For many of us, especially those reading this article, watch collecting is a key part of our lives, our main hobby, and our passion. But for the vast majority of people, a wristwatch is purely a means of telling the time and, in some cases, a status symbol. Some might be familiar with famous models, but most people do not care how thin your watch movement is or how few pieces of your limited edition exist. Sometimes, though, those of us who live and breathe watches instill some of our passion into the lives of others. For me, doing so even led to the moment when I realized that my friends and I had become an Omega Speedmaster-collecting hub, all living in the same small village in Yorkshire, England.

Collecting Speedmasters

As all the parents out there will know, when your kids first start school, you find yourself mixing in new social circles with other parents. Stemming from the inevitable school-gate chat, new friendships eventually form. As that initial conversation develops, people will eventually ask, “So, what do you do?” My answer is often met with intrigue and further questioning: “What are you wearing? Where do you get all your watches from? How did you learn all this stuff? Can you get me a Rolex Daytona?!” My answer to that last question is often, “I could, but you don’t want one.” Then begins the enlightenment of the wider watch world and other exciting, interesting, fine-quality watches that will give you so much more than hype ever will.

As a huge fan of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, especially the various limited editions, it is my go-to recommendation for a prestigious wristwatch. Many people can appreciate the history it has with NASA and the Moon landings, its luxury appeal, and its simultaneous tool-watch character. Furthermore, the genuine scarcity (not hype) of limited editions can lead to collectibility. Though this is not the most important thing, many new collectors will want to see their watches retaining value or, even better, having the potential to increase.

Speedmaster Racing Dial

It was the summer of 2021, and I was wearing my Speedmaster Japan Racing, one with particularly vibrant orange accents. The other dads at my daughter’s school were starting to notice it more and more often, and the intrigue was peaking. “What is that? It looks really cool!” they’d comment. As many readers will know, it is a limited-edition Speedmaster Professional that Omega released for the Japanese market in 2004. Fittingly, there were only 2,004 of these pieces taking inspiration from the original and unbelievably rare 1969 racing-dial models. It’s as if the 1960s Paul Newman-dial Daytona were 10 times rarer, and Rolex made a limited reissue of it. Though it’s not a limited model, interestingly, Rolex did something similar with the recent Daytona 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Now, for some context, there are currently over 1,000 Rolex Daytona ref. 116500s available on Chrono24. Compare this to the 15 Speedmaster Japan Racing models on offer at the time of publishing, and you realize just what scarcity is. Not only that, the Japan Racing is so much more of an exciting watch to own, and for much less than the current market value of Daytona 116500, let alone what the new Le Mans edition is likely to start trading at! I get that the Daytona and Japan Racing aren’t comparable in terms of dial design, but I’ll address this comparison later when looking at the panda-dial Apollo 11 35th Anniversary, of which only 13 of the 3,500 pieces made are currently available.

The hunt for the Japan Racing model begins

At this point, three of my new friends (David, Mark, and Matt) were seriously admiring my Speedmaster Japan Racing. One of them hadn’t even owned a proper watch or had any interest in doing so. The other two owned a couple of Rolexes and other bits but certainly wouldn’t have called themselves watch collectors.

Mark had been weighing the merits of some of the limited-edition Speedmaster Professionals against the infuriating way Rolex treats potential buyers in its boutiques. He also directly correlated this with what is happening in the Porsche world, due to his love of the 911. I openly recommended the Heuer Carrera as an alternative, but his mind was set on a Speedmaster. He finally decided to pull the trigger, so the hunt for an original full set and confirmed example of the Japan Racing began. I then faced a dilemma: Mark desired my vibrant orange piece more over the lighter orange example we managed to find. Of course, being such a good friend, I gave in and let mine go to Mark.

“The McLaren”

With the lighter orange example on my wrist, David commented how it looked identical to the hue of McLaren orange and dubbed it “The McLaren.” As an owner of a McLaren 675LT Spider, he was now thinking he quite liked the idea of owning this particular Japan Racing.

Meanwhile, Matt asked me to help source another Japan Racing, and, sure enough, we eventually found a suitable original in amazing condition. At that point, Matt had never really owned a watch. However, he has always been a keen researcher on subjects he finds interesting, so he took a deep dive into the Speedmaster Moonwatches. Further fueling this was the fact that I arranged a copy of the Moonwatch Only book for each of them. He later found out his father had a 1969 Chronostop, which he then gave him. It almost felt like fate, with both watches having gray dials, racing-track markers, and orange chronograph seconds hands.

Sure enough, David finally gave in to temptation. He took the Japan Racing we had dubbed “The McLaren,” and we took a ride out in his 675LT Spider to celebrate. Three rare-to-see full sets and archive-confirmed Japan Racing Speedmasters were now all in the same village, with me on the hunt for a fourth one for myself. This was just the beginning…

Comparing Speedmasters to Daytonas

As we progressed through 2022, we started to have regular mini GTGs, as is common in the wider Speedy Tuesday community and watch world. The watch chat continued, with the main focus on Speedmasters and specific pieces that we were hoping to acquire next.

