It’s been a while since I last posted, and this piece once again is about changes to what seems to be an ever-growing collection (not through any planning or intent on my part, I hasten to add – I actually thought I might be able to get the numbers down a bit). That said, I’ve had some new arrivals over the past few months so I thought I’d write a quick update for those that might have an interest 🙂
Omega SM300 new build
I’ve admired these from afar for absolutely ages, as I love the originals and had a WTB for one for quite a while. There have been some lovely examples passing through SC but I’ve never quite managed to nab one, but finally this unworn example reared its head in Singapore and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss. It’s one of the sought-after Lewis Watch Company builds, and there’s a post on the Omega Forum that sets out the background very nicely. For those who don’t like to follow links, here’s the gist of it…
What I’ve done with these is a fair bit more thorough than what Watchco did with theirs a few years back.
The movements are still from donor watches (565 for date and 552 without date). However they have had no expense spared servicing performed which included as a minimum new centre wheels, cannon pinions, mainsprings of course, some have had new barrels, barrel bridges, balances. Essentially whatever they needed in terms of new parts as well as traditional techniques to reduce or eliminate the effects of 50 odd years of wear on someone’s wrist.
Add to that entirely synthetic lubrication and at least a month of testing and fine tuning. Each case back has been professionally engraved on the inside with the serial of the movement, the build date, my company initials and the sequence number (1 of 6).
They have all been tested waterproof to 100meters which is all the Witschi Proofmaster S will go to. – This is a professional grade machine and is extremely sensitive to case deformation under vacuum and pressure. They have also been wet tested. I then produced a certificate for each watch giving its particulars. It’s timing and waterproof test performance numbers are listed.
ALL parts are new stock except of course the movement. ALL parts used are Omega and the correct ones for this reference, right down to the case clamps and screws. ALL bezels align properly at 12, no dodgy factory seconds here.
I have added the latest deployant clasp and leather or rubber strap which are also Omega items. Perhaps controversially I don’t like the mesh bracelet ( apart from to look at ) as it’s hard to get a proper fit and is uncomfortable to wear. Likewise the 1171 / 633 is a $25 bracelet with a $400 price tag.
Wrapping it all up is a brand new wooden Omega box of the Planet Ocean / modern SM300 variety. Plus a 12 month warranty on my workmanship.
So… a great build, two OEM leather straps and a deployant, a bit of paperwork, some engraving, a lovely box set and lume like a torch. What’s not to love?
Breitling Navitimer 806
I find the general love of all things Breitling a bit mystifying, if I’m honest. Whilst I don’t doubt their quality for a moment, I really haven’t seen many that I like and most are simply far too blingy for an old fart/traditionalist like me. That said, there has always been one exception, and that’s the Navitimer. Within the iconic chronograph hierarchy I believe it holds a place very near the top, and I shudder when I think that in the past I’ve simultaneously owned an 806, and Ed White and a white gold Daytona… all of which have slipped through my fingers.
Anyway, the Navitimer has a genuinely interesting heritage and history. After the great success of Breitling’s first slide-rule watch (the Chronomat), the Navitimer was launched all the way back in 1952. Whilst the Chronomat was focussed on the engineer and businessman market, the Navitimer was designed specifically for pilots; so much so that the “Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association” (AOPA) immediately decided to make it their official watch. This new Navitimer combined three essential tools for navigation – a watch, a chronograph and a slide-rule. It was, effectively, a navigation timer, hence the name it was given.
It was designed with the Venus 178 movement (although some later models contained a Valjoux), a well-respected column wheel chronograph, and the first to be produced were fitted with a black Arabic dial and the famous AOPA logo. In fact, on the very first models “Breitling” was only seen on the case back. Shortly afterwards, the Breitling name was added over the AOPA logo, sometimes topped with the “B”. The reference of this watch was 806, and remained so until the introduction of a completely new generation in the 1970’s.
Over the following years, there were a number of dial variations, each termed a “Generation” (numbered 1-7 or so up to the 70’s, at least); there are some reasonably good sources of information out there for anyone who may be interested, but it takes a bit of legwork and it can be a little confusing as not all historic accounts are completely consistent.
