If you have Speedy Fever, you’re probably no stranger to the reference 2998 straight lug Speedmasters. If you are starting from zero, however, I suggest reading this fantastic Reference Points feature from Hodinkee and the Speedmaster bible, Speedmaster 101. The 2998 evolved quite a bit (and in a very short amount of time) from the reference 2998-1 to the example above (the 2998-62), and has a few design cues that distinctly separate it from the later iterations.
So with that exposition out of the way, let’s get down to this specific example. I had wanted a 2998 Speedy with dauphin hands for a long time, and the Christie’s Speedmaster-themed sale in the winter of 2015 was pure motivation to find one (as soon as I could). The 2998 is a truly rare specimen, however, and prices rise in a linear fashion the earlier you go in the reference. For budgetary reasons, I was “stuck” looking for a -61, -62, or early 105.002 (which shared the exact same aesthetics of the 2998-62 despite the different reference).
I had been searching for months to no avail – the only ones that seemed to surface were with dealers that all wanted prices in the mid-$20K range – so I went with my last resort and dove deep into archived Google Images for “Speedmaster 2998-62” one night in hopes that I would find something. And find something, I did. The personal website of a Swedish collector contained a 2998-62 that was clearly worn, but had a certain earnestness about it. As soon as I saw the pictures of the watch, I was convinced that I needed to reach out to the owner, and the 2998’s story only added to the appeal.
Martin (the Swedish collector from above) had taken out a classified advertisement in his local paper some years ago and received a response from a former police chief in a small rural town. He had purchased the 2998-62 above and dutifully worn it daily on his police patrols and (later) as the station chief for the entirety of his career. The watch shows the hallmark signs of a daily wearer – an imperfect case, stretched bracelet, and scuffed bezel – but in my eyes, it was one of the most attractive 2998’s that I had laid eyes on. Next came the important part, though: how do you convince another collector to sell you one of his watches, especially ahead of the most important auction for the Speedmaster model…ever?
The answer is simpler than it would seem and only contains two main elements. The first is to appeal to their inner collector and describe why you want the particular watch – something that goes deeper than “because I like it.” Second, you have to pay up. Martin knew exactly what his watch was worth, and also knew that it was a price that was only going to appreciate on the heels of the Christie’s auction. In the end, after Skyping, discussing our shared passion, and agreeing on a mutually satisfactory price, he agreed to sell it to me. Hopefully he doesn’t regret it, but as I assured him, it’s safe and sound in my collection, and I’d be hard-pressed to ever let go of it.
The Nitty Gritty
The gorgeous dauphin hands are the biggest draw of the -62 reference (and early 105.002’s), as the rest is fairly consistent with 105.003’s – you can even compare against my 105.003 here! – with the exception of the bare “SWISS MADE” without T’s flanking both sides and the slightest of differences in fonts. The case on this example has been given a strong “sleeve polish” over the years, the original 7912 bracelet is quite stretched, and the bezel is very worn. That said, the dial is fantastic, as well as the handset. The original owner had crudely engraved his social security number on the caseback (pretty funny, right?) and out of respect for his privacy, Martin had it buffed out. That aside, the caseback and engraving are extremely sharp. While this watch is certainly not a safe queen, it has a completely unique appearance that made it a perfectly wearable 2998, which is not as easily said for absolutely pristine examples.