Non-Moonwatch Omega Speedmasters: The Mark Series

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Written by hodinkee
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There are very few things that are universally true in watchmaking, or about watch lovers, but one that comes close is this everyone loves the Omega Speedmaster.  The Speedmaster is as beloved as it is for a number of good reasons, not the least of which are its incredible history and classic good looks (plus the fact that it is to this day still being used in space on the ISS) but there are many, many variations on the classic theme that are worth looking at, knowing about, and which are very collectible (to say nothing of being just plain sharp looking watches.)  Some of the most famous non-Moonwatch Speedmasters are the ones known as the Mark Series.
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These are basically Speedmasters that carry a “Mark xx” name; the first is, naturally enough, called the  Omega Speedmaster Mark II.  (Despite the fact that that watch is called the Mark II, oddly enough no one ever calls the original Moonwatch the Mark I). The Mark II was introduced by Omega in 1969, and while it’s not as famous as the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch it’s almost as popular with collectors, thanks to its striking cushion case, which has beautiful sunray brushing on the case top.  It came in both a plain black and white dial version and in a “racing dial” version with red hands.  Vintage ones have the same movement as the Speedmaster Professional (the calibre 861) and they are generally less expensive to boot.  However, do watch out for over-polished cases, which for this model are very common; many vintage Mark IIs have been over-polished, which destroys the sunray finish on the case.
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The next of the Mark Speedmasters is the  Mark III, introduced in 1971.  This was the very first automatic chronograph ever sold by Omega and it came out only a relatively short time after the first automatic chronographs ever hit the market, in 1969 (you can read about them in our guide to chronograph watches, right here.)  The Mark III is one of the most famous watches to use the Omega calibre 1040 movement, which is a modification of a movement originally made by a company called Lemania (the calibre 1340.)  One of the more unusual features of this movement, other than the fact that it is one of the earliest automatic chronographs, is that instead of having a subdial for the chronograph minutes it has a central chronograph elapsed minute hand - on the same axis as the regular hour and minute hands for telling the time.
Note: Not "professional"
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The  Speedmaster Mark IV came out in 1973, and it’s very similar to the Mark III, so much so that it is very easy to mistake one for the other.  Both have the same movement though the Mark IV has a case a bit more conventional in appearance, resembling in many respects the Mark II.  They have largely the same dial layout (as they would since they share the same movement). So if you want to identify a Mark IV quickly one way is to remind yourself that it has a Mark II case, and a Mark III dial and you’ll be good to go.
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All the Mark watches except for the last one came out in the early 1970s but it was not until 1984 that Omega finally produced the last of the Mark type Speedmasters: the  Mark V.  It was not sold in many markets, in fact it seems to have been sold largely to the German speaking market in central Europe and it may be the hardest of the Mark series Speedmasters to find.  The movement is the calibre 1045 and the general design is taken from a watch from two years earlier, the so-called “Smooth Line” Speedmaster which has a distinctive smooth bezel and rounded case, with an integrated bracelet. 

Collecting all five of the Mark Speedmasters is an interesting challenge and within each series there are a number of variant models you can enjoy hunting down.  Good luck! 

If you haven't already, check out our  guide to buying vintage Omega here and our  collection of vintage Omega here.
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