Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
When it comes to vintage Omega Speedmasters, everything seems to revolve around the legendary Moonwatch. There are countless articles written about it; you’d be hard pressed to find a watch magazine or blog that hasn’t told the story of the first watch to land on the Moon in 1969. For the past 50 years, Omega has woven a legend around the Moon landing, NASA, and the Speedmaster, a watch that was initially designed for motorsport.
The result: Prices for “vintage Speedies” have risen significantly in recent years – and that’s even if you account for inflation.
Today, models from the year of the Moon landing and years prior, so-called pre-Moon Speedmasters, sell for up to €10,000 ($11,200), sometimes more. Prices are closely linked to the reference number, movement, and whether the watch is in its original condition. Less flashy models from the 70s and 80s likewise demand many times their original asking prices.
It’s a good thing, especially for those who have owned a Speedmaster for many decades or bought one at an opportune time.
So what can you do if you want to call a vintage Speedmaster your own, but don’t have upward of $3,000 to spend? Are there any alternatives? If so, how are their prices developing?
The answer is: Yes, there are alternatives. One is even from the same year as the Moon landing. In fact, this watch has a lot in common with the Moonwatch, including a shared dial design, manual movement (caliber 861), and model name, “Speedmaster Professional.” However, the reference 145.014 does have the addition of Mark II, of course.
At the time, the “Mark II” was marketed as a new, second version of the Speedmaster. Its case significantly deviated from the traditional round Speedmaster case that had been around since the 50s.
You either like the bulky case of the Mark II and subsequent models (the Mark III, IV, 4.5, etc.) or you don’t; it’s a matter of taste. If you do like it, however, you substantially widen your range of potential vintage Speedmasters. Not only can you choose between more models, but you can also gain access to the Speedy world for a lower price. You can call a Mark II your own for as little as €2,000 ($2,200), sometimes even less if you’re lucky. That is a comparatively low price for an Omega Speedmaster Professional.
Plus, you can profit from ever-increasing Moonwatch list prices. These tend to carry the prices of pre-owned models up with them, including those on the “second tier.” Moreover, Omega re-released the Mark II in 2014. The recommended retail price for the new edition is €5,200 ($5,800). This makes vintage Mark II watches more attractive and contributes to their growing price tags.
To make things a bit more tangible, let’s take a closer look at how the value of the vintage Mark II has developed over the past 10 years.
As you can see, the average sales price on Chrono24 (yellow line) has increased by nearly €1,000 ($1,100), from approx. €1,250 ($1,400) to €2,200 ($2,500) in March 2019.
Of course, that’s just looking at the average price. If you compare the lowest sales price from 2009, which was below €1,000 ($1,100), to the highest price in 2019 (around €2,600, or $2,900), the value has more than doubled. To be more precise: It’s gone up by a factor of 2.6.
You can also see a steady increase of more than €2,000 ($2,200) since 2014/15 (yellow line). The above-mentioned updated Mark II was released at this time.
Of course, this comparison raises a few questions: Why is there such a difference in price between the models? Will their value continue to appreciate going forward?
Like any vintage timepiece, the price of an older Omega Speedmaster Mark II depends on several factors: Is it in its original condition? Does it come with its original metal bracelet? Are the box and papers included? When was it last serviced? The answers to these questions can either raise the price significantly or make it drop. There is also a difference in price if you buy from a dealer with a warranty or from a private seller. If you want a vintage Mark II in mint condition with all the trimmings, you should expect to pay well above the average sales price. If you’re less demanding, you can expect to pay less.
As for the second question:
No one can guarantee changes in price. However, in the coming years, the Mark II is in a position to profit from the popularity and rising prices of classic Omega Speedmasters. It’s likely to do so to the same degree as it has up until this point.
As mentioned previously, the Mark II still represents a comparatively low entry price into the world of Speedmasters. In my opinion, it is a safe bet and an attractive alternative to the Moonwatch. Moreover, the Mark II is celebrating its 50th anniversary alongside the anniversary of the Moon landing. That makes it a classic in its own right.
Summary: If you fall in love with this watch like I have and are able to get one at a reasonable price, you’ll have a piece of the Speedmaster story. If you manage to get a good price, depreciation in the coming years is unlikely. The Mark II may not be as mainstream and popular as the Moonwatch, but that’s part of its appeal. The same can be said for all the Mark models. These watches are definitely worth a closer look, especially if you’re interested in the Speedmaster’s story beyond the Moon landing.
About the Author:
Theodossios Theodoridis, born in 1972, runs the German watch blog ZEIGR. He’s been a passionate collector of timepieces for more than 30 years, with a special interest in vintage watches and chronographs, including the Omega Speedmaster. His collection includes the Moonwatch, Mark II, Mark 4.5, Mark 40, and the Ultraman limited edition. He’s been blogging about since 2013.
Find out more about Theodossios:
Blog: ZEIGR.com (German language)