5 Mistakes I Made While Collecting Speedmaster Watches Let's hope they prevent you from making the same ones by Robert-Jan Broer June 16, 2020 MIN READ5 Mistakes I Made While Collecting Speedmaster Watches
I’ve been collecting Speedmaster watches for over 20 years. The first one I bought was in 1999, a Speedmaster Professional 145.012-67. Things were very different back then. There were far fewer resources available. Doing your homework was hard. It took a lot more legwork than it does today. When I started out, I used the TimeZone Omega forums and was in touch with fellow enthusiasts like Chuck Maddox and Bill Sohne, for example.
I hadn’t set out with the 145.012-67 in mind. Honestly, it could have been any Speedmaster Professional. This was just one of the most affordable models around. It was even cheaper than a young pre-owned model with caliber 1861 or 861. In 1999, nobody ever heard (or cared) about DON bezels. It was a different time…
As long as the chronograph seconds hand was correct to the dial and movement (caliber 321), it was all fine. The technical condition was so much more important than aesthetics in those days. It is still something that is of importance to me, but unfortunately, I notice that the majority is more focused on appearance than a properly serviced and working movement.
Five Mistakes While Collecting Speedmaster Watches
Things are very different today than they were 20 years ago. There’s information on Speedmasters now everywhere. Here on Fratello, you will find over 400 articles on the Speedmaster. There are the Moonwatch Only books and a number of other great sources. There’s almost no reason not to seek out a bit of support during the acquisition process. You can also post your questions on Omegaforums.net or on dedicated Facebook groups, of course. Just make sure you’ve “Googled” it first. If the popular search engine (or the other search engine alternatives) can’t help, mine the forums for the experience of your fellow fan.
To give you a head start, I’m going to tell you about the five biggest mistakes I’ve made during the last 20 years. I hope this cautionary tale helps you avoid making the same boneheaded decisions. Enjoy!
1. Trying to be a watchmaker
Although my understanding of how watches work is not that bad (luckily), that doesn’t mean I am a watchmaker. I fooled myself a few times in the past, that I could easily (or quickly) fix something myself.
These “quick-fixes” ranged from changing batteries in an X-33 to replacing Speedmaster bezels. Occasionally, I convinced myself I could remove scratches from a Speedmaster bracelet. But, in my experience, it always pays to pay a professional to handle these things.
Watches are expensive and should be treated with a bit of care and respect. I messed up a few things myself in the early days of collecting Speedmaster watches. My impatience — watchmakers take their time, for, it would seem, a very good list of reasons — was the most important factor here. I know it can be frustrating to depend on the schedule of a watchmaker, but just keep your mind on the result.
What you can do, however, is open a watch and inspect the movement. Always do this with care and the proper equipment. I saw a guy once opening the case back of his Speedmaster with a pair of scissors. It gave me the shivers. Inspecting the movement is useful to check the serial number, movement number, correct use of parts (I once bought a Speedmaster that had a bridge with cal.865 on it, apparently a wrong spare part) etc. It will also show you the inside of the case back and its engravings.
2.Buying a Speedmaster watch for the wrong reason(s)
I ended up with a number of Speedmasters that didn’t fit my collection or my standard when it comes to quality. I wouldn’t call it greed, but sometimes the price was simply attractive, or it was an impulsive purchase. On the other hand, this also brought me some amazing watches. That said, it is easier to build a cohesive collection if you set out with a clear goal in mind. What kind of Speedmaster collection do you want to have? I will touch upon that later.
The Speedmasters I ended up with that didn’t fit my collection have since left it. Luckily, we are talking Speedmasters here and not some other brand or model that is unsellable. But still, it is energy wasted. It is not a golden rule, but things will be a lot easier if you have a certain trajectory in mind for collecting Speedmaster watches.
3. Don’t rush to sell a Speedmaster watch
Although this seems to contradict the latter half of point 2, if you can avoid making that mistake in the first place, you would be wise not to let models leave your collection lightly. I sold a number of Speedmasters that I really regret saying goodbye to. Not only because of the exponential growth in value of some of these watches but also because I just miss having them.
A sapphire sandwich, a few caliber 321 Speedmasters, a Speedmaster moon phase… The list goes on. The ones that especially sting are the caliber 321 models. They have become very difficult to replace. But it is not only me, I see a lot of people working on an impressive Speedmaster collection, and then, before you know it, you see them offered for sale on forums and Chrono24.
It is not uncommon to see their names pop-up on WhatsApp a few months later, asking for help getting some of these Speedmaster watches back. I’m happy to help whenever I can, but if you hang onto your Speedmasters you won’t have this problem at all.
4.Cutting cost on condition
I still find myself doing this at times. Try to find the cheapest Speedmaster available. While it contradicts with what I believe in, hence the firm prices pre-owned Speedmasters in our Fratello shop. If something is really good, it comes at a certain price. If something has a low price, it has a reason. Always! I have bought Speedmasters in the past that were offered to me for a little amount of money, and there was always something wrong with them. A part that wasn’t correct (the caliber 865 engraved bridge I mentioned earlier), a faulty bracelet, certain damage to the case, dial, or bracelet I thought I could live with. Rather buy a Speedmaster watch in the best possible condition for your budget, than go for something extraordinary that comes with faults. I rather put a bit of money down for a caliber 861 that is complete with boxes, papers, and in immaculate condition than a Speedmaster caliber 321 that looks like it has been on the tram rails, offered for the same price. You will always regret it, as sourcing parts is not only very difficult, it is also very expensive.
5.Letting others dictate what to buy
As I grow older, I care less and less about what others think. This also applies to watches. I have ignored a number of good Speedmasters (and other watches) because in the eyes of others, they weren’t cool or worthy enough. “The X-33 is quartz, so it sucks”, the hell it doesn’t. I have ignored a beautiful X-33 that was NOS at an Italian Omega dealer I visited years ago, for a great price, because that was the generic opinion on the X-33. Now, I have made up for that with a bunch of them, but still. Same for gold. I ignored gold Speedmaster watches for a long period because this is a tool watch and therefore should always be in steel. Well, nothing much needs to be said about that now. Although, and I can’t stress this too much, you can still have a full gold Speedmaster Professional watch for the price of a sought-after limited edition or vintage Speedmaster in steel. If gold isn’t your thing, fair enough. But don’t let others decide for you. I love gold, whether it is full or bi-color, I think it adds a bit of punch to the amazing design of the Speedmaster watch. I also have my share of Moonwatch descendants, so these are a great variation anyway.
If you want to share your mistakes, or tips for collecting Speedmaster watches, please feel free to do so in the comments section below. Or shoot us an e-mail.
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About the author
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in… read more
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