It was the last night of our trip to Denmark, and after sitting out on the Nyhavn canal and enjoying a few beers, Mrs. Bazamu and I took our time to wander through the densely packed streets of Copenhagen on our way to the Airbnb apartment. As we walked past a small side alley, I glanced over and noticed a sign that said “Quality Vintage,” which immediately piqued my interest. We decided to check it out, but as we got closer, the store appeared to be a dead-end; almost everything in the window was a purse, women’s jacket, or old piece of Louis Vuitton luggage (in other words, the store was clearly aimed at female buyers). At the base of the window display, however, there were five old watches. Four of them were unremarkable, but the fifth was, well, quite remarkable. It was an Ed White Speedmaster on its original 1035 bracelet.
At this point in my collection, I had been looking at 145.022 Speedmasters from the mid-1970’s, mainly due to the approachable price point. I hadn’t even bothered learning much about straight lug Speedies because I figured that I’d probably never find one, and even if I did, it would be crazy to spend that much on a vintage watch. That all changed as we walked into the store shortly before closing time and I asked to see the Speedmaster in the window. “This one is special – it’s called an Ed White,” the older gentleman said as I tried it on. “Do you know about Ed White?” “Yes, I do,” I replied, wincing at my white lie since I had no idea who Ed White was or why this Speedmaster bore his name. As I continued talking with the owner, he said that he had purchased the watch many years back at an auction, but was offering it for sale because he had just opened his shop in the previous weeks and knew that the watch held more value than most other things in the store. His asking price was $5,800, which was the most I had ever considered paying for a watch – especially one that I knew next to nothing about. The store didn’t have a website yet, however, and I knew it was an unlikely place for a collector to stumble into. Rolling the dice, I took his card and promised to contact him as soon as I got back to America the next day.
I’ll never forget the feeling that I had while walking out of the shop. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and Mrs. Bazamu noticed how invigorating the find had been for me. We came upon a favorite pub of ours and decided to pop in for a beer and access to wi-fi. Hands literally shaking, I devoured as much information as I could about the Ed White Speedmaster and began to realize just how special that particular watch had been. The price that he was asking was more than I had ever paid for anything, but Mrs. Bazamu gave me a gentle nudge and provided her blessing to buy the watch if the story checked out. My excitement was transparent, and I give her full credit for helping me to realize how much more meaningful watches can be when backed by a personal connection.
Over the course of the next two weeks, I traded emails with the owner of the shop and furiously researched every nuance that accompanied 105.003’s (pro tip: OmegaForums.net and Speedmaster101.com are invaluable resources for anyone trying to do the same). After some negotiation, we both settled on a price that was sufficient – and would look downright cheap today – and a couple weeks later, the watch was back on my wrist for good.
This Ed White Speedmaster (reference 105.003-65) was my third vintage watch, but the first that I ever found “in the wild” and not on a dealer’s web site. Without a doubt, it changed the entire course of my collecting philosophy, as the “thrill of the hunt” was intoxicating and made me appreciate the satisfaction that accompanies rolling up your sleeves and finding vintage watches the hard way.
The Fine Print
This Speedmaster is in exceptional shape and is special for one particular reason: the sharpness of the case and lugs. The vast majority of straight lug Speedmasters have lost the beveled edge that’s highlighted in the gallery below, but this case is fat and sharp. The dial and patina are fantastic, and the only true flaws (when found) were missing lume in the chrono hand and worn paint on the center of the hand stack (see picture below). When sending the watch in for a recent service, I opted to have the center of the hand stack repainted and the chrono sweep hand matched, which has taken the watch to another level (in my opinion). Originality is important, but aesthetics also matter immensely, and situations where the hands are the only issue are often best remedied by a sympathetic restoration.
It’s also worth noting that due to the special circumstances in which I found this Speedmaster, as well as the profound impact that the experience had on my collecting philosophy, this one will stay in my collection forever.
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