Anyway, this acquisition is lovely – a 2nd Generation 806 that dates to 1966. It really is in good all-original condition, with a white on black dial and incorporating the earlier/smaller subdials that I think are by far the nicer.
Aside from the fact that the case is unpolished but in great original shape, the patina on dial and hands is even and dark, and the subdials are gorgeous (it was also very recently serviced, but there was no attempt to clean the dial – there are obvious signs of discolouration, but on the plus side it means that it’s in untouched condition). Note the absence of red highlights too – seen on later/current models but unsubtle in comparison.
Just a little (more specific) information on the 2nd Generation variant, taken from the Net… in approximately 1960 – after the watch had already become a huge success – the Navitimer’s design was modified and thereafter became known as “2nd Generation”. The three subdials changed from black to white, the hands were remodelled and the Breitling name appeared in printing on the dial. During the 1960’s the slide-rule bezel was also remodelled twice. Moreover, the AOPA wing was removed from the dial and the official Breitling Navitimer logo became two aircrafts flying in close formation. At the same time, however, Breitling continued to supply AOPA with Navitimers sporting the AOPA logo on the dial.
So… here you go!
Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary
Now, I’ll state at the outset that I love this trilogy of tribute watches released by Omega. I already have the Seamaster 60th (I’m actually wearing it as I type, and it’s one of my favourite watches), so I was delighted when an opportunity arose to add it’s sibling. I’m actually tempted to get the Railmaster too, but I’ll have to have a good think about that before taking the plunge yet again.
I won’t bother writing any kind of history of the Speedmaster, but will just say (as I’m sure most people know by now) that the proportions and design of the 60th Anniversary are an exact match of those of the first model launched in 1957, the reference CK2915-1.
The dial as also a faithful reproduction of its ancestor, as are the broad arrow hands (seen again, also, on the previously released Speedmaster ’57); the applied Omega logo has been reincarnated, and the Omega Speedmaster signature is in the original font.
Whilst the 60th is a very faithful tribute, the movement is of course the modern caliber 1861. The bracelet is identical in style to ye original, but is far more solid and sports a very sold clasp with micro-adjustment on the fly. The lume – yes, it’s been given an aged look like the other two watches in the “set”, and some people will no doubt find that a little marmite – is a lovely bright luminova, whereas the original would have been radium. Finally, the “Swiss Made” is now above the seconds, track while it used to be below.
For comparison purposes, then, here’s the original…
And here’s the 60th!
Actually, given that I mentioned its Seamaster sibling I may as well post a shot of that too, whilst I’m at it!
Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec
Well, this is the last of the incomings, and to be honest it’s the one I’d been craving since I first heard of its release. In fact, I’ve paid more than one begging visit to the Bond Street boutique, even at one point trying to buy the prototype (only 500 were released globally, and the boutique were allocated just 2!).
To trace it back to it’s roots one has to travel back all the way to the early 1950’s – even before Rolex released the first iteration of the Submariner at 1954’s Basel Watch Fair. In 1952, the French “Nageuers de Combat” (combat swimmers) was formed by the French government as an elite team of tactical soldiers – effectively, they were France’s early equivalent of the Navy Seals. Led by Captain Bob Maloubier, the mission of this elite group of frogmen was undersea intelligence gathering and acts of sabotage, such as attacks in sea ports or destruction of ships, all accomplished by teams of divers often working at night.
Beyond their diving tanks, scuba regulators, masks, flippers and suits, Maloubier understood the importance of robust and reliable diving instruments, of which there were three: a compass, a depth metre and a diving watch. The watch was central to many of the key tasks confronting the divers. Of course the timing of the dive was an essential (it would not to do to over-stay the supply of oxygen). A second, and perhaps somewhat less obvious need was timing for navigation purposes. After running tests of the watches then available on the market, Maloubier concluded that none were up to the task. Thus, he decided to undertake the conception and design of a timing instrument that would target the needs of military combat diving.
Blancpain fulfilled these needs and provided the first model of this very specific divers watch in 1953, the “Fifty Fathoms”. The rest, I guess is history, but amongst the many models that have been produced since then the Mil-Spec (based closely on the original Mil-Spec that was produced in 1957 – so in fact another 60th anniversary release) is one of just two of the modern variants to be given a substantially more wearable case of “a mere” 40mm. I’ve previously owned both the standard auto and the Dark Knight, both of which were 45mm, and whilst I loved them both they were simply a little too big for me.
