Episode #5: We hear from a watch expert who knows everything about vintage Speedmaster...
The Omega Speedmaster is one of the most famous watches in the world thanks to its exploits on the racetrack and outer space. Collecting and studying the myriad of standard models and special editions is a serious business and no organisation exemplifies this expertise more than the UK company Vintage Speedmaster.
The founder of VintageSpeedmaster.com, Darren Townend, was kind enough to give WatchGecko some time to participate in our “15 Questions With…” series.
Let's get into it...
1. What is on your wrist at the time of writing this?
An Omega Speedmaster Ultraman Limited Edition. Out of interest, it should have been a Japan Racing but I just sold it and I had been wearing it for some time.
2. What was the first watch you remember that left an impact on you?
My first 321 Speedmaster, ref: 105012-64. I bought it blind, I took a punt on eBay, in 2000-ish. It had not sold so I messaged the guy and asked for pictures, but he said his camera was not working. Still, I took a chance and sent the money. A week later the watch turned up. It did not work but I paid for it to be serviced and I could not believe what I ended up with. A full original 321-105012.
3. How did you start working in and around watches?
I went from a collector to a dealer and just followed my passion for cars and watches. I think the two go hand in hand.
Finish the following sentences:
4. The best-kept secret in watches is...
The story that a vintage piece holds. Plus, my super soft watch cloths. Only a few people have them! Each square centimetre has 100km of fibre! They are like silk and perfect for Hesalite crystal. They come from a specialist manufacturer in Switzerland.
5. The one watch that got away from me was…
A 1976 Soyuz (Speedmaster) before they became crazy money. Every time I see one, I am always gutted.
6. If I were not working in watches, I’d be working in…
Aviation or yachting.
7. What is one thing you think is missing from the watch industry today?
This is an easy one. A level playing field for clients from some of the big, authorised dealers (ADs) across most brands. Let me explain. If you have done well for yourself and you fancy buying a “blank” some dealers will look at you as if you have asked for a million pounds and they will try to sell you c**p before they will consider selling you a hugely popular model. I had my name down for a highly desirable watch (again, blank) and the dealer said I was not a client so he would not sell it. To which I replied, “how can I become a client of you if you won’t sell?” Also, because I am a known watch dealer the AD was afraid, I was buying just to sell. It is all so wrong. You are frowned upon if the AD does not know you. They are afraid you will flip the watch.
8. Tell us about one watch that took your breath away recently?
Greubel Forsey GMT Quadruple Tourbillion. What an amazing piece of kit! It is a masterpiece.
9. What is your most prized possession in your collection?
Back in the 60s, my Dad was an AD for Omega. That’s largely how watches got into my DNA. He bought his father an Omega Cosmic. My Grandad wore that every day until he died. And then it passed to my Dad. I had it serviced and then my Dad passed. I still have it with box and papers signed by my Dad. That for me, no matter what else I own, with the connection to my Dad and Grandad, is prized.
10. Date or no date?
11. What was your most recent watch purchase?
A new, old stock, Apollo 11 ref:3590.52.
12. What is the next watch you be adding to your collection?
Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary. Reference 310.32.42.50.02.001.
13. What is something you feel passionate about in the world of watches?
Honesty and good service.
14. What is one piece of advice for people out there looking to make it in the world of horology and watches?
Do your own research on all levels. In terms of what you are looking for. Be passionate, do not just go into the business because you can flip watches and make lots of money.
15. Tell us about something you are working on that is really exciting?
I must be a bit secretive on this one. All I can say is it involves an official NASA license to allow me to sell NASA branded items. Watch the Space…(pun intended!)
Keep up to date with everything Vintage Speedmaster you'll want to check out his website here. We'd like to take this moment to thank Darren for his time and for featuring on 15 Questions With.