Speedy Tuesday – Omega Speedmaster Buying Guide
Omega Speedmaster Buying Guide
Since 2012 we have the Speedy Tuesday feature here on Fratello Watches. What started out as something spontaneous (on a Tuesday) was rapidly picked up by Speedmaster enthusiasts. You’ll find over 30,000 Instagram posts with the #speedytuesday hashtag since 2012 and over 200 Speedy Tuesday articles on this website. One of the most popular ones was our Speedmaster buying guide of 2014. Two years ago, so time to review our Speedmaster Buying Guide and give it a little update. Here you go.
Introduction to the Speedmaster Buying Guide
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 Speedmaster buying 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. A price chart can be found here, based on Chrono24 data.
For now, much more important are the details you should look for when you’ve found a Speedmaster of your choice.
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. If you’re looking for the actual Moonwatch model (the reference that went to the Moon), read this article validated by Omega. If you are looking for the current Omega Speedmaster Professional that is closest to the original Moonwatch, click here.
I will not go into detail in each model or reference number, as we probably did so in one of our Speedy Tuesday articles. Use the links given in the article or the search function on our website.
I will make a distinction between the following models for this Speedmaster Buying Guide:
- 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 for this Omega Speedmaster Buying Guide. They will be added in a later stadium.
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 in this Speedmaster buying guide. 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 (50K Euro and up). More important: try to find an original one that has not been tampered 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 20.000 – 25.000 Euro for a nice Speedmaster CK2998. 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 10.000 Euro for a 105.003 in nice condition.
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 qualified models and used Professional on the dials. It is verified that Buzz Aldrin wore a 105.012 when he set 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, as the legend goes.
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, until October 1968. You will be able to find a 145.012 starting around 7500 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 around 1983.
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 4000 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 a gold model. One with a burgundy bezel as a commemorative edition for the President of the USA, other members of the White House and Apollo astronauts. We wrote a Speedy Tuesday article on these gold models often, but also have an overview for you with all gold Speedmaster Moonwatch models. Prices on these gold models start around 16.000 Euro, depending on condition.
Speedmaster Professional 145.0022 and Later References
Since 1983, Omega started using the 145.0022 coding for the Speedmaster Professional. Until the late 1980s, when Omega changed the coding system to their PIC system. In 1989, the 3592.50 was the Speedmaster Professional reference. Actually, it was only the reference coding that changed in 1983. In the late 1980’s, other things such as the bracelet also 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. This update was done with the reference 3570.50 (although the few very first of these reference still had a tritium dial and hands). The current reference number of the original Moonwatch is 3188.8.131.52.01.005.
Speedmaster (Professional) Mark Series
Often covered for 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 1750 Euro. Some models tend to fetch more though, also depending on condition and whether they are complete with box and papers. We covered the Mark series often here on Fratello Watches and perhaps we will find the need to create a Speedmaster Buying Guide on its own for these models.
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 worth mentioning in this Speedmaster Buying Guide 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 8.000 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 of the Speedmaster Buying Guide
This first part of our Speedmaster Buying 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. For specific Speedmaster price guidelines, also make sure to visit Speedmaster101.com.