Speedy Tuesday — Interview With Collector And Car Racer Nick Boon With a stable of Speedmasters and speed machines, Nick Boon enjoys life in the fast lane by Robert-Jan BroerMarch 17, 2020 MIN READSpeedy Tuesday — Interview With Collector And Car Racer Nick Boon
Speedmasters and racing. The two go together like strawberries and cream. One of the very first advertisements for this chronograph showed a race car driver using his Speedmaster. Although it never had an official role in racing, there are plenty of race car drivers who used the Speedmaster. For this Speedy Tuesday, we talk to Speedmaster enthusiast, collector, and car racer Nick Boon.
Through Instagram, I met with Nick Boon, who’s active under his @watchescarswinecigars account. Take a peek at his account and his love for Speedmasters and car racing is evident. I thought it would be nice to have a little interview with this Speedmaster and race enthusiast. Enjoy!
Interview with Speedmaster collector Nick Boon
My name is Nick Boon. I live in London with my wife Katie. As is often the case, I have a dual-passion. Watches and motorsport — specifically saloon car racing. Like most people, I suppose I’m a product of my upbringing. It’s clear when I look back, that watches and motorsport were always something that motivated the people in my life that I looked up to.
NIck together with former TopGear presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson
Some of my earliest memories are of hanging around paddocks watching my Dad or Uncle wrestle a bright red Lotus Cortina around famous circuits like Brands Hatch, Silverstone, and Donington Park. Growing up I spent more and more time trackside as my uncle competed in various single-make championships. I used to imagine what it would be like to get behind the wheel. I wouldn’t get the opportunity to do that until much later, but with my Dads Omega in hand, I could time the qualifying laps. Through that small role, I felt a little closer to the action.
Nick Boon and his uncle at Snetterton
My family has strong ties to the motorsport fraternity. The story goes that my great Uncle was the first Boon to be involved in motorsport, having competed as a “ride-along mechanic” at Brooklands in the early days of the sport. My Dad’s heyday was in late ’60s and early ’70s. Back then, he raced a modified Mini Cooper S in the Special Saloons category. He competed against the famous names of the time like Jerry Marshall and Barry ‘Wizzo’ Williams. My Uncle then picked up the mantle in 1984 and went on to compete in a number of national series including the Honda CRX Challenge, Vauxhall Vectra SRI, and Lotus Motorsport Elise Championships, even running a BTCC team in the early naughts.
Can you tell us a bit more about your car racing hobby?
Although I’d grown up around racing, I was actually quite late to the party in motor racing terms. I didn’t have the opportunity to try go-karting so my first taste of racing came in 2009 at the age of 28. Over the last 10 years I’ve raced in a number of cars and championships. My first couple of seasons were in my trusty Peugeot 106 GTi, competing the Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship, BARC Dunlop Motorsport News Saloons, and BARC Tin Top Championships, winning the latter series in 2010.
For 2011 we upgraded to a Mardi Gras Motorsport prepared Honda Civic Type R for the Arrowpack Eurosaloons. Again, we won the championship that year. Over the next few years my Uncle Chris and I partnered in the Honda to compete in the CSCC Tin Tops. We took a number of podiums together, including two memorable wins out at Spa Francorchamps in 2012 and 2013. Away from the CSCC, I pedaled a 1983 Group A Escort RS1600i at the Algarve Classic at Portimao, alongside ex British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) driver, Spencer Marsh. I was also part of the Mensely Motorsport team that took our giant-killing Fiesta Cup car to second in class at the 2015 Britcar 24 hours at Silverstone.
Blancpain European GT Series
In 2015 I started working on plans to compete alongside my uncle in the MSVR Mini Challenge JCW single-make championship. These cars are incredible, proper racers. They have sequential gearboxes, slick tires, racing diffs, and around 255bhp from the flame-throwing BMW turbo engine. I ran a single meeting at Donington Park as a guest driver alongside Vicki Butler-Henderson of “TopGear” fame before campaigning the full season in 2016.
…we supported both the Blancpain European GT Series and the British GT Championship.
It was an incredible year with packed, 30 car grids, each with the same performance ensuring close racing and huge excitement. During my time in the series, we supported both the Blancpain European GT Series and the British GT Championship. Such is the popularity of the series that for 2020 the championship is replacing the Renault Clio Cup as support series to the BTCC. I did my final JCW race in 2017 at Oulton Park. Since then I’ve competed in a few races in the Mazda MX5 Supercup. While I will do a few races in 2020, I’m currently working on plans for a full return assault in 2021.
Can you tell us what brought you to the Speedmaster in the first place?
