Omega Speedmaster CK 2915 – The First Speedy

 In Omega Speedmaster

In 1957, Omega – catering to the growing demand for tool watches – released a “trinity” of what was intended as daily beater tool watches and back then, that’s exactly what it was.

The Seamaster 300, reference CK 2913, intended for divers.

The Railmaster, CK 2914, intended for engineers working in environments, where the exposure to strong magnetic fields would mess up a watch without proper shielding.

And the Speedmaster, reference CK 2915, initially a part of the Seamaster collection, intended as a watch for…well, just about everyone who would need a rugged chronograph on a daily basis, but – in the first place – for racing drivers.

2915 advertising surely has defined it as a “racing” chronograph, although it referred to the tachymetre scale as “tachymetre/productometre.” Which, technically, isn’t nonsensical. Technically, the tachymetre scale with a base of 1000 units can be used for, say, calculating the output of a production line.

Still, the dashboard-style dial design gives it the racing spirit.

Equipped with a highly legible dial and hands design, and a tachymetre scale that’s not ornate, but simply legible and practical, it was pretty much the most universal chronograph of its time.

In a way, the CK 2915 is the point of origin for just about every chronograph with a tachymetre scale on the bezel.

Different versions

2915-1 and -2

Like all the Speedmasters prior to the 145.022, the 2915 was powered by the calibre 321, i.e. Lemania CH27 C12.

Note: remember that the 2915, like the 2998, should have a symmetric clutch bridge in the movement. An asymmetric clutch bridge could be evidence of the watch being a franken, or at least having a ton of replacement parts.

There doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between the 2915-1 and 2915-2, at least nothing observable.

For that matter, the 2915-3 with broad arrow hands and steel BASE 1000 bezel is also impossible to tell from the other two. In broad arrow versions, all the three 2915s have identical hands.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915-1

2915-1 on its original 7077 bracelet. Worn bezel, but the watch is in really good condition. Photo credit: Menta Watches

The case in both the -1 and -2 measured a hair above 38mm, both were equipped with the steel TACHYMETRE BASE 1000 bezel and broad arrow hands.

The case back was a “double step”, with “Speedmaster” engraved on the edge. Note that some of the case backs didn’t have the hippocampus logo on it, so if you see one without the logo, that’s perfectly OK. At least for the 2915-1 and 2915-2 it is.

The chrono seconds hand was steel, and unlike that of the 2915’s successor, the 2998, not painted.

It’s hard to say if painted hands on the subdials are correct or not – both varieties appear on various specimens, and there’s really no archive evidence to support or disprove the use of either type.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915-1

Case back and the dust/anti-magnetic cover of the 2915-1. The case, as marked, was made by Huguenin Freres. Photo credit: Menta Watches

2915-3

The 2915-3 was a rather interesting sub-reference of the 2915.

You could theoretically place the 2915-3 “broad arrow” next to a -1 or -2, and tell someone to find Waldo in terms of the differences.

Would they? No. That’s because there’s really no Waldo to find here.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915-3

2915-3 broad arrow, steel Base 1000 bezel, 7077 bracelet. Photo credit: Onlyvintage

OK, if they’d open it up, they would find Waldo, namely the reference number. But that’s that.

Now, it’s time to look at the second version of the 2915-3, and perhaps the least common of 2915s.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915-3

2915-3 with alpha hands, 7077 bracelet, black BASE 1000 bezel. Photo credit: Lunar Oyster

If at first glance you thought it’s a 2998, I can’t blame you. The crown and pushers are identical, the BASE 1000 bezel was found on the 2998-1 and -2 alright. The differences are mostly in the hands and the font.

The 2998 font, while still the “Oval O”, had the “O” a bit less flat than the 2915. The hour hand of the 2915-3 alpha was a little bit longer.

If you see a 2915-3 with the tip of the hour hand at the exact same distance from the tip of the hour marker as in the 2998, you can be quite sure that the watch has a replacement set of hands.

It also appears that the 2915-3 alpha, unlike other 2915s, should have a white, painted chrono hand instead of the ordinary steel chrono hand.

Obviously, you can only confuse the 2915-3 alpha with the domed dial versions of the 2998. It’s pretty hard to mistake it for, say, a 2998-4.

Omega CK 2998-4

Omega CK 2998-4. Photo credit: Bulang & Sons

Obviously, you wouldn’t mistake it for the 2998, notably because of the baton hands on the registers and the step dial, but at a distance, I still wouldn’t blame you.

The bezels used on the 2915-3 alpha are something of a conundrum.

Technically, there were two different black BASE 1000 bezels, with the only difference being in the shape of the number 4. However, this really doesn’t count as an issue, as both versions are correct for the 2915-3.

Omega Speedmaster CK 2915-3

Case back of the 2915-3. Note the slightly less crisp perlage than on the Huguenin-made 2915-1 case. Photo credit: Onlyvintage

The bezel is also what sets apart the 2915-3 alpha and the steel bezel 2915-1 and -2.

Because the insert is the same width as the steel bezel, the “frame” for it extends the bezel diameter by roughly 1 mm. And so, the 2915-3 alpha, just like the 2998, measures a hair above 39mm.

There’s one fine difference between two dial types used on the 2915-3. They’re described as “high Omega” and “low Omega”, which refers to the position of the Omega text in relation to the applied logo.

So, if you see two 2915-3s with the Omega text positioned slightly higher or lower, that’s not really any evidence of tampering, when it’s the only difference.

One thing worth noting is that just like the early 2998s, there allegedly were 2915-3 specimens with the “lollipop” chrono hand. However, I’ve never seen one, and unless a manufacturer-verified specimen surfaces, it remains a horological “cryptid.”

Obviously, this means, that proving its existence is not very different from proving that of the Sasquatch, Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster. Without hard evidence – no, I won’t believe in its existence.

Availability

The 2915, in all of its versions, is obscenely hard to get.

The model was short-lived, the demand for it (especially the 2915-1) is very high, and since these watches were intended as daily beaters, not many have made it to our times in good shape…and a lot of them didn’t make it at all. Trashed, “cannibalized” for spare parts, or ruined by the factory service, have your pick.

Most of the 2915s surface at auctions, consistently reaching prices in the vintage Rolex Daytona territory, and this means amounts mostly above $100K.

The 2915-3 alpha seems to be the most overlooked of the 2915s, with the iconic broad arrow hands being far more coveted. Oddly enough, it’s also probably the least common of the 2915s.

Any alternatives?

Well, yes, contemporary.

There’s the Speedmaster 60th Anniversary LE, which although powered by the cam-switching cal. 1861, is pretty much an accurate copy of the broad arrow 2915 in every way.

There’s also the “First Omega in Space”, which technically is a reissue of the 2998, but by a long shot bears resemblance to the 2915-3. Domed dial, straight lugs, alpha hands… I guess that’s already enough of a resemblance.

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