Some of the earliest posts in this blog concern the Omega Speedmaster, iconic due to Omega’s intention to remind the world that these watches were worn by ASTRONAUTS who went TO THE MOON. Much has been written about how NASA selected a bunch of wristwatches and subjected them to tests supposedly representative of the kind of abuse they’d take in space, but the Speedmaster was the only watch which passed all the tests well enough to get the green light.

There were some flaws in the original c1957 Speedmaster design, though – the crown and pushers were unprotected from getting sideways knocks (as in the “Ed White” Speedmaster) and when the 105.012 and 145.012 series watches were being designed (and subsequently branded “PROFESSIONAL” – see Omega Speedmaster – 1968), they included some crown guards to help.

Even with astronauts wearing what became known as the Moonwatch, Omega decided it could improve the design – replace the “Hesalite” (it’s acrylic, not some magic material) crystal with a mineral glass one, thick enough to prevent accidental damage and more scratch resistant. The TACHYMETRE bezel that might be knocked off a Speedy was moved under the glass, too. The 145.014 Speedmaster Mark II arrived in 1969, at the same time as the transition from the cal 321 to 861 movements inside took place in the original, as it moved from 145.012 to 145.022 desgnation. Despite the additional ruggedness and more contemporary chunky cushion case, it seemed NASA wasn’t particularly interested in testing it for space flight, so the Mark II has always been in the shadow of the Moonwatch to a degree. I had a black-dial one some time ago – covered in the inaugural post for this blog, no less.

Before that, I bought a “Racing dial” model; the grey dial with different markers and colourful hands echoes a design that has appeared in other Speedmasters, notably an uber-rare 145.022-69 with the same domed/stepped dial as the regular Moonwatch, but a different paint job. Compare that an original Racing dial Speedmaster might set you back $50,000-100,000 but a same-era racing Speedmaster Mark II would be 1/10th of that.

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This one had started life with a black dial, but a previous owned had it serviced and decided to replace the dial and hands with the more eye catching “Racing” arrangement. It’s pictured above with a grey/Orange “Toshi” strap, a really nice chunky leather job which looks and feels great. Many collectors might think that replacing the original hands and dial ruined the originality of the watch, and to some extent, I agree – though the Racing dial is so much more vivid and attractive than the plain, flat, black Mark II dial. Many period tritium-dialled Mark II Racings have faded quite a lot over time, which does give them a nice gentle patina, but I was pretty happy with my brightly-coloured purchase.

After wearing it on strap or on the original 1162/173 bracelet for a while, I decided that the various dings and scratches on the surface were a bit annoying – especially when compared with the lovely finish on my black-dial Mark II.


So, off it went to Swiss Time Services, who offer a refinishing service. On the face of it, this sounds bad news – watch nerd of some standing, Eric Wind, said his own personal hell would be to be chained up in the Rolex service department’s polishing room, where watches sent in for service would be given a nice grounding out on the polishing wheel to make them all shiny again. What STS do in the case of this kind of brushed finish, though, is to laser-weld additional material to the existing case, filling in any dings or deep scratches, then using a lapping machine, re-apply the brushed finish to restore it to like-new. It may be a few microns thinner than originally, but in the case of the SMII, it’s a chunky enough case that it can take it. The results were spectacular.


Here it is, next to the black dial – forgive the finger-mark on the crystal of the Racing watch…


As it happens, tastes move on and I found that I rarely wore the Mark II – it’s a little bit chunky and part of me was always a bit worried about putting a big scratch on that lovely sunburst finish, so it mostly lived its ensuring years in the safe.

Eventually I decided to sell it…




Since the 145.014 wasn’t used in space, the case back just had the engraved Omega “hippocampus”; subject to wear as in this case.


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By ewand

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