Watches were also ever-present, especially Omega which is a brand I’ve always gravitated toward. My grandad wore a gold-plated Omega Constellation that his brother, a retired RAF Air Commodore had brought back for him while in the Middle East on diplomatic duties in the 1950s. The watch obviously made its mark on him. As such, he decided that an Omega watch would be the perfect gift for his children upon turning 21. That sounds fair enough but when you have 6 kids across a 14-year period that’s quite the commitment! I’m pleased to say the Constellation lives with my father, along with the Seamaster he received for his own birthday back in 1967.
A Speedmaster Professional 3570.50
My own relationship with Omega (and thus the Speedmaster) started when I decided I needed to get my own watch. I wanted one with a chronograph function that was actually capable of measuring laps times. Using my Dads Seamaster was fine, but if I wanted to work out the average speed as well as the lap time, I’d need a tachymeter.
As soon as I got home to the UK, I went to my local AD — Gatward’s in Hitchin — and bought my first watch.
That’s what started me looking. In 2008, while traveling to play golf in Spain, I first saw the Speedmaster. It was like it was made for me, the design, the functionality, and the fact it was Omega! As soon as I got home to the UK, I went to my local AD — Gatward’s in Hitchin — and bought my first watch. It was a brand new 3570.50 Speedmaster. Little did I know that was the start of quite a journey, learning about vintage watches and doing a fair amount of collecting.
Do you also collect other watches?
Yes, I do. Even though the Speedmaster was my first watch, I didn’t have a vintage Speedmaster until some years later. After buying the Speedmaster I started to learn about vintage watches in general. It was something that my boss at the time was really keen on. As a racing driver himself, we had a lot in common. Through his encouragement, I bought my first Rolex. It was a 1969 Red Submariner 1680 (Meters first), which I sold during my first season of racing in 2009 to fund some plans for the following season. That was not one of my best decisions — I still miss that watch!
…I jumped around like a rabbit in the headlights, interested in everything I saw.
That’s when the flood gates seemed to open. Probably like a lot of collectors, I jumped around like a rabbit in the headlights, interested in everything I saw. In a very short space of time, I found myself owning a smorgasbord of watches, all of which I’d love to own today had I had the means to retain them all. Listing them out is fun but It also brings a tear to the eye thinking about what an amazing collection they’d make and how much more interesting my Instagram account would be!
The military rabbit hole
I even went down the military rabbit hole for while, owning a British Army issued WW2 Omega Wrist Watch Waterproof, a Royal Navy issued Omega SM300 Big Triangle, a couple of Royal Navy issued CWC Quartz, a Precista Quartz, an Omega ’53 6B/542 broad arrow pilots watch, and a Heuer Bundeswehr 3H fly-back chronograph used by German military pilots in the 1970s. I’ve done the Rolex thing with the aforementioned 1680. That was followed by a 1969 Explorer 1016 and a new 2009 Submariner 14060M “four-line.” I sold the latter piece (rather cannily to my Dad who still wears it every day) to fund the one Rolex I will never sell — an early Seadweller 16660 from 1980. This watch is my birth year piece and has the early and rare single coronet, “Rolex Patent” case back. It is a watch that I reckon is highly underrated.
Vintage was my thing
So, as you can see, vintage was my thing. It seems odd to me now that I left it so late to revisit the history of the Speedmaster. It was actually my next purchase that got me wondering about how far back the Speedmaster went. After I bought a 1959 Omega Seamaster CK2907 (which housed the same 321 caliber that went into the early Speedmasters) my interest was piqued. It was this watch that motivated me to supplement my modern Speedmaster with something a bit more special. Attracted by its smaller case size and straight lugs, I found a very nice, unpolished 105.003-65 which I can now never sell as it’s the watch I wore on my wedding day.
Since the Ed White, I’ve bolstered the collection with the 60th Anniversary Speedmaster “homage” to the CK2915, a 145.022-69 ‘brown’, a 145.022-78, a 145.0022 from 1986 and, most recently, the most amazing watch I’ve ever been privileged to own, the 50th Anniversary Speedmaster in Moonshine gold. That is, for sure, the crowning jewel in my collection!
How do you prepare yourself when buying a Speedmaster?
Usually by preparing how I’ll get it past my wife! I find it good practice to play the long game here, dropping hints and making my research as overt as possible. That way she’s aware of hours and hours spent poring over photos and reviews and leafing through my copy of Moonwatch Only. That way, she’s not so surprised.
…I’ll spend a lot of time looking at watches with the aim of getting the best example I can.
