Back in July of this year, Mark Bernardo, Senior Editor of WatchTime, accurately described the new Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday “Ultraman” as a “Monster Launch,” which was nothing short of spot on. The new watch, like many of the bigger collaborative releases as of late, caught much of the market by surprise. It represented a significant collector’s item as the second watch in the cooperative Speedy Tuesday line of Speedmasters produced with online magazine Fratellowatches.com, and in turn it sold all 2,012 pieces in under two hours.
All this hubbub has brought renewed attention to the original piece the new collaborative addition is based upon, the Speedmaster Ref. 145.012-67. According to Robert-Jan Broer, founder of Fratellowatches and originator of the #SpeedyTuesday trend that brought about this watch, the original piece was a short run of adjusted Moonwatches— notable for their central orange chronograph hand— produced in 1968 and popularized in the “Return of Ultraman” Japanese television series shown from 1971 to 1971 (vintage model pictured above, via Fratello). Although estimates are rough, it seems Omega produced only about 50 of these watches — either for the Japanese market or directly for use in the TV series. Thus, between the rarity of the original and the intriguing story attached to it, the “Ultraman” was ripe for a return on one fateful Speedy Tuesday afternoon.
The new model, officially dubbed the Speedy Tuesday Speedmaster Limited Edition 42mm “Ultraman,” and more commonly known to us as the Speedy Tuesday 2 “Ultraman” (Ref. 318.104.22.168.01.001), resembles many of the other modern Moonwatches presented by Omega today, but also features some obvious efforts at homage to the limited 1968 edition. At 42 mm in diameter in steel, with a black aluminum tachymetric bezel insert, the sharpened case with its pump pushers and tight crown is a dead ringer for other historical models in the series, with some additions like the “tachymetre” script and more modern NATO-style strap, both orange-accented. On the matte black dial, the overall design — like that of the case — is that of a traditional Moonwatch: an outer minute ring with large, printed markers for each of the hours, indented subdials, and sword hands. However, in an effort to make the watch more interesting and individualistic, Omega included a mix of vintage-inspired and “Ultraman”-specific features, like the stepped inner and outer sections of the dial, the vintage Omega logo, orange accents throughout like the Speedmaster logo, and small squares at each hour marker.
You’ll also notice some more cutesy orange accents added to the overall Moonwatch-style dial, notably with the first three minute markers on the 30-minute counter highlighted in orange, a reference to how TV’s Ultraman could only stay in superhero mode for a limited time. Another such addition occurs in the running seconds counter at 9 o’clock, which, when exposed to a UV light (included with the kit), reveals an orange silhouette of Ultraman’s profile.
Inside the watch is the manually-wound Omega Calibre 1861, protected by a solid, commemorative Seahorse caseback, and with a power reserve up to 48 hours. This rhodium-plated movement is very similar to the original Caliber 321 used in the vintage “Ultraman,” albeit more modernized in production techniques and finishing. As mentioned above, all 2,012 examples were reserved in under two hours at the original $7,100 price tag, although there is little telling how much the price may balloon in aftermarket sales in the months and years to come.
At this point, you have likely figured out the new watch is not an exact replica of the 1968 original, but rather an homage to the era and the TV program from which its nickname is derived. However, comparing the Speedy Tuesday 2 variation and the vintage model, you’ll observe several similarities, including the vintage Moonwatch style of the case, the stepped dial, the logo, and the orange hand. Besides these, you’ll also note the manually wound 1861 movement (above) — itself a direct descendant of the vintage Caliber 321. As a side note, if you were wondering if the 1968 model could be faked by simply swapping out its orange chronograph hand, you should take note of Omega making a dedicated effort to assure vintage “Ultraman” collectors that their watches are authentic and not simply Moonwatches in orange makeup, emphasizing their “quite unique measurements,” and apparently their specially finished dials.
Turning to the differences between the old and new models, we find there are many. Foremost, one is a modern, “luxury” Omega Speedmaster, and the other is not, which lends the contemporary variation an obvious refinement throughout, one not seen in the original tool watch, such as the higher-quality finishing, tighter crown and pushers, and modern movement with its special, protective caseback. Less subtle in the design differences are the playful orange accents throughout, the even more specialized central chronograph hand, and the NATO-style strap that replaces the original metal bracelet common to all Moonwatches of the vintage era.
There might be a lesson in this watch: maybe it’s to read watch blogs and keep your savings ready for limited releases at an hour’s notice; maybe it’s a more metaphysical commentary on the impressive power the collaborative efforts of brand and blog can have on the industry; or maybe — time will tell — it’s a lesson on the ballooning aftermarket prices these releases can command on a hungry luxury marketplace. Or maybe there’s no lesson beyond that the Omega Speedy Tuesday series is likely here to stay, and we should all be grateful to it for giving us something else to talk about.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Bulova Archive Series Oceanographer “Devil Diver” to its historical predecessor, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.