Professional or Automatic?

Just like a few weeks ago (here), I decided to pick a question from our Fratello Watches mailbox. One of our readers mailed us the following:

Hello,

Your two part article (herehere and here is actually part 3) on Speedmasters was very interesting, but it did not answer a core question I have. What is the collectability (level of desire) difference between the professional, the automatic, and the racing?

These appear to be quite separate versions of the watch. The manual wind Professional is the only one that can trace history back to the moon landings. Yet the racing has a fine (recent) history, and the automatic has a beautiful movement. Should I spend money on the automatic, or the professional?

Then with regards to the Professional: is simple best, or are the “glass backed” models where one can see the movement to be prized because of the beauty of the movement, or avoided because that is not what the “Moonwatch” had?

I have loved these watches for very many years and now I can finally afford one I do not want to make a silly purchase.

In summary, should I buy an older professional “Apollo 11 special edition” , a newer glass-backed professional, or save a few more dollars and buy a brand new Professional and keep it for many years? Or is an automatic the way to go?

And a final question, what impact does the accuracy of the movement have on future value? Does a more accurate movement attract a higher price?

Your views very much welcomed.

Many thanks,

The question(s) from this reader are similar to many other questions we receive by e-mail, Facebook and Instagram DM. Basically it is a question which Speedmaster would be ‘best’ to get, in terms of a longterm ‘investment’ or by not wanting to buy the ‘wrong’ model in terms of heritage. Let’s break it down a bit and answer his questions one-by-one.

Some Answers

…. very interesting, but it did not answer a core question I have. What is the collectability (level of desire) difference between the professional, the automatic, and the racing? These appear to be quite separate versions of the watch. The manual wind Professional is the only one that can trace history back to the moon landings. Yet the racing has a fine (recent) history, and the automatic has a beautiful movement. Should I spend money on the automatic, or the Professional?”

I am not sure which automatic models your are aiming at, whether these are the vintage models with the Lemania caliber 134x and 5100 movements, or “reduced” models with ETA + module (as mentioned in the articles) or the new caliber 9300 references. Let’s say it is the vintage range of automatic Speedmasters. Depending on the reference, these can be very sought-after (like the Speedmaster Automatic reference 376.0822 aka Speedmaster Holy Grail) or one that has relatively low demand such as the Speedmaster 125 or some of the Mark series. It is relatively easy to check if you go out and search for the models you want to have. When there is low supply, like the Speedmaster Holy Grail, you will find them hard to find (in decent condition) and relatively expensive compared to the Speedmaster Professional model. When there is enough supply, like on the Speedmaster 125, and prices are approximately the same for years, the demand – or level of desire – is relatively low. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with any of these, just make sure they are all authentic and original. Buy what you like, is my motto.

You might also like  Speedy Tuesday - My Top 5 Omega Speedmaster Watches

Speedmaster Professional

The Racing-heritage goes way back as well. Perhaps you refer to the Speedmaster Mark II re-edition or even the Speedmaster Pro Racing from 2004 (Japan only), but it goes back to the 1960’s.

Before I answer his question whether he should spend his money on an automatic or manual wind version, let’s take a look at the rest of his e-mail.

Omega Speedmaster Professional

“Then, with regards to the Professional: is simple best, or are the “glass backed” models where one can see the movement to be prized because of the beauty of the movement, or avoided because that is not what the “Moonwatch” had?”

To be honest, I would say “simple is best”. Even today, though I have several limited editions and vintage models myself, I am wearing a ‘fresh’ Speedmaster Professional reference 3570.50 myself. A great all-round watch and the modern version that comes closest to the watch that was on and near the Moon (which was the question of the earlier incoming letter we answered). I don’t think I would buy a Speedmaster 125 or even Dark Side of the Moon if it would be my only Speedmaster.

The Speedmaster Professional with a sapphire caseback would be fine as well, but I prefer the one with the all stainless steel caseback myself. Not that I don’t like the movement – on the contrary – but I prefer a watch that comes closest to the original ‘Moonwatch’. That said, I do have and have had my share of sapphire caseback Speedmaster models, but if it was for only one Speedmaster, the all steel caseback, please.

I have loved these watches for very many years and now I can finally afford one I do not want to make a silly purchase. In summary, should I buy an older professional “Apollo 11 special edition” , a newer glass-backed professional, or save a few more dollars and buy a brand new professional and keep it for many years? Or is an automatic the way to go?

That is wonderful news! You hardly can go wrong in my opinion and make a silly purchase. The only – and perhaps hardest – thing is that you should make sure to purchase an authentic and original Speedmaster, especially when going vintage. There are too many scammers out there, or perhaps sellers who don’t know exactly whether parts have been replaced in the past. If you go vintage, you should consider buying the Moonwatch Only book, which is a great reference guide and help when exploring the vintage Speedmaster market. You can also decide to buy from dealers like Davidoff Brothers in Geneva, who spend a great amount in researching the watches they are selling, to make sure it is all authentic and original. You pay premium, but also get certainty and thus quality.

You might also like  Speedy Tuesday - A Speedmaster Pro 145.012-67 As A Wedding Gift

To answer your question: Buying a fresh Speedmaster Pro (with the big black box, extra straps and so on) is a good purchase anyway. Keep it for years and wear it every day. You’ll love it. If there is a bit of an ‘investment’ thing going on (I never encourage this, as gambling is not my cup of tea), you might want to explore the world of vintage Speedmaster watches (keep my earlier remark in mind) or limited edition models, like the Apollo XI or Apollo XIII models. I did an article a while ago on certain models that will probably do well (Classics of Tomorrow I called it),and already one of them came out. The Speedmaster Tintin is not a limited edition (just limited by production) and might be a nice one to buy and have the best of both worlds. You will be certain it is original and authentic as some authorized dealers still have them in stock, and due to the short production time, it might be a wise ‘investment’ for the future.

Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI

Omega Speedmaster Professional 3595.52 Apollo XIII

And a final question, what impact does the accuracy of the movement have on future value? Does a more accurate movement attract a higher price?

Well, to be honest, nothing really. Personally, I rather have a watch in good technical condition than to have all the aesthetics corresponding to the perfect picture. Truth is, that nobody really seems to care about this. It is more important these days to have the lume of the hands matching to that of the indexes than to have a watch that has a beautiful clean and flawlessly functioning movement. To each his own of course. So the reality is that the visual condition of the watch is of a higher influence on the value than its technical – and therefore also accuracy – condition. If you have both though, you have a winner.

You might also like  Speedy Tuesday - Omega Speedmaster Professional Caliber 863 Reference 3592.50

I hope these answers help the sender of this e-mail a bit, even though these are my personal beliefs and might not be shared by other Speedmaster collectors. If you have other views (or the same), give those who have the same or similar questions a helping hand by leaving your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Robert-Jan Broer
Follow me

Robert-Jan Broer

Founder & Editor at Fratello Watches
Robert-Jan Broer, born in 1977, watch collector and author on watches for over a decade. Founder of Fratello Watches in 2004.
Robert-Jan Broer
Follow me