Phillips Geneva, November 12 2016
Sold for CHF156,250
The collectability of Omega watches – Speedmaster models in particular – has soared during the past few years, so it was interesting to see just how much the value of this ultra-rare “Alaska Project” prototype had risen since it last appeared at auction in April 2007 (when it realised Sfr 64,900, having been consigned for Antiquorum’s “Omegamania” theme sale direct from the Omega museum).
The aim of the Alaska Project, conducted from 1971 – 1973, was to improve the Speedmaster’s resilience to low temperatures in a bid to further enhance its suitability for use in space. In 1973, a patent was granted for a thermo-protective case designed to encase the watch without compromising its legibility – but NASA wasn’t interested, deeming the standard watch to be “mission capable”.
As a result, only a believed three prototypes survive, this example being one of them. In immaculate condition, it features the first white dial to be used on a Speedmaster (there to reflect heat rather than absorb it, like the standard black dial) and a rare bezel which carries an erroneous “220” marking on its scale.
Of the other two complete prototypes, one is in private hands and the other is in the Omega museum – making this opportunity a decidedly rare one for anyone setting out to build a significant Omega collection.
In summary: Rare, historically interesting and with cast iron provenance, this was surely a trophy watch for a serious Omega collector.