My 105.002 Speedmaster is hands down my favorite watch. It's been through a lot in just a short time, been on my wrist for milestones in my life, and it has one heck of a story behind it.
I was browsing a watch forum in March 2014 when a post popped up about a vintage Speedmaster going up for auction. It was old, beat up, and had only three small photos and essentially no description to go off of other than it was part of the estate of a wealthy California man. I was immediately intrigued and was able to track the watch down to a small auction house in sleepy little Selmer, Tennessee.
I got in touch with the auction house and asked about the watch but there wasn't much to go off, the auction house was a small family-run operation that knew a lot more about antiques than anything else. I registered to bid over the phone for the auction and waited anxiously for the day of the auction, reviewing the photos daily.
I still have those auction house photos, and this was all there was to go on:
All the signature traits of an earlier Speedmaster were there. The straight lug case, DON bezel, spear-tipped chrono hand, double stepped caseback, and Swiss Made only dial. I had no photos of inside the caseback or the movement which was a a huge gamble, but I could tell that those traits along with baton hands meant the watch had to be a 105.002.
The 105.002 was a bridge between model number naming conventions for Omega. The company used four-digit numbering for models through the early 60s, with the first Speedmaster being the 2915 and then the 2998. The 2998 saw a number of evolutions until its final iteration, the 2998-62, all of which had alpha hands. In 1962, Omega revised to the six digit model reference nomenclature, the first Speedmaster being the 105.002-62. Early 105.002s were identical to the 2998-62 in everything except the model number, and later in the run Omega made the switch to the baton hands we still see today. The 105.002 was only produced for one year in 1962, as in 1963 the 105.003 "Ed White" was born. As such, the model is rather rare and an interesting transition in the history of the Speedmaster.
I thought I was going to get a great bargain on this watch since the auction had essentially zero exposure and the average estate auction attendee wasn't going to be familiar with the nuances of vintage Speedmasters. It's just an old, beat up watch with a scratched crystal and missing parts to 99% of the world.
The day had finally come, and I remember pacing outside in my driveway on a sunny late March morning on the phone with an auction house employee on the other end while the lots previous to the Speedy hammered away. The time came and the bidding was lightning fast, catching me off guard at first, and the price climbed pretty quickly. Someone else must have known about the hidden gem because it quickly evolved into a bidding war between myself and another phone bidder. I emerged victorious. I later found out the guy I beat out for the watch was furious, and thought he was only one who knew what it was.
Even though the hammer price was an amazing bargain, the watch was still a gamble, especially with the chance for moisture (and rust) in the movement through the missing pusher hole. Or the movement was missing parts, or maybe even wasn't original. I still hadn't seen it.
It arrived and I was relieved to find the movement was correct and all there. I set out on a hunt to find the right watchmaker to get the job done, so naturally I headed to the Omega Forums and found a member there who was also an enthusiast and knew the proper way to care for and service a vintage 321-powered Speedmaster. I sent him the watch, along with another pre-moon Speedy I owned at the time in April, and was quoted a two month lead time.
Unfortunately, this proved to be a mistake. I was patient for those two months, only checking in once that time had passed for an update. What I received was complete silence. No response for months. I started to get anxious and thought that something had happened, or that this guy had run off with my watches.
I eventually posted on the Omega forums asking if anyone had heard from him lately, and another member local to him got in touch for me and eventually had the watches returned, unserviced and untouched. It had been six months.
After that experience, I honestly just tucked the watch away and was going to wait until I found a watchmaker I trusted to take care of it. I got in touch with Al Archer, but he had a waiting list over a year long.
I ended up finding someone who lived near Houston, Texas to take on the job. After sending him a couple other watches as a trial, I sent my Speedy down in May 2015.
In May 2015, the watch was sent via insured USPS registered mail (a note to those reading: don't ship watches USPS, and not because of this story) to the watchmaker. Well, May 2015 saw historic flooding in Houston. And as luck would have it, my package stopped updating the tracking, with the last update being leaving the Houston distribution center but not arriving anywhere else.
For a week.
Once again, I'm panicking that my watch is gone, floating down a flooded street somewhere in Texas. I went so far as to start looking up other 105.002s for replacement values to justify my insurance claim when the time came, because I thought the watch was gone.
I got a hold of someone at the distribution center for USPS in Houston through some internet detective work, and they ended up thankfully finding my Speedy, and it eventually arrived in one piece.
The service went smooth enough, although the hour hand did lose a small chunk of paint near the base when being re-installed. The movement was complete and incredibly clean despite the missing pusher leaving it open to the elements. The watch received new pushers, gaskets, and a crystal, but all of the key original components remained. I waited patiently while the service took nearly six months, and the watch was finally returned to me in November 2015.
Ever since getting it back, I wear it as often as I can. I see so many collectors that just stuff their expensive vintage watches away, afraid to scratch or damage their "investments" that only get taken out for Instagram pictures.
Watches are meant to be worn. They were used as tools before everyone carried around a supercomputer in their pocket. Every mark or nick just adds to the character that a vintage watch carries with it, and this watch has 55 years of character. I feel connected to this watch because of the hunt for it, my love for Speedmasters and all the servicing nightmares. I remember everything in this article like it was yesterday. I remember events in my life that happened with this watch on my wrist. It's important to me.
Is my 105.002 perfect? Not even close. In fact, it will just get more nicks and scratches.
And that's the way I like it.
If you have a good story about one of your watches, get in touch with us because we'd love to hear your story. If you're after your own vintage Speedmaster, be sure to check out the shop.
Thanks for reading and happy hunting.