Why I Bought The Omega Speedmaster Mark II — A Collector’s Story
The 1969 Omega Speedmaster Mark II was based on the original Alaska Project watch that Omega developed for NASA. For a long time, these watches were completely underrated. They could be had for less than €1000, and sometimes, even for half of that.
Those days are behind us, but the Speedmaster Mark II 145.014 is still a very interesting watch to acquire. It has the same movement as the normal Speedmaster Professional from that period, which is the Omega caliber 861. The watch also has a number of “improvements”. I use quotation marks, as many collectors perhaps don’t see them as such. But for Omega at the time, they certainly were, hence the Mark II designation for the Speedmaster Professional.
Omega Speedmaster Mark II 145.014
It lacked lugs and the pushers and crown were a bit more hidden into the case, making the overall construction less fragile. It’s also interesting that Omega, who introduced the tachymeter scale on an external bezel, reverted to a tachymeter under the crystal. This did, in reality, make it less prone to damage. On top of that, Omega upgraded the water resistance to 120 meters for the Speedmaster Mark II.
Mark II Variations
There are a number of Speedmaster Mark II versions available besides the regular and racing-dial editions. There are models that have a Telestop feature, enabling the user to activate the stopwatch remotely. Omega also made the Speedmaster Mark II available in gold-plated and solid gold versions. In 2014, Omega introduced the re-edition of the Speedmaster Mark II. Today, however, we’re talking about the vintage Mark II, just to be clear.
The story of Jun’s Speedmaster Mark II
Today’s story comes from Jun Cajayon. He shared a Speedmaster story with us before, as a SpeedyTuesday feature on April 2nd, 2013.
Jun is a collector and mainly focuses on vintage watches. He loves vintage Omega and vintage Seiko watches, and among his favorites are the 1970 Omega Speedmaster Mark II from this article, a 1965 Seiko 5717 8990 Chronostop, a Seiko Lord Marvel J14039 (with carved dial), a King Seiko 442000 (second generation), and a 1969 Grand Seiko 6146 8000. He also has a few modern pieces, however, and his Kurono by Hajime Asaoka is currently his favorite.
The one that got away
His previous SpeedyTuesday story was about his then-newly acquired Speedmaster Mark 4.5. Unfortunately, he needed to let it go in 2016 as his family needed some emergency funds. And that’s what you do in that situation, as watches should never come before family. Jun sold it to another collector and asked for around €1,100 at the time. You could say things have changed since then when looking at the price. Anyways, for Jun, the Speedmaster Mark 4.5 always felt like the “one that got away”.
Jun says: “As a model within the Omega lineup, I love the Speedmaster’s history and provenance. As for the ownership experience, I adore how perfect it is as a wristwatch, its versatility, and character.”
Fast forward to early 2021, and Jun Cajayon had done well for himself. He immediately thought of reaching out to the person to whom he sold his Speedmaster Mark 4.5 and buying it back at today’s value. But as Jun writes: “Sadly, he had long sold it and could not give me the name nor contact information of the buyer. The regret of having sold it became stronger as I scoured the local horology forums and could not find any of the Mark series on the market. Buying from overseas was not an option for me, as the current COVID wave in most countries makes shipping highly unpredictable. Going 10 months into the search, I already knew chances were slim that something would surface within the year. I tuned down my search and just enjoyed the watches in my rotation.”
Being part of the Philippine Watch Club though, Jun was contacted by a member in November 2021, asking if he could assist in selling a few of his Omega Speedmaster watches. Jun writes: “I immediately called him and asked what specific models he had and would like to sell. Lo and behold, as serendipity may be the best term to describe the moment, it turns out that he was letting go of a Speedmaster Mark II (black dial), Speedmaster Mark II Racing, Speedmaster Mark III, and a Speedmaster Mark 4.5! I, of course, had my eyes set on the Speedy Mark 4.5 as a replacement for what I had lost.
Only available as a lot
However, his condition was it should be a lot sale. He was interested to sell all or nothing as he has shifted his hobby to vintage cars and was in the process of restoring a 1975 Mercedes-Benz W115. I knew I had funds for one of the watches but definitely not for all the Speedmasters in this lot. As fate would have it, a good enabler friend was also in a collecting frenzy for vintage Omega pieces and was looking at a Mark II (racing dial), a Mark III, and a Mark 4.5.
Speedmaster Mark II in pristine condition
Now, there’s the twist, as it only frees up the Omega Speedmaster Mark II, while I was actually after the Mark 4.5. As we are close friends anyways, we decided to just negotiate for the lot price and discuss our allocations afterward. The price was agreed upon after the watches were inspected. Unfortunately, the Speedmaster Mark 4.5 turned out to be the most weathered piece in the lot and was a far cry from the previous piece I’d owned.
Moreover, it had a defective calendar wheel and needed several parts replaced. My friend was still interested in it, but only if it was further discounted, as he intends to restore it in the future. Now that we had all four Speedmaster watches, it was a quick and fair discussion between two friends on settling the pricing of each of the pieces. My choice gravitated towards the Speedmaster Mark II, as it was in the most pristine condition. It had a chocolatey tropical dial and an unpolished case with the brushed finish still as fresh as the day it rolled out of the factory in 1970.
And a bonus would be the accompanying extract from the Omega archives. I paid around €2,300 for this pristine Speedmaster Professional Mark II. While it is more than double what I paid eight years ago for the Mark 4.5, it was well worth it. The condition of the watch is impeccable. The caliber 861 runs strong and is a joy to hand-wind. Over the years, I have gravitated to manual-wind vintage pieces with no date. I just feel the dial is cleaner when there are no cutouts for the date.
As to the caliber 861, while self-winding movements provide the wearer with so much convenience, the connection with the watch is the strongest when you wind it by hand. My year was made by buying this Omega Speedmaster Mark II, and it is definitely staying in the collection. I am sharing a few pictures of the watch together with the extract from the Omega archives.”
Vintage Speedmaster prices
To my question whether he still has a desire to own a Speedmaster Mark 4.5 in the future, he answers: “If an opportunity comes and a Mark 4.5 crosses my path, I would still love to own it. The Mark II, having a manual-wind caliber 861 and a simpler dial exudes a different personality compared to the Lemania-5100-powered Mark 4.5. I still adore its busy and numerous sub-dials. I believe it will complement the collection rather than be redundant.”
Then I asked Jun how he feels about the asking prices for Speedmasters. Is the Speedmaster Mark II still considered to be underrated or undervalued? He says: “Prices of vintage Speedmasters have really appreciated compared to seven or eight years ago. I still consider the current market price of the Mark II as well as the whole Mark series to still be below their actual value. Considering its shorter production period and the fact that a similar-year model Speedmaster 145.022 would be significantly more expensive in the market proves this point.”
Jun’s grail watch
Last but not least, I asked Jun about his absolute grail watch. “Right now, as I approach the age of 50, my grail is a gold Omega Speedmaster to mark my golden year. Though I love the original 1969 BA145.022, I prefer the Apollo XI Stafford, similar to yours. That display case back is a wonderful highlight.”
We’d like to thank Jun Cajayon for sharing his story with us!
Would you like to share your Speedmaster story with us too? Just shoot an email to [email protected].