An enthusiasts reflections .. Omega Speedmaster
Updated: Jan 18, 2019
With this years anniversary of one of mankind greatest achievements it seems more than obvious to have the right accessory on either of your wrists this year. Also with this occasion in mind, more than one bird has already that prices are more than likely to rise, especially in the vintage world. First, let us dwell for a moment on the watch as an item and its place in life today ..
What makes us spend a serious amount of money in this day and age on watches? After all, keeping track of time, and being on time, is already made more than easy. We are surrounded with the basic information from all sorts of sources, being the phone, computer, television etc. Perhaps, that essential bit of time-telling is passé from the clock’s side. What a proper watch should offer is something else; it should serve as an extension of who you are. What finer job could any item be given, really ?
When watches many years ago were an equally standard thing as the smartphone is today, with millions of options and varieties, the watchmakers embraced individual doings and the scenarios their watches were seen in. When one were to buy a watch, it was not just about getting a tool solely to tell the time, but also to help you with your profession. Hence today we think back of specific watchmakers and there many years heartly involved in certain worlds: Heuer - racing, Breitling - avaiation, Rolox - diving, and in this specific case Omega - Space (amongst others).
The Speedmaster professional is such an interesting watch in many ways, and to me personally, especially because its original intention and use were in the world of motorsport, when it was first lanced in 1957. I am not going to dare getting into the detailed history of the watch, this has been done countless times by true professionals and I can only strongly recommend to read the many. I would rather focus on what to me comes when purchasing an Omega Speedmaster, and a few thoughts I think are important to have in mind when choosing. Just from one watch enthusiast to another ..
Vintage or New ?
This is a great question to many and so it was for myself too. Of course, for many of us when being in the world of classic cars, a vintage chronograph watch seems like the obvious choice, and yes to some extend that is the case. Be aware though, picking a vintage watch is the very same process as picking a classic car and the rules are the same, one of them being “Get the best you can, you will not be able to afford anything cheaper”. Fixing a watch is perhaps not as expensive as having an all-engine-out-service done, yet there is no good reason for risking an continuously expensive serie of visits to your local watchmaker. If you are ready to embark on the hunt for a vintage Speedmaster, I can only recommend to join the Omega Forum, and read as many of their already existing guides. Ask questions as well, as many as possible !
The enthusiasm around the brand Omega and the many models they represent, is incredible, and I learned tons in just a week of almost buying 10 different Speedy's, which after having discussed them on the Forum, turned out to be all wrong. Also very recommendable, is to watch the following by one of the leading sites in watches, Hodinkee, and their most interesting video on the reference points of Speedmasters, focusing on the early 321 movement-based versions:
Reference points: https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/understanding-the-omega-speedmaster-professional
Buyers guide: https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/a-guide-to-buying-vintage-omega-watches-on-ebay-and-10-omega-watches-currently-on-ebay
When you on the other hand purchase a brand new Speedmaster today, you will get a watch looking greatly just like the one in 65’ and after almost two years of Speedy ownership, I can myself say when thinking back on trying the many 321-movement based versions, eventually the brand new speedmaster feels just as incredible as a vintage. Yes, they are almost impossible to compare if you are into vintage-watches specifically, but if you are on the cross road trying to figure out if its a new or vintage watch to get, I feel this is an important thing to underline.
As well, if you are into getting a new old watch, there is no need to get a vintage styled watch, the Speedmaster is fantastic for that. P
Racing or Spacing ..
Perhaps, the Speedmaster is a bit like had Jaguar never changed their E-type and one could still buy it as it was basically presented in Geneva in 1961. The differences from then and now are of course noticeable, and foremost the inside is very different. Today, the watch is running a 1861 movement, a rhodium-plated version of the 861 which in late 1969 took over from the infamous 321, the movement that walked on space.
If you are into the Speedmaster for its space-history, then its worth to keep in mind that the watch you can buy today's Omega boutiques is still kept in stock by Nasa, is the preferable choice to many international astronauts, remains the only watch authorised for extravehicular activity, EVA, and has been aboard every manned US-spaceflight since 1969.
If you are into the watch for its racing pedigree, remember then, this is just what it is designed for. It is a purpose built tool for racing drivers to time there laps and speeds with the Tachymètre bezel. Regarding the movements, from old to new, think of the movements a bit like engines. The 321-movement is like the just-mentioned E-type and its 3.8 series I, or like the Ferrari 308-series and its European dry-sump engine which are the ones to get as the ultimate. That said, finding a mint condition 321 is not impossible this day and age, but like with the cars, you will have to pay the price. No matter which speedmaster you choose, you will show that you care about racing and essentially speed.
Make it your own ..
What is a very special feeling one can’t get from a Vintage, is the feeling on embarking on a fresh adventure with a new companion. A blank sheet to write a great story. I have done so with my own watch and I do feel this has turned out to be the very right choice for me. I also do like to have purchased a brand new watch, which I can wear everyday and not worry about any sorts of investments aspects that might be important. By now, the watch has become a part of my everyday life and accompanied me around the globe quite a few times already. When I look at the watch it doesn’t remind me of time I've lost, it reminds me of countless great memories we share together and that is more than I could have hoped.
What ever the choosing, the Speedmaster Professional is just an incredible watch as you might think, and there is surely a right one for you. So with all do respect, find the wallet, get out there and find that Speedy you deserve !