That half orange, half white circle you see prominently placed at six o’clock is an indicator for water ingress. If the dial is exposed to water – even a relatively small amount – the white part will begin to turn a reddish-orange to match the other side. However, with WR rated at 300m, one would sincerely hope that it’s not something that will ever be anything more than redundant functionality.
Inside, and unlike the larger FF’s, is the Blancpain calibre 1151 movement. In fact, it’s made by Piguet but has been used extensively by Blancpain, and also by Brequet, AP and VC. Only Blancpain is allowed by Piguet to have a 100 hour reserve, whilst other companies have to settle on a “measly” 70 hours. The movement doesn’t hack, either, which had me frantically consulting my Google-Fu to ensure that mine didn’t have a problem!
I’m absolutely delighted to have snagged this watch; I genuinely thought I’d missed the boat, so it was especially lovely to finally strap it to my wrist.
A while ago, I posted a wanted ad on TZ-UK for a Rolex Datejust. I’d been thinking that I missed owning one for a while now, and to be honest I didn’t even care if it was vintage or modern, steel or two-tone. I just wanted one. That cry for help has now been deleted – not because I found one, but because I saw something else that I’d not even considered before. The something else was an Omega Globemaster, and it’s actually on my wrist while I write this post.
Now, the Globemaster is a pretty special watch in my opinion, for a number of reasons, and the first of those is its heritage. The obvious link to Omega models of the past is the similarity to the old pie-pan constellations. This is clearly no accident, and continues the company’s nod to it’s vintage roots. Here’s a nice example that demonstrates what I mean (some models from the sixties even had fluted bezels, in fact)…
Now, what’s probably less obvious is that the name is a part of Constellation history as well, specifically in the US. The name “Constellation” was trademarked by another company over there, so Omega called some of the first Constellation models retailed in the US – going back to the very beginning of the family, in 1953 –“Globemaster” rather than “Constellation.” In fact, here’s an image of one of them…
The second thing of interest is the movement. This is the technical spec taken from the Omega website:
Calibre: Omega 8900
Self-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement.
Movement and watch tested according to Master Chronometer certification process approved by METAS.
Resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.
Free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring, two barrels mounted in series, automatic winding in both directions.
Time zone function.
Special luxury finish with rhodium-plated rotor and bridges with Geneva waves in arabesque.
Power reserve: 60 hours
Type: Self winding
So, it’s an anti-magnetic twin barrel movement with a time-zone feature (that is, the hour hand is effectively quickset, and is also the means of changing the date). There are some other nice touches as you can see, but especially interesting is that this watch is powered by Omega’s first ever Master Chronometer movement; that is, a movement that goes beyond COSC requirements and complies in addition with METAS standards. I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant, to be honest, but I found this definition amongst many others that are just a search away. “The METAS process will test complete watches, with individual records of each one accessible both online and via smartphone apps. Buyers and owners can thus obtain complete information about their watches’ performances. The certification process consists of subjecting the watch head (and not just the movement) to magnetic fields stronger than 15,000 gauss, and testing its precision during and after the magnetic field exposure, with a tolerable limit of -0/+5 seconds per day. The watch’s power reserve and water resistance will also be assessed.”
The final thing of interest is the case, because aside from the vintage styling and perfect size (it’s 39mm, so right on my sweet spot), the unusually-fluted bezel is part-tungsten (Omega call it “hard metal”). Another search reveals that “Tungsten is alloyed with steel to form tough metals that are stable at high temperatures. Tungsten-steel alloys are used to make such things as high speed cutting tools and rocket engine nozzles”. Certainly good enough to provide a pretty robust element of a watch case, then!
So, an interesting watch, as I said at the top of this post. More importantly, it really is beautiful, with a deep blue dial that really sets off the beautifully simple dial, that includes an applied logo and Constellation star made from rhodium. It’s going to see a lot of wear, and I hope I’ve managed to provide a sense of what it’s about in the photos below.
Given that it’s Sunday morning and the alternative is to get on with some paperwork/accounts, I thought I’d post quickly about two watches that have arrived recently, both of which have made an immediate impact.
