apollo missions, the Speedmaster has gained legendary status. Saving one mission from inevitable failure and enabling astronauts to return home, the Speedmaster earned Omega a Silver Snoopy Award, acknowledging the timepiece’s contribution to the safety and success of that particular mission.
The Cal. 321
Like many other iconic timepieces, the ‘Ed White’ has much more going for it than its already incredible heritage and design; it is powered by one of the most important movements in Omega’s history. Perhaps just as iconic as the watch that it resides within, the Calibre 321’s architecture is based on the Lemania ébauche 2310 and was used by the Speedmaster until its “Professional” era. Featuring a column-wheel and horizontal clutch chronograph movement, the manually wound cal. 321 is regarded as a far more prestigious and high-end movement than the more economical and non-column wheel actuated cal. 861 that was introduced to the Speedmaster collection after the ‘Ed White’.
Omega and NAAFI
Having supplied watches to the British Armed Forces since 1930, Omega officially became their single largest supplier for timepieces in 1940, with Omega providing over 110,000 timepieces to Britain’s Ministry of Defence to support its Air Force and Navy pilots during World War II. Famed for their uncompromising quality and robust construction, Omega timepieces were the Navy, Air and Air Forces Institutes’ preferred choice, and its clear why. Pioneering developments in anti-magnetism, water-resistance, and shock-proofing led to Omega’s reputation as one of the best tool watch manufacturers around, a reputation they still hold today.
Bezels and their uses
One of the most consistent design aspects of the Speedmaster over the years has been its tachymetre scale bezel. After all, it is where the Speedmaster’s name comes from, as a tachymetre is traditionally used to calculate speeds (and distances). While the tachymetre bezel is most associated with the Speedmaster, it was one of four bezel options at the time including telemetre, decimal & pulsations.
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