Produced from 1971 until 1978
This set of watches has for a long time been the least sought after of the T marked dials, but this has changed, and that mantle has been passed to the later watches made up until 1994 (I believe) and these watches can have attractive patinated tritium, but no date mark in the case back and slightly different dial pattern
The main difference in this group is that from -74 there is no dial step.
The -74 can be found with both a stepped dial, and a domed dial. As of now (September 2019) I cannot find a definite correlation with serials and dial specification. I can say that -76 and -78 must have a domed dial to be considered correct.
All have a DN90 bezel, and these are becoming harder to find in good condition. Identify bezels here. All are fitted with the square end chrono and have T SWISS T marks on the dial.
When this site was first written, these seventies Speedmasters were trading around $1000 and up – and the top condition 1970’s Speedmasters were not appreciated to the extent they are now. I grouped all of them in the same price category, which now does not serve us well, so I have separated them in the price chart.
I think the stepped dial -71’s are worth a little more now. They are possibly quite rare on the market as there are less of them for sale than -69’s at the moment. However as we have learned, rarity does not proportionately affect value.
The stepped dial early reference, the -71, is more highly desired than the later references, because of its stepped dial. So now we need to re-examine the specifications to make sure the watch we consider is correct.
This is the first time we see the stamped medallion case back. The -71 came in the engraved medallion case back:
And also in a rare smooth backed execution. This is very rare and I do not have one (Edit: Now I do, the owner of this one sold it to me! Thanks Marc):
For all the -7x Speedmasters the cases are otherwise identical, apart of course from the date stamp in the back. Remember this date is NOT the date of manufacture, it is a model reference. The only way to be sure of a date of manufacture is to get the extract from Omega.
A diversion into stepped / No Step Dials
For me the more attractive is the watches with the stepped dial, which is seen in the -71 and sometimes in the -74. I am not sure if it is original or added at service, but certainly by the -76 the step has gone and definitely all gone by -78. These later dials are slightly domed, not flat like the MKII dials.
The step disappears by 1976. I have seen them in -74’s but I am not sure if original. The general feeling is that -74’s should not have stepped dials if original.
The step can be difficult to identify, as the later dials can show a pronounced change in plane, without a step, or ridge. Here are some dials, only one of which has the step (top right)
At the moment, (April 2016) stepped 861 dials are worth about $200-400, and smooth dials are about $120. I expect the stepped dials to increase dramatically in the near future. In the same way I expect the bezels for this reference to rise.
The next consideration is the appearance, patina or lack of it on the dial. Some of these tritium dials can fade very attractively, and these sell for more. If they are damaged, then they are not worth much.
The watch above has the correct parts and is in good condition. The bezel is slightly chipped but otherwise it is very attractive, and as it has a fresh service, I would grade it at Good+.
This reference has been seen with stepped dials, but much more frequently with domed. As ever when we see a deviation we have to ask if it is original. In this case however, original or not, I value a stepped dial more.
This example the dial has many small oil(?) marks on it and so it is worth less than other comparable watches:
Looking closer at the dial:
This watch has no service history, but is running on time. Indeed some dealers would describe this as “Running Strong” or some other nonsense words that they use to sell un-serviced watches. So I grade this as Running – (minus). The dial issue will almost certainly be solved by replacing the dial with one of the ones pictured above, and the bezel will be replaced too.
- 145.022-71 31xx xxxx – 32xx xxxx
- 145.022-74 31xx xxxx – 39xx xxxx (dial loses its step)
- 145.022-76 37xx xxxx – 39xx xxxx
- 145.022-78 44xx xxxx – 45xx xxxx
- Stepped, or domed in later, post mid 70’s
- Painted logo
- Professional text
- Short hour indices
- Wide spaced SWISS MADE T’s
- Asymmetric case, 20 mm lugs
- Caseback- Stamped and engraved.
- Hour/minute – baton
- Subdial – Stick, painted
- Chrono – square end spear
- 5mm x 3.5 mm
- Black BASE 500 bezel with dot next to 90 (DN90)