In the music industry, when a band releases a compilation of its most successful songs, it’s named “best-of” or “greatest hits.” At Omega, such a compilation is named the Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold. A watch that summarizes 65 years of Speedmaster, a watch that combines the best from the past and the future. Everything that has been praised over 65 years in the Speedmaster, from its iconic design and movement on one side, to the latest developments in materials and finishing on the other, are packed in this watch. Sure, when it has been released, this CK2915-inspired model made some noise, being one of the most expensive and most exclusive Speedies ever done. Quite a departure from the utilitarian roots of the model. But let’s consider this watch the “Greatest Hits of the Speedmaster” and a watch that is a celebration of everything Speedy…
it has become a recurring pattern for Omega… Every first Tuesday of the year comes an important, new Speedmaster-related watch. We’ve seen last year the brand new Moonwatch, the Speedmaster Professional Master Chronometer. In 2020, Omega released the Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321. And in 2019, the Biel-based manufacture announced the re-introduction of the legendary Calibre 321, the Lemania-based movement that once powered the first-generation Speedmaster watches. And in 2022, we’ve been granted with this, a high-end, ultra-luxurious, modernly-manufactured, vintage-designed Speedmaster that combines everything best at Omega.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the introduction of the Omega Speedmaster, probably one of the most iconic chronographs and watches ever made by the Swiss watch industry. The first chronograph with an external bezel, the first watch worn on the Moon, one of the few watches to be in constant production since the late 1950s… There are so many stories to be told about the Speedmaster that we’d better stay away from this topic today.
What matters is that once again, Omega releases a watch that is directly inspired by the very first model, the 1957 Speedmaster CK2915-1. It isn’t a first, as the brand did so in 2017, for the 60th-anniversary collection – also paying tribute to the Seamaster 300 and the Railmaster – with a very faithful (visually at least) re-edition, in stainless steel, with a relatively reasonable price. However, while the brand could have used the same recipe as the Ed White-inspired Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321 – understand one-to-one reproduction of the habillage and historical 321 movement inside – Omega has decided with the 1957-inspired Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus to go in a different direction. A direction that will certainly be discussed, but that is entirely assumed by the brand. Visually, the CK2915 is undeniably here. Mechanically, well, the movement is as close as it can get. Material-wise, this is a completely different story.
CK2915-1 looks, 2022 materials
Design-wise, the Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold is a no-surprise watch, for the best of the worst (depending on how you like or not the Speedmaster). Fans of the models will be happy to see a case and all other elements of the habillage faithfully recreated, with dimensions and shapes precisely modelled after the CK2915-1 (at least, when these watches were new). And in that vein, it means a central case that is identical to the Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321. The case, just like the 1957 model, measures 38.6mm in diameter for a height of about 13.9mm, and a lug-to-lug measurement of 48mm – these “straight lugs” cases have always been quite long. The difference with the Ed White in terms of diameter should be accounted to the bezel of the latter, which protrudes from the case. Otherwise, it’s the same.
Instead of a Hesalite synthetic crystal, the Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus relies on a modern sapphire crystal, which nevertheless is shaped almost like in the old days – it might be a bit boxier and less curved. Omega went all the way to recreate the Ω logo in the centre, above the hands’ stem. Water-resistance is rated at 60 metres (which is, for an unknown reason, 10 metres more than the modern Moonwatch) and the crown, identical to the original in shape and design, has the so-called NAIAD logo. The pump pushers are also modelled after the original 1957 model. Finishing is classic, with a combination of polished and brushed surfaces and the execution is… typical Omega. Clean, ultra-precise, solid.
Finally, the external bezel – an important element of the design of the Speedy – mimics the look of the original CK2915-1, being made of brushed metal, with a contrasting black tachymeter scale (something that clearly defines the look of the earliest versions). It has the classic 1957 font and markers, with dot over ninety (DON) and a dot diagonal to seventy, the “base 1000” calculation and the old-school “tachymètre” mention.
But now, we have to go into science and modern materials, and high-end production techniques. Because indeed, as indicated by its name, the Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold is not a steel watch. Its case is made of Canopus Gold, a proprietary alloy, made of 75% of gold, 20% of palladium, and 5% of rhodium and platinum. The idea, just like with Sedna gold, is to offer an alloy that is more resistant to wear and fade, as its colour will stay far more white within the years. All elements of the case and bracelet are done in this specific alloy – and yes, the watch is quite heavy (well over 200 grams) – and that includes the bezel. The latter also relies on a high-end process in order to create the scale, which is first engraved and then filled with grand feu enamel. This will ensure more durability.
