Sunday, May 29, 2005

A checklist of some key features of my Speedmaster CK 2998-6

Here are some of the key bits that are so often wrong on a watch like this:

Clockwise from top left:
Correct dial with applied Omega logo with correct font. The dial has only "Swiss Made" at the bottom. . This should be an obvious one, but you often see these with later dials.
Double step caseback with nicely preserved Seamonster; again, often a later back is fitted (single step) with the Hippocampus practically polished away.
The bezel, one of the commonest problems; the delicate and fragile bezel with the 70 and its dot in the right format (dot at '4 o'clock' not underneath the 70 as on the later bezels.)
The cal 321 movement serial number of 18xxxxxx puts it around 1961 to 1962 correct for the later 2998s.

And the stamping inside the caseback should look like this:

Hands are the correct 'Alpha' style with the simple baton style for the sub-dials, and the cute spear type with the correct rounded opposite end shape (not the later straight end style).
Bracelets weren't available to me but you should look here or here for guidance.

Finally note the 4mm pushers; so hard to find, many have been replaced with the later and larger type.

Surfing through the resources listed in the previous post as well as the above links will save you from missing these kinds of details. Good luck in your search for your dream Speedy.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Omega Speedmaster CK2998-6 (Straight Lug Pre-Pro Cal. 321)

Having got rid of the earlier and misguidedly purchased Speedy day-date (you can read the horror story of its screwed up service by Swatch UK here) and also having sold the wonderful Sinn 903 HD 24 with the Lemania 1877 movement paved the way to Straight Lug Speedy Land in the form of my favourite, the CK2998. This was the first Speedmaster tested in space (Walter Schirra, 1962 although apparently a 105.002), but not the first in the vacuum of space (Ed White's 105.003), but I won't begin to tackle the history of the Speedmaster as that is done so much better in so many places.

My 'new' CK2998-6 in lunar orbit yesterday.....

Here's Wally's for comparison. An incredible picture taken by Jean-Michel at the Bienne museum posted on his Speedmaster Mission site.

There's a bigger version on J-M's site. You owe yourself a visit there if you like Speedmasters. Note his different chrono second hand - another variation. Did Omega make two watches the same?! I digress......

What's interesting is that the case of mine has the same three plane lugs preserved. (look closely at Wally's.) So many of the watches available to me had cases where they had been overpolished and that subtle shape and transition had been lost forever.

2998 packs the awesome NASA test beating, lazy ticking (18000 vph), manual wind, column wheel chronograph movement: the Cal 321. Omega's version of the Lemania 2310.

If you want one of these new now you have to get yourself a Patek 5070! LOL, well at least some expensive Swatch or VC ;-)

It's hard to describe how gorgeous these vintage Speedies are in comparison to the current production and pictures don't do them justice either. However, of all the straight lug ones, CK2915 through to 105.003, this one has always been my fave with the dauphine hands (or as Omega call them 'Alpha' hands). (I'm a bit of a dauphine hand fan as some will know.)

Finally, thanks are due to advice from private individuals as well as the excellent services at the Omega forum at Watchuseek, Speedmaster Mission, TZ Omega forum and of course Chuck Maddox's encyclopaedic collection of articles and links on Speedmasters to help navigate the minefield of case, caseback, dial, hands, and so on and so on. Thanks to a whole host of other Speedmaster fanatic links and resources too numerous to detail including:

NL Speedy Owner Group
Eric So's Omega 4 U.Net
Steve Waddington's Old Omega
Omega-Addict, OSPOG

You can find links to those on Chuck's page.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rowley's Watch Collection

Me rummaging in the watchboxes of the famous with my reputation? Well, this week I have mostly been investigating tourbillons. I was very privileged to have this collection shared with me. Names changed and archive pics to protect the...etc, etc.......

Yes, it’s tourbillon central starting with the Greenwich Observatory test entrant (hardest game in the world) Patek with the 34T tourbillon in it (The 3834?):


The “suit you sir” bizarre AP Edward Piguet Crystal Inline Tourbillon.


