The Other Speedmasters: Speedmaster Pro Mark II

Apr 22, 2014

 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II, 1969

Every watch enthusiast and collector knows the Omega Speedmaster Professional.  Arguably the most important chronograph in history, the Speedmaster’s original claim to fame is all it will ever need for street credibility; it was the first watch worn on the moon.

Yet the Speedmaster line existed well before the Apollo 11 mission touched down on that heavenly body – 12 years before to be precise – and has continued to evolve to this day.  In fact, the watches worn on the moon in 1969 were already outdated by the time the Eagle landed – they were models from 1967, and featured the calibre .321 movement, which had already been superseded by the calibre .861 in 1968. In the next few weeks we will introduce you to the “Other Speedmasters,” starting this week with the first departure from the original Professional: The Mark II.

Released in 1969 and sold alongside the original models, the Speedmaster Mark II (shown above) featured an entirely different case shape.  Known as a “Barrel” shape, the steel case was brushed on the top and polished on the sides, featuring hidden lugs and a flush crystal.  Departing from the open lug design of its predecessor, the Mark II’s lugs were located beneath the case, which created a rounded shape devoid of protrusions (except for the chronograph pushers and crown).    Like the original, the Mark II also featured a tachymetre scale bezel surrounding the dial, however on this model the bezel was positioned beneath the crystal, further streamlining the case profile..

The dial layout on the Mark II is nearly identical to the original Professional, with a central sweep chronograph hand and subsidiary dials at 3, 6, and 9 (featuring a 30 minute register, 12 hour register, and sweeping seconds, respectively).  Internally, the Speedmaster Mark II housed the same calibre .861 manual-winding movement as the “regular” Speedmaster Professional.  The watch was sold with a metal bracelet, although many have since been replaced with various types of fabric straps, which suit the watch brilliantly (see above).

A variant dial for Speedmaster Mark II was also produced (shown above), featuring a grey background with a multicolored orange, white, and red stripe pattern on the outer edge.  This variant also had orange or yellow accents on the subsidiary dials and on the center chronograph sweep hand.  This uncommon version has come to be known as the “Racing Dial” Mark II.  A gold cased version was also produced in extremely limited numbers.

Today, Speedmaster Mark II’s are relatively easy to source, although it is important to find one without a damaged/degraded bezel insert or a heavily polished case.  Parts are still available from Omega, and servicing the .861 workhorse movement is no problem.  Values remain excellent, with good examples still available for under $2000.  Ultimately, the Mark II is a totally cool, totally wearable model Speedmaster that is just a little…different.

For more information on the Mark Series Speedmasters, check out Chronomaddox.

Words and Images by: James Lamdin - A vintage watch connoisseur and founder of analog/shift (www.analogshift.com), an online boutique for a curated selection of exceptional wristwatches. 


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