Historical, yet modernized bracelet
Something that greatly participated in the appeal of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321 was its bracelet, and this Canopus model has the same. A so-called “flat-link” inspired by the bands used by Omega in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it measures 19mm at the case, tapers to 15mm at the clasp and its links are relatively thin, providing vintage look and modern comfort. It combines polished external links with brushed central links and its construction is unquestionably impressive. Adjustment in length is done by the use of screws and the overall feeling, emphasized by the use of gold, is that of high-quality manufacturing.
What’s new in this watch is the presence of a clasp that combines vintage look and modernity. Compared to the 105.003 re-edition, it now comes with a micro-adjustment device, also known as “comfort release”. It allows extending the length of the bracelet by a bit over 2mm, something practical during summer. On the other hand, it also means a clasp that is slightly thicker and longer. But nothing worrisome here.
The onyx dial
Where the new Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold differs most from the 1957 reference CK2915-1 is on the dial. In short, it’s not entirely faithful but that dial is a beauty. It is a modern interpretation of the basics found in the 1957 watch, both in terms of design and materials.
First and foremost, the dial of the Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus is not your classic painted or lacquered dial. It is made with some of the most refined materials Omega has. It has a multi-layer construction and is made mostly of highly polished, pitch-black glossy Onyx. The base is brass on which are applied 3 sub-dials and sub-dial rings made of Onyx. The final touch is an Onyx layer with cutouts, which has a small step on the periphery. The result is pretty impressive in the metal, offering superb reflections and depth, but maybe not the best for legibility. But yes, that glossy pitch-black dial is something truly special.
The rest feel pretty classic for a vintage-inspired Speedmaster watch, with the so-called Broad Arrow hands, vintage applied Omega logo, historically-relevant oval-shaped O for Omega and elongated minute markers. Being a precious metal version, Omega has opted for applied hour markers instead of painted markers. Hands and indices are made of classic 18k white gold, then coated by PVD treatment with Canopus gold. All elements are filled with Super-LumiNova.
The Mighty calibre 321
This movement alone is a reason to consider this watch (and the steel Moonwatch Calibre 321). What we’re talking about is a true reproduction of the historic Calibre 321. To recreate this movement, “The Omega Museum team compiled extensive historical research and original plans to reconstruct the movement as accurately as possible. Going even further, they also used tomography technology (digital scanning method) to see inside the true Speedmaster ST105.003 timepiece that astronaut Eugene “Gene” Cernan wore on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.” As such, most of the parts of the new Calibre 321 are identical to the parts found in the old Calibre 321. It is produced in a dedicated atelier inside the Omega manufacture.
The Calibre 321, or Lemania 3210, is a classic chronograph with column wheel and horizontal clutch architecture, running at a slow frequency of 18,000 vibrations/hour. If it is almost identical to the historic movement, production methods and machining have evolved and, of course, the result is a movement that feels more modern and is better finished. It is now coated with Sedna gold and its power reserve is slightly longer now, with 55 hours.
One specificity of this Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold is its caseback. Indeed, if you look closely, you’ll notice the seahorse/hippocampus logo laser-engraved on its surface, but also a small detail; it has a sparkling blue eye. This feature results from an Omega proprietary and patented process, using Liquidmetal technology for the setting.
Conclusion, availability & price
The Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold is a striking watch. It packs everything best at Omega, in a slightly overdone manner. It’s not a commercial product, it’s a celebration of the Speedmaster with high horology in mind. All the best technologies and production techniques that Omega has come to master over the past years are reunited in this piece, which is literally packed with high-end details. One could have expected a re-edition of the CK2915 done in the same way as the Moonwatch 321, but that would have possibly created a conflict inside the collection. This Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus is a hardcore, ultra-niche, ultra-exclusive model. It’s a collector’s jewel. Like or not… that’s up to you. If you want a CK2915-inspired steel watch, you can always look at the 60th-anniversary model, which is still slightly undervalued in my opinion.
The Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321 Canopus Gold (reference 3184.108.40.206.01.001) is released as part of the permanent collection and isn’t limited in numbers – as per Omega’s new strategy. Don’t expect it to be produced in large quantities, however, as it will remain confidential. It is delivered in a large wooden box. All of that comes at a price, as the watch retails for EUR 80,000.
For more details, please visit www.omegawatches.com.