At that point, a white-dial Daytona had been on Mark’s mind, though he was now very aware of how it didn’t stack up in comparison to certain panda-dial Speedmasters. The only minor concern for him had been manual winding versus automatic, but, as we all know, once you own a Moonwatch, that’s easy to overcome.

We finally managed to source a full-set Apollo 11 35th Anniversary Limited Edition, which is probably (in my opinion and now Mark’s) one of the nicest panda-dial watches out there.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 “Panda”

One of the key things to look at here, especially when comparing it to the Rolex offering, is something that RJ Broer pointed out to me at a Speedy Tuesday event in Milan. I can’t remember exactly how we got onto the subject (I’d already drunk many negronis), but RJ highlighted something to me that, once seen, cannot be unseen. Rolex’s switch from the Zenith El Primero movement to the in-house 4130 chronograph caliber in 2000 resulted in a change to the layout of the sub-dials. The Rolex movement pushed the left and right chronograph registers slightly above the line of the center pinion.

This seems like a very minor detail, but the more you look at it versus a chronograph that is all in line, the worse it appears. It becomes aesthetically wrong on some level and less balanced in overall design. There is, of course, also the actual rarity over hype, as I have previously mentioned.

The panda-dial Apollo 11 now seems to have become the Speedmaster that I see Mark wearing the most. He often mentions how friends comment on it regularly, mistaking it for a Daytona, to which he now enjoys highlighting to them how it isn’t and why it is, shall we say, a “better” watch.

Speedmaster 40th Anniversary “Albino” for Italy

Variations on the dial color of the Moonwatch can always add some excitement to an edition and none more so than when it comes to a white dial. There are not that many to choose from, and they are all rare or difficult to get hold of in their own right. I always regret letting go of my “Albino” 40th Anniversary and constantly toy with trying to find one again. With only 500 produced back in 1997 and probably even fewer out there in the wild, it is not going to be easy.

From Apollo to Alaska

Very shortly after the purchase of the Apollo 11 35th Anniversary, an Alaska Project from 2008 became available to us, and Mark went for it. He loved the design of the shuttle hands and red highlights, and it was an amazing limited-edition set, as anyone who owns one knows. The dial of this model is a stark white versus the off-white/cream tones of the Albino.

The purchase of the Alaska Project coincided with both Mark and I receiving an invite to the Fratello event at the European Space Agency and the launch of the Speedmaster X-33 Marstimer. Coincidentally, while on the trip, we visited the Amsterdam Swatch boutique en route to The Hague and each managed to get an early allocation of a MoonSwatch Mission to Mars as a fun little bonus.

Collecting community

Though I had experienced over the years how great the Speedy Tuesday community could be, it was Mark’s first time at such a gathering. He now appreciates how the Speedmaster-collecting community and access that Omega offers to its clients, often via Fratello, is on another level versus other brands, all adding to the experience. It is also worth noting that you do not need to be a mega collector or have spent vast amounts of money with Omega to attend these events. Someone with simply a standard Moonwatch could be selected to go.

Back to basics

Meanwhile, Matt had been absorbing all he could from the Moonwatch Only book and kept a closely guarded list of what he was on the hunt for. Very quickly after buying the Japan Racing, he decided that he should have a standard Moonwatch as his daily wearer. He settled on the legendary and then-recently discontinued Moonwatch box set, which offers a lot of watch (and accessories) for the money. David also saw the merits in this version of the standard Moonwatch and decided to get one as well for his burgeoning collection.

From Speedmaster to Bvlgari Octo Finissimo “Sketch”

At this point, it is worth noting that my friends’ Rolex watches had been sitting unworn. As David and Mark’s appreciation for more interesting and attainable watches grew, they even started putting their Rolexes up for sale. A slight diversion in the Speedmaster collecting came when Matt took a particular liking to my Octo Finissimo “Sketch” Chronograph, a piece that I was unbelievably lucky to land and a firm favorite in my collection. Toying with the idea of the standard sub-second titanium model, he asked me to help him find a suitable Octo Finissimo.

As luck would have it, we came across a “Sketch” in the UK, and Matt went for it. Kudos to Matt here for recognizing pieces he likes and connects with technically and design-wise and diving straight in. It can often take years of collecting and dipping in and out of the usual suspects before your average watch collector starts to settle into a niche of more avant-garde technical watchmaking. Don’t be mistaken here either. Matt isn’t just throwing money at stuff. The discussions we have and decision-making are extremely considered.

My watches often spark some inspiration for what the guys take an interest in next. Sometimes they end up buying the same piece, and other times, a variant speaks to them. There is inevitably going to be some crossover, as with the Japan Racing, since we are talking about some very iconic watches here.


In my collection, I have both the first Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday (Tribute to Alaska III) and the second one (Ultraman). Both have the same number (125), and I got very lucky managing to land these in the chaos of the launches back in 2017 and 2018.

