The Omega Speedmaster Pro Mark II - Why Isn't It More Popular

A deep dive into an often overlooked watch, and a discussion on its position in the market

J. HEFFNER, Feb 2021

It’s a story that’s been beaten to death by the watch community: The Omega that went to the Moon. Still, it’s an incredible feat, and the brand capitalizes on that history to this day. However, in the massive shadow (and I mean massive) of the Omega Speedmaster, specifically Speedmasters from the late 1960s and early 1970s lies the Omega Speedmaster Mark II. It’s the little brother to the original Speedmaster - a horological giant, and still bears the ‘Professional’ designation. Today, we are going to dive deep into this bastard of a watch and discuss why it’s so undervalued.

Genesis

Omega as a brand peaked (arguably) when their Speedmaster made it to the Moon. This space-age craze didn’t stop at NASA considering that the general population was also absolutely enamored by the feat. Imagine it’s 1969, and along with the entire nation, you just witnessed the Moon Landing. All Omega needed to do was push some marketing and boom, you’re suddenly looking to buy a Speedmaster so that you too can own the ‘Moon Watch.’

Lunching the Speedmaster to icon status / Credit: NASA

Omega, however, wasn’t too keen on the design of the original Speedmaster, considering it didn’t change much from its inception in 1957. The brand also had a lot of money/funding at this time, and they decided to give the Speedmaster a few tweaks to coincide with the style trends of the new decade (the 1970s). The final product was a chunkier Speedmaster professional with a cushion case and integrated bezel design, named the Speedmaster Mark II.

A vintage ad unveiling the new Speedy / Credit: OMEGA Watches

An Unfortunate Reception

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.

The speedy from our shop

Truth be told, in an effort to express my opinions in this rather objective piece, I feel these watches are actually going to see an uptick in value. Whether that happens in the next 6 months, or 6 years, it’s inevitable. Why? Because of all the reasons we spoke about earlier, these watches are totally value props for those looking for an authentic 1960s/1970s Speedmaster - made at a time when they were ACTUALLY still going to the Moon.

Don’t agree? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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