I find that, when I really try, I can make the case for almost any watch as a value proposition. It is a skill carefully honed over many years of convincing significant others that watches are investments—they arent—to justify absurd purchases. However, in the case of the Mark 4.5, I don’t think I really have to stretch. This is a damn good watch the market just doesn’t seem to love. There are a few likely reasons for this. First, generations of design simply fall in and out of fashion over time. This is a design not in vogue. Second, the automatic caliber destroys everything Speedmaster traditionalists hold dear. Both reasons are simple results of deviation from the Speedmaster norms. Those iterations in design that result in breaking with tradition are exactly why I love the Mk4.5 (and all ‘Mark’-series Speedmasters) more than your average bear.
Let me begin with fact: The Lemania 5100 on which this caliber is based is a ruthlessly bulletproof automatic. The base Lemania has been to space, under the sea, and in the air during wartime. It’s adaptable, dependable, and completely ugly (this is a Speedmaster which should never be sapphire-sandwiched). I love that ugly duckling movement for what it can do.
The design of the case and dial, on the other hand, you will either love or hate. It looks a bit like the classically handsome professional case got jaw implants. For one who hates plastic surgery, I’m surprisingly cool with it on my watch designs. I don’t think it will ever be a classic, but I forsee a possible marmite-minority faction growing over time. Take, as metaphor, the 996 911. We all hated it for a very long time. The cracked-egg headlight 911 is today, however, finding favor amongst a very small but dedicated few. This, I suspect, will be the same. And at the current market prices, it actually doesn’t matter if it never takes off. The watch is pennies by collector Speedmaster standards. If you’re interested, you may as well.
The example provided here today is a fairly strong one. All components (crown, pushers, bezel, dial, hands, endlinks, and bracelet) are original. It’s patinated evenly. The lume, while darkened, holds its original shape. The movement, with its serial in the correct range, is spectacular and recently serviced. The only thing I can reasonably hold against it is a light case polish. The shape isn’t destroyed, but it is mildly altered here and there. I wouldn’t let it stop me. This is a fun watch and bit of wild speculation, but I can’t be the only one who loves these alternative Speedmasters. There are racing dial and gold variants, but the absolutely standard 176.0012 holds immense value at the current market prices. Don’t let this be your next regrettable Daytona-in-the-90s miss.
Find this Mark 4.5 Speedmaster here from Xupes at 3000 GBP.