Omega Speedmaster Automatic 376.0822

A Collector's Guide

Begin the journey

Introduction

The purpose of the website is to assist the avid collector in finding, what the author will argue, is the “correct” original first Speedmaster to be produced with an automatic movement in a Moonwatch case.

This was model no. 376.0822 nicknamed The Holy Grail by the venerable Chuck Maddox.

Despite the limited production run of allegedly 2000 watches (200 on straps) over a two year period, a significant proportion of the watches in circulation today vary considerably from the original.

This guide is an attempt to navigate through the myriad of service parts, fakes, redials and inappropriate replacement parts, with which this iconic watch is beset.

The watch has been commonly seen with the following components –

  • 3 bezel types
  • 3 bracelets
  • 4 end links
  • 2 claimed case differences
  • 2 crystal types
  • crown and pushers
  • 5 dial types
  • 2 sets of minute and hour hands
  • 3 types of chrono hands
  • Thankfully only 1 movement

It needs to be appreciated that the study of vintage watches is always the study of probability as today’s accurate production methods were not those used 30 years ago.

Additionally, prior to the advent of the computers,  record keeping was subject to its own idiosyncrasies and variabilities.

What the author has tried to do in establishing the true heritage of this watch, is to sift through many many hundreds of documents, archives, explanations, descriptions, commentaries, images, movement numbers and actual watches to come to what is effectively a consensus and thus this study should never be used dogmatically.

 

Latest Price News

Since the publication of this site the price of the watch has increased by over 50%. The latest price being £24,750 for a watch on a nato strap at a Christies auction in Hong Kong.

It is gratifying to see that collectors are now appreciating the qualities of this very rare watch.

In Search  of the Real  Holy Grail

None of these images shows the “correct” original Chuck Maddox named Holy Grail.

The Moonwatch Only

By Gregoire Rossier  and Anthony Marquie

Page 523

A Journey Through Time

By Marco Richon

Page 621, Exhibit no. 1321 in the museum.

The Master of Omega

By Alberto Isnardi

Pg 110-111

The Heritage

A Brief History of the Watch

Omega is arguably the most storied watch brand in the world , and within the brand the Speedmaster is the most ‘legendary’ model of all.

The fact that is was certified as “flight qualified by Nasa for all manned space missions and that this was ”the first watch worn on the Moon, Apollo XI 1969” secured its position in history.

Up to 1987 all Moonwatch cased Speedmaster watches were manual wind, and mechanical analogue timepieces and Swiss watches in general were being pressured by the more technologically advanced and significantly cheaper Japanese competition.

In the mid-80s Omega took the radical step of introducing a number of limited edition Speedmaster watches:

The 20-year flight-qualified for space first generation 1985 – 1988 numbered series of a thousand watches – The first Moonwatch case watch with a transparent crystal display back
– ref  ST 345.0808.  Calibre 863 unique copper-coloured movement.

The so-called “Speedy-Moon” – production year 1985-1988, unnumbered series 1300 watches – the first Moonwatch cased Speedmaster with a moon phase
– ref ST 345.0809 with a modified moon phase Calibre  861 renumbered calibre 866

And the subject of this study, “the Holy Grail”,- the production year 1987-1988, unnumbered series approx 1800 watches in steel – the first Moonwatch case Speedmaster with self-winding, chronograph movement with days and dates
– ref ST 376.0822 Calibre 1045.

Chuck Maddox & the ‘Holy Grail’

Chuck Maddox was probably the most well-known collector of his era.

In February 1999, He started to look for what become the most coveted watch in his collection, the 376.0822.

He was considered the leading expert at the time on the 1045 movement and he identified the watch as being the rarest of the 1045 Speedmasters and the only one in a Moonwatch case with an automatic movement, a day-date in a window aperture, and a 24-hour indicator.

The desirable 1450 bracelet the excellent movement and the incomparable dial readability lead him on a search for this watch, which was not concluded until 2002.

The rarity of the watch along with the protracted search led him to name the watch “The Holy Grail”.

In his analysis of the watch, He observed it was only made in 1987 [ ?]  and with an original bracelet reference of 1450 and only with 808 end links[?]

Hence the start of my enquiry.

