Reference 145.022 marked another major turning point for the Speedmaster. No longer would the moonwatch house the legendary column-wheel chronograph caliber 321. Instead, the moonwatch would feature the simpler and less expensive caliber 861, a cam-controlled chronograph. It is no coincidence that it was around the same time that the Speedmaster gained international acclaim as the Moonwatch that Omega decided to try to pump up production numbers by lowering costs. We must not also forget that this was the exact time period when Switzerland would begin to feel the pressure of Japanese quartz for the first time. It is easy to express disappointment in Omega’s decision to kill the mighty 321, but they themselves were in danger of death.
Because the 145.022 ran for so many years, there are many sub-references. The first, -68, can be considered a pre-moon watch because it was made in 1968 and though it contains an 861 caliber, it features an applied Omega logo on the dial. The case back is also identical to the 145.012, caliber 321 watch that predated it. Sub-reference -69 is the first to feature a painted logo on the dial while retaining the original caseback on early examples. Later example of the 145.022-68 feature engraved, straight text “The First Watch Worn On The Moon.”
From 1971 through 1988, reference 145.022 would see a handful of sub-references with nominal changes to the dial printing. The first watch to feature the medallion case back is indeed the 145.022-71, and it was the last to feature a flanged dial. To many, it here where the concept of vintage Speedmaster collecting ends and the era of limited editions begins.