The story of the Speedmaster Prototype « Monocontatore »

In the 1960’s, most watch manufactures did not produce their own dials but relied on subcontractors, which is still often the case today.  The main one was Singer in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which worked for Rolex, Omega, Tudor and others.

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Singer also produced prototypes that were presented to the brands.  In 1967, the company developed several astonishing dials, featuring a single oversized counter.  They were proposed to Rolex and Omega, but were not approved and never went into production.  Too original maybe ?


Below, the Rolex Yacht Master prototype dial clearly echoes the codes of the famous Daytona “Paul Newman,” with the small squares in the minute subdial.


Several variants of “Monocontatore” dials have existed. Regarding Omega, there are only three known versions : a black dial with a white subdial, a fully white dial, and a fully black dial.


A closer look at these dials reveals an interesting fact : the typography of the inscription “Omega Speedmaster” with an oval O is identical to that of the reference CK 2915, the very first Speedmaster in history produced between 1957 and 1959.  It is very likely that Singer, when creating the Monocontatore prototype, reused the same stamp as for the 2915.


The “racing” Speedmasters from the 1960’s also share several characteristics with the Monocontatore dials : the identical “Omega Speedmaster” typography, as well as the presence of red markers every five minutes.


Since Omega did not decide to approve these dials, they were never fitted into “production” watches and are therefore not listed in their archives in Bienne. But in this case, why were some of them fitted anyway ? This question is interesting but it is difficult to answer with certainty.  However, there are several explanations.  Firstly, brands sometimes cased the dials to see what a “finalized” watch would look like, and then decided whether the result suited them or not.  It is also possible that some dials were fitted at a later date, for example by employees or collectors.


One thing is certain : there is no doubt about the existence and authenticity of these Monocontatore dials.  Produced in only a handful of examples, the prototype dials were kept in folders archived at Singer and were never commercialized. Finding a watch with such a dial today is truly exceptional.


An excellent article on Rolex Passion Report analyses the prototype dials made by Singer : click here to read it.

Below, an Omega Speedmaster reference 105.003 with a fully black “Monocontatore” dial.  This is the only known example.