Omega Speedmaster Pro 145.022 – 69, Cal 861.
I’ve had this watch some time, maybe a year or so. I took it in part trade for my old Silverstone Fume. It was a lovely watch, but had a few cosmetic issues that needed sorting, so it’s been left unloved in the watch box, until now. The minor restoration process is detailed further below.
I’m no Omega expert, but I do love the old ‘uns. Here is some information that was supplied by the previous owner, explaining the finer details of the watch…
This 1969 Speedy Pro features the rare Seahorse ‘hippocampus’ caseback with none of the later NASA engravings. It is worn from 40 years of use but the hippocampus is still visible. The inside is engraved with the model number 145.022 69 with “69” being the year of production. It features a rare tritium stepped dial in with painted Omega logo. Take a close look at the “R” on the end of the word Speedmaster. Original dials have a long stylised “R” whereas later dials and service replacements had a short-tailed “R”. The stepped dial (step down to the minute track) was only in production for a short while on cal 861′s and Omega switched to a gradual slope in the early 70’s.
The bezel features the rare “225-220-190” markings (this was actually a mistake made by Omega and later models read “225-200-190”).
The restoration process..
Please do not confuse my efforts as anything other than a hobbyist ‘having a go’, I’m no restorer, but I do like a challenge, but the possibility of it going horribly wrong was always on my mind.
These projects are personal choice, I know some don’t approve.. but here is my story..
It needed a few minor cosmetic issues dealing with - main hands had paint loss, lume loss, crystal a bit worn.. but one issue stood out like a sore thumb. (to me) – sometime in it’s past a watchmaker must have cleaned the old lume away. These super thin lume markers don’t usually fair well over time.. usually leaving just a ‘stain’ of very thin patina on the hour markers. This had been completely cleaned away on my example, leaving behind the bright white painted hour markers.
I had a tough decision, do I leave as is or have it re-lumed in vintage tones. I decided to go re-lume, as the dial looked totally out of place in a vintage piece. I contacted jedi lume master James, but even he had reservations… Apparently to get very detailed/delicate re-lume edges requires a thicker solution, which is almost impossible to apply on the thin Speedy markers, especially with my ‘Stepped dial’. The chances of crisp square lume was minimal.. overspill being a major possibility with a thinner lume solution. Sometime later, I mentioned the same to Abel.. he was willing to have a go, but I was a little worried, as I didn’t really want fresh ‘puffy’ lume.. I wanted it to look how it would have before the old lume was cleared away.. sort of eroded, uneven.
So, I dropped the re-lume idea.. but I didn’t want to give up. I thought about trying to recreate that ‘stained thin degrading lume’ we see on Speedies that have lost some lume. I experimented with many substances. I experimented on some gloss paper with tea and coffee.. but that produced a ‘flat’ brown. I wanted to get that mottled honey-golden-brown effect, and I didn’t want a uniform colour. I tried adding some yellow artist paint to some coffee – that worked better, but still wasn’t anywhere near what I was after. I even tried rubbing some small rocks together to get a powdered stone to mix with my coffee solution!! – that didn’t work.. I was obsessed with finding a solution.
Then… a breakthrough..
I was watching a clip online about the making of a recent UK TV series that was based in industrial Birmingham (UK) in circa 1918.. the video featured the set designer going through ‘house sets’ explaining how they did this, that and the other. He said that the period wallpaper had a ‘nicotine’ wash added to give it that genuine faded old golden smokey look.. and I got an idea…
Ironically, the set designer was technically ‘wrong’ (AFAIK), this ‘nicotine’ wash shouldn’t be called that – it’s the tar that makes that ‘old faded golden brown’ colour. So, I got an old clean margarine tub, (lid still on) cut a hole in the side and slid in a lit cigarette horizontally & let it burn. I did this multiple times. This left a tar residue on the inside of the tub. I then let it ‘air’ outside for a week or so.
