You might remember the Bukowskis watch auction from October last year, where two Speedmaster CK2915 watches were auctioned. One of them fetched the world record price for the Speedmaster, $275,508 US dollars. This Speedmaster CK2915-1 from June 1958, was actually a very early model and had the correct 7077/6 bracelet as well. Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster, which Omega celebrated extensively (including the introduction of a 60th anniversary model of their Speedmaster). But what would be the best thing to buy in the 60th birth year of the Speedmaster? Right, a CK2915 watch.
The buyer of the Speedmaster CK2915-1 watch from Bukowskis contacted us and was happy to answer some of our questions. He is a collector, together with his father, and goes by the name of @thewatchfellas on Instagram.
– Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
First of all, let me start by congratulating you and the entire Fratello Watches team; this website is a fantastic resource for many watch lovers and collectors, and it is a privilege for me to be able to share my passion with your readers. I am first and foremost a passionate watch lover, albeit an unusually young one, as I first became ‘addicted’ to watches around the age of 12 after being gifted a Hamilton automatic watch by my grandparents. I was so fascinated by the automatic (or self-charging, as I ignorantly called it) movement, its workings and the watch in general that I started researching the topic online. It is through this research and websites such as yours, as well as forums, that my fascination became a passion that will likely accompany me for the rest of my life. I am now fortunate enough to be able to collaborate with my father on a collection, whom I managed to convince of the joys of (vintage) watch collecting after many years of incessant trying. In my spare time, I am an Italian student living in London.
– How did your interest in the Speedmaster start?
I always had a passion for vintage chronographs, especially those that were created between the late 50s and the early 70s; this is surely based on aesthetics, but also on other socio-economic factors that in my opinion make this time period particularly interesting. The economic boom that accompanied much of (Western) Europe and the USA after the destruction of the Second World War created the perfect conditions for the development of goods such as watches; the industrial capabilities and advances developed during and after the war were either being rebuilt or could now be used for civilian production, and rising standards of living meant people could afford to spend more on consumer goods like watches. These are the main reasons why, in my opinion, watches from this period are beautiful and enduringly popular – many of them have become icons. The Speedmaster is one such icon that any aficionado is bound to encounter on their journey of watch collecting. I, just like many others, first came across the Speedmaster as the iconic ‘Moonwatch’ due to its connection with the space program; indeed, the Speedmaster on sale today is effectively the same as the one that was being produced in 1969, and still proudly displays on its case back the writing ‘Flight-Qualified by NASA…’ and ‘The First Watch Worn on the Moon’. While this heritage is undoubtedly unmatched by any other watch, the thing that really got me into Speedmasters was its Pre-Moon, and especially Pre-Professional, history. Less known that its interplanetary deeds is the fact that the original Speedmaster, the 1957 reference 2915, was probably the first modern sports chronograph, pre-dating the Rolex Daytona by at least 6 years. The 2915 was in fact designed for motor racing and, as a car guy myself, that always fascinated me. I have to admit the Broad Arrow hands may also have something to do with it. I guess you could say that what first interested me was the Speedmaster, rather than the ‘Moonwatch’.
– Which references do you like best and why?
My favourite Speedmaster reference is also the original one, the CK2915 from 1957. With this watch, Omega created the modern sports chronograph as we know it. Designed with motor racers in mind, it had a tachometer scale on its metal bezel to calculate speed and broad arrow hands to enhance legibility. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful and elegant Speedmaster of all time; as if that was not enough, it also came in a perfect 38.6mm size and housed the celebrated calibre 321. A true grail.
Another reference that I particularly like is the CK2998. This reference is possibly the most fun to collect as it contains 8 sub-references (plus the 105.002, which is a different reference but is either identical to a 2998-62 or has baton instead of alpha hands). With the 2998 the Speedmaster took a more recognisable form; the metal bezel was replaced by a black one, and the broad arrow hands were replaced by alpha ones. Furthermore, the case size increased slightly, but calibre 321 remained. Another reason for this reference’s undeniable appeal is the fact that a 2998-4 was the first Omega Speedmaster in space, on the wrist of American astronaut Wally Schirra. This was before NASA certified the ‘Moonwatch’ and indeed the Speedy was Schirra’s personal watch.
Lastly, the 105.012 deserves to be mentioned as it is the reference that most shaped the collective image of the Speedmaster and was in fact the first ‘Moonwatch’. The 105.012 was the first Speedy to carry the ‘Professional’ wording on the dial, the first with an asymmetric case and the only reference confirmed to have landed on the moon. It was the origin of the modern Speedmaster and of the ‘Moonwatch’ myth. As if this pedigree was not enough, it also housed the calibre 321.
– How exciting was it to purchase the CK2915-1 at the Bukowski auction last year? Did the watch meet your expectation?
