The Omega Speedmaster Watch Buyer’s Guide — Part 1
In 2021, Omega updated the iconic Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with the caliber 3861 movement. A very good reason to update our Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide as well!
This guide dates all the way back to 2014, and since then, a lot happened. Not only did we have our own way with Omega and the two Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday watches (in 2017 and 2018), Omega also introduced a number of interesting Speedmaster watches to the collection. What about the Speedmaster Calibre 321 from 2020, or the new Moonwatch Master Chronometer models in gold? Time for us to update this Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide.
In this Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide, we give you an overview of the most important references of the Speedmaster (Professional) and some of the Mark-series and other variations. Although this article isn’t meant as a pricing guide, we will give some hints, of course. This article is most likely not giving you any new information if you’re already a Speedmaster collector. But for those who are not, it will provide some basic information on the Speedmaster series.
Introduction to the Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide
An introduction to the Omega Speedmaster isn’t necessary we think. We all know about this iconic timepiece. So let’s focus on how to use this Speedmaster buyer’s guide instead.
The longer, more focused articles on the site are a great resource.
Without going into great detail on each of the references mentioned in this article, we will link to articles in which we did. Over the past 9 years, since we started Speedy Tuesday, we have reviewed and written about many different models and references. The longer, more focused articles on the site are a great resource. Especially for newcomers to the hobby.
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. We will give some hints regarding Speedmaster prices, but as this may vary on the part of the world you are living in (taxes, currencies) we won’t emphasize this too much. 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 we often receive is if we can give some guidance on 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. Or, if you are looking for the current Omega Speedmaster Professional that is closest to the original Moonwatch, click here. Sometimes it is so confusing, that people wonder if the Speedmaster Reduced is a Moonwatch too (it isn’t).
If you are looking for a particular reference or model, you can use the search function on this website. Chances are very high you will find what you’re looking for.
We will make a distinction between the following models for this Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide:
- Speedmaster (Professional) “Moonwatch”
- Speedmaster (Professional) Mark Series
- Various other vintage Speedmaster models
For now, we 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), and Racing Caliber 9900 models, and so on for this Omega Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide. If you’re interested in these newer models, there is a wealth of information available on Omega’s website. But what we want to dig into here, are some of the classics from the model’s history.
Speedmaster (Professional) “Moonwatch”
Not all of these Speedmaster models in this section are considered a “Moonwatch”. Many of them were introduced way before NASA chose Omega to become the official timepiece for their astronauts. Despite this, we will still use this category for them in this Speedmaster buyer’s guide. These early models are considered to be the forerunners of the Moonwatch. Their existence is vital to the history that was to come. And, to be frank, they are too beautiful to ignore.
The very first Speedmaster as Omega introduced in 1957 had reference CK2915. Together with the Seamaster 300 (CK2913) and Railmaster (CK2914), this model was part of this professional trio featuring curved lugs, a 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. They were advertised with racing cars. But the chronograph was useful for many other sports as well. Also, the chronograph was useful for those who needed to time events and tasks outside sports as well. The first Speedmaster has a diameter of 38.6mm, a lug size of 19mm, and a lug-to-lug size of 48mm. In the first three generations of Speedmasters, the lug width and lug-to-lug size do not change.
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 (recent results have sky-rocketed the price of the CK2915). More important perhaps: try to find an original one that has not been tampered with. There is so much money involved in these very first models, that it also attracted people whose intentions are not always honest. Newly-made cases, movements from other watches, refitted bezels from a later period, and so on. Be very cautious when you get one offered.
The CK2915 houses the Omega caliber 321, with a column-wheel chronograph. This Lémania (based on the caliber 2310) movement went out of production in 1968 when Omega introduced the Speedmaster Professional 145.022. Then, in 2019, Omega announced the return of the caliber 321. First introduced in an all platinum version of the Moonwatch, and in January 2020 in a steel “Ed White” case.
Speedmaster CK2998 & 105.002
Often considered to be the second-best thing when it comes to vintage Speedmasters. 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. The black bezel also changed the diameter of the watch from 38.6mm to 39.7mm. Lug width remained 19mm and the lug-to-lug is 48mm.
There is quite a bit of variation 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.