Then, using a 0000 size sable artists brush, and a touch of water.. I used this residue to do some testing on glossy paper.. and voila.. several layers, allowing to dry between coats, created a really rich golden-brown-mottled-tobacco effect.. After plucking up the courage.. I set to work on the dial. The mottled, aged effect came up wonderfully.
I had James fit genuine Omega hr/min hands, which I also tinted (the lume) with my 0000 brush – that was very tricky, I can tell you. He fitted was a new gen Omega crystal.. which I was pleasantly surprised to find cost bugger all… (around £25ish).
Heuer Carrera 510.523, Lemania 5100, c1983
I really enjoyed the PVD version of this model, so jumped at the chance of trying the stainless version. There is something alluring about the L5100 driven Heuers, they ooze rugged tool watch vibes. This Carrera model doing so without being oversized. It’s comfortable at 38mm across and it’s slender profile. As I have mentioned before when talking about the PVD model, this Carrera is surprisingly well balanced and comfortable, plus seems to suit many strap types – shark-mesh, NATO, leather, bracelet. (Pic above with aftermarket Hadley Roma bracelet)
Released in c1983, this was among the last in the line of the Heuers.. with TAG Heuer running down Heuer signed stock. It was also the last ‘Carrera’ signed model under Heuer (together with the PVD version). It has the ‘Autavia-esk’ sunburst graining to the upper case surface with polished sides. The Carrera is in the spotlight right now with the 50th Anniversary being this year, and this more modern model seems to get overlooked… maybe it’s because they aren’t that common, but it’s a pleasure to wear.
More reading here: http://chronomaddox.com/heuer/articles/carrera_article/_carrera_pt4.html
Heuer Autavia 1563 T, Cal. 15, c1972 ‘Albino’
I bought this watch a long while back.. about 17-18 months ago. It was a bit of a punt, as it had a few issues. It had an incorrect crystal, handset from a Heuer Calculator and odd looking lume. Apart from that, the case was untouched being nice and sharp, plus the bracelet looked good.
This example has the ‘fat boy’ case, like that on the 1163 ‘Orange Boy’ and Siffert, the case is stamped 1563.. some were stamped 1163. Both black and silver dial versions are seen here in the 1972 Caliber 15 brochure on OTD.
The cosmetic issues bothered me, the dial/hands/lume/mint insert looked disjointed. A bit like having a lovely old Sub with faded insert, beautiful brown aged lume on the dial, but with brand new white hands.. it’s not a BIG deal, but it just looks wrong... same with this watch. The handset was like new, bright orange, although from a Calculator (with a paddle central sweep chrono hand), the lume on the dial was greeny.. maybe a relume, with a mint insert. Non of these elements sat well with the lovely sunbleached dial. The orange accents on the sub-dial had faded gracefully to a yellowy hue , the minute track fading to almost white.
Together with my watch guy, we tried a correct orange handset, it looked better, it was technically ‘factory correct’, but I still wasn’t ‘feeling it’ with the mixture of new & faded. (On a side note – whilst in this ‘factory correct’ state, this watch was photographed for the Autavia book!)
Eventually a white Autavia handset was tried.. and it did look much better, and had an almost ‘Super KonTiki’ vibe about it. The lume was next to get treatment. I had considered having it scraped out of the tramline hour batons, but this could be a messy/risky job, so decided to try to tint the existing lume. I aimed for a traditional honey/coffee/tobacco colour, to complement the faded sub-dial. Armed with a 0000 sized brush, and a steady hand.. several applications of tint resulted in a surprisingly fantastic finish to the lume.. beautifully textured and mottled in just the right ‘honey tobacco brown’.
In the meantime, I had been fortunate enough to win a NOS Autavia crystal on ebay. Finally the watch was sent off to have the hands relumed. Jimbo did a fantastic job, the texture was bang on the money.. but to make it have the perfect match to the dial, I tinted the hand lume just a touch with the same method as I did the dial.