The 2915-1 that appeared at Bukowski’s last year was truly a unique opportunity; a completely untouched watch in incredible condition, with only one owner in its 60-year history. According to many in the vintage watches community, it is the best 2915-1 to ever have surfaced to date. Once we became aware that a friend, who has exceptionally good taste, had bought the watch in Stockholm, the temptation of owning such an incredible piece became too big to resist. The watch is absolutely stunning in person; it must be held and examined closely to be able to fully appreciate the stunning conditions it is in and the beautiful colour of the dial and lume. Even the step and engraving on the case back are still properly defined, a testament to how little this watch was worn by its former owner and to how well it has been preserved. The original stretch-bracelet is also beautiful, and completes the fully-untouched package.
– What are you looking for when purchasing vintage Speedmasters? Do you have tips for our readers?
As my description of our 2915-1 may have evinced, originality and condition are the two most significant aspects for me when purchasing any watch, and so too for vintage Speedmasters. Rarity is also a factor. In general, I am looking for that wow factor you get when you hold a special watch in your hands. Furthermore, I believe that one should only buy pieces that one finds attractive, and that is another guiding principle of our collection. I have to admit that I find tropical dials very attractive, especially when they have aged evenly to a full, brown colour. I am however less enthusiastic about bezel colour changes.
The first piece of advice I would give to anyone looking for a vintage Speedmaster is to do your research; resources such as this website, Speedmaster 101 and Moonwatch Only make it easy and fun to learn a lot about this beautiful watch and its different references. Starting in this way will give you the knowledge required not only to start focusing on one specific period/reference, but also to be able to evaluate the authenticity and condition of the watch you are considering. This is especially important as the prices of Speedmasters have been increasing, meaning any error has become much costlier. The other piece of advice I would give Speedmaster collectors is to always value condition and authenticity over the prestige or rarity of a certain reference; for any given budget, getting the best possible example of a less costly reference will prove more rewarding than getting the worst one of a more expensive one. Finally, enjoy the hunt! I know it may be a watch-collecting cliché, but it is often the case that researching and chasing your dream watch is more exciting than actually getting it – enjoy the process!
– Now that you have the CK2915-1, what is your next grail – if there’s any?
A Speedmaster 2915-1, especially one such as ours, is a true grail watch and a trophy asset for any watch lover. It is one of those pieces that becomes the core of a collection. With regards to Speedmasters, while there still are other pieces that interest me, I do believe that the watch we have is the ne plus ultra, the ultimate Speedmaster grail. Very few watches in the world can beat it for beauty and historical significance. The Alaska Project II with steel matte case and raised bezel is my second favourite Speedmaster, but I am afraid that will only remain a grail. Otherwise, as far as obtainable ones go, the next grail is always changing. At the moment, I would probably choose a mint, untouched AOPA Breitling Navitimer with Valjoux calibre 72.
– How do you feel about modern Speedmaster watches? Would you ever consider buying a modern reference?
It is funny you should ask that, as I just recently picked up my first and only modern Omega Speedmaster – the 60th Anniversary Limited Edition. I would like to thank the team at Omega UK for their assistance and great customer service. The watch, which I am sure you will all be familiar with, is a stunning re-edition of the 2915-1. After our purchase of the Bukowskis’ Speedmaster, it just made perfect sense to get this watch to complement it. Omega got it absolutely right with this edition, as the vintage charm and modern build-quality make this a spectacular daily wearer. Out of the other current Speedmaster offerings, my favourite is the Speedy Tuesday Limited Edition; it is a beautiful piece which demonstrates how fruitful a collaboration between the brand and its aficionados can be. In fact, I believe that an increased dialogue and cooperation between brand and collectors would be mutually beneficial and could bring about extremely interesting results.
– Where do you want your Speedmaster collection to be 5 years from now?
This is a tough question! The Speedmaster is an important part of our collection, and I cannot see that changing over the next few years. However, I am not foreseeing any vintage Speedy acquisitions in the near future either, as at the moment we are content with our lineup. Of course, watch-collecting is a passion which means that it is extremely hard to predict the future; deep down, I am secretly hoping that someone among you Speedmaster aficionados may change my mind on this point! Regarding new models, I believe it will be particularly interesting to see how Omega decides to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing in 2019.
– Anything else you want to say to our readers?
Firstly, thank you if you have made it this far! It has been a privilege for me to be able to share my passion and experience with you; indeed, this sharing is in my opinion one of the greatest aspects of this hobby. I hope there will be other opportunities to do so. I would like to conclude by emphasising what a great world that of horology is – watch-collecting is a passion that gives the opportunity to meet interesting people, learn new things and live new experiences. While it is easy to believe that spending significant amounts of money is a necessary condition in this hobby, I would beg to disagree with that assumption. There are beautiful watches, both vintage and modern, available within any budget range. And, for those interested simply in information, there are interesting websites such as this one which are completely free. Finally, let me express a wish based on my personal experience: that more young people would develop a passion for our hobby, and that there would be more ‘spaces’ dedicated to them.
– Thank you very much!
Click here for the official press release by Omega on the Speedmaster CK2915-1 that was mentioned in this article.