Fratello Watches’ Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide Part 1
It is Speedy Tuesday! During the week, we get a lot of questions by e-mail about buying an Omega Speedmaster. We thought it was about time that we made an article that’s basically an Omega Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide. If you are already a Speedmaster collector, this might not be interesting to you, as I will cover some basic information as well. However, I will make it a multi-part article that gets more ‘enhanced’ over time. Also, I would like to make this a ‘living document’ that means I will add new information as time passes so it will always be up-to-date. If you have anything to add, please let us know using the comments box at the end of this article or via e-mail. Please use the contact form.
An introduction to the Omega Speedmaster isn’t necessary we think. We all know about this iconic timepiece, so let us give an introduction to how-to use this guide instead. Some of the Speedmaster history will be covered when discussing some of the models (reference numbers) out there.
In this series of articles, we will focus on the various steps to take when you are in the process of buying – or collecting – Speedmaster watches. I will give some hints regarding Speedmaster prices, but as this may vary on the part of the world you are living in (taxes, currencies) I won’t emphasize on this too much. We will come up with a value matrix on Speedmasters very soon, based on data from Chronolytics. It will show the average price per reference number (from vintage to new) over the last 6 months and keep it up to date. For now, much more important are the details you should look for when you’ve found a Speedmaster of your choice. Also, since there are some pretty good reference books and websites out there, I will discuss those as well.
Omega Speedmaster Models
One of the questions I often receive is to give some guidance in all the different models out there. If you are new to Speedmaster watches, it might seem like a bit of a horological wilderness. I will not go into detail in each model or reference number, as we probably did so in one of our Speedy Tuesday articles.
I will make a distinction between the following models:
- Speedmaster (Professional) ‘Moonwatch’
- Speedmaster (Professional) Mark Series
- Various other vintage Speedmaster models
For now, I will skip the modern collection of Speedmaster watches with the F. Piguet based 33xx movements, the Speedmaster caliber 9300 (a.o. Dark Side of the Moon) models and so on. Perhaps I will add them later.
Speedmaster (Professional) ‘Moonwatch’
Although not all of these Speedmaster models in this section are considered a ‘Moonwatch’ – as they were introduced way before NASA chose Omega to become the official timepiece for their astronauts – I will still use this category for them. These early models are considered to be the ancestor of the ‘Moonwatch’.
The very first Speedmaster as Omega introduced in 1957. Together with the Seamaster 300 (CK2913) and Railmaster (CK2914) this model had a sporty look with its curved lugs, black dial and broad arrow hands. Initially meant to be a sports chronograph, using the dashboard clocks of Italian sports cars of that time as an inspiration.
The CK2915 has multiple versions (you will find a -1, -2, or -3 added to the reference number) that could be considered more or less as small updates if you want. If you are looking for a CK2915, expect to pay a fortune (30K Euro and up). More important: try to find an original one that has not been tempered with. There is so much money going on in these very first models, that it also attracted crooks that are after your money. In a bad way. Newly made cases, movements from other watches, refitted bezels from a later period and so on. Be very cautious in any case.
The CK2915 houses the Omega caliber 321 movement, with a column wheel chronograph. This Lemania (caliber 2310) based movement went out of production in 1968 when Omega introduced the Speedmaster Professional 145.022.
Speedmaster CK2998 & 105.002
Often considered to be the second best thing when it comes to vintage Speedmasters, but a small confession has to be made here. I love this version actually a bit better than its predecessor. This particular reference number already looks a bit like the ‘Moonwatch’ with its black bezel and Alpha hands. Where the first Speedmaster had a bit of a military look in my opinion, this watch is a more subtle sports chronograph.
There are quite a bit of variations in the CK2998, where the different styles of hands are the most important identifier. One of the most sought-after CK2998 models is the one with the ‘lollipop’ chronograph second hand.
