The Omega Speedmaster, we all know why this watch is important but what is it like to own? There comes a moment in every enthusiast journey where you discover the Moonwatch for all its historic significance and are coerced by watch media, fellow enthusiasts or your own self that no collection can be complete without a Speedy. A first watch for many, an “only watch” for some, I have always admired Omega’s quintessetial timepiece and took the leap to purchase one for myself in November 2021.
There are a plethora of Speedmaster to choose from and I mean that quite literally, it took me so long to commit to a Moonwatch due to the vast array of limited editions, off-shoots and vintage pieces. I landed on the 3592.50 as it was close enough to birth year, consisting of a hesalite crystal, patinated tritium dial, gilt movement and an asking price that is hard to argue with. This watch was a number of firsts for me, my first chronograph, first vintage(ish), first exhibition caseback and having now owned the watch for the better part of 6 months now I feel I’ve gotten to grips with my Speedmaster journey.
Having seen many a Moonwatch at G2G’s I had an idea of what ownership might look like, but the benefit of getting a piece in this particular reference is the patina of the tritium dial. It was the first thing that drew me in and in my mind, a vintage Speedy is the best kind of Speedy. Seeing a beat up, faded Moonwatch with pumpkin coloured lume is as good as it gets. While this example does not boast all those characteristics, it gave me more than enough of that old world feeling I was chasing. What I didn’t expect was just how much the watch feels like an instrument first and timekeeper second. Omega saturates its marketing of the Speedmaster with links to space exploration but only when I saw the font, timing registers and matte dial on my wrist, I bought into the idea that I am wearing a watch cut from the same cloth of that of an astronaut. It’s a feeling modern pieces don’t convey to me as manned space exploration nowadays is rare and does not carry the same spirit as it did in the golden age of the space race.
Flipping the watch over, a beautifully dressed 863 movement (a variation of the 861 calibre of the standard issue Moonwatch of the time) carries the lineage of the Lemania 1873 with a twist. Golden features bring the mechanism to life and while the levers of the chronograph remain rhodium plated, the contrast makes this calibre a pleasure to get lost in and trumps the sober caseback of the latest and greatest Moonwatch. The anglage, Geneva stripes and high polish screws tie the bow on an amazing visual that is hard to beat at the price point. Actuating the pushers and seeing how every component interacts with each other brought back the magic of seeing a mechanical watch for the first time and that warm fuzzy feeling is always a welcome one.
The 1479 bracelet is supremely comfortable and is exactly the kind of old-school bracelet one could want. A stamped clasp, enough stretch to make it comfortable but not too much to feel as if it’s falling apart, the entire package consolidates that this 3592.50 is manufactured in an era gone by yet isn’t a piece that you have as treat gently as other bona-fide vintage pieces.
I fully committed to the honey-moon phase wearing the Moonwatch for weeks and weeks on end, it was such a treat to have something in the collection that is so different to my other pieces. I enjoyed looking down at my wrist and seeing a watch that had lived half a life before it ended up on my wrist and honestly, few watches look better from across the room than a Speedy. Largely unchanged since the late 60’s, even as the world becomes more consumable and connected it was reassuring to see a watch that has stood the test of time and will continue its legacy for generations to come. At this point, I really understood why collectors love the Speedmaster and it is truly deserving of all the praise it receives. It has icon status for a reason and is as important to the watch industry, to history and pop culture as any watch out there.
You may have noticed that a lot of what I’ve said is in past tense, intentionally so. As I write this now into half a year of Speedmaster ownership, I’m not sure I feel the same way about my 3592.50 as I once did. The connection I wanted to have with the moon and the stars dwindled, the sun has set on the honey-moon phase and a watch that once had it’s fair share of wrist time is now starting to sit in the watch box for longer stretches than it deserves. The watch didn’t change, it is still as wonderful as I found it but what’s more likely is that I have. My type of fun in watch collecting is owning a watch that I know will stick around forever. It will be part of my collection and as I experience life, the watch will be there with me. As I said earlier, the watch had already lived a life before I came into possession of it and while I really enjoy the appearance of its beautiful patina dial, it feels like I’ve missed out on the experience in between. I might own this vintage(ish) watch, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve earned it. Imagine buying this watch new, seeing it in all its glory, walking out of that boutique with your brand new Speedmaster circa 1990 and still enjoying it 30 years down the track. What was once a black dial is now a few shades lighter, lume that was once white is now coffee and each scratch on the case is a memory. Now that’s what I’m talking about. When I look at the 3592.50 it doesn’t quite feel like my watch, it’s just keeping the last slot in my watch box warm until something else comes along. I inadvertently found myself investigating what prices I could fetch for it to put toward something else. Once I start to think of a watch in that way, I know it’s time to part ways. When I look at my Pelagos, Explorer and Reverso I know they’re not going anywhere and love them now as much as I did the day they became mine.
The Speedmaster is a watch I like, I appreciate and enjoy. However it’s not a watch that I adore like my other pieces. I’m glad I’ve had this experience and sometimes it’s just a part of the collecting journey, I’ve learned more about my collecting habits more than the Speedmaster itself. I went in thinking I was completing my collection with this acquisition but not long after I discovered that sometimes a watch that you like is not necessarily a watch that should be in your collection. On paper it should be a keeper, but deep down I knew I would be better off with something else, whatever it may be. I hope I haven’t offended any Speedmaster owners because I wish the enjoyment of this watch I felt initially did not fade. I still hold the Moonwatch in as high regard as ever, however now armed with the knowledge that it is a piece that is just not appreciated to the fullest in my collection and maybe vintage watches in general are not for me.
Moral of the story, it’s more than fine to catch and release and you don’t always have to listen to people telling you that you have to own a watch if your heart isn’t really in it. Tastes change, we change and the collection you and I might have today could look quite different in a few years time.