Opinion: Vintage Speedmasters Ready for Launch

As many of you know, if there’s a brand we love as much as Rolex, it’s Omega. And besides the number of articles we’ve dedicated to their more obscure vintage pieces, we’re also admirers of the classic Speedmaster. Which is why I was pretty excited to hear about Christie’s Speedmaster auction coming up next month. Outside of the ridiculous Omegamania auction, this is the first time we’ll publicly witness what kind of money Speedmasters can haul in. And if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, Speedmasters are officially ready for, ahem, liftoff (sorry).

If you’ve been keeping an eye on early Speedmasters, you’ve seen some sell here and there, but an event with this kind of attention will almost certainly finish with richer results. Not only will collectors be looking to add to their stables of rare vintage pieces, but also they’ll be bidding to strengthen the value of what they already have. After all, auctions aren’t just used as buying platforms; they’re used as pissing matches, and to inflate values. Let’s say you have a handful of rare Day-Dates in your collection. Would it not behoove you to bid up similar Day-Dates in an all Day-Date auction? Hell, even if you accidentally win one, that’s not a big price to pay, assuming your existing collection goes up equally.

Christies 2915-1

Christie’s Lot 3: 2915-1

What the general watch collecting public doesn’t know is that the early 2915 and 2998 Speedmasters have been trading almost exclusively behind the scenes in the last year or so, which hides the current pricing. I’d bet a lot of you would be surprised to find out that an early 2998 (-1 or -2) in excellent condition is currently fetching at least $30K. If you give that 2998 a tropical dial and/or lollipop seconds hand, you can safely add another $10K, if not more. It’s crazy to hear these prices when they were openly selling for $10K or less a couple of years ago. I think this is the biggest difference from the recent vintage Rolex boom, which you could pretty much watch unfold on sites like HQ Milton, 10 Past Ten, and even eBay, by keeping track of pricing over time.

Christie's Lot 5: 2998-1

Christie’s Lot 5: 2998-1

Frankly, when you look at comparable watches, I don’t think these early Speedies are unreasonable either. Why should a Big Red Daytona fetch upwards of $40K or $50K when an older, rarer Speedmaster only gets $30K? If you follow big watch accounts on Instagram, you’d think everyone and their mother has a vintage Daytona. However, not a whole lot of people are posting 2998s and 2915s. I know, I know, Rolex is Rolex and Omega is not. I don’t expect the Speedmaster auction to make everyone forget about Daytonas, but I do think we’ll see a significant bump in pricing over the next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the days of finding caliber 321 Speedmasters (in good, original condition, of course) for less than $10K are numbered. If you want in on the action, waiting will only leave you with regret. “Today’s high prices are tomorrow’s low prices”, or some such sales pitch like that.

I’m pumped for this auction. I’ll be there in the crowd with a big bag of popcorn, watching the drama unfold. My understanding is that the early pieces are already set to hit numbers never seen on the regular open market. At the moment, private collectors and dealers are hording the rarer pieces, only willing to part with them ahead of the auction for insane amounts. And as if the collectors weren’t enough, Omega will be openly bidding on pieces. It obviously helps for publicity reasons, but I’m sure they are looking to fill out their museum a bit more. Let’s put it this way, imagine a bonfire aided with rocket fuel, that’s how I think this auction will go off. Be sure to tune into the action on December 15th, whether online or in person – it’s going to be a good one.

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Shane is one of the founding members of Wound For Life and a contributor to several other publications. A lover of all things mechanical, his true passions lie with watches and adventure. To keep up with the latest from Shane, you can follow him on Twitter (@shanegriffin1) or Instagram (@shanegriffin25). If you'd like to get in touch with Shane, email him at shane@woundforlife.com.

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