Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 ’69
Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 – 69, Cal 861.
I’ve had this watch some time, maybe a year or so. I took it in part trade for my old Silverstone Fume. It was a lovely watch, but had a few cosmetic issues that needed sorting, so it’s been left unloved in the watch box, until now. The minor restoration process is detailed further below.
I’m no Omega expert, but I do love the old ‘uns. Here is some information that was supplied by the previous owner, explaining the finer details of the watch…
This 1969 Speedy Pro features the rare Seahorse ‘hippocampus’ caseback with none of the later NASA engravings. It is worn from 40 years of use but the hippocampus is still visible. The inside is engraved with the model number 145.022 69 with “69” being the year of production. It features a rare tritium stepped dial in with painted Omega logo. Take a close look at the “R” on the end of the word Speedmaster. Original dials have a long stylised “R” whereas later dials and service replacements had a short-tailed “R”. The stepped dial (step down to the minute track) was only in production for a short while on cal 861’s and Omega switched to a gradual slope in the early 70’s.
The bezel features the rare “225-220-190” markings (this was actually a mistake made by Omega and later models read “225-200-190”).
The restoration process..
Please do not confuse my efforts as anything other than a hobbyist ‘having a go’, I’m no restorer, but I do like a challenge, but the possibility of it going horribly wrong was always on my mind.
These projects are personal choice, I know some don’t approve.. but here is my story..
It needed a few minor cosmetic issues dealing with – main hands had paint loss, lume loss, crystal a bit worn.. but one issue stood out like a sore thumb. (to me) – sometime in it’s past a watchmaker must have cleaned the old lume away. These super thin lume markers don’t usually fair well over time.. usually leaving just a ‘stain’ of very thin patina on the hour markers. This had been completely cleaned away on my example, leaving behind the bright white painted hour markers.
I had a tough decision, do I leave as is or have it re-lumed in vintage tones. I decided to go re-lume, as the dial looked totally out of place in a vintage piece. I contacted jedi lume master James, but even he had reservations… Apparently to get very detailed/delicate re-lume edges requires a thicker solution, which is almost impossible to apply on the thin Speedy markers, especially with my ‘Stepped dial’. The chances of crisp square lume was minimal.. overspill being a major possibility with a thinner lume solution. Sometime later, I mentioned the same to Abel.. he was willing to have a go, but I was a little worried, as I didn’t really want fresh ‘puffy’ lume.. I wanted it to look how it would have before the old lume was cleared away.. sort of eroded, uneven.
So, I dropped the re-lume idea.. but I didn’t want to give up. I thought about trying to recreate that ‘stained thin degrading lume’ we see on Speedies that have lost some lume. I experimented with many substances. I experimented on some gloss paper with tea and coffee.. but that produced a ‘flat’ brown. I wanted to get that mottled honey-golden-brown effect, and I didn’t want a uniform colour. I tried adding some yellow artist paint to some coffee – that worked better, but still wasn’t anywhere near what I was after. I even tried rubbing some small rocks together to get a powdered stone to mix with my coffee solution!! – that didn’t work.. I was obsessed with finding a solution.
Then… a breakthrough..
I was watching a clip online about the making of a recent UK TV series that was based in industrial Birmingham (UK) in circa 1918.. the video featured the set designer going through ‘house sets’ explaining how they did this, that and the other. He said that the period wallpaper had a ‘nicotine’ wash added to give it that genuine faded old golden smokey look.. and I got an idea…
Ironically, the set designer was technically ‘wrong’ (AFAIK), this ‘nicotine’ wash shouldn’t be called that – it’s the tar that makes that ‘old faded golden brown’ colour. So, I got an old clean margarine tub, (lid still on) cut a hole in the side and slid in a lit cigarette horizontally & let it burn. I did this multiple times. This left a tar residue on the inside of the tub. I then let it ‘air’ outside for a week or so.
Then, using a 0000 size sable artists brush, and a touch of water.. I used this residue to do some testing on glossy paper.. and voila.. several layers, allowing to dry between coats, created a really rich golden-brown-mottled-tobacco effect.. After plucking up the courage.. I set to work on the dial. The mottled, aged effect came up wonderfully.
I had James fit genuine Omega hr/min hands, which I also tinted (the lume) with my 0000 brush – that was very tricky, I can tell you. He fitted was a new gen Omega crystal.. which I was pleasantly surprised to find cost bugger all… (around £25ish).