But in reality, there is no hard and fast rule. If I find myself with some spare cash, I’ll spend a lot of time looking at watches with the aim of getting the best example I can. It took a year to find my Ed white and it took probably over 18 months of speaking to a well-known collector to find my brown dial -69.
A total fluke
On the other hand, the -78 was a total fluke. One day, I happened to be walking around the city (I have a well-trodden path which takes me past 3 or 4 vintage dealer windows) and saw a mint watch in the window. I went in, took a load of pictures and consulted every aspect with my copy of Moonwatch Only before returning the next day to buy it.
…it’s now one of my most worn watches.
I do make sure any deal done is on the basis of getting an extract of the archives. The only exception to this was when I bought the ’80s piece in an auction because I had the opportunity to check it out first and everything appeared correct from my research. I’d bought that watch with the intention of selling it but once the extract came through, and since its such a great looking piece, it’s now one of my most worn watches.
Do you prefer modern or vintage?
For sure vintage is the area that interests me the most. The majority of the watches I have owned are from the ’60s and ’70s. Despite this, there is plenty of room in my life for the odd modern watch. But it’s quite clear that where they are modern, they do seem to have their heritage firmly back in the ’50s or ’60s. Just look at the 60th Anniversary ‘2915’ and 50th Anniversary Moonshine for evidence of that.
If it were possible to buy an AP Royal Oak Jumbo Extra-Thin, a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711, or a Rolex Daytona Ceramic at RRP then I’d definitely have one of them in my collection. But in a world where these watches are priced on the market at double if not triple their retail prices, I am not a buyer. I’m far more interested in looking for and finding an interesting example from the past that has a story. It appeals to me more than paying through the nose for a piece where more profit is made by the flipper than the manufacturer.
Omega Speedmaster 105.012 is high on Nick’s wishlist.
Which reference would you love to buy in the future?
There are some very serious Speedmaster collectors out there. I’ve met guys that have vast collections with multiples of everything. I’m definitely not in that camp. Not least because I don’t have the means. But I do think there is room perhaps for another Speedmaster in the stable. I’d love to be able to afford one of the early racing variants. That, or perhaps a very early 2998 but I think the ship has sailed for me on those.
…nothing else has kept me awake at night, quite like that watch.
So the one that I seem to be thinking about more than any other at the moment is the 105.012, specifically the -63. This watch offers quite a few interesting features that appeal to me including the ‘SWISS MADE’ dial (pre the ‘64 obligation to reference the presence of tritium) and those lovely short fat pushers. The pushers on the 50th Anniversary Moonshine are of similar proportions and I really like the look. But I have to say, it was the Moonshine that was the watch I most sought and nothing else has kept me awake at night, quite like that watch.
Do you feel that Omega should emphasize more on their racing history with the Speedmaster?
It makes sense to focus on the moon for Omega. It’s a popular subject and a differentiator over what Rolex focuses on with the Daytona for example. And the link to the moon works very nicely for Omega because we’re now hitting some important milestones in terms of the moon landing history. And interest will continue to grow as we look towards the next generation of exploration. Imagine the spike in interest as commercial space travel becomes a reality? Elon Musk and SpaceX. NASA’s plans to revisit the moon. And the planned Mars Exploration? You couldn’t ask for a better climate if you’re Omega. This new history is keeping the Speedmaster relevant as it’s being written.
But yes, I do think it would be cool to make something more of the Speedmaster’s racing heritage. We all know Omega has made racing dials since the ’60s and there was the Japan racing in 2004 as well as the Schumacher range. But I think there could be an opportunity for Omega to tap into a new generation of customers from the motorsport angle. Heuer and Rolex have done this very well over the years and I’d certainly be pleased to see Omega participating in motorsport at some point in the future.
Did you ever use your Speedmaster during races (or observing a race)?
Yes, absolutely. My 3570.50 has been worn a great deal while racing. Probably the only photographic evidence of this is a picture of me wearing it on the podium at Spa Francorchamps back in 2012, having won the Classic & Sports Car Club (CSCC) Saloon car race in my Honda Civic Type-R race car. I always wear a watch and so I never considered that I should take it off during the race. But I learned one important thing. You may think a steel strap a bad idea, but it is, in fact, essential. After 20 minutes of racing on a hot day, a brand new leather strap can wear through. I don’t think people realize how much perspiration is involved in motor racing!
What made you purchase the Moonshine, and do you actually wear it?
I’ve owned a couple of gold-plated watches and had been looking at options for a while. The original BA145.022 had started to get a bit rich for me by the time I considered it. Therefore, I’d assumed that a gold speedy wouldn’t be on the cards. I’d started looking at Submariner 16808s and Presidents from the early ’80s. But, try as I did, I never found one that grabbed me.
