A vintage ad unveiling the new Speedy / Credit: OMEGA Watches
The glorious unveiling of the Speedmaster Mark II wasn’t met with the most enthusiastic reception. While the ref 145.014 still had the original Omega design language as the Speedy pros of the same era (145.022), it just wasn’t as popular with consumers, perhaps because the original Moon-going Speedmaster was still available and in production. To put it simply, consumers wanted the real McCoy. To add to this series of unfortunate events for the Mark II, NASA supposedly rejected the new design and continued to issue the original Speedmaster. Ironically, the Seiko Pogue spent more time in space than the Omega Mark II, meanwhile, the Omega was the one specifically designed to do so.
The Relevance of the Mark II Today
If you’re anything like me, despite all of its unfortunate aspects, the Mark II is still on your radar. Why? Because it holds a cool story, it’s a little different from the carbon copy Speedmasters every collector seems to have, and because their rarity adds to their collectability.
Interestingly enough, the Mark II houses the legendary caliber 861, the same movement used in the Apollo Era Speedmasters of the same day. I actually appreciate the case shape and styling of these watches, and it’s important to note that finding one in good unpolished shape is rather rare.
Why should any vintage collector consider a Mark II from the late 60s early 70s? These watches were produced during the apparent ‘golden age’ of Speedmasters. Imagine how much it would cost to buy a 1969 Speedmaster. Meanwhile, you can pick up one of the beauties for around 2-3k on bracelet. They have the same movement, by the same company, with the same name on the dial. Hell, from a distance they look pretty similar. What the Mark II has going for it is that it's totally not a mainstream piece, and collectors know this.
On a side note, I actually prefer the caseback of the Mark II watches. Instead of having a NASA/Moon designation like the regular Speedmaster (something I actually feel cheapens the watch), it proudly features the Speedmaster logo/hippocampus, something that is very reminiscent of the earliest Speedmasters.