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Omega Speedmaster 'Holy Grail' Ref. 376.0822   Sold

Reference: 376.0822

Serial: 48231241

Case: All Stainless Steel

Dimensions: 40mm excluding crown

Function: Chronograph

Caliber: Omega Automatic cal. 1045

Strap: Original 1450 bracelet with solid 809 endlinks

This model 376.0822 was nicknamed The Holy Grail by the venerable Chuck Maddox.

 

Despite the limited production run of allegedly 1500 watches over a two year period, a significant proportion of the watches in circulation today vary considerably from the original.

 

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 offer, “the Holy Grail”,- production year 1987-1988, unnumbered series approx 1500 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 was probably the most well-known collector of his era. In February 1999, He started to look for what became 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”.

 

Now, after a brief historic description, we get into full detail:

 

One of the most controversial aspects of the authenticity is undoubtedly the bezel of which three are seen. For the keen eyed collector the identifier is that the number ‘7’ on the correct one has a serif. This example here has the correct bezel in extraordinary condition.

 

Including service replacements there are three bracelets and four end links. The 1450 is the most regularly seen of the bracelets. The 1479 is rarer and the 1171/1 a service replacement. This example we offer here wears a correct 1450/809 in collector’s condition.

 

The case was made by Charles René Spielmann (C.R.S.), who also made cases for the Rolex Daytona. The case is unique to this model having heavier crown and pushers shoulders. The case on this example is in original, unpolished condition with sharp lugs. Same happens with the correct C.R.S. case back.

 

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, preclude any variations. 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.

 

The glass of the Holy Grail is made from an acrylic polymer called Hessalite 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 the correct dial. Incorrect dials leave an unsightly gap. It is usually stated that type 5 glass (no omega logo in the crystals center) 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 Holy 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. Well, here you have one.

 

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. Again, this example here features the correct type 1 dial with gorgeous lume patina, evenly matching.

 

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. 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. 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. The Chrono hand comes in three variations not the straight, not the drop counterweight, only the flat counter weight long point, is acceptable. This example is again featuring all correct hands.

 

Robust, accurate, cheap to make, usually as a manufacturer you have to pick two from three but with the 1045 you got the lot. 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. Firstly all watches should be in the 48,23x,xxx million range, this one being 48,231,241.

 

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. Well, here’s offered one of those 800 examples. Do not miss it.

(Source: www.omegaholygrail.com )