I was recently contacted by a gentleman from Tulsa called Mike, who asked if I would be interested in his late brothers watch who sadly passed away at the beginning of this year. We corresponded for a while and it became clear to me this was a watch that while not super valuable, was one that I was drawn to. A one owner watch, worn and enjoyed. As you will see, it has had the bezel replaced and is not running, it is dirty and slightly banged up.
Mikes brother was known as T, and Mike told me his brother returned from Vietnam and showed him the watch.
Here are Mikes words to me:
I enjoyed your details of a Navy service Omega that you purchased from the estate. I too have an Omega Speedmaster professional that I inherited from my younger brother when he passed away on January 1st, 2017. My brother was in the Navy aboard the USS Hancock, an aircraft carrier that has since been decomsioned, when he bought the watch around 1967.
I don’t know where he bought it but he told me it was new when he got it. He served as a radioman while the Hancock was in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam conflict. Not knowing anything about the watch I took it to a Jeweler to see what it would take to check it out and see what was needed to service it. He sent it to a vintage watch shop here in Tulsa and they got back to him saying it needed a main spring and one was ordered. To date nothing has been done to the watch,still waiting on the main spring. The jeweler said the Omega was a valuable watch even though it was missing the wrist band.
So first thing I said to Mike was…Get it back from the Jeweler and dont do ANYTHING to it! Luckily, as you can see, he did.
And I cant help doing a bit of research – here is the USS Hancock underway. (The top image is the flight deck) Here I choose to think that T is down there with his speedmaster…(!)
Back to the watch. As we can see it has some damage to the tip of the chrono and also the minute recorder hand is corroded. The bezel has faded to an attractive grey and is from later than the watch and was almost certainly replaced at service.
So here we can see the evidence of ownership, dirt under the bezel, damage to the case and general wear. (I love all that – shows it has not been messed around, or prepared for sale).
This watch is so clearly a one owner watch, with each part clearly existing on the watch for some time. Even the bezel has melded into the watch, (If that makes sense) in such a way that it looks right, even though it is slightly later than the watch.
Any small thoughts I might have had of selling this watch were dashed when Mike sent me this brief, but moving email:
Your payment arrived at my bank Tuesday and I thank you for giving my brothers Omega a resting place where it will be remembered and appreciated. I’m glad I saw your website and decided to contact you. Your appreciation for a watch with a military history is what drew me and I’m so glad we were able to transfer ownership of a watch with a connection. I too regret not having a picture of T wearing the watch. I at least have a memory of T wearing the watch the first time I saw him on returning from Vietnam. He proudly showed it to me as one of the good things that came from his adventure into the military.
I really don’t sell many watches, but this one has been entrusted to me so it will be staying. I will sell all my 145.012’s before this one goes. (And that is quite a few, so its safe).
For those who are interested the USS Hancock has very interesting history here.
My next step is to send this watch to the Magical Simon Freese who is quite the most sympathetic and efficient repairer and restorer of speedmasters. I will also order an extract – you never know where T might have bought his watch from.
I shall be leaving this watch as is. I think I will not even repair the hands, rather I want to keep this watch just as it looked the last time the owner took it off.