Speedmaster novices are often confused by the concept of the stepped dial. It sounds so simple that we ought to get it right away, but like so many things, sometimes we need some basic facts and reference points. The step is pressed into the dial, and runs around the dial just above the painted minute markers and about a quarter of the way up the hour plots.
Early dials, (2915 and early 2998’s) had domed dials, and then the 2998s started to appear with steps. From then on, all the way to the 145.022-74 the dials had steps, and then during the -74 production the step disappeared.
So here is a 145.022-69 dial with the signature step
Here is another dial, from a later 145.022 without the step. There is still a change in plane, but no step. This can be confusing when using poor photos to buy a watch, but when outside of the watch there is never a doubt.
This is a later dial, and again it is damaged. The angle of the light highlights the stains.
In fact it looks awful
Look what happens when I drop a crystal over it and alter the lighting slightly – the worse condition the crystal the more it will hide!
This is why it is so important to examine a dial closely if you are spending a lot of money.
When looking at photos of the complete watch, the step may only show itself in parts – like here in this on owner 145.022-69 which is in as purchased condition, with no work done on it all, not even cleaning. If you look at the upper part of the dial, the step is all but invisible, but the lower half of the dial it is obvious.
In 2998’s, the step when present, can be less pronounced, but it is there if you light it correctly.
Finally, here is an early 2998 with the domed, or no-step dial.