‘Ed White’ 105.003 Omega Speedmaster
I don’t understand much of modern Omega. Maybe I’m a cynic. But one glance at their website shows Eddie Redmayne trying to look like a grown-up with an orange Aqua Terra that was clearly inspired by an Oyster Perpetual. The once storied De Ville line now seems like a miscellaneous catch-all, flipping from passé to tourbillon faster than Meghan Markle faked her accent. Saddest of all though, I’d say the majority of recent Speedmasters feel like a marketing exercise. I don’t even need to mention Swatch. I don’t mean this to be an indictment, Omega has the kind of history and ability micro-brands have wet dreams over. Rather, I wish to uphold and remind us all of the pillars of excellence that Omega built their reputation on, which they’re leaning on a bit too heavily now. This is a 105.003 ‘Ed White’, and to me it’s what Omega stands for. Yes, Omega still make a 321. But that’s now decidedly a luxury product. This wasn’t, it was made to do a job.
First, there’s the history, which most of you will be familiar with. In case you’re not, this is not a Moonwatch. It’s a pre-moon space watch, worn by its namesake during the first-ever historic space walk on Gemini IV. It was worn on that space walk because it was tool that simply did the job better than any of the other watches NASA tested (including Wittnauers and Cosmographs). Pre-moon Speedmasters have seen a significant uptick in desirability in the last few years, as collectors have increasingly seen them, deservedly, through the lens of manual Daytona peers with comparably illustrious pedigree. They’re rarer too. In my experience, a vintage (or particularly pre-moon) Speedmaster gives off an entirely different feel altogether. There’s an honesty about Speedmasters from before the landing, and subsequent push to commercialize it. They have to be held in the hand. The metal is beat up. The acrylic crystal will wear many encounters with door jambs. And the details are, often, all different, like the straight lugs here.
But we’re highlighting this example because of the condition. The lugs aren’t just straight, they’re really straight. This is a great case, but the dial is the standout. Tritium can do many things with age. It can turn cream in tone. It can fall off and total your very expensive movement. It can also turn deliciously pumpkin, almost as if it wants to match a natural leather strap. Much like a tropical dial, intense ageing in tritium is one of the few things in life that truly does get better with age. No surprise, this one was delivered to the Netherlands Antilles in 1968 and saw its fair share of sun. And despite that patina, there’s no damage on the dial with its applied Omega logo. The whole thing is a well-considered, legible, feast of detail that was built simply to do a job, no more and no less. That’s probably why Redmayne will never wear one, it’s a watch for grown-ups with a job to get on with.
This example checks out even aside from the great case and dial. We have a correct DON bezel, hands, crown, and pushers. Can’t see the back but I trust it’s correct. It comes with an extract noting delivery to the Netherlands Antilles in 1968, from a well-regarded retailer in Sweden.