 

The Watch

Bezel

One of the most controversial aspects of the authenticity is undoubtedly the bezel of which three are seen. For ease of reference, I’ll be using the cataloguing and nomenclature from The Moonwatch Only book.

Of the three photographs referencing the watch at the top of this article, not The Moonwatch Only and The Master of Omega is displaying the type 4 bezel, whereas A Journey Through Time has the earlier type 2 bezel.Clearly some significant disparity.

The important point to note is that the B2 ceased production in 1990 when supposedly the B4 began.

For the keen-eyed collector, the identifier is that the number ‘7’ on the B2 has a serif (see photo).

Having looked at a representative sample of over 70 watches across the date range 1987 – 1988 both in image and in reality, approximately 24% carried the non-serif bezels later type 4 bezels, and 57% of that subset carried readily identifiable service hands with a further 11%  raising suspicions about the originality of the hands or the dials

Thus 68% Watches that have type 4 bezels  appear to have some parts changed and thus the bezel swap during service seems likely

As the model ended production in 1988 it is reasonable to suppose that by the time these watches came around for service well into the mid-90s the only replacement bezel available was the B4.

Current serviced watched are being seen with replacement bezels having the accented E in Tachymetre Type B5-B6

The balance of probabilities, therefore, indicate that the “correct” authentic watch and indeed the one that featured on Chuck Maddox’s own website is the serif ‘7’ B2 bezel

Hence the photographs in The Moonwatch Only and  The Master of Omega probably do not display the images of the original watch.

There is no photograph of the watch leaving the factory with the B4 bezel nor is there any catalogue or advertising material with the B4 bezel but it would appear that there may well be B4 bezels on watches after February 1988. Please note that there are probably only 800 watches made in the first iteration with the B2 bezel.

The Bracelet

Including service replacements there are three bracelets and four end links.

The Moonwatch Only claims one bracelet – the 1450, Master of Omega claims 2 bracelets – the 1450 and the 1479.
More recently there appears to be three.

The 1450 is the bracelet issued with the watch however it appears that the Singapore distributor for marketing reasons occasionally put the watch on a 1479 bracelet. Of the bracelets The 1479 is rarer and the 1171/1 is a service replacement.

The defining differences can be seen above, the 1479 having 512 end links.

Because  the bracelets suffer damages and possibly because the 1450 bracelet has a tendency to stretch a service bracelet 1171/1 is replacement supplied, which on a cursory inspection looks similar to the 1450 although it does not possess inside flat links, and is missing the Speedmaster logo

but with 1450 there is another problem …..

More than 10 years ago  808 solid end links  were the preferred choice and the 809 was the undesirable intruder

see Mr Madox’s own views at the time

and the end link differences are identifiable because of the gapping between the end link and the case band (see the Maddox example).

 

Examples above show the difference and probability indicates  that the 809 may be a later variation

 

Case

The case was made by Charles René Spielmann, who also made  cases for the Rolex Daytona

The case is unique to this model having heavier  crown and pushers shoulders

It was postulated that the case came  in two versions however,  the observed differences in this non-crown side profile, for example, have generally come about because of aggressive over-polishing.

Crown & Pushers

Remarkably and thankfully there is only one version of the crown and pushers and I think this is because the case and the crown shrouding, previously described, precludes any variations.

Holy Grail (left)

The deep-set positioning of the crown preventing accidental adjustments and is unique to this model and in my opinion is a nod to the military heritage of this calibre.

Holy Grail (left)

Crystal

The glass of the holy grail is made from an acrylic polymer called Hesalite and one of its defining peculiarities is that it includes, fixed on the inside edge, a metal minute track. This is not seen on any of the other Speedmasters. It’s wrongly described as being an additional step on the dial.

The minute track on the dial touches and lines up with the minute track bonded to the glass on dials type 1 and 2,  dial type 3 leaves an unsightly gap. It is usually stated that type 5 glass (no omega logo in the crystals centre) only occurs in the following limited production models 345.0808, 20 anniversary and 345.0809, Speedymoon.

I am happy to report that this is again wrong and that the grail also holds this distinction…. although it’s possible that this may only exist through 1987 and not 1988.

The Service replacement glass and later models usually possess the type 4 small foot Omega logo. Those seeking total early originality may wish to have the no logo version… for all practical purposes it makes little difference to the value.