The 105.002 needs to be mentioned as well. There is actually no real difference between the last variation CK2998(-62) and the 105.002 except for the reference number. Omega changed the reference number syntax, which means getting rid of the CK identifier and 4 digit numbers. The 105.002 was actually made in a very small period of time (1962), before its successor was introduced (105.003). This makes the 105.002 perhaps even more collectible than some of the CK2998 models.
Oddly enough, I’ve been offered 105.002 for quite a bit less money than a CK2998. Expect to pay approximately 7.000,- to 8.000,- Euro for a nice Speedmaster CK2998, the 105.002 can be found for a bit less. When there is a box or/and papers as well, the price will be influenced. Don’t get yourself trapped in the tropical dial (discoloured dials, turned to a brownish color). Although some might think it gives the watch a nice cool look, do not pay too much extra for this ‘feature’. Versions that do add value are the so-called FAP models.
The 105.003 reference already looks a bit more like the Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’, with its white baton hands. This Speedmaster is actually the most affordable pre-Professional model out there. Expect to pay around 3500 – 4500 Euro for a 105.003 in nice condition.
Note that there are known early Speedmaster ref. 105.003 models out there with ‘Professional’ on the dial as well. Yes, even before NASA chose the Speedmaster as the official ‘Moonwatch’ in 1965. If you come across those models, try to get an extract from the archives from the Omega Museum with confirmation. The Speedmaster 105.003 was introduced right after the ‘transitional’ 105.002, in 1963. It was in production until 1966.
Speedmaster Professional 105.012 & 145.012
The 105.012 and 145.012 are actually the references used by Apollo 11 astronauts. It is also the model that has the a-symmetrical case due to the use of crown guards. These crown guards were added after NASA commented on the risk of knocking off the pushers due to rough use. The 105.012 and 145.012 are considered to be the certified models and used Professional on the dials since 1966. Before that, as you could read above, the ‘Professional’ wording was used as well on the 105.003 for no (particular) reason and in small quantities only. It has been said that Buzz Aldrin wore a 105.012 when he sat foot on the Moon while Michael Collins wore his 145.012 when waiting in the capsule for Aldrin and Armstrong to get back. Armstrong didn’t wear his watch as the Bulova board clock broke down. Below, a 105.012 and a 145.012 (with red second hand and Telemetre bezel).
The strange thing is – although it is common to accept that the 105.012 and 145.012 are the true Moonwatch models – that these references are the least expensive caliber 321 Speedmaster Professional watches you can buy. The 145.012 is a bit more common and was the last caliber 321 in production (the 105.012 ceased to exist in 1966), until October 1968. You will be able to find a 145.012 starting around 2500 Euro. The 105.012 is considered to be a bit more valuable.
Speedmaster Professional 145.022
In 1968 Omega decided to update the Speedmaster a bit. The dial doesn’t feature the applied Omega logo anymore (although you will find the occasional ‘transitional’ model where Omega probably grabbed parts that were still on the shelves in Biel) and the movement has been changed to the Lemania based Omega caliber 861. This movement does not have a column wheel mechanism but a cam lever. The 145.022 has been in the collection until the 1990s. Actually, at some point it was only the reference coding that changed. In 1997, the movement was upgraded the Omega caliber 1861 (small modification in construction) and the dial and hands were applied with Luminova instead of Tritium. The current reference number of the original Moonwatch is 318.104.22.168.01.005 (was 3570.50 until recently). Below, a vintage Speedmaster 145.022 and a new Speedmaster Professional (3570.70).
In those early years, the dial was ‘stepped’ like the previous caliber 321 dials. These are a bit more sought after than the late 1970s and 1980s models. Also, later 145.022 models should be easy to find with box and paper work. Expect to pay approx 2000 Euro for a decent Speedmaster Pro 145.022, more for a complete version with box and papers. There are also a few different case backs for the 145.022, from the similar 145.012 caseback to the current case back with the ‘First Watch Worn on the Moon’ inscripted case back. Most sought after are the ones with horizontal inscription (which also comes in two flavours, the most sought after version is where it has Apollo XI 1969 engraved below the “First Watch Worn on the Moon” inscription).