My all-time favorite

For me, the ST1 in particular has become one of my all-time favorite limited-edition Speedmasters. Its design and features make it increasingly iconic. The Moonwatch is a tool watch after all, and the satin-brushed case adds to that aesthetic along with the “radial” sub-dials, all echoing that of the Alaska III that the ST1 is a tribute to. Throw in the reverse panda dial, and it is a design that is difficult to beat.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday 1

So, of course, it became one of the more admired Moonwatch variants in our Speedy Tuesday group. Mark, Matt, and David all began contemplating one. In 2023, Matt began to bolster his Speedmaster collection by purchasing an ST2 Ultraman and then the ST1 to match. He also got various straps to switch up the look and style of each, especially with the ST1 being so versatile. I feel at least the ST1 is a must for any Speedmaster collection if not one of the ultimate all-time Speedmaster Moonwatch editions.

Five-Watch Collections

Matt had also been reading previous articles on Fratello and looking into “sleepers” in the Speedmaster range. The 3594.50 Broad Arrow Re-issue, aka Replica, was at the top of his list at this point. After discussing the pros and cons of the Replica, released in 1998, versus the Speedmaster ’57 60th Anniversary from 2017, he found that the former offered a lot of watch for the money. Even though the Replica is not an exact copy, its “neo-vintage” design has made it increasingly collectible. Full box sets for this watch can be difficult to find, but we managed the task at hand and sourced a great example with a later push-button clasp.

The standard Moonwatch

While enjoying his new collection and giving wrist time to most of the pieces he bought over the last couple of years, Matt ended his 2023 with the purchase of a standard Moonwatch ref. 3570.50 as his daily beater. When you are buying daily beaters to protect your favorite watches from overuse, you can definitively say you have caught the watch-collecting bug.

Chrono24 Unveils ChronoPulse

Current Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 311.

David, on the other hand, was wearing his watches with a bit more caution. Keeping his collection as pristine as possible was also on his mind as well as enjoying his watches on the wrist. He ended 2023 with a slight diversion from the Moonwatch and purchased “The Legend” Schumacher Speedmaster.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 35th Anniversary and The Legend Schumacher

The Speedmaster “The Legend” for Michael Schumacher

As an avid Michael Schumacher and team Ferrari fan from that early 2000s era, his research brought him across the extremely rare signature limited edition given to the Ferrari Team (only 500 pieces made). Though finding one would’ve been a dream scenario, we settled on the equally stunning panda-dial limited edition. Essentially, it is the same watch but without the signature of Schumacher on the dial, and, as always, we got a full set in the best condition we could find. The Daytona comparison comes up here again, with this model showing design cues very reminiscent of the famous Paul Newman dial. And this watch is from nearly 20 years ago, before the hype we have now around certain watches.

Omega Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award

Although various Speedmasters go through my hands each year, in 2023, the only personal watch I purchased was the 50th Anniversary Silver Snoopy Award. Probably the first Speedmaster that should have been a limited edition but wasn’t, it is “just” a limited-production model. But it is an absolutely beautiful watch and quite an extravagant concept all in a steel case. This took some waiting after seemingly getting my name down in the top three on a specific waiting list, but I finally got the call from the boutique, and it was worth it.

Speedmaster Tokyo 2020 “Rising Sun”

I had also been on the hunt for a “Rising Sun,” the red-bezel version of the limited-edition Tokyo Olympics 2020 Speedmaster (the actual event for which took place in 2021, leaving a strange anomaly on the case-back engraving and marketing material). Omega released five different editions at the time, with each bezel taking on the color of one of the Olympic rings. But this also resulted in three of the pieces looking very reminiscent of previous Apollo and Gemini limited editions, which, for me, makes them less desirable. I would rather own the original NASA commemorative watches.

Landing the Rising Sun

The red-bezel Rising Sun, on the other hand, looks stunning with its almost moondust-like silver dial. If I remember correctly, it also marks the first time that Omega has used its brand-signature red color on the bezel of a Speedmaster Professional (not counting the 1969 Apollo XI Gold and Moonshine 50th Anniversary editions, which I would describe as burgundy).

Omega Speedmaster Rising Sun

The Tokyo Olympics Speedmasters can be difficult to get hold of as they were only released for the Japanese market. Nevertheless, I managed to finally source one, and it landed on my wrist the very day that I wrote this article.

Omega Speedmaster collection

Hope to see you in 2024

Our little Speedy Tuesday group has by no means the most amazing collection of Speedmaster watches. There are individual collectors out there who would eclipse what we have all on their own. Still, I do feel that it is a cool thing to see duplicates of certain pieces and rare editions all in such a close vicinity. Not only that, but our collective collection is also very likely to keep growing.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday 1 and 2 and Albino

This is more a story of inspiration and passion, how they can directly alter the course of watch collecting and even spark a genuine interest in something you previously didn’t even know existed. For some of you out there, perhaps this is a lesson in exploring what you would truly enjoy buying and being able to own and wear. At the time of writing this, Mark and I have had the honor of being invited to a secretive Speedmaster event in Biel, the home of Omega. By the time you read this, we will know what the next chapter holds for the Speedmaster, the Speedy Tuesday collecting community, and the year to come. Hopefully, we will all see you soon at a Speedmaster event in 2024…