Note that when handling the watch, those with original crystals feel thicker.

Dials

The original Dial type 1, made by Singer, seen here below came with concentric circle sub-dials and quite often had lume issues at the upper right quadrant and the lower left quadrant and more often than not at the 3 o’clock position…… Correct font, “wedge 2”, black/ grey dial, patinated lumpy over-painted creamy lume, concentric circles in the sub-dials. Crisp white dense none-merging print

Dial type 2, again made by Singer, seen here below is the new service dial …correct font, “wedge 2”, very matt black dial, sharp white, thin-painted lume plots, no concentric circles in the sub-dials, crisp white none merging dense print.

This is the Dial type 3 seen here below, the dial that is on the ‘It’s About Time’ watch …
It’s basically a type 2 service dial but with a missing number 10, an open box around the day/date window and a missing lume at the 3 o’clock position
Sub-dials are different sized so that the minute numbers to the sub-dials space is very tight.

Type 4 fake dials (see below). Reprint dial, fake, copy etc… “none wedge 2” fainter low density sloppy print, questionable lume colour, merging numbers…see the number 12 at the 24 hour counter.

Type 5 – service dial with day/night indicator

 

Hands

In some respects the hands are the easiest mismatched components to identify, and it would appear that the original hands were produced for the grail and a similarly restricted production model, the Teutonic  Speedmaster  mark five model number 376.0815.

Thus when models came in for service the  availability of the exact hour and minute hands was severely limited and the more commonly available ‘fatter hands ‘ that were fitted on other 1045  caliber watches would be used.

Unfortunately this was not a good substitution and produced obvious disparity.

Hour Hand

The original hour hands are longer and only 25% broader than the minute hand and have a 70% lume track.

The replacement hour hands are approximately 50% broader than the minute hand  significantly shorter than and with a 45% lume track, short and fat was not the way to go.

Minute Hand

The minute hands original and service are of similar length but the originals have an 80% lume track  where in the replacement hands they have a 60% lume track

Chrono Hand

The Chrono hand comes with a flat counterweight spear loom long point, is usual although another version with a small variation is acceptable. The drop counterweight or the missing spear is wrong.

For a good example of the wrong hands at every level please see the picture in A Journey Through Time

And if it’s of some comfort

even the experts get it wrong…

Movement

Robust, accurate, cheap to make, usually as a manufacturer you have to pick two from three but with the 1045 you got the lot.

Omega along with its sister company Lemania was a subsidiary of the Society Swiss Industry for Horology Group SSIH.The 861 movement was expensive and hand wound and the group was facing competition from the high quality low-cost Japanese digital onslaught.

So the techies from SSIH along with Baumgartner and Piaget from Lemania came up with a pillar built, steel pressed, cheap tough automatic movement with plastic parts having a rotary cam and vertical clutch and a straight direct drive chronometer………for the none watchmakers amongst us this means that this movement had the ability to provide a watch with accurate time  great longevity ,with a crisp chrono action ,and a 7 G shock capability!

In addition to the plastic giving  the watch self lubrication  in the low friction areas ,the rotor was secured onto a long life hard iron bearing ,and the balance cock was fixed to a shock absorbing Delrin hard wearing plastic plate.

Coat the now named Lemania 1500 with a copper beryllium alloy to give it a new sense of identity and you have the Omega 1045 movement.

Not just that but here was a watch which was very shock proof  had 7 different hands 4 dials , day -date and chronometer that can easily run for seven years ,and reputedly very much longer without a service and of such quality it became the movement of choice for a whole host of military specification watches.

And herein lies the collectors downfall … these were watches of the 80’s, but by the time these watches came round for the first service it was 7 or more years down the line when the parts available for the service were no longer  around

Indeed in many cases where I see watches  in the “correct” original configuration I am often told that the watch has never needed a service ,or they didn’t get it from new but has never been serviced since it was bought, hence the original  preservation.

