Buyer’s Advice: A vintage Speedmaster Mark II
To everybody who likes watches this might sound familiar: when it comes to purchasing a new watch your friends, family members or colleagues might seek out for advice from you. Not too long ago a friend of mine asked me which vintage Omega he should buy. His criterions were: it should be reliable, shouldn’t break the bank, can be used as a tool and have a nice wrist presence. So when he asked me which watch should he get I gave him some buyer’s advice and said “Omega Speedmaster (Professional) Mark II”. If you are into vintage and fancy any or all of the above features this is the watch for you too.
Let’s start with the obvious it is an Omega. You cannot go wrong with an Omega chronograph. Not that you can go wrong with any decent Swiss vintage chronograph that houses a Lemania-based movement. This is not only a movement this is one of the most significant movements Omega ever used; the caliber 861 which is based on Lemania’s famous 1871 used by the likes of Heuer.
And that leads us to the second point. The heart that beats in the iconic Omega Speedmaster Professional, caliber 861 is the same movement you find in the Speedmaster Mark II. As a matter of fact the Mark II is also a Speedy Pro.
This is the model that started a series of 5 different Mark pieces that established the Speedmaster-line within Omega. Technically the Mark II is just another Speedy Pro. The only difference is the streamlines cushion shape of the case and the fact that this watch never went to the Moon. The look and feel of the watch is solid and chunky yet very comfortable on the wrist. I was even surprised how cool and relaxed it looks. A great justification of this is the 2014 Speedmaster Mark II model that came out earlier this year and pays tribute to the original 1969 version.
We should not forget that this is a chronograph. Not just a great looking vintage watch, but a fully functioning tool. You can use it for timing everything from your performance in the gym to the time your significant other spends in shops while you are sitting at a coffee shop waiting for her. The manual wind movement is a little ticking, living machine attached to you. Something you need to care for every day. You put it on then wind it and set the time. The Omega Speedmaster Mark II is also a very versatile piece; you can wear it on a bracelet or a leather strap or perhaps even on a NATO strap. Sport it with a suit for a day in the office or with shorts and flip-flops for a summer get-away. The combinations are endless.
A crucial question for most of us out there is the money. How much would this piece set me back? If you are not trained in vintage watches I would suggest to “do you homework” as we say. Research for prices and condition, ask questions on various watch forums, read our posts on the Speedmaster Mark II, look for the Speedmaster Mark II reference 145.014 on Chrono24.
Then go to a reputable dealer or seal a deal perhaps through a forum with a reputable member. You can find Mark IIs on both places. At a dealer you might pay more but most of the time they will give you warranty as well. This comes pretty handy when thinking of the possible service cost of the caliber 861. If you buy from a private seller, make sure to ask about its service history (and provenance of this) or calculate service cost for this watch in your budget. A total overhaul with set you back around 250-350 Euro, depending where and what.
If you feel however that you have the knowledge to spot the right Speedy you can have a look around the auction sites like eBay. Most of the watches on these sites are considerably cheaper. You must however remember that there are extra costs over the price like shipping or customs charges. eBay for instance is fled with Mark IIs from all over the world and the prices are sometimes surprisingly low. Make sure you know what you are buying!
All in all I’m sure anybody who needs a trusty workhorse, a truly cool vintage piece would be happy with the Omega Speedmaster Mark II. Getting a hold of the rarer Speedmaster Mark II racing dial version is just the added bonus.
Written by Blaise for Fratello Watches.