From January to April, the world of watchmaking is beating at the rhythm of press releases, before SIHH and Baselworld. Yesterday, we’ve received from Omega an interesting piece of news, the presentation of the Speedmaster Mark II re-issue.
At Monochrome’s offices (not that far from Wayne Tower) this kicked-up more than just a little dust. It set off a mini debate between young lion (Brice) and Middle-Aged Lion (Mario) [Brice – see what I did there! You’re in lower case!]. Because Monochrome-Watches is more than just words on website, it’s a team, with its members and their own preferences and tempers. So let’s present you the new Omega Speedmaster re-issue in a different way.
The new Omega’s watch is a nice tribute to one of the greatest piece of Speedmaster range, and it’s a vast catalog since 1957. Using the exact same design for both the case and bracelet, the new one brings up-to-date that 70’s look with a Co-Axial self-winding movement (the Omega 3330) but keeps, for one of the two references, the flashy bright red indexes and second’s hand that gives the old racing version so much appeal. Ok enough of that; let’s give you our thoughts.
Mario Squillacioti: Just for the sake of disclosure – I own a new Speedmaster Professional that I’ve worn for the past year. The only automatic chronographs I own are 775x driven Breitlings, Hamilton and (don’t laugh) a Swatch!
I have put my soul (what’s left of it after running with you guys) up for auction. Daddy Likey!
Brice Goulard: As the owner of an 100% original Mark II, I’ll be the guy to tell you, well you know, the new one is ok. BUT, what about that date window, why an automatic movement, and not the 1861? What about tritium indexes and vintage patina? Where are the Professional and Mark II inscriptions? What about the price? (€ 4,600 Euro / $6,250 USD) (You can get a vintage one for 1,200€ in very good condition.)
But I must admit that the new one works. The case / bracelet are EXACTLY the same, with this sunburst polishing, Omega had kept the Tachymetre rule up to the dial. A very good re-issue. Maybe one the best I’ve seen. But still not the original.
While on the subject of re-issues; Omega has done a lot of looking ‘backwards’ recently. The Ploprof. The Seamaster Bullhead. Even elements of the Planet Ocean look very familiar when compared to the original Seamaster 300. It seems that if it isn’t a ‘Bond’ watch it’s a reissue! At least they decided to not reissue the X-33 and jump straight to the Z-33! Or the Speedmaster FOIS (Speedmaster First OMEGA In Space) that Frank bought recently. Speedy Tuesday must be catching!
Mario Squillacioti: As the would-be buyer of a number of doctored-up/franken watches over the years, I’ll be the guy to tell you that I appreciate that vintage patina and all the rhodium plated goodness of the original 1861 caliber movement… but it seems like every time I’ve tried to buy one something has been ‘off’. Either it had the wrong hands or a botched repair job (which is frustrating and worrisome considering how EASY Omega make it to get even the oldest vintage watches serviced).
I’m tired of getting to the ‘alter’ (so-to-speak) and have the seller stutter-step or balk. I WANT a vintage – but I’ve been burned so many times that I’m not willing to walk on fire to get one anymore. The new Mark II is a perfect chance at a “Do Over”! (Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Omega!) without having to go to a specialist dealer (read as $$$$) or resort to buying an homage.
Brice Goulard: (Can I change my statement to almost 100% original?) It’s a vintage watch, over 30 years old and it’s been in regular use… parts will have been replaced.
Mario Squillacioti: Well there you go! Thirty minutes ago I was going to make an offer on your watch! Now? Meh!
Seriously – I realize that no vintage watch that’s been worn and used can ever be 100% – but what I’m talking about is different, Brice. I’m talking about watches with the wrong pushers. The wrong case backs… that’s when you get into the realm of having to question how much of your watch is a genuine Omega. Is any of it?
Brice Goulard: True. I know that mine doesn’t have the original crystal (not that bad you’ll say, it’s a service crystal) and it is sometimes hard to know if it is or not original parts … These are the risks of a vintage watch!
And now Omega has created a re-issue of the Mark II, DOUBLE the price of your offer for my vintage Mark II!
Mario Squillacioti: (I was never actually going to pay you what I offered! I’m a jerk like that!) I know that Omega-maniacs around the world are about to have a conniption – but – are you really trying to compare the 1861 to the Co-Axial based 9300?
One is a historical movement that can trace its roots back to he first half of the PREVIOUS century! The other is the brainchild (in part) of the man who was a scholar of historical watchmaking – then became its progeny – and master. (That’s George Daniels incase you’ve been sleeping for the past few years.)
Brice Goulard: This one is not driven by the 9300 but the 3330 … A good movement that’s not the question but I would love to see an evolution of the 1861 with Co-Axial escapement
Mario Squillacioti: D’oh! Well – I put my foot in it there, didn’t I? The 3300 was a great movement. (‘So was the 1120’… no one ever said.)
I have to say – that the presence of the 3300 movement takes a bit of the shine off the apple. (I’m starting to hear cash registers ringing in the background.) I’d hate to think that the folks at the Swatch Group had a few spare movements that they needed to use and did some brand engineering to suit them.
…It’s still a really sexy watch. The Red/Black indexes are a highlight for me. Again – a feature on some past models that I would have loved to get my hands on!
Brice Goulard: One of the reason to put a 3330 in is, I guess, to prevent competition with others Speedies, such as the last 1957 re-issue! This one is priced below so the use of the 3330 is justified here.
Mario Squillacioti: Well – the sniff of ‘brand engineering’ aside – I’m still FOR this watch. It’s got a (sort of) modern movement. It’s Chronometer rated. It’s got modern lume. It’s just plain modern! The New and Improved Mark II will be available in TRUE ‘new in box’ condition, completely unmolested by unscrupulous sellers!
I guess my only real problem with the new Mark II is that I can’t have one NOW! [Brice – let’s talk off-line about your Mark II.]
Brice Goulard: Mario, I’m NOT selling you my Mark II !!!