The first is a watch that’s I’ve written about in its other guises more than once already, and that’s the limited edition Aerospace Evo Night Mission – the “LE” signifying that it’s one of just 300 produced with the Cobra dial. Now, when I bought this a few weeks ago I knew that I wouldn’t keep both an Aerospace and a B-1, and I suppose it says something that the B-1 has subsequently gone. The Night Mission really is a very nice watch, and the two photos below are simply to demonstrate how the very deep yellow of the dial does still change in different light; and that it can look really good on leather. In fact, I find it much more wearable like this than on the OEM canvas strap, albeit that both look excellent. I do wonder what it would look like on a DLC’d bracelet, though!
The second arrival is, I think, a bit special. It’s the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial, a watch that I knew I would end up buying on its release (and in fact said so on here, which if nothing else demonstrates some kind of premeditation and therefore makes me feel better!). Now, there are two reasosns that i think this watch is no ordinary diver, and the first relates to its heritage. Back in the 1950s, the dive watch was beginning to capture the imagination, and to stake its claim in the world of horology. Earlier in the decade both Blancpain and Rolex “made a splash” with the Fifty Fathoms and Submariner respectively, but then in 1957 Omega released a trio of tool watches that would cement its position amongst its rivals for decades to come. These three watches ware the Speedmaster, the Seamaster and the Railmaster; the Seamaster reference was CK2913 and although branded as “300” it was actually rated for 200m. Still, it was a big improvement on the earlier Seamasters, that were dress watches if anything and so not really worthy of the name. Anyway, it looked like this… or at least, this variant did, as there were a few. Note, though, the lollipop hand now seen on the Spectre edition!
So the new Co-Axial Seamaster is yet another very firm nod to the past, and this trait of Omega’s is something that I personally like very much. However, there’s no doubt that the latest reference takes full advantage of whatever tech is available right now. The spec is very impressive indeed, and rather than just collate a summary from here, there and everywhere I’, going to quote from a Hodinkee review of this watch, that pretty much hits the nail on the head:
The steel case is now 41mm instead of the original’s 39. Sure, the aforementioned “Wally Schirra” Speedy stayed true to the 39mm size, but 41 is just about perfect for a dive watch. The bezel, of course, is not fragile acrylic but Omega’s LiquidMetal, an amorphous metal alloy with extreme corrosion and wear resistance, but whose shiny appearance mimics old acrylic well. The crystal is naturally sapphire but domed like its ancestor. And the luminescence is provided by Superluminova instead of tritium, but is tinted a perfect faux patina gold as if the watch had aged in a retired diver’s drawer for 60 years. The dial is a matte black with a bit of texture that one might interpret to be further faux aging but looks wonderful from an angle. The dial markers, small triangles like the CK2915, are not painted on the dial but sandwiched in a layer underneath, which adds more depth and further highlights the dial texture. Best of all, in keeping with the vintage piece to which it pays homage, it doesn’t have a date function.
In place of the trademark Omega hippocampus caseback engraving (which I would have liked), the Seamaster 300 has a broad sapphire display back, which fully exposes the “Master Co-axial” caliber 8400 that is part of the watch’s full name. The clear case back shows off the beautiful radially-decorated automatic movement but also is a bit of a subtle boast, since the watch is full anti-magnetic to more than 15,000 Gauss without the use of a soft iron movement cover, thanks to its silicon hairspring. In addition to its anti-mag properties, the movement sports two barrels for 60 hours of power reserve, a co-axial escapement and free-sprung balance wheel and is chronometer-certified. It also has the nifty “time zone” function, which means the hour hand can be advanced or retarded in one-hour increments without hacking the watch or moving the minute hand. While early Omega co-axial movements were modified ETA 2892 motors, the caliber 8400 represents the culmination of Omega’s R&D and is one of the finest automatic movements around today.
All in all, a tremendously up to date watch with a real vintage vibe (and I LOVE the colour of the lume, which is used without comment by the likes of Panerai and JLC… it’s certainly better than lime green, FFS). I’ve had a real problem taking any decent shots of it, I’m afraid, as my lights are causing havoc with the domed crystal. However, here are a couple that came out reasonably well and I’ll try to take some more as and when time permits.