Expect to pay approximately €25,000 for a Speedmaster CK2998 in good condition. When there are a box or/and papers as well, the price will be influenced. You might also be interested in the so-called FAP models that were delivered to the Peruvian Air Forces. When the CK2998 is in near mint condition, expect to pay much more than the €25,000 mentioned. Especially if it is one of the first iterations, prices can almost triple. Just try to think of what’s important to you when collecting, before you make a purchase.
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. Prices of this 105.003 reference have gone up in the last few years, expect to pay at least €17,000 for one in good condition. The 105.003 is often referred to as the “Ed White”, as he used this watch (and most probably even two of them) during his spacewalk in 1965.
As you can read in another article here on Fratello (How the Speedmaster became the Moonwatch), the 105.003 was the watch used by NASA for the qualification. Although Omega shipped the successors of the 105.003 for use during Extra-Vehicular Activities by NASA astronauts, the 105.003 was also used by NASA. These watches were in NASA’s possession as they received some for the qualification procedures, and they were used during Apollo missions.
The Speedmaster 105.003 was introduced right after the “transitional” 105.002, in 1964. It was in production until 1969. In some old catalogs, you will find the 105.003 advertised next to the 105.012/145.012. In 2020, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Calibre 321, based on this 3rd generation Speedmaster. You will find it further down in this article.
Speedmaster Professional 105.012 & 145.012
The Speedmaster reference 105.003, 105.012, and reference 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 lyre lugs and crown guards increased the diameter of the new Speedmaster to 42mm. The lug size is 20mm and the lug-to-lug distance remained 48mm.
The 105.012 and 145.012 are considered to be the qualified watches by NASA (in 1965). They also use “Professional” on the dials since 1964, but this has nothing to do with the qualification. 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 difference between the 105.012 and 145.012 is very minimal, although some purists might disagree. Omega started to use different pushers for the 145.012, enhancing water resistance. There is more variation in the 105.012 references from 1964 till the end of the production in 1968, where the 145.012 only had a short production (1967-1968) with few changes during its lifespan. You will find the 145.012 with two different chronograph second hands, those with the triangle short end (see below) and the one with the flat end (still used today).
True Moonwatch models
The strange thing is — although it is common to accept that the 105.003, 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 €9,000 in good condition.
The 105.012 is considered to be a bit more valuable, you will find them with cases made by suppliers HF and CB. The obvious characteristics to look for are the DON bezel, the tritium hands, the bracelets (105.012 and 145.012 used a wide variety of bracelets, reference 1039 being the most common), and the condition of the dial. You will find them from super clean (very white printing) to heavily discolored ones, like the example above.
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 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 paperwork. The stepped dial was used in the 145.022-68, 145.022-69, and 145.022-71 references. The 145.022-71 was in production till the end of 1974 and then was replaced with the 145.022-74.
The serial number
The –xx indicators are not specifically indicating the exact year of production, you can only determine that based on the serial number engraved on the movement. For example, the 145.022-69 was made from 1969 till the third quarter in 1971. You should be able to find a nice 145.022 from the 1970s for around €4,000 in good condition, perhaps even less if you find a great deal. We published a separate 145.022 buyer’s guide for you to read, click here.
There are also a few different case backs for the 145.022, from the similar 145.012 case back to the current case back with the “First Watch Worn on the Moon” engraved case back. Most sought after are the ones with horizontal inscription (which also comes in two flavors, 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 €40,000, depending on the condition.
Speedmaster Professional 145.0022 and 3590.50
Since 1983, Omega started using the 145.0022 code for Speedmaster Professional models, although the 145.0022 was used as a reference before as well (but never engraved in the case back). Until the late 1980s, when Omega changed the coding system to their PIC system. In 1989, the 3590.50 was the Speedmaster Professional reference. Actually, it was only the reference coding that changed in 1983. In the late 1980s, other things such as the bracelet also changed. The 3592.50 was the reference for the Moonwatch with the caliber 863 movement and sapphire case back. It wasn’t the first Speedmaster with a sapphire case back though, that was already in 1980 with the gold Speedmaster Professional 345.0802. The steel version with a sapphire case back has reference 345.0808. We did a specific Speedmaster Professional 145.022 Buyer’s Guide here.