I nearly dropped my pint of Guinness…
When I saw the Moonshine had been released, I couldn’t believe it. It was such a great piece, true to the original but clearly so much more besides. I actually became a little bit obsessed. But the more I inquired about them, the more I knew I’d absolutely no chance of owning one. At least not directly from Omega. I put my name down at my local Boutique at London’s Royal Exchange. They had told me that they’d all been allocated fairly early on. I’d already declined the 50th anniversary in steel after the AD had called me, which didn’t bode well. As such, I was a little confused when a call from the boutique’s number came through. I nearly dropped my pint of Guinness when they said that a Moonshine has become available and would I like to take a look.
Nick Boon’s Apollo XI Moonshine
A tricky conversation that was worth having
After a tricky conversation with the wife, we went in together the next day to try the watch over a glass of champagne. On the way, I said to my wife, “I wonder what the LE number is…”. Well, when I held the watch and inspected the case back, I couldn’t believe that the watch was #169. And at that I agreed to purchase the watch, returning the following Monday to close the deal, with a full bottle of Bollinger this time, a couple of straps, an Omega branded Fisher Space Pen, and pin badge.
You already asked how I prepare when buying a watch. The only way I could think to get this past the boss was to make it a present to myself for my 40th birthday. The only problem with this plan is that I bought the watch in December 2019 and I don’t turn 40 until the end of 2020. So while I’m an incredibly lucky and very happy owner, I don’t get to wear it as much as I’d like. Probably four or five times when the occasion allows. But what I can promise you, is that as soon as those candles are lit, I’ll be wearing that watch as much as possible. It’s a fantastic piece in every way and Omega should be very proud of creating such an extraordinary reference.
What would you like to see in a future Speedmaster?
This is a great question. And coming from Mr. Speedy Tuesday himself, perhaps there is an opportunity here to influence the next iteration of the “ST” range. We’ve had a homage to the radial dial, “Star Watch Case Company” Speedmaster. We’ve had the Ultraman, taking its cues from the orange handed 145012-67. Perhaps now, 16 years after the release of the Japanese Racing dial, it’s time to bring the Speedmaster back as a watch made for racing!?
Perhaps an homage to the rarest of the racing variants, based on the 105.012? That way, I can kill two birds with one stone. You could surely create something amazing with the contrast of the black dial and deep red markers. And as for those smaller sub-dials? Well, the possibility of novelty is vast. I’ve had the opportunity of wearing one of the originals and it really is something to behold.
Nick’s 105.003 “Ed White” with caliber 321
How do you feel about the re-edition of the caliber 321 (steel)?
I’m an Ed White owner, and my 105.003-65 was on my wrist on my wedding day. That makes it a very important watch for me. Everything about it works for me. It’s the right size, the case, and dial patina are stunning, and the bracelet is super comfy. I love everything about it. And I’m pretty sure I feel the same about the re-edition.
…this new Ed White goes to the next level.
While the movement for me isn’t the main point of interest, it’s one step further than Omega, or anyone else for that matter, have gone when it comes to celebrating the brand’s greatest hits. I bought the 2915 homage because it looked amazing. But this new Ed White goes to the next level. It does that by not only recreating the watch visually but mechanically, with all the benefits of modern technology. This is like when Jaguar made a continuation of the six “missing” Lightweight E-types, planned for completion in 1956 but never delivered until they used the original plans to complete them in 2015.
Speedmaster Caliber 321 “Ed White”
For me, while they lack the history of the last 50 years, they are still incredible pieces of machinery. I think it’s the same with the caliber 321. It’s a nod to an incredible history. And for me as an owner, well its quite nice to see that something you own is revered so highly. Imitation is the highest form of flattery they say, and I’ve no problem with it. I’ve not actually managed to hold one yet. But I’ve been on at my AD to make sure they send me an invite to their launch. I am told that maybe around May or June time. I will be very interested to see the old and new side-by-side.
And last but not least, what will be your next Speedmaster?
Thanks for this interview. You can see more images of Nick Boon’s collection below.
Japanese watchmaking at its best Partner Content March 01, 2020
The first space walk of a NASA astronaut was performed by astronaut Ed White by Robert-Jan Broer March 10, 2020
One of the three Moonwatch Pandas by Robert-Jan Broer March 03, 2020
50 years ago, the Speedmaster saved the Apollo 13 crew by Robert-Jan Broer February 25, 2020
by Michael Stockton September 20, 2018
by Paul Dezentjé August 28, 2018
by Robert-Jan Broer August 16, 2018
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
Watch reviews in your inbox.
Even when it’s not Speedy Tuesday. This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.Original Article