9,9 / 10
Extremely rare model
Full set and unworn condition
This example, sn # 48.233.xxx is an extremely rare “Ultra Holy Grail” model in almost unworn condition, with original box and papers.
The watch is perfect and still has its original specific buckle.
It represents a unique opportunity for any Speedmaster collector.
About the model
The OMEGA Speedmaster automatic reference ST 376.0822, nicknamed Holy Grail by collectors, is considered one of the rarest Speedmasters and thus has been highly sought after since years.
However its early days were hardly promising, the model did not sell well and its production time was very short (1987-1988).
OMEGA used the caliber 1045 movement (derived from the Lemania’s 5100) for several Speedmasters since 1975 (ref. ST 176.012, ST 176.014, ST 176.015, ST 176.016 and ST 345.0806 a bit later).
In September 1986, the first datasheet for a new Speedmaster Day-Date Automatic was produced, with the reference ST 376.0822 (PIC 3341 B new code in 1988). This model, unlike the ST 176.01x series, had a Moonwatch-like case, which means a tachymeter bezel out- side of the dial, improving legibility. This legibility is even accentuated with the extension of the minute scale with a 1/5th seconds scale painted on a ring fixed on the glass.
Only 1’800 Holy Grails have been produced in steel, and 200 in steel and gold.
The story of the Ultra Holy Grail in steel and gold
This story concerns an almost unknown version of the Holy Grail, that has been destined to Italy only: a dual-tone steel and gold edition, with the engraving xxx/200 on the caseback, meaning that it was produced in 200 numbered copies.
The Steel & Gold Holy Grails we have observed have all been delivered in 1988, toward the end of the production of the 2’000 copies. They were referenced by OMEGA as DA 176.0822 (“DA” is the code for 18ct gold and steel models), although “ST” (for steel) is indicated on their invoices, as well as engraved inside their casebacks. It is likely that all of them have been sold on a lea- ther band, probably with reference ST 176.0822, but again data are missing in the OMEGA archives to certify that.
To add to the mystery, a few known examples are reported in the OMEGA archives as standard steel ST 376.0822.
It is known that these models were all sold to Italy and it is interesting to note that all the watches we have observed so far have an English calendar.
This bicolor version is visually very close to the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch “Italy Special – Black & Gold”, produced in two series of 500 numbered copies in 1987 and 1988 exclusively for Italy too.
Do these two models share a similar genesis?
We have been lucky enough to meet the Italian watchmaker who was responsible for the assembling of these particular Steel & Gold Holy Grails in the 1980s. Based on this meeting, we are able to tell the true story about this almost forgotten edition, and it is also extremely interesting for a better understanding about how these things used to work at that time.
The Italian market was covered by SMH Italia (the Italian subsidiary of the SMH Group, who became the Swatch Group in 1998). That is the reason why many local marketing ini- tiatives were suggested by the Sales Department of SMH Italia.
Those ideas were proposed to the Headquarters in Switzerland, and once accepted, the whole execution was then operated and organized directly in Italy by SMH Italia.
In the mid 1980s, the Italian market (and maybe the international market too) was not so easy for the Speedmaster, and the local Sales Director was continuously searching for new ideas in order to enhance the sales.
He proposed a few series of steel and gold watches based on the standard steel models but fitted with:
- specific black and gold dials,
- specific black small hands (improving the legibility on the gold sub- dials),
- solid gold bezels and gold plated crowns and pushers.
This same idea was applied to three editions:
- 2 identical series of Moonwatches (the first one numbered 1 to 500, and the second one A1 to A500), assem- bled from July 1987 to July 1988,
- 1 series of Holy Grails (numbered 1 to 200), assembled in March and July 1988.
All these watches were delivered by OMEGA to SMH Italia as standard steel versions. They were then personalized locally by an Italian watchmaker, who was responsible for:
- replacing the standard dials, hands, bezels, crowns, and pushers by the specific ones (those parts being sent separately by OMEGA),
- managing the numbering of the watches (actually they were not engraved by the watchmaker but by another local supplier).
Interesting information is that the watches arrived in Italy without any bracelet. A specific leather band was fitted locally.