I Bought a Pre-Owned Omega Speedmaster Reduced that’s as Old as Me

It is often warned, within the watch enthusiast community, that pre-owned (especially bordering on vintage) watch collecting is a monster all its own — sitting at the end of a booby-trapped temple, with spring-loaded spike walls and perilous pits waiting to consume another person tempted by the pretty shiny things inside. And yet, occasionally you manage to traverse the ledge, dodge the poison barbs, and slide under the closing stone door, grabbing your fedora in the nick of time. Sometimes things just go right, but giving yourself the space to be vigilant always helps. Does anyone else hear a John Williams score in their head? Just me?

Like many a watch collector before me, I’ve been yearning for an Omega Speedmaster since I first found out about its heroic travels. It went to the moon, I believe. I dunno, you’ll have to double check me on that. Anyway, I would take almost weekly trips to the AD just to try it on. Each visit went the same way. I’d approach the Omega counter, point to the Speedmaster Professional, and say “you know which one.” Sapphire sandwich because I love marveling at the movement. My AD would stand there while I carefully inspected it. As I did the week before, and the one before that. I’d tell him, “you can go help the guy over there if you need to,” knowing damn well he can’t leave me alone with the watch, but it made me feel better to say it to establish that I am, yet again, not ready to buy it. We’d chitchat, I’d leave, and the waltz would repeat the next Saturday. 

Now, why hadn’t I purchased the Speedmaster Professional? It’s not the cost, although I do think the cost of a new Speedmaster is getting a little out of hand. The one thing I can’t wrap my head around is just how many people within our community own it. Yup, I’m the guy that can’t have the thing that everyone else has. It makes it less special to me. In a sea of black, white, and gray cars, mine is electric blue. I refuse to wear suits at occasions that call for them, instead opting for pink sneakers and a yellow knit sweater. So, how could I buy something so boring even if I love it? Well, I did and I didn’t. 

One day I was scrolling my Facebook feed and I saw a vintage Speedmaster Reduced for sale in one of my watch groups. It was a late 80s/early 90s two-tone piece, with a white dial, that I’d never seen before. I immediately loved it, but I’d never purchased a piece this old from a stranger on the internet before. In spite of my anxiety, I began researching the reference. I found a video Tim Mosso had made on the watch, and consumed the information his horologically-enhanced encyclopedia brain spilled on the subject. Then I read a bunch of articles on the Speedy Reduced. Smaller size. Potentially good value. Higher service cost and some watchmakers may not want to touch it because of the modular movement inside. There were definitely some drawbacks, but the aesthetic sang to me. There was one thing that scared me more than some of those concerns more purely related to the watch itself — the seller didn’t have much history, and I couldn’t find a person in my extensive community that knew him.


Buy the seller. It’s a cliché in the watch community, but it is good advice. Repeat it to yourself. Buy the seller. Make it a mantra. Ask to see more photos. Ask to see the movement. Ask about service history. Then, and only if you plan to buy, ask for a reduced price. My seller sent me photos, answered my questions, and told me the watch had been serviced by the previous owner within the last year. And even with all this peace of mind, I knew it was still a crapshoot. Regardless, I asked for a reduced price, the seller granted my request and I purchased the watch. 

Now, I’m not Mr. Moneybags, so dropping close to two grand on something I was so unsure about was quite a risk. When the package arrived from the seller in the midwest I had never been more nervous unboxing a watch. And yet, there it was. A two-tone Omega Speedmaster Reduced. The acrylic crystal had a few light scratches; the gold bezel did as well. All things that I could see from the seller’s post. It looked lived in and time worn. I went to wind the watch half expecting to hear grinding, or maybe even an explosion. Sure enough, though, the running seconds hand started ticking after only a few twists of the crown. The two o’clock pusher, when compressed, had a crisp click, and instead of the dial popping off after being engaged, the chronograph center seconds jumped and began ticking away. It stopped when compressed again, and reset with a snap when the five o’clock pusher was compressed. I don’t have a Timegrapher, but I set the watch to the time on my phone, and when I was going to bed later that evening I watched as the running seconds hand crossed the 60 second mark to signify 11pm, and the time on my phone changed at just about the same moment. It would seem that I got what I paid for. 

I wore it to my family’s big Christmas Eve dinner this past December. It was on my wrist on a visit to Philadelphia in February, when I went to go see a close friend that I’ve missed and haven’t seen in a decade. Five months after purchasing my Speedy and it’s still functioning with the same accuracy and spends time on my wrist quite often. I’m aware that this could change any time, and part of me dreads the thought of the day I’ll have to send it in for service, but I now own a watch as old as I am, and one that I’ve never seen another person wearing at any Redbar meetup or watch gathering I’ve ever been to. It’s unique, flawed, and charming in the same ways that I see myself.

Are you prepared to gamble? You have to be if you want to buy pre-owned or vintage. But you can do even more than I did to mitigate the risk, and I would suggest that you do. Especially if you battle the same anxiety demons that live in my head. Ask even more questions. Be even more informed. Know your shit. Expect the seller to know theirs. And if you’re ready for the adrenaline rush of purchasing a timeworn wrist trinket, send that PayPal payment.

Related Posts
Chris Antzoulis is a published poet and comic book writer who over-romanticizes watches. Ever since his mom walked him through a department store at the budding age of six and he spotted that black quartz watch with a hologram of Darth Vader’s face on the crystal, he knew he was lost to the dark side of horology. He is currently eye-balling the next watch contenders now caught in his tractor beam.