The 145.022 is also the reference number for two specific gold models. One with the burgundy bezel as a commemorative edition for the President of the USA, other members of the White House and Apollo astronauts. In the 1980s, there was another gold edition of the 145.022 with a black bezel and a transparent case back. Prices on these gold models start around 10.000 Euro, depending on condition.
Speedmaster (Professional) Mark Series
Often covered here on Speedy Tuesday are the Mark series. If we do not consider the Speedmaster Professional (145.012/145.022) as a Mark I, there are 4 official Speedmaster Mark Series. The first one was the Mark II (introduced in 1969), followed by the Mark III, Mark IV and Mark V. Even though some of them were also considered a Speedmaster Professional, none of them were flight qualified for manned space missions by NASA. Only the Mark II and Mark V feature the same hand-wound movement as the Speedmaster Pro 145.022. The others have different automatic (Lemania based) caliber 1040 chronograph movements. The last Mark, the V, was introduced in 1984 and is the last one of this series. Below, a Mark III, Mark II Racing, Mark 4.5 (see next paragraph).
These Mark series are not as popular among the majority as the Speedmaster Professional, prices start at around 1200 Euro. Some models tend to fetch more though, also depending on condition and whether they are complete with box and papers.
Various other vintage Speedmaster models
A small correction – although it was never official – on the text above. There is a watch that is being considered the Speedmaster Mark 4.5. This is a watch similar to the Mark IV, but with a Lemania 5100 based movement (Omega caliber 1045). Another Mark related watch is the Speedmaster Teutonic, a watch very similar to the Mark V but also with the Omega caliber 1045 movement. The Teutonic was only meant for the German market in the mid-1980s. Prices are around the same as the Mark series.
Another Speedmaster that should be mentioned here is the Speedmaster 125. It marked the 125th anniversary of the Omega company in 1973 and has this big clunky case and features Omega caliber 1041. This is basically the same movement as the caliber 1040 movement, but with a chronometer certification. In fact, it was the first automatic chronograph movement with chronometer certificate ever. There were only 2000 made of this watch, but due to its awkward size and appearance it is quite easy to find one. Expect to pay around 2000 Euro for a good condition model.
Other collectible Speedmaster models are the early Speedmaster Professional Moonphase watches (1985). Only 1300 were made of this model and highly sought-after. Prices of this particular model are around 5.000 Euro – 6000 Euro. Later on (in the 2000s), Omega did a re-release of this particular model and it is still in the collection. Another highly-sought after Omega Speedmaster is the one with the ‘Professional’ case and with Lemania 5100 based Omega caliber 1045 movement. This Speedmaster Automatic reference 376.0822 has also been nicked ‘the Holy Grail‘ by the late Chuck Maddox. Only 2000 pieces have been made in 1987 and strangely enough all models that have been offered to me were complete with box and papers. Expect a price tag between 5500 and 7000 Euro, depending on condition.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Quartz LCD models are also interesting for those who are into buying Speedmaster watches. Perhaps not an everyday wearable piece, but certainly interesting to own.
Although there are a couple more Speedmaster watches that are probably worth mentioning here, these are the models that fetch most request per e-mail. Let me know if you are missing any other specific collections here.
End of Part 1
This first part of our Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide gives you an introduction to several important Speedmaster models. I emphasized on the ‘Moonwatch’ models a bit more than on the other Speedmaster families. However, let me know if there is a need for more information on certain other pieces (like the Speedsonic for example) and I will add them too.
Our next part will be about where to look for these watches. I want to prevent you from buying a frankenwatch, fake watch or paying too much for something simply not worth it. But perhaps most important of all, help you to recognize your personal grail Speedmaster!