A few years ago, I’d not have considered buying a Seamaster. I thought they looked a bit bland, and really didn’t get the crown-operated HEV (I still don’t, in fact) for which there are seemingly far better design options. Over time, though, I’ve really warmed to them as an all-purpose watch and for the last couple of years I’ve been keeping a beady eye out for the right one to come along – not just here, but everywhere. I’ve missed a couple, rejected dozens, but a few days ago an absolute beauty was listed for sale on TZ-UK by one of its resident watchmakers. In fact, by an ex-Omega watchmaker, no less.
The watch I wanted was the iconic, sword-handed 2254.50; not the most modern watch and superseded by god knows how many skeleton-handed, Bond or otherwise successors. Dated though it might be, the 2254.50 still houses a genuinely good movement in the calibre 1120. To quote John Holbrook from The Seamaster Reference Page:
The Omega cal. 1120 is an amazing movement, and an excellent choice for this watch. The movement was first introduced in 1996, and Omega uses the ETA 2892-A2 as the base ebauche, and heavily modifies it to produce the 1120. The base ETA 2892-A2 is widely considered the best movement ever produced by ETA (first introduced in 1975, with a lineage going back much further with Eterna). Many, many high end watch manufacturers (like IWC and Cartier) also use the 2892-A2 as a base movement. Why? Well, cost is no doubt a factor. However, I submit that many watch companies all come to the same conclusion: They could spend the money to design and manufacture their own movement in-house and still not match the technical marvel which is the 2892-A2. Don’t take my word for it – research the treasure trove of articles on Timezone by such horological luminaries as Walt Odets and others who closely examine the attributes of the 2892-A2.
In terms of looks, most people will know this watch, and will already have formed an opinion. In summary, though, the case is 41mm without the crown, wears very flat on the wrist and features the usual mix of brushed and polished facets that Omega does so well. The multi-sided bezel is as smooth as silk to operate, and the crown nestles nicely between the quite tapered guards. What I really like about the 2254.50, though, is the dial and hands; the former is the wave pattern – shame Omega ditched that for far less interesting alternatives) and the hands are the aforementioned sword style. I absolutely love the hands, in fact, and they’re the primary reason that I wouldn’t go for any other model in the Seamaster range. (Well, that and the fact that I wanted a mechanical movement.)
All in all, a fantastic watch, and a long-time target now acquired.
After all, these forum darlings haven’t changed all that much for decades, right? Well, having had a few myself I can’t argue much with the fact that they’re hardly groundbreaking, but I’m also happy to have two of them now, both slightly different to the norm.
The latest arrived yesterday, after a wait of many, many months; in fact, even Bea said that I’ve been wittering on about them for ages! This one started off as a standard 3570.50 Moonwatch, but it’s been modded with a “Mitsukoshi” dial, steel handset (including an orange-tipped central chrono hand from a Planet Ocean) and a pulsations bezel. (By way of context, the Mitsukoshi “Domino Dial” Speedmasters were originally a limited run of 300 watches that were manufactured by Omega for the Japanese department store of the same name – this would have been around 2003). The dial is white, with an applied logo and black subdials, with the correct reference of those that left the factory with this configuraion was 3570.31.
These panda dials are bloody lovely, and they’re also extremely popular. The originals (which were all sold through the store in Japan) are as rare as gnashers on a hen and the consequence of this is that they’ve become a very sought-after mod as well. I’m delighted with mine, although the hesalite did need a Polywatch rubdown and I’ll also be sending the case off for a light refinish to bring it back to mint. Anyway, the dial is an absolute stunner…
I mentioned that I have two that are a little different, though – the other one is the ’57 Broadarrow “Replica”… the obvious differences being the Broadarrow hands and stainless steel bezel. They make a nice pair, I think.
It really has – two amazing incomings, and two yearnings put to bed once and for all!
