Okay. A buyer’s guide for vintage Speedmasters… That’s quite the task we took upon ourselves!
This is just an introduction – the in-depth articles will follow soon!
As you have found SpeedyWatches.com, you are probably aware of the fact that the Speedmaster was first introduced in 1957 and has been in production ever since. That’s nearly sixty years! So where to start when building a guide for potential buyers of a vintage Speedmaster?
Let’s start with a very basic question: what’s vintage? In Rolex-collecting vintage is commonly considered everything fitted with plexi crystals, as Rolex made the change to sapphire (gold models excluded) in the mid-to-late eighties. This would be a rather fine start, as the Rolex-collectors have been the forerunners of the vintage watch world in many respects – no matter your personal opinion of Rolex timepieces.
However, the Speedmaster is still in production today with a plexi crystal. So much for taking the Rolex-route.. So we’d like to propose something different – every Speedy up to the introduction of SuperLuminova (instead of Tritium or even Radium) is vintage.
Not sure what we’re talking about? Don’t worry – it’s quite simple. In times gone by, the material used to get the indices to light up was Radium. This was changed in the early to mid sixties to Tritium, which was used up to the late nineties. Both materials are radioactive – the former slightly (well…) more than the latter. Their replacement, (Super-) Luminova is not and as such could not illuminate by itself, but has to be charged in order to light up – afterglow.
So, when considering everything pre-Luminova vintage, we will got a good fifty years to cover. Five decades years with many different models, commanding different prices. It would not be fair to make one single Buyer’s Guide covering all these models – so we won’t. Instead, we’ve made up a list considering different types of buyers, looking for different things.
It all depends on what you’re looking for;
- Pre-Moon models
- Pre-Pro models
- Early models
- Limited editions
As an quick introduction, let’s dive into these categories – once again, the in-depth articles will follow soon:
If you’re looking for a Speedmaster with a nice patina, your quest is rather simple: stay clear of any Luminova models. Luminova doesn’t change colour with age, as Tritium and Radium do. When looking for a Speedmaster that shows a bit of its age, pre-Luminova is the way to go!
This is more specific. If you’re looking at models that have been used in space, you’re options are more limited. Only a certain number of Speedmasters have been (verifiable) used in space. However, there have been many models that have some kind of connection to NASA – whether the regular Speedmaster Pro with its caseback referring to the moon-landing, or dedicated limited editions. It is up to you how far you are willing to go.
We’re slowly starting to get into deep space territory. Pre-Moon is the term used for Speedmasters lacking the engraving referring to Apollo XI – they thus feature nothing but the Hippocampus on the back. It might be obvious to think this category features all Speedmaster prior to 1969 – however, the engraving was added somewhere around 1970, and Pre-Pro models are generally considered to be in a league of their own.