There is something enticing about wearing purpose-built sports watch clad in precious metal. We're not sure if its the contradictory nature of the blend of themes, the rarity, or that certain inexplicable draw to a little bit 'a bling...but whatever it is, it makes us feel like Tony Montana whenever we strap one on, and we like it!
We'll get back to the gold bit in a moment, but first a little back story on the Speedmaster Mark II:
The name "Speedmaster Professional" is synonymous with the exploration of space and is best known as the first watch worn on the moon, giving them some pretty serious credentials. It is arguable that Omega would probably have stayed in business and been just as popular if the original moon watch was the only model they ever made for the line. But they didn't stop there, and we're glad they didn't. The years following the legendary Apollo mission saw the release of an expanded line of Speedmaster variants, known commonly as the "Mark" Series. Some of these watches were real flops on the market, and others weren't. Regardless of their initial popularity, all are interesting timepieces and have a collector following today. Of these Mark Series Speedmasters, the one we get asked about most frequently is the first successor to the original Professional - the Mark II.
Mark II Speedmasters were the first radical departure from the traditional Speedmaster case, and instead of an exposed lug design, the Mk II was designed with a tonneau shape with hidden lugs. This gives the Mk. II a great profile and a very 70s look that is quite popular with enthusiasts today. A total of three variants of the Mark II were produced by Omega, beginning in 1969 - a simple black dial layout similar to the better known "Moon Watch" models, a grey "Racing Dial" with a colorful outer track, and a gold plated version featuring a gold tone dial and burgundy tachymetre ring. Take a guess at which version is the rarest! All Mark IIs features the Calibre .861 manual winding chronograph movement, used by Omega in their Professional chronographs starting in 1968.
Gold-plated Speedy Mark IIs such as this example weren't only the rarest execution of the model, but they are also the most difficult to find in good condition today. The oversize profile of the tonneau case was prone to damage and dings, and the bevels are easily worn away by careless over-polishing. Additionally, the process by which Omega clad the pieces in gold was by a process known as electro-plating, and these early pieces really didn't hold up particularly well, meaning that the majority of those found on the market have seen better days...
This particular example caught our eye last year as a true survivor, an excellent example with minimal case wear and decent plating, not to mention an absolutely stunning original dial! As we found it, it was already one of the nicest gold plated Speedies we had ever come across - but we decided to improve on it. Treated to a year-long overhaul and spa treatment, the original case was stripped of its original plating, minor imperfections in the steel were sorted, and then it was re-plated and re-brushed by our master case worker. At the same time, the watch was given a full mechanical sorting, complete with new genuine pushers, crystal, and crown - all directly from Omega.
Short of finding an untouched New Old Stock example, this is about as nice a gold Mark II as you'll ever find. And unlike that mystical NOS find, here's one you could (and should) actually wear the hell out of!