The bezel insert was looking ‘too new’, being factory gloss black, so to bring it in line with the rest of the watch, I bleached it. It was a leap of faith, as I wasn’t sure what would happen. The silver of the lettering was dulled right down.. almost to matt white, but still with a hint of silver, more importantly, the gloss black had turned a really nice matt finish.
I’m now blown away by it.. the sum of the tweaked parts all come together to create something much more ‘whole’ and together. I know some may turn their nose up at it for having been artificially tinted lume, dulled down insert and an incorrect white handset, but I feel that the watch works much better in this state. For me, it’s a case of – it works better than if it was trying to be ‘factory’ correct. Plus, I’ve seen a few 1563’s over the years with heavily faded handsets and dials. Oddly, I have seen these with white hands before – sometimes called ‘Albino’, due to the loss of the colour accents. Just to finish it off perfectly, I made a distressed strap to match the lume.. and it really is a nice package now.. although, I have to admit, it looks wonderful on the signed Heuer ‘Japan’ market Beads of Rice bracelet.
This whole process has made me realise that it is the very subtle aged accents that make a vintage watch so wonderful.. and without these ‘aged’ hints on all components, it looks wrong.
Fortis Marinemaster Ref. 8001 ‘Blue’, Valjoux 72, 200m WR, c1972
Whilst browsing online, I spotted one of these and was instantly intrigued. It was a cool looking vintage sports chrono, so I delved a little deeper and liked what I saw – especially as it houses a valjoux 72 movement, features classic straight lugs and diver bezel – what’s not to like? It was actually the yellow-orange variant I was most taken by, so put out a ‘WTB’ on the Chronocentric forum, and collector JameyS in the US came to the rescue (yet again). But.. it was a ‘blue’ model. I went for it anyway, and I’m glad I did – the blue is better than I expected.
I tried it on a selection of straps (20mm).. and thankfully it seems to be an all-rounder, but the tan rally really set it off. Then I remembered that I had an old un-named Beads of Rice bracelet in a box somewhere.. I’d bought it on ebay a long while back for very little, hoping it would fit a Heuer. It didn’t, so was forgotten about… I dug it out, and it fits like a dream, and elevates the Marinemaster to a new level. The watch head is a great size too, having a 39mm case, but the bi-directional ‘slide’ bezel overhangs a little.. giving it a bigger look n feel.
The name Marinemaster, whether one word or two is usually associated with Seiko, but it seems that Fortis has been using this moniker since the 50′s. This model, dating from c1972 certainly deserves the name. Despite being a chronograph, it is rated to 200m, not bad for a ’70′s chrono.
I scoured the net looking for info, but found very little. The watch was available in two variants, one with blue accents and one with yellow/orange accents. As Fortis made a re-issue of this model recently (in blue and yellow-orange variants), I thought they could help, so fired off an email. They were good enough to get back to me in a few days, but despite the fast response and a scan of a spec sheet from the 70′s (see below), they too didn’t have any detailed information. They noted that the original MM’s were most probably from 1972, but had no production numbers. They stated that the yellow-orange model was ref. 8002.
Oddly, the only caseback photos I’ve seen of a vintage yellow-orange model had a 8001 code. The Spec Sheet that Fortis sent me states that the dial is dark grey with ‘coloured zones’, which suggests that ref. 8001 covers both yellow-orange and blue variants.. so who knows!? (If anyone knows better, please comment)
The story doesn’t end there.. whilst hunting around online for info on this watch, I stumbled upon a spare ‘yellow-orange’ dial being offered by a German watchmaker, so snapped it up… then I stumbled upon another ref 8001 blue, in mint condition located in Prague – I couldn’t believe my luck… can you see where I’m going here? Yep.. I plan to have the dial switched over on Marinemaster number 2, and I’ll have a yellow-orange variant too. Watch this space!