First of all, a Speedmaster. Now, I have a long history with these watches having owned a multitude in the past, culminating in a wonderful Ed White from 1967. I sold that during a very difficult period in my life when my mind was all over the place, and having tried unsuccessfully to agree a “current” value with the member who bought it from me I found it was then sold to someone else here (identity unknown and the least said the better, I suspect). Anyway, I tried (and flipped) a FOIS, having hoped it would scratch that particular itch; and then set about buying back my old ’71 145.022 from the present owner. I would have bought it too, but then – mid-negotiations – a friend on TZ-UK kindly offered me his gorgeous 3594.50 Broadarrow. I’d wanted one of those since I first laid eyes on them, and a deal was completed in minutes.
The 3594.50 is the watch that Omega marketed as the Speedmaster ’57 “Replica” (yes, really). In fact, it was the middle of three iterations of what started life as the CK295, housing the venerable 321 movement.The original was such a beauty that I think a photo is warranted at this point, courtesy of Fratello Watches…
The 3594.50 was released in 1997, and was produced until 2003. It differed from the regular 3590.50 Speedmaster Professional of the time in a number of ways, though. It had an applied logo, Broadarrow steel hands, a stainless steel bezel and a “non-Professional” dial; the cases, however, were identical.
Another difference to the standard Speedy Pro was the case back – the 3594.50 just had the seahorse logo and the word “Speedmaster” (like it’s predecessor, in fact). It had a Lemania 1861 ticking away inside, and early versions came on a bracelet – initially without pushers on the clasp – although later it was released on a calf strap similar to that on today’s FOIS.
The modern version of the ’57 trio is, of course, the current co-axial, which is nice enough but something of a lump IMO. It uses the cal. 9300 and – with its display back – typifies the trends that have more latterly defined Omega design. I think it looks great in photos, but far less great on the wrist… maybe that’s just me, though.
Anyway, some photos…
The second arrival really is a bit special, and culminates from my love of the Seiko MM300. I’ve had a few of those (!) and when I bought – very recently – the LE SBDX012 I did say that the only watch that would knock it from it’s perch was the 6159-7001 (a genuine grail amongst vintage dive watches, and not something that I ever expected to find). This was the first of Seiko’s “Professional” divers, made for just a couple of years from 1968-9; in fact, the next Professional diver was then some 7 years away in the shape of Tuna 6159-7010… another hugely important watch, in fact. Inside was the high-beat 6159 movement also found in Grand Seikos of the time, and this was housed in a monocoque case that we now see in the MM300 series.
The 6159-7001 that I’m wearing as I type is a seriously good example. Showing appropriate signs of use on the case (and it won’t be polished, ever) it’s been through my friend Duncan’s magical hands; in fact, you can read about his work on this watch here. Aside from the various NOS parts that were fitted, the really interesting thing is the “resist” dial… very scarce indeed, and all the more collectable because of that (yes, even though the dial would originally have been a “proof” – they’re far more common, it seems). It’s also quite mesmering to watch the sweep of the second hand as it traverses the dial at 36000bph; all too often the old divers had a much lower 21,600 bph (or even 18,800ph)… wonderful, really, and so elegant.
I have to say that to land one of these at all is fortunate – I’ve missed a couple in the past and had pretty much given up, despite expressing my interest on here more than once. However, to finally find one in this condition is nothing short of remarkable, and I’m over the moon with it. On the wrist it’s absolutely jaw-dropping, although I have to say that I seem to have failed miserably at conveying the real beauty of it in the photos below. I’ll take some more when I get some time (it was all a bit of a rush today, unfortunately).
See what I mean when I said it was a good week?
I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with incomings. It started with the two vintage Heuers that I’ve posted about already, and ended with the arrival of the EZM1 a few days ago. Sandwiched in between, though, I also took delivery a Speedmaster – my first for a while but one that I posted a “Want to Buy” on TZ for all of two years ago. The “First Omega in Space” is a numbered edition (limited to 1962 pieces) that was released at Basle in 2012, and whilst not a reissue of the Ed White that I used to have it’s certainly reminiscent of it. In fact, it’s based on the ref. 2998, but more about that in a minute.
This Speedy is a little smaller than the regular Moonwatch, with a case measuring 39.7mm – it certainly looks smaller, no doubt in part because it has no crown guards. The crystal is sapphire as opposed to Hesalite, and it has a nicely decorated solid caseback. It really does wear nicely on my wrist, which is a little under 7”, and I actually prefer the fit to the 42mm asymmetrical case of the Moonwatch proper. Inside is the rock-solid calibre 1861 movement – obviously manual wind, and a tried and tested favourite.