Speedmaster 3570.50 and 3126.96.36.199.01.005
In 1997, the movement was upgraded to the Omega caliber 1861 (already very similar to the last iteration of the 861 movement) and the dial and hands were applied with Luminova instead of Tritium. These late 1980s and early 1990s Speedmaster Professional models with tritium often age very nicely, gaining this yellow-ish patina on the markers and hands. You will also find it easier to source one of these watches with their boxes and papers compared to the 1970s or earlier models. A watch from the early 1990s might be a great starting point if you’re new to Speedmasters, but want something “vintage”.
The 1997 update was done with the reference 3570.50 (although the few very first of these references still had a tritium dial and hands). Then, in 2014, the Speedmaster received reference number 3188.8.131.52.01.005. This watch uses the caliber 1861 movement and has an updated bracelet design (with screwed links) and a huge presentation box. It is discontinued since January 2021 and replaced with the Speedmaster Professional Master Chronometer. We’ve noticed a slight increase in pre-owned prices for the discontinued modern Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch models, but not by much. One exception: BNIB and NOS examples of the discontinued Speedmaster Professional already show higher prices than the retail price was.
Today’s Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch(es)
On January 5th, the first Speedy Tuesday of 2021, Omega introduced the long-expected successor of the caliber 1861 Moonwatch. Already at the end of 2019, Omega announced that the Speedmaster Professional would receive an update with the caliber 3861 movement. That movement was — then — only used for the Apollo XI limited editions. And later on in the Silver Snoopy Award 50th anniversary as well. We explain all about the new Speedmaster Master Chronometer in this article, and in the video below.
In short, Omega used the Speedmaster Professional 105.012 as a starting point for the new design. A step-dial, teardrop counterweight on the chronograph second hand, and an applied logo on the sapphire version. To make a distinction, the Hesalite crystal version of the Moonwatch has a printed Omega logo. Another distinction between the sapphire and Hesalite versions is in the bracelet. The bracelet for the Moonwatch with Hesalite crystal is all brushed, while the sapphire edition has polished in-between links. The diameter of the new Moonwatch (reference 310.30.42.50.01.001) remains 42mm, but the case shape changed a little bit (like the 105.012). It also has a small notch between the lugs, for a better fit with the bracelet’s end links. No more rattling bracelets. The lug-to-lug size is 48mm still and the lug width is 20mm.
The other Moonwatch model that is in the regular collection and is considered to be a “Moonwatch”, is the Speedmaster Calibre 321. Based on reference 105.003 from the 1960s, the Speedmaster Calibre 321 has the straight-lug 39.7mm case, but with a sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel. As its name suggests, the movement inside is the classic caliber 321 chronograph with the column-wheel mechanism. In the picture below, the new Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch and the Speedmaster Calibre 321 side-by-side.
You can read all about the new Speedmaster Calibre 321 in this article, or watch it in this video.
Speedmaster (Professional) Mark Series
Often covered for Speedy Tuesday is 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 features the same hand-wound movement as the Speedmaster Pro 145.022. The others have different automatic (Lemania based) caliber 1040 or 1045 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 €2,000. 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 and perhaps we will find the need to create a Speedmaster Buyer’s 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 861 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 chronometer certification. In fact, it was the first automatic chronograph movement with a chronometer certificate ever. It was always assumed that there were only 2,000 made of this watch, but recent research seems to fight this number. Also, it is quite easy to find one, so the produced number must have been much bigger. Expect to pay around €3,000 for a good condition model.
Collectible Speedmaster models worth mentioning
Other collectible Speedmaster models worth mentioning in this Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide are the early Speedmaster Professional Moonphase watches (1985). Only 1300 were made of this model and highly sought-after. 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. Be very aware of the watches that are being offered with service parts. This should be reflected in the price. A good bit of research and price indication can be found here.
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 Buyer’s Guide
This first part of our Speedmaster Buyer’s Guide gives you an introduction to several important Speedmaster models. I emphasized the “Moonwatch” models a bit more than on the other Speedmaster families. For specific Speedmaster price guidelines, also make sure to visit Speedmaster101.com.
*This article was published first on August 5th 2014 and updated with new information and images.