Ollech & Wajs Caribbean 1000 Ref. 702, ETA 2452 Auto, c1965-9
This is the earlier model from mid-late 60’s, as the serial number confirms. It also has the ‘flat’ golden triangles on the bezel. The slightly later models had ‘3D’ golden triangles – I’m not aware of any other differences, but there could well be some subtleties.
I didn’t realise that the ETA 2452 has a semi-quick set date.. simply roll the hands forward to just past 24:00 and roll back to just past 20:30 and forward again to past 24:00. Saves a lot of time!
Update: These were originally supplied on an optional Beads of Rice bracelet, with end links that were angled in to fit those ‘shark tooth’ lugs.. they are few and far between, so I hatched a plan. Armed with a metal file tool, I set about a good quality aftermarket 20mm oyster bracelet… the results were amazing – see the pics of it on the oyster. Personally I think it really suits the watch, like it was ‘meant to be’, it really transforms the ownership experience having a metal bracelet option.
It’s not large by todays standards, at 40mm, but it wears really well and suits leather, tropic and NATO/ZULU straps very well. It has 20mm lugs, and is 16mm thick – it’s a nice compact size. It’s no bruiser, but I think it’s one of the most elegantly designed dive watches from this period.
This watch has a rich history, and I daren’t try to cover all of it. It was one of the first deep dive rated watches, with a WR of 1000m. The case is monobloc, as such, the dial & movement is accessed through the super thick 5mm crystal. One feature of this watch was that users could purchase a special tool (& spare crytals) from O&W and change the crystal themselves, supposedly quite a simple job. The crown was also triple sealed. All these ‘tech boasts’ were quite exceptional for the period, especially when you consider that it’s proven depth rating was x5 that of the Rolex Submariner.
From The Definitive O&W Info & History…
“The movement sits in a movement ring and is placed deep into the case. The crystal is held in place with a s/s screwdown retaining ring. A rubber “O” ring under the crystal and a flat rubber ring under the retaining ring insuring proper water tightness. With the bezel on, the crystal has a very low profile, the edge is barely 1/32nd above the rim and sit’s about 1/8″ higher in the middle.
The crystal is a slab of plastic, 1/8″ thick on the side, with a 1/8″ thick lip which the retaining ring presses down on. It’s the top that’s interesting. Due to the lower sitting movement. The crystal has a very shallow curve on the underside matching that of the top. Between inside and out, is a 5 MM thickness of plastic.”
O&W wanted to offer a robust and capable dive watch to the US, but be cheaper than rivals by cutting out middle-men. They were advertised in outdoor sports, military and aviation type magazines. As such, they became quite popular with US soldiers & special forces who were off to Vietnam. I received correspondence from someone (I forget where – I’ve got a new laptop and lost the source) who said something along the lines of “Seiko usually takes the honour of being the ‘popular mil watch’ during Vietnam, but many failed, and the O&W was the ‘must have’ watch”. (Seiko fans – these are not my words!)
In March 1968, Robert D Howard, Diving Supervisor for Global Marine Inc. wrote a letter to O&W regarding a 4 month extreme field test of two O&W watches, the Ref. 702 being one of them. They were tested without any special precautions in various tough deep dive environments and didn’t miss a beat. (Scans of the letter in the link below).
Courtesy of ‘The Definitive O&W Info & History’ thread on thewatchforum.
For those interested in 70’s TV.. Bodie & Doyle apparently wore this model in the show ‘The Professionals’
More info on this watch is available here on the excellent Scubawatch.
Heuer Autavia 2446C Tachy (Early), Valjoux 72, c1968-69
I bought this wonderful watch back in July, and I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get it on the blog. I may as well get it out of the way now.. I think this is my favourite watch – in fact, I think it’s one of the best looking vintage watches out there. I know that might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s only my humble opinion.. but I really do think it’s perfect for me.