Most of the interest that has been sparked by this watch concerns the dial and hands. Reverting to the comment I made above regarding it’s origins, this watch is based on the reference 2998 worn by Wally Schirra on the Mercury Atlas mission back in October 1962; that watch had straight hands on all three registers, whilst this “reissue” has a leaf hand for running seconds. I have no idea why Omega did that, save that the earlier 2998’s (earlier than Shirra’s, I mean) did have leaf hands on all the registers… maybe Omega were hedging their bets a bit with that one. The main hour and minute hands are dauphine and rather lovely, as is the applied logo at 12.
Anyway, there you have it. I said when this watch was first released that it was my favourite modern Speedmaster, and now I’ve worn one for a while I feel even more strongly that it is (although that’s just my own view, and other mileages will vary).
I was chatting to a watch-collecting friend over a pint or two on Sunday evening, and was trying to articulate how recent life-changing events have made me look differently at this hobby, and the excesses it encourages. Right now, I feel (for want of a better word) guilty for the time and money I spend on what are, essentially, trinkets and I was suggesting that I may just keep four or five and then push the whole WIS thing to the background. Focus on more meaningful things.
Anyway, I initially suggested that I’d just keep a few new pieces and do away with anything vintage as it would theoretically be a lot less hassle (well, no hassle at all). However, Howard made the logical argument that the vintage pieces – especially those I’m lucky enough to own – are the ones that would be the hardest to replace with similar quality examples. I’ve thought about that, and have decided that he’s right; in fact, I now know the five watches that are my keepers and, consequently, I understand the task ahead. Here they are, and wish me luck… I’ve given myself until the end of the year to get down to these and then kiss the whole “flipping” merry-go-round goodbye.
Oh, and if anyone actually reads this nonsense feel free to share your view via the comments function!
Well, it’s that time again… coming up to Christmas, the festive spirit is mostly in the fridge right now and a quick look back over the year is appropriate.
I posted a an SOTC this time last year, at which time I had 13 watches with an emphasis on vintage Rolex (and there were some beauties!). This year I tried to get the numbers down a bit, and I succeeded for a while… I seem to have gone back up to 12 again, though, which is yet further evidence of my non-existent will-power. Anyway, as I did last year I still have vintage Rolex and Autavia GMTs; a nice old 5513; a fugly Tuna; a dressy and complicated JLC and GO; and a variety of other things to give me plenty of options. Too many options really, but I may as well just enjoy them all while I can and stop worrying about it.
I’ll take the opportunity to wish everyone well over the holidays too. It’ll be a quiet one for me as my other half is away with her family, but at least I can watch all the horror movies I want to watch for a couple of weeks 🙂
A couple of people asked me to post an up to date SOTC recently, so here it is – no changes of late and I won’t be selling any of these any time soon. I quite like the mix of modern and vintage, and there are quite a few different styles and complications in there. I must say that I’m particularly fond of the 806 (which needs a new strap) and the 5513, although I wear all of them regularly and get a lot of pleasure from each of them.
I had 17 watches not that long ago and am much more comfortable with a smaller and more manageable collection (that said, I do have a little package on the way). Anyway, I hope you like the pack-shot
These two watches have taught me a very important lesson when it comes to vintage, and one that has altered my whole perception of what I like. I’ve spent the last couple of years looking for old watches that are so pristine that they might never have been worn, but throughout that time I’ve been missing the point.
I love these watches so much, and part of the reason is that wearing them feels like I’ve inherited their history – because you can see that history at a glance. In fact, this has struck home to such an extent that I’ll almost certainly move on my NOS Autavia GMT and replace it with something that looks… well, a bit older.
Funny game, this.
I met a few fellow watch-enthusiasts for a (rained-out) BBQ over the weekend. Someone had kindly offered to bring a press in order that the old/original “dot over 90” bezel could be put back onto my Ed White Speedy and I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Off came the service replacement and on went a rather worn, scuffed but authentic bezel in its place.
I do tend to like my watches as minty as possible, but for some reason this looks so much better.
