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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum, but I have gone a little nutty buying Speedmasters lately. In the last few weeks I have bought the following: 105.003-64, 105.003-65, 145.012-67, and now an 861 from 1969. I'm planning some service and part swapping, etc for the watches, but I would like to know what you Speedmaster guys think of patina. The 64 pre pro watch is totally original...in fact it hasn't been serviced since 1977.....you read that right....1977. It's still running strong and keeping good time, but it'll be off for service after the first of the year. That's quite a testament to these watches, I think. Anyway, that watch has the typical darkened markers on the dial, and I am debating whether to leave them exactly as they are or have Jesse in Albany clean them up and re lum them. Sure it would be nice to have them stand out from the dial...and glow in the dark, but what do you all think in terms of value down the road...and just plain what you like best. I know I don't want the dial to look new. As it is, the markers almost disappear into the dark dial. Oh...and one more question: The crown appears to be a bit smaller than the crown on the 145.012. Is that correct? Were they different sizes? I'll put up some photos of the whole group in the coming days...if anyone cares to see them. I think I'm done buying for now, but I may have to pick up a 105.012 just for good measure. I already had a recent model that got me started looking at the others. I can stop ANY time....really.
 

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If the dial has turned "chocolate" then don't touch it. Otherwise a little cleaning never hurts as long as originality of the lume and ink remains intact. Jesse knows what he's doing so no worries on that front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
chocolatey goodness....

I see a good deal of reference to "chocolate" dials on the older Speedmasters, and I've seen a few selling on Ebay, but they just appear to be faded black dials. Is this the case? And it is even more confusing when I see a dial on an 861 that appears very faded while the older 321 dials remain black. I guess some watches were left/worn in direct sunlight over time? I, for one, would prefer a black dial, but there seems to be a premium placed on the faded dials. Can someone help me out here? As for my question about the crowns on the different gen. Speedmasters, I know there are plenty of experts on here...are you shy? The 105.003 straight lug watch clearly has a smaller crown, which might make sense given that it's much more exposed to abuse. Anyone?
 

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I see a good deal of reference to "chocolate" dials on the older Speedmasters, and I've seen a few selling on Ebay, but they just appear to be faded black dials. Is this the case? And it is even more confusing when I see a dial on an 861 that appears very faded while the older 321 dials remain black. I guess some watches were left/worn in direct sunlight over time? I, for one, would prefer a black dial, but there seems to be a premium placed on the faded dials. Can someone help me out here? As for my question about the crowns on the different gen. Speedmasters, I know there are plenty of experts on here...are you shy? The 105.003 straight lug watch clearly has a smaller crown, which might make sense given that it's much more exposed to abuse. Anyone?
Yes, the chocolate is just a black dial that has faded. There are new Speedmasters with the chocolate color dial too, but that's how they came from Omega. Can't help you on the crown question.
 

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Need pictures for more specific advice

However, I don't touch these watches at all - no reluming etc. Originality is key - besides these can always be done in the future.
Regarding service, unless you are going to wear the watch regularly, if it is working properly, wouldn't have that done as well. Have had cal. 321 movement parts damaged from routine service - yes my watchmaker is very good - just too many tiny parts that can break even when handled normally. Plus some of these parts are impossible to source or can be sourced but at great cost. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. The one thing I have learned about the cal. 321 is that it is a finicky movement - can fully understand why the switch to the 861 was made. That being said, I accumulate cal. 321 omegas like crazy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the input...

Although now I'm less sure what to do. I had decided to have that pre pro dial re lumed, but now I'm not so sure. I saw a dial just like it...chocolate with what surely appeared to be re lumed markers with tinting to appear aged. It just sold on ebay for over 2k, so someone...or several someones weren't bothered by the work done on it. It certainly looked better than the orig. cond. with the "burnt" tritium. I don't know about the others, but my two pre pro dials have indices that are so aged/dark, they nearly blend in with the dial. It's interesting that to Omega, the aged dial was just another old part that had to be replaced but to collectors, it is quite valueable. I'm just glad the previous/original owner kept the parts after they were removed.

I was also sad to see the 321 characterized as "finicky." I was hoping to wear these watches a lot, and now I'm wondering if that's wise. I've seen this point batted about in forums before, though. There seem to be varying opinions as to daily wear for 321 watches. But there is no such lack of agreement when it comes the cost of parts and the difficulty in finding some. I doubt I'll be collecting more 321s, but I hope those I have now (3) will not prove troublesome. Two of them have been without service for a very long time, and they are both doing fine.
 

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Well, I am surprised about hearing someone buying 4 (not one) nice vintage speedys without knowing the basics. I don't want to sound harsh - me too in the beginning of my collecting path I have been impetuous - but I have learned during the way that the nicest part of collecting (especially for the vintage) is the study before the transaction. It's an opportunity of appreciating much more what you eventually buy.
Getting back to the topic I wouldn't touch them (no relume, no washing indexes, and so on) and even no Omega service, find a vintage Omega skilled reputable watchmaker if you really are into that.
 

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I knew the basics...

as to the history of the watches and the movements, but I was interested in opinions regarding originality and dial work. I am having the dials of the two pre pro models spiffed by one of the members from this forum. The markers are simply too dark to be attractive or useful. He is also doing some bezel and crystal work and a full service on one that hasn't been cleaned in about 30 yrs. I look forward to being able to wear them. When it comes to how much work to have done to dials, etc, it seems to be a matter of taste. You might think the dials are more desireable when totally unmolested, but I see dials sell on Ebay that have clearly had the markers lightened then tinted to appear aged. They bring very good money, so somone out there wants that look, not the crusty, dark brown look. I intend to keep them for many years, so I'm really the only one who must be pleased.
 

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restoring vintage speedys dials

I was meaning the basics of vintage collecting, not of the models you mentioned because I am sure you know them at the best. The purists will tell you that an untouched dial is preferable than a restored one if you're interested in the value down the road, even if a degree of restoring can be accepted, especially regarding reluming the hands. But if your benchmark (or market) is ebay or you can't take a less than perfect dial then I have nothing to say about. But my humble opinion is: if the dial need to be restored then may be that's not the watch I should go after, unless is a very rare model or reference and that's not the case of such speedys. It's a matter of patience and money, if you have them you'll find the best samples for sure.
Anyhow some pics of your dials would help
 

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I've turned them over to Jesse

and I have faith that his work will be excellent. Like a physician, his first concern is to do no harm. Both dial are pre pros, and both have the faded black/brown look but with markers that are very dark. Jesse says there has been moisture at some point, but the dials don't appear damaged. I'm confident they will be much more attractive when he is done with them. If they had simply been yellowed like some I see, I would have left them. I am beginning to notice that MANY of the dials on the mid 60s and early Speedmasters are not original dials. Maybe half of them have the dials without the T (tritium)markings. In my opinion, that type of change would be significant to me. It is important that the dial be original, moreso than if it has been cleaned/spiffed at some point, as long as the work is done well. I do appreciate your opinions, though.
 

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I was looking over old posts....

and realized I never put up any photos of the dials I had referred to. Here they are as they were when I shipped them to Jesse. I'm excited to see how they look when I get them back. Both appear to have had moisture issues, but Jesse says they will/are clean nicely.




The watch that belongs to the loose dial above is also getting the original hands cleaned up and put back on the watch. Omega made it look like new...too new for my taste.
 
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