"Be Prepared!" A Boy Scout's motto and when it comes to choosing that next watch, it's my motto too. The first "chapters" on the subject of the Moonwatch were of course, gleaned from the 'Net. Not long into my research I decided to make life a little easier and for Christmas, I presented myself with the Moonwatch Only book.
Fantastic. Highly recommended to any admirer of the Speedmaster and a must-have, I would think, for any avid collector. Please keep in mind that the book manages to cover all Speedmasters up 'till about 2012's First Omega In Space (FOIS). Naturally, concentrating mainly on vintage and earlier Special Editions of the 80s, 90s & 2000s. However, you will not find your GSotM in there (at least, not in the current edition).
As we know, there are many versions of Omega's Speedmaster. Keeping track of every possible reference is almost as hard as dealing with Daytonas and sooner or later, it will be about as risky as well - thanks to the Speedmaster's continued exponential rise in the collecting community. But I'm no collector, just a humble watch-lover. One that likes to learn about the history of even the most mundane reference. So after covering the basic history and cosmetic/technical milestones of the watch (pre-space, pre/post-moon, broad-arrow, alpha, baton, stepped dial, applied logo, etc.) I set out to find a reference that would fit to my style (...and budget) and so I applied my most basic prerequisites:
Historically-oriented (original style dial, hands, crystal...)
Access to the movement (exhibition / display caseback)
Other more generic "nice-to-haves" (Stainless steel, size, functional quality ...)
We can quickly break down the Speedmaster into sub-categories and the one I'm most interested is (one that is faithful to) the one that made it to the Moon. That's not to say that the 1965 tribute, First Omega In Space is not of interest, not to mention the Replicas of Omega's original, pre-space, "sports-car enthusiast" references. But I had to pick a starting point and the (post-)Moonwatch it would be.
click-the-pics for hi-res goodness
I own everything from a 38mm dress-watch to a 47mm military-diver (tribute). If I consider just the case & lugs, I'm easy with anything in the range of 40~45mm. If the dial is busy, such as a chronograph's, I tend to favor the larger end of the range. As such, I was immediately oriented to the Speedmaster Professional. Truth be told, the additional 2mm is more likely used up by the case and not the dial. If I'm not mistaken, the dial is not even 1mm larger than the original Speedmaster (something like 30.8 vs. 30.0mm). I'm not used to asymmetrical cases but I must say that Omega did a very nice job with the Speedmaster Pro; it's hard to even picture it as asymmetrical once it's on your wrist.
Note that I wrote Historically "oriented" and not "accurate". Having the Hesalite crystal adds to the historical feel of the watch and while I usually play it safe with sapphire, in this case I think Hesalite's the way to go. On the other hand, while the solid caseback is the historically-accurate choice, I really enjoy viewing a watch's movements... .
Next criteria - display caseback. This really narrows down the selection as most Speedmasters come/came with solid casebacks. there's no denying the mystique of Omega's Seahorse stamp/medallion. There's also no denying the visual appeal of a nice manual movement. Omega chose well with the Lemania-based 321/861 for the Speedmaster and I definitely want to see it! As a matter of fact, the only serious member of my humble collection with a solid caseback is my Rolex 16600 Sea Dweller. And I don't need to see the 3135 inside of it, to be quite honest... ;) No to mention, putting a display caseback on a saturation diver's watch is... well, absurd. We won't necessarily be having that same argument with the 50M Speedmaster. Yes, yes, no antimagnetic-iron "dust cover"... I get that.
Then, there's the simple question of price and availability... . Let's just say I wouldn't turn down a 1985 Apollo XI numbered reference with the bragging rights of having the first Speedmaster with display back. Finding one however, is another story...
Down to Business
So let's summarize... Speedmaster Professional, displayback and Hesalite crystal. And available. And preferably affordable. This leaves me with...
345.0808/3352B (& variants)
3592.50 (& variants)
3572.50 (in Gilt 863, Rhodium 1863/Tritium & 1863/Super-LumiNova).
Of the above, the 3572.50 with Rhodium 1863 and Super-LumiNova is the most common (available). Honestly-speaking, if I can't have the first (1985 345.0808 Apollo XI numbered), I'd just assume have the more "functional" variant and that would be a Rhodium finish and active Super-LumiNova hands.
Hence, a 1997-2003 3572.50.
The right watch will find you...
I had already mentioned here and elsewhere that I was on the hunt for a SMP w/display-back. There were (and still are) a number available online, but whenever possible, I prefer to buy locally, to actually handle the piece in question. I came across a couple of 3573.50s (as well as 10x as many 3570s) but not a one 3572.50. Last week I happen to be passing by one of my dealers and figured I'd pop in to see if anything interesting had come in. I lightly brush up against a guy just heading out of the store, a guy that had just traded his Speedmaster for a Daytona... his 3572.50... ! Unbelievable. A 2000, "77.01mio" in very good condition with card, documentation and original box. A good friend of mine as well as mentor in horology often says, "the right watch will find you"... . Well, it can't be all that far-fetched as this was the second time I've had such crazy luck! All in all, I would say it's been a great introduction to the Speedmaster and I look forward to enjoying my "Professional Rhodium" while embarking on the search for the next piece... !
click-the-pics for hi-res goodness
Chronograph function off...
Chronograph function on...
Lest we forget, there's a really great story that goes along with this watch...