The Richard Mille RM001, but is it one with the titanium plate? Brilliant.


Does my wrist look big in the exquisite JLC Reverso Tourbillon (rose gold)?.


and finally, originally the Patek 5101P, but having recently chewed up and spat this one out (no offence):


because "... in the flesh it was a poor rendition of something that should have made my heart stop. The finishing, the colouring, the strap, and the feel of the watch was all very disappointing. My wife thought it looked like a cheap Locman.”

Well I wouldn’t know about that sir…., but it’s been replaced with that amazing Roger Dubuis Golden Square Tourbillon. Grrrreat.


However, nirvana remains unattained until RM004, RM008, AP R.O. Cabinet Piece No 4 and AP Alinghi have been added apparently, which is nice.

Oh yes and I was very very drunk….

Saturday, May 14, 2005

My SIHH & Basel 2005 Favourites

If you haven't seen them, check the excellent reports of Basel 2005 by Alberto Schileo and SIHH 2005 by Alex Ghotbi and Alberto Schileo at

In no particular order and for no particular reasons, my top 6 favourites......

Click the thumbnail to get the bigger amazing pictures from AlbertoS at

Friday, May 06, 2005

Nautilus, Royal Oak, Overseas - Hideous and Beautiful Simultaneously?

Look at Angelica Houston, or Lauren Bacall; incredibly beautiful and yet with a turn of their head or change of light, somehow strangely ugly at the same time. Some things can be so sensitive to how you look a them and yet you know they can be beautiful - so why don't you like them?

Referring to the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Vacheron Constantin Overseas (222)*, Robert-Jan Broer wrote,
“Why is it that some watches are just beloved by advanced watch collectors, and most other people mainly just hate them?…..These are watches which you don’t like at first glance; you have to grow into them. Your watch knowledge has to climb to a certain level before you’re able to see and evaluate the beauty and quality of these kind of watches.”
(*All Genta designs by the way.)

I have to agree. I discussed this with Thomas Mao the founder of The PuristS last year, and I said that I, for one, really could not get on with the look of the Royal Oak, let alone the Offshore! He remarked that he’d “heard that a lot” and yet many who had said that had come to own one of the above watches in later life apparently having U-turned their earlier unenthusiastic aesthetic opinion.

As for me, I’ve never really liked the above watches and have to say I still don’t. Only perhaps less aggressively. Some angles and views do appeal (like with Angelica and Lauren). So that means I obviously have to conclude that I have not yet attained the required “level” to “see the beauty of these kind of watches!” But maybe I'm on my way....? Maybe they will grow on me, we shall see, but I wonder how many readers there are out there who share my aesthetic reticence towards these watches. I also honestly wonder how many worship the name on the dial more than the watch (see previous blog article!), or wear these having been programmed or led to aspire to them. It is fascinating to ponder the latter comment in light of an apparently loose lipped or perhaps unashamedly arrogant watch company CEO who said to Jaw of The PuristS, “We decide what is fashion. Consumers want and need the guidance from us.”

The Nautilus, Royal Oak and Overseas are clearly good designs I just don’t really like them personally. One thing is for sure, they are at least, balanced, striking and unique even if they don’t flick my switch and you only have to look at a derivative design like the Girard Perregaux Laureato (that looks like a toned down Royal Oak with a Nautilus bracelet) to realise they are something that is a good design even if you don’t like it. It is a similar case for the design perfection of the Jaeger LeCoultre RDM as opposed to the similar, but flawed (dare I say, hideous?) VC and Zenith 'RDM' efforts.

So maybe one day... Mmmmm that new Nautilus (3712/1a) is looking more attractive by the minute.

Click for a super hi res pic from AlbertoS and some more here by Suitbert Walter.

Monday, May 02, 2005

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.....?

A cheeky wag recently 'photoshopped' some pictures of Patek's new wares (The new 5078 and 5296) and changed the name to something less impressive. What was interesting to me was the immediate change you felt in your approach to them based purely on the brand name sat on the dial. See and feel for yourself: