2889-1. There is no shortage of adjectives one could throw at this title . . .321, chocolate, radium, pre-moon, base 1000, and alpha-handed, I could go on. Save to say this: the 2998 is a sweet spot in pre-moon references for its alpha handset, chunky straight case, and historic significance. No, I don’t mean the moon landing (that’s a 105.012). Wally Schirra wore a 2998 on the Mercury Atlas 8 in 1962 and that exact watch was the inspiration for the recent-ish FOIS release. Both are a bit of a niche within the genre of Speedmaster as a whole, but an undeniably attractive one. Moreover, this one’s tropical.
The 2915 was the first Speedmaster and the first chronograph with a tachymeter bezel. In 1959, the design was updated to this, the 2998. This generation introduced a now iconic black base 1000 bezel and alpha hands. Vintage charms like a plexi crystal, applied logo, and 321 remained. This isn’t the moonwatch by strict definition, but it has been to space. A 2998-4 was worn by Wally Schirra on the Mercury Atlas 8 in 1962. It’s a legend if any watch ever were. Apollo 11 never touched one (as far as I know). Yet, I feel an unbalanced attraction to pre-moon and FOIS Speedmasters simply because of their hand silhouette. The 2998 holds a special appeal for me for that simple reason. Call it personal preference or derangement.
But that could be said of any 2998. The -1 which follows this reference denote a very early production. This example hails from 1959. While there aren’t many inter-reference changes, later 2998 ‘dashes’ changed the subdial hands from ‘mini-alpha’ hand shapes to straight batons. This is a small change but meaningful. Total production is estimated at 2000 examples across all dashes.
This example wears its age particularly well. The radium dial has turned an even chocolate tone with UV exposure. It also features the base 1000 bezel and non stepped dial for the nerds out there. Everything checks out. Said to have previously been owned by a famous musician, no mention of who or extract. It comes from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this 2998-1 here from Vintage Times Amsterdam for 137500 USD.