Thursday, August 27, 2020

Do you really want THIS Speedmaster?

The Omega Speedmaster Mark 4 Professional Automatic was launched in 1974. It was fitted with Calibre 1045, a second generation of automatic chronometer movements. The first one was cal.1041 but while the two movements were designed and released in a span of just two years, the 1045 will be remembered as the ugliest Omega movement ever manufactured.

And by ugly I mean cheap crap containing cheap plastic parts and cheaply stamped unfinished sheet metal levers. The shame of Swiss manufacturing, a disgrace to fine mechanical engineering; a blasphemy to design, an abomination of horology. 

Rightly, you ask “why?” The answer is simple: the writing was on the wall - the end of mechanical watches was nearing fast. The Swiss Titanic was sinking, and in desperation, Raoul-Henri Erard and Albert Piguet thought that the cheaply made calibre 1045 will be the lifebuoy they desperately needed. It surely wasn't.

As Napoleon once said, “What is history but a fable, agreed upon?” - and horological history, like all else, is written by the winners. Omega reference book ‘Omega - a journey through time’ mentions calibre 1045 briefly, as a 'derivative' of 1041. By definition, derivative is a product having a value deriving from an underlying variable asset. And while 1041 was an asset which could lend itself for improvement, 1045 failed to deliver any value at all.

The bottom line: stay away from any 50 year old watches containing plastic parts. Such watches are not only difficult to repair, but finding spare parts, is almost impossible. Even when parts are available, plastic
deteriorates over time. Common signs of deterioration include discoloration (yellowing or opacifying), crazing and cracking, warping, or parts simply 'become sticky'. None of what you want or need in a mechanical watch.

Today, we have completed yet another restoration of Omega calibre 1045. And by 'we' I mean Andrew who slaved for two days to get the Mark 4 back into working order. "Never again" I say, but then again, watchmakers are like dogs - throw them a stick and they'll run to catch it.

You should be smarter: as a collector, you simply cannot afford to put you’re hard earned cash into a watch - regardless of brand - which fails a basic longevity test. There are literally thousands of great Omega models out there waiting for you; so save your pennies for cooler stuff.

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