I’ve seen quite a few attempts to define the most iconic chronographs of all time. Top 5 after top 5, all of which have one thing in common… and that’s the watches that occupy the first 3 places. I didn’t set out to have those 3 in my watch box, but I’m not complaining either.
I have to admit, after these three it all gets a bit confusing. I think I’d go for a Heuer of some sort – probably a Monaco, put perhaps a Carrera – in 4th spot?
I’ve never ordered an Extract of the Archives from Omega before but I wanted to know the production date of my Ed White Speedmaster and it also seemed like it completed the set nicely. Anyway, less than two weeks from the date of order, and it arrived in the post this morning. I was actually expecting it to be laminated (which it wasn’t), but on the plus side it was contained within an envelope bearing a waxed Omega seal; it also opens via a flap at the top so the seal is still intact.
The important thing is that I now know the production date (to the day), which is kind of nice
When I only had 6 watches (well 7 really, but one is at service and will be moved on when it’s back). It’s very… liberating.
Loving the tan as we got into the summer sunshine too 🙂
I do like to change straps/bracelets pretty regularly – that goes for most of my watches, too – and so far as the Ed White Speedy is concerned i seem to have quite a few options. The bracelet (the correct vintage reference, too) will be staying in the box, but I still have to make my mind up as to what I’m going to keep on the watch for now. I have three very different looks, potentially, and this morning I seem to be favouring the NATO… mind you, who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Whilst I considered my beautiful Speedmaster professional ST145.022 to be as close to a keeper as I’m ever likely to have, of late I’ve also been suffering increasingly lustful feelings brought on by photos of the “Ed White” 105.003 and sure enough I gave in to temptation when an absolute gem popped up on TZ-UK. It meant letting a friend have his old watch back (well, he had been hinting for some time, if truth be told) but I have no doubt whatsoever that I made the right decision.
It was in June 1965 that Edward H white II – a member of the Gemini 4 spacecraft crew – opened the hatch and embarked on a 22 minute spacewalk with an Omega Speedmaster mounted on a NASA velcro strap adorning the outside of his spacesuit.
The funny thing is, Omega themselves weren’t even aware that this amazing piece of horological history was going to be created, and it was only after the read the Life Magazine report of the spacewalk and saw the accompanying pictures that they realised the extent of the opportunity afforded to them. Future models of the Speedmaster would thereafter bear the word “Professional” on the dial and a legend was born.
Whilst the Speedmaster may have been the first watch to be actually exposed to the hostile environment of space, the association of watches with space exploration slightly more muddied, and for those interested Chuck Maddox provided a nice little timeline here. Even more interestingly, however, not only is the 105.003 thought to be the first watch exposed directly to outer space, but it was also the last watch to be worn on the moon as Eugene Cernan wore a reference 105.003 on the Apollo 17 mission. Cernan was the last person to leave the surface of the moon and his watch can now be seen in the Omega Museum.
History aside, then, the Ed White is identifiable by it’s (smaller – 40mm?) round, symmetrical case, straight lugs, lack of crown guards and a stepped dial that features an applied Omega logo. Inside, the c.321 movement is based on a design development project titled “27 CHRO C12” (27 mm diameter, chronograph, with extra 12-hour register) which took place in the 1940’s and involved Albert Piguet and Jaques Reymond (it was actually a joint development project between Omega and Lemania). Launched in 1942, the 27 CHRO C12 later became known as the Lemania 2310 (or Omega c.321). It was used not only in the Omega Speedmaster from 1957 to 1965, but also in the renamed and re-cased Omega Speedmaster Professional from mid-1965 through to mid-October 1968, together with the DeVille, Seamaster and other Omega chronographs during this era. (This info, together with some great background on all of the Speedmaster Moonwatch movements, can again be found courtesy of the late Chuck Maddox here.)
All in all, an instantly recognisable piece of horological history and one of the true icons amongst watches. This one, from 1967, is in frankly stunning condition, having gone to STS for the full spa treatment in 2006. The case is near perfect, the dial nothing short of glorious, and whilst it sports a service replacement bezel the original (along with the original crown and pushers) were included in the sale package. All in all, it really is the ultimate Speedy, so with this and the lovely Mk II Racing that I’m also lucky enough to own, I think I can tick that box for good.