The watch was noticeably 1.4 millimetres thicker than the old Speedy to make space for the rotor and was really a working tool watch so external damage to bezel ,glass ,case ,could be more than normal ….so this Milspec work horse in a heavier offering may have curbed demand when compared to the new slimmer lightweight made by the competition

Note the plastic Delrin parts

Movement Numbering

This is where the ill-informed collector really trips up. The watch movements were  numbered and made up in batches of 10 but those numbers bear no resemblance to anything logical when it came to age or geographical distribution .I have tried and failed to find a working guide for collectors

This what I ended up with on analysis by restricting one variable………..stick with it it will become self evident

Firstly all watches appear to be in the 48,23x,xxx million range ,so taking German distributors as a sample…

48,231,012 was delivered          27 October 1987  To Germany
48,231,682 was delivered         15  May        1987  To Germany

So a watch made 670’s movements  later ….delivered 5 months earlier ?

So vary the Geography ….

48,233,334 delivered            September  1988     to Singapore
48,233,397 delivered.           April             1988     to Sweden
So a watch made 63 movements earlier …..delivered 5 months later to the Far East ….Was it a long flight ?

But now variations on the same place same date…

48,231,350               Delivered   To  Germany 23 February 1988
48,233,719               Delivered    To  Germany 23 February 1988

So a watch made 2369 movements later …….. delivered the same day

Moral of this story for those of you still awake ….the number of the movement bears no correlation to any date or place , and a very late number might denote a very early watch, and vice versa

So if you really want the ancestry get an extract from archives.

 

Gold Holy Grail

This is a very nice example of the so-called Liberache grail, a watch which was produced for Fratelli De Marchi, the authorised distributor for Omega in Italy.

The watch comes in gold and stainless steel in a limited edition of 200 pieces.

Unfortunately for reasons which are unknown a number of these are found with movements whose numbers are not recognised by the archives.

Price & Value

Latest Sale News: A recent aution by Christies in Hong Kong saw a watch on a nato strap sell for approximately £24,000.

The Head

Poor Condition

  • Poor condition
  • Wrong bezel
  • Wrong hands
  • Hard worn case

 

UP TO

£12,000 – £14,000

Good Condition

  • Moderate condition
  • Wrong bezel
  • Correct hands [mostly]
  • Mild polish on case

 

UP TO

£16,000 – £20,000

Excellent Condition

  • NOS
  • Type 2 bezel mint
  • Correct hands totally
  • Mint unmolested case
  • Box and Docs

£24,000

AND ABOVE

The Bracelet

1171/1

Up to

£500

1479

Up to

£1,000

1450

  • with 809 /808 solid end links in collector condition

£1,000+

It must be born in mind that in full original condition it’s estimated that there could be less than 800 of these watches in “correct” configuration  and many less in full mint condition.

Since the author wrote this site the price of the watches have increased by over 60%.

And in my humble opinion and that of many others …Every serious collection should have one!

One final conundrum to assist the collectors and to defeat the fakes …I have deliberately left out identifying  a very small point which is used to establish verisimilitude, and which usually defeats  the swappers

Email me a photo of the front of your watch, with the movement number and I will clue you in.

If you are uncertain as to the value of your watch please contact the Author on ss@omegaholygrail.com

In Review

Firstly this whole work is free to read,  and please use it ,and quote from it without inhibition, but  a small favour I would ask would be to give attribution when copied so that others may be lead to the source

It’s worth mentioning that this is an ongoing work. The more info provided by the collector community at large the more we can refine and perfect this and future websites

I am attempting to crowd-source as much as I can about other specialisations in review at the moment , so if you found the above helpful please contact me regarding

 

About The Author

This website was created by a former adjunct academic and collector for over 50 years.

In order not to hamper his research he prefers to remain anonymous however he can be found on Instagram @t_solo_t.

He’s happy to be emailed for all or any questions at solo@omegapassion.com.

Sincere Thanks

To the helpful staff of the Omega Museum – Alan, Charles and David. To Hugo the watch-hunter. To the late lamented Chuck Maddox. And finally to Adrienne, an incomparable horologist.

This work is dedicated to Rosie and Jake.

Useful Links & Further Reading

Calibre 1040

If you are a keen collector you have no doubts come across a wonderfully informative site Caliber 1040. This website was created by a true enthusiast and superb researcher. In addition to an analysis of the amazing diversity of the 1040 calibre, it also highlights another remarkable Omega model – the celebrated 125.

If you are not a keen collector go to the site anyway it’s an incredible way to get an understanding as to the intricacies of vintage Omega watches.