With the present trajectory of the Speedmaster, let’s just say that unless you’re in the game with some major cash, the earliest references of the watch — the 2915, 2998 — or the references that went to the moon — the ST 105.003, ST 105.012 and ST 145.012 — are now well out of the reach.
Attention, therefore, seems to have turned to contemporary versions of the Speedmaster. But there, too, prices seem to be climbing higher every day, and at an exponential rate. Case in point: The Tintin ref. 322.214.171.124.01.004 (current prices at upwards of US$ 10,000), the Japan Racing Dial ref. 3570.40.00 (current prices at upwards of US$ 20,000) and etcetera, just to name a few.
What is great though is that in the 61 years that the Speedmaster has been in existence, Omega’s produced enough variations of the timepiece that every time you look through the pages of Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié’s, Moonwatch Only you’re likely to come across a new point of interest in a reference number that no one’s considered with particular interest before. Today we focus on an instance of such a reference number.
Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Chocolate References 3126.96.36.199.13.001 & 3188.8.131.52.13.001
Not too long ago, we discussed the Chocolate Speedmaster ref. ST 145.022-69 (current prices at upwards of US$ 25,000). But that, of course, is a very specific vintage piece that right now in the marketplace, demands quite the premium.
Fact is, finding vintage Speedmasters in good condition, is a challenge in itself. Add to that the task of finding one that has developed an even and pleasing patina, and now you’re better off spending your energy on something more worthwhile like — a more disciplined exercise regime.
Therein, the rarity of the Chocolate Speedmaster ref. ST 145.022-69 is that there is a very specific range of serial numbers within the reference number that develop this consistent tropical dial.
Contemporary Speedmasters are never going to develop such patina on the dial. Since the ’60s and the ’70s, Omega’s made massive strides in its production processes that dials no longer go through the process of oxidation that causes the dials to turn brown.
But here’s what’s cool: Omega’s gone ahead to produce a brown dial version of the present-day Speedmaster that emulates the look of its tropical dial former incarnations.
Produced from 2007 to 2013, the reference 3184.108.40.206.13.001 (on a steel bracelet; current prices between US$ 5,500-6,500) and 3220.127.116.11.13.001 (on a brown leather strap; current prices between US$ 5,000-6,000) were fitted with subtle brown dials. Until recently, the two references have mostly flown under the radar. The heightened interest can very well be attributed to the growing focus within collectors’ circles on Speedmasters with anything other than the ordinary black dials.
The 318.104.22.168.13.001 and 322.214.171.124.13.001 were both 42mm steel Speedmasters. Movements powering the watches is the 1863, which is essentially the 1861 chronograph caliber that uses a shuttle cam mechanism instead of a column-wheel. The difference in the movement is that the 1863 is decorated with Geneva stripes and all for extra ornamentation.
But hang on, why go through the trouble of decorating a workhorse chronograph movement? Well, because the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Chocolate is one of few references of the watch that has a see-through caseback.
While the watch was not produced in a limited number, the seven-year production life does mean that there is a finite number out there. Moreover, because these haven’t been on anyone’s radar until recently — be it on the leather strap or the bracelet — finding one isn’t as easy.
However, here’s why maybe all of us — and anyone interested in a cool, unusual Speedmaster — should be on the lookout for one. In a recent conversation between Revolution’s founding editor, Wei Koh and founder of Fratello Watches, Robert-Jan Broer, when asked for a recommendation on a modern Speedmaster, Robert said, “I would just recommend to buy the modern Moonwatch, with Hesalite crystal. You can’t go wrong with that one and you will still cherish it when your collection grows. If it turns out you got infected by the Speedmaster virus, you will probably find yourself searching for a nice vintage Speedmaster or one of the limited editions to add later on. If you want to be a little bit different, I think that the modern but discontinued Speedmaster with brown dial (sapphire crystal and display back) could be an interesting purchase as well.”
So while, prices are still soft and few are looking out for them, you know the time is now or never, to bag one. That is, if you spot one.