Differences In Omega Speedmaster Bezels
Does the term “Dot Over Ninety (DON) bezel” ring a bell? When it comes to collecting or buying Omega Speedmaster watches, it’s all in the details. After bringing back the beloved DON bezel on the Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday “Ultraman” in 2018, Omega started doing so more often. The Apollo 11 models from 2019 also have this feature, as do the 2020 Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary and the Speedmaster Calibre 321. Then, in 2021, the standard Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch also received the DON bezel. There’s also the very rare “220” misprint bezel, which you can find on some of the Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022-69 models from 1970. And these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Speedmaster bezels.
When buying a pre-owned or vintage Speedmaster, whether the bezel is original or not often comes into question. With modern Speedmasters, it’s not very difficult to determine. Vintage Speedmasters, though, can have different bezels. The very first Omega Speedmasters had all-steel bezels (with no aluminum insert) and came in two iterations starting with “300”. Both bezels were used for the Speedmaster CK2915, however, only the version with the round “3” could also be found in the last CK2915-3 iterations. The CK2915-1 and CK2915-2 had both iterations of the steel bezel. Regarding later bezels with a black aluminum inlay, though, it’s a bit more complicated as there are more variations.
How do you identify the correct Speedmaster bezel?
To be honest, it isn’t that easy. Some collectors pay attention to the printing, fonts, and whether “TACHYMETRE” has a grave accent on the first E (È) or not. Other key identifiers are the scale and the dots. The dots positioned next to, below, or under the number can also help you to identify whether the bezel is correct for the Speedmaster Professional.
Looking at the picture above (Ashley Budgen’s Speedmaster Professional with caliber 321), you will see that “TACHYMÈTRE” has a grave accent over the first “E. Next, you’ll see the dot over 90, as well as the dot next to the 70, positioned at its lower right.
I like to use the following “chart” that our friend RichardEW (see his Speedy Tuesday contribution here) created for his fellow Speedmaster collectors. It divides Speedmaster bezels into three categories.
Pre-1970 Speedmaster bezel
1970 to the mid-1990s (approximately)
From the mid-1990s to 2020
Those seem easy to understand, right? Well, there are still quite a few variations on the bezels. Nevertheless, the ones above give a good idea of how to identify the correct bezel for a Speedmaster in a certain production period. For example, some of the limited-edition Speedmaster models seem to have different printing and dot positions. Also, for the regular Speedmaster models, there are still some differences in the printing of the words and numerals that make it possible to identify them a bit more accurately. More specific details are excellently described in Moonwatch Only, the Speedmaster bible by Rossier and Marquié (you can order a copy here).
The modern tachymeter bezel
The Omega Speedmaster Professional (2021) and Speedmaster Calibre 321 (2020) received the Dot Over Ninety bezel, matching the pre-1970s bezels as depicted above. Omega used these bezels on the original 105.003 (inspiration for the 2020 Speedmaster Calibre 321) and the 105.012 (inspiration for the current Moonwatch). The danger for vintage watches might be in the use of this modern bezel as a replacement part. Above, you will see that the dots on the 200 and 225 are slightly more to the right than on the original bezels. You will also find the center strokes in the E to be shorter on the original bezels. The new bezels have an E with all three horizontal strokes of the same length.
There are also some Speedmaster bezels with different scales (telemeter in miles and kilometers, pulsations, decimal). In the (distant) past, customers could order their Speedmaster with a specific bezel.
Is it very important to have the correct Speedmaster bezel?
Contrary to what I wrote in the original article in 2013, correct Speedmaster parts make a huge difference these days. Original bezels are often in poor condition with a damaged black aluminum inlay, and prices are still well above €500. Early Dot Over Ninety bezels (1962/1963–1970) in good condition can easily cost over €2,000. Just beware of fake bezels if you’re in the market for one. On Speedmaster101, you will find a great guide on buying spare Speedmaster bezels.
*This article appeared first on Fratello on October 8th, 2013, and has been updated.