I do have a soft spot for the Valjoux 72 Heuers, having 3 others, but this one is definitely my favourite. I think it’s the simple monotone design coupled with that perfect coffee coloured lume. It came my way through a ‘want to buy’ request on the OTD Heuer forum, and fellow Heuerista, Jamey came up trumps with this cracker. It did originally arrive with a rather battered min/hour bezel… but I happened to have a NOS Tachy bezel in the back of the drawer, and it transformed the look spectacularly. The watch has seen some life, not being a safe queen.. the case having slight battle scars, but it is nice and sharp and unpolished. I actually like it all the more for the ‘non-mintness’, as I don’t pamper it, it has become almost a daily wearer. In fact, I enjoy it so much, it has made me realise that I have far too many watches that I rarely wear.
So, it’s a circa 1968-9 compressor case model, and fairly large for a watch from that era, being 41mm without the crown. Although this is an earlier 2446C model, this is a later version of this particular mk/generation, having a plain caseback and fluted pushers. The model that came after it featured red highlights and different hands/hour batons.. see it here. The correct metal bracelet for it is a Gay Frères (GF) beads of rice, but they are hard to find and cost a small fortune. I had this old jubilee bracelet in my box of straps, which suits it nicely – but this watch is perfectly at home on a NATO, dress leather or vintage style rally.
Recently discovered photos show James Hunt wearing a Compression cased Autavia, most probably a 2446. It seems he was a bit of a Heuer fan, with other photos showing him wearing a panda dial Carrera 2447NS, many years after it was released (on both a GF and rally strap), and possibly wearing a gold Carrera 1158.
Heuer Autavia 2446C GMT Mk4, Valjoux 724, c1970/71
Like most Heuer collectors, I have a thing for any of the GMT’s, and while most are popular amongst the Heueristas, it’s the 2446 examples that seem to be highly appreciated by the wider watch world. Maybe it’s the classic styling and the Valjoux 72 based movement (v724), either way it’s a prized watch. I did have a 2446C GMT already, albeit with a very faded bezel, and I was in the process of contemplating having the bezel milled out and an aftermarket insert fitted (the bezels on these are one piece, you can’t just replace the insert – it’s printed directly on a solid bezel). Then, this beautiful example came along.
It was a little serendipitous, as the seller – a fellow collector in the US saw my ‘Mitsukoshi’ panda dial Speedmaster conversion, and we chatted via email as he wanted to do the very same mod. Which he eventually did, and was so pleased with the outcome, he listed this stunning GMT on the Heuer forum. I spotted it and fired an email, and it was mine.. thanks Jim, I owe you a beer!
So, what can I say about this lovely thing – well, it’s a 2446C Mk4, the last GMT in the 2446C case, and it’s a marvel, in amazing condition having spent many years in California, them onto Jim in Indiana, then onto me.
Together with it’s younger son, the 11063 GMT - last of the Autavia GMTs.
White chrono hand mystery…
Common knowledge would say this has a white central chrono hand from an earlier model – (which is something I’m pleased about, I think it looks much better with a white hand, usually seen on the 2446 screwback, I don’t know why Heuer changed to red!). The odd thing is, I did some digging around some of the old catalogues to see if indeed it should have a red hand, and I can’t be absolutely sure it should actually be red. I found some back and white line drawings in some of the catalogues, and it looks white – but this just might be artistic license in the line drawings. Also, in the history section of the TAG Heuer website, they have a photo of this same model with a white hand, also with a rather fetching lime green/yellow GMT hand. This is of interest, as the later GMTs hand this greeny/yellow hand, so maybe it is a transitional ‘last in production’ model. Note that TAG Heuer have stated ’69, but that is for the 2446 model range, not that specific watch.
Either way, I prefer the white hand, and if I ever spot a greeny/yellow GMT hand, I’ll bag that too!
Above. Screengrab from TAG Heuer’s website
The GMT is also seen in one of the catalogues (with red chrono hand!) pictured with a GMT Super Autavia dash timer, and the Red Arrows, stating “Used by the RAF Red Arrows in the London to Sydney Air race. I’ve hunted around for info on this air race, with not much luck.