Speedmaster, Alaska III Prototype

As already mentioned in the parent section, Omega had the ambition of creating the perfect watch for use in space. To fulfil this task, a close collaboration with James H. Ragan from NASA was perpetuated for several years.

During the development several facets of design, material specificities, hand visibility and dial legibility were experimented. During the years of research newly developed movements were integrated into the trials, also the myth that automatic movements would not work properly in zero gravity was proven wrong. In line and in parallel with the optimisations for the Seamaster line for professional divers, also the prototypes for professional space use were equipped with battery powered movements during the Alaska III and Alaska IV projects.

Following piece is one of the several prototypes housing the then revolutionary automatic cal.: 1045, which is a derivate of the Lemania 5100 movement.

Omega Speedmaster Ref.: 11000, Alaska III prototype. No. 193, Cal.: 1045, 1974

Category: functional prototype, aesthetic prototype

Description: Stainless steel cased Speedmaster prototype. Screwed stainless steel case back with reference mark ‘11000’ and material declaration. Case back shows no further info. Matte black dial completely unsigned and with no company logo. White on black internal ‘tachymeter’ scale, ‘Automatic’ printed in white underneath day/date aperture. Tritium (now patinated) hour markers. White printed minute markers. All original watch hands. White chronograph hands with neon orange tips. Original Hesalite crystal. Original (anonymous) crown and pushers.

Dimensions: 39 mm (without crown), lug – lug: 44 mm, lug width: 20mm

Movement: Omega cal.: 1045 prototype, unnumbered but scratch marked ‘193’

Additional info: This is one of several different Speedmaster prototypes made during the Alaska III project phase. The isolated heavy wear of the crystal would suggest that this model was resistance tested either by Omega or by EMPA (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Sciences). On this specific piece the effort to increase the readability of the watch is translated by colouring the tips of the relevant hands in neon orange for better contrast.

It is intriguing why the watch lacks all brand identification on the outside, the only information on the dial being ‘Automatic’. An explanation could be, that this watch was resistance tested at the independent Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Sciences (EMPA), for which absolute anonymity concerning the origins of the watch would be advantageous, also to dissimulate any connection to Omegas Alaska projects.