With eight sub-references, this is my favorite reference to accumulate, each with its own little characteristics. These watches are so old, and so easy to change, that it is very hard to say if a piece is original. We have instead to satisfy ourselves that it looks original.
In this reference the dial and bezel are a large proportion of the value. If these are missing then be prepared to adjust the value substantially, bearing in mind the suitable parts may never be found.
Case condition on available watches in the market may never be very good. We have to make allowances, and accept a damaged or polished case, or resign ourselves to the idea of never owning one.
The chrono seconds hand was fitted in three executions, the straight hand, shown in the 2998-1 below, the very, very rare lollipop, and the spear seen in the later references below. At no time was the square ended spear fitted. Omega currently offers a service replacement straight hand, but it has a fatter tail and looks wrong. The lollipop hand has been seen on all examples, but without any way of knowing if it is original or not. One surely has to ask, does it matter? (It will, should we ever discover a way of verifying it – but until then, no).
-1 and -2 should have black BASE1000 bezels. These are extremely rare and very often replaced with a DO90 bezel. Recent sale of BASE1000 (as of September 2018) has been rumored to be $20,000. I think even a poor one might reach half that, if true.
These are all fitted with the early type of Calibre 321 movement, most easily identified by the symmetrical clutch bridge. there are some other differences too, but I always use the clutch bridge as confirmation that we have an early movement. The danger is that an old number bridge has been transferred onto a newer movement.
The 2998-1 and -2 have slightly different dials. The early dials have short indices on the subdials:
Above ist the right subdial showing short indices on the subdials. These are seen on the -1 and -2
Here is a sub dial from a 2998-62 showing the longer indices on the subdial. This length remains the same through to the end of speedmaster production.
There is one more point to check. The “O” in Omega in the very early dials is known as an Oval O. See here on right:
Serial Range: 1730 1xxx – 1776 1xxx
Serial Range: 1730 2xxx – 1776 1xxx
Serial Range: 1776 1xxx – 1776 5xxx
2998-4 On sale at Chrono24. This is a good learning watch. Look at the hands, the hour and minute hands are too short, and come from a Seamaster. The hour subdial has crept all the way around, indicating some adustment orservice required. The bezel is from a much later watch The crown does not look the right size, and the pushers are of different dimemnsions. This watch underlines how careful you have to be when looking at a watch, even on a well known site like Chron24.
Serial Range: 1776 2xxx – 1841 9xxx
Serial Range: 1841 9xxx – 1894 5xxx
Serial Range: 1894 6xxx *
* (Edit October 2017 – since writing this site, MWO has produced serial ranges for the last 2998’s as a group. So they suggest that 2998-6, -61 -62 can fall into the range 18419xxx to 19834xxx. As they spent time at the Museum with the records I would suggest readers follow this range when viewing a watch)
Serial Range: 1894 6xxx – 1958 4xxx * (See note for 2998-6)
Serial Range: 1958 3xxx – 1983 4xxx * (See note for 2998-6)
*Serial ranges quoted here are distilled from experience, and then cross referenced with the MWO book. I simply cannot continue with my own estimates when they have published well reserched data – so I have brought my serials in line with MWO with some rare exceptions when my observations have shown others. Remember with early numbers, it’s all down to observation.
Here is a little cautionary tale:
Below is what Omega did to watches when you sent a beautiful old watch in for service. It may be different now, but I would never send a watch to Bienne for fear they take off all the old parts and replace them with new