Omega Speedmaster 105.003 – The Last of its Kind
After the ref. 105.002, the “oddball”, had been discontinued, Omega introduced its successor in 1963 – the Speedmaster ST 105.003.
Nicknamed “Ed White” after its famous wearer, the NASA astronaut Edward Higgins White (who during the Gemini 4 mission became the first NASA astronaut to take a spacewalk).
It was the last of the “straight lug” Speedmasters, and the last without the “Professional” inscription on the dial.
What is it?
Effectively, there aren’t many features that set it apart from a baton hand 105.002 (note: the baton hands on 105.002 are still a debatable issue).
It has pretty much the same case, same movement, identical bezel, and an almost identical dial. Yes, almost.
“Almost” tends to make a big difference and this case is no exception from that rule.
You could say that it’s simply a twin of the “baton” 105.002 with only minor differences.
The production has started in 1963 and ended in 1965 – theoretically.
The three batches of 105.003 cases are marked with the suffix -63, -64 and -65, indicating the year of manufacture of the case.
However, the movement serials found on the last -65s are starting with 25, dating these movements to 1967.
Meanwhile, according to Omega, the last of these watches were finished and left the factory in 1969! This means, that the 105.003 was available in stores along with three other references over the entire period from 1963 to 1969.
What makes it different from the 105.002?
105.003 was the first reference to feature a dial with T markings for tritium.
Now, since the dial is interchangeable with the 105.002, there, of course, is a risk that the straight lug Speedmaster with T markings that you’re looking at is a 105.002 with a service dial. But you can’t really be sure until you’ve looked under the bonnet to check the reference number.
One thing worth remembering: many 105.003s are often dismissed as “relumed.” The lume looks aged alright, but the lume plots on the hour markers appear blotchy.
You could say that Omega didn’t do a very good job luming the dials of the 105.003, but defect or no defect, it’s a factory feature that you can find on this reference.
That doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. Doing that would be the silliest thing to do when buying a vintage Omega, especially a Speedmaster.
The 105.003 featured slightly larger pushers. The 105.002 had 4 mm x3 mm pushers, the ones on the 105.003 are 4.5 mm x 3.5 mm. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a fairly noticeable visual difference.
What to avoid?
In a genuine 105.003 dial, the hour markers reach the outer edge of the minute track, obscuring the track. Hour markers on a service dial are shorter and only reach the inner edge of the track.
The next thing to check is the “T Swiss Made T” marking.
In a regular 105.003 dial, the inscription starts between the minute markers at 28 and 29 and ends between 31 and 32.
In a service dial, the vertical lines of the T markings are in line with the markers at 28 and 32.
So, the inscription on a service dial has wider spacing.
Of course, watch out for incorrect replacement bezels. If it’s a DNN instead of a DON, you can be quite sure that it’s not original to the watch.
Rarity and pricing
The 105.003 is the most common straight lug Speedmaster out there.
The hype drove the prices to roughly the same range as the much less common 105.002. Which means, that the prices are anywhere between $6K (for an operational, but wrecked specimen) to more than $20K for pieces in a really good shape.
It may be a really attractive watch, but given how many of them surface on the market, “rare” is not the word to describe it.
Just think how many Omega must have produced, not only during the three years of mass production but also the next four years of using up the batches of cases for this reference.
That said, it’s heavily overpriced for what it is.