The Omega Speedmaster is a watch that needs no introduction. It’s an icon, most certainly one of the two most iconic chronographs and, considering its superb pedigree, one of the most iconic watches ever. Among all the editions and versions that Omega created since 1957, some are grails, like for instance the first one, the CK2915. Following it was the CK2998 – explained here – which happened to be the first Omega in Space, before landing on the Moon. It is this exact watch that inspired the FOIS edition and, at this year’s edition of Baselworld, the new Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition. And it could well be one of the coolest modern Speedies. Let’s see why.
It’s cool because it’s a Speedmaster
Being named Speedmaster is like being named Porsche. In the heart of collectors, this name sounds like a must-have, with a great history, present and (most certainly) future. This watch is, as we just said, an icon. Why? First, it exists (without discontinuation) since 1957 and since 1963, it remained almost visually unchanged. To the exception of a movement evolution (and not a revolution) and a few visual updates (minor ones…), the actual Speedmaster Professional is the same as 50 years ago. That’s what you call longevity. Then, and that’s what gave the Speed such an aura, this watch was – and still is – worn by astronauts for Space exploration. And when we say worn, we mean really worn during Space missions, as part of their official equipment. Finally, it is the watch that went on the Moon, in 1969, on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin. And that alone makes it very cool!
The new Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition is a Speed, with all its pros and cons. However, it is not THE Speedmaster Professional. It’s a vintage-inspired watch – but not a proper reissue, as some aspects are not historically relevant. And this is both the good point (being a vintage-inspired Speedmaster) and the difficulty with this watch (as being different from the original one).
It’s cool because it’s full of historical details
This Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition is full of small vintage details that will, for sure, make collectors fall in love (and some will probably hate… this is always the case with such re-editions). First of all, it has the straight case. The crown and the pushers are not protected, the casebands are symmetrical and the lugs are flat on top, just like the previous FOIS (First Omega in Space) edition. The Speed Pro has protection for the crown and pushers, an asymmetrical case and “lyre” lugs (a bit twisted). This CK2998 Limited Edition is just like the old CK2998. And in the metal, this case is great.
Then, it has the “alpha” hands, in metal. The Pro has thin baton hands in white. This CK2998 Limited Edition has sword hands with a polished finish. Same goes for the hands of the counters. All show a glaive profile and are executed in polished steel, thus being historically accurate with the original CK2998 – by the way, Omega changed this aspect compared to the FOIS edition (both the steel and gold editions), which had two of the sub-counters hands painted in white and straight. The Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition also has an applied logo, something that only vintage Speedies have.
However, the main big thing here is the “lollipop” second hand. Well, some will say it’s only a detail but most hardcore collectors know that this differently-shaped hand makes a world of difference on the vintage edition of the CK2998, as being extremely rare. It’s thus a nice detail that Omega brings back on this watch.
It’s cool because it’s small
In these days where the average sports chronograph is about 43mm or more, the normal Speedmaster is already rather small at 42mm (and it wears even smaller). But don’t forget that in 1963, it was huge. However, this CK2998 Limited Edition somehow follows a trend for smaller watches, a trend that we, here at Monochrome, highly encourage. It indeed has a diameter of only 39.7mm – and considering the lack of crown protection, it wears small. This size is also very close from the original CK2998.
Apart from being comfortable, it’s also very good looking on the wrist. Such a smaller diameter fits perfectly with the “vintage” style and also brings a lot more of elegance to the wearer. It’s a watch that becomes easier to wear on a daily basis. It’s also rather impressive to see how a vintage-inspired watch can look so modern and sharp… the strength of greatly designed objects.
It’s cool because it has a great movement…
…But not visible, which again is historically relevant. Inside the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition ticks an iconic workhorse, the calibre 1861, itself a small evolution of the great 861 movement, introduced in the Speedmasters on the end of 1968 / start of 1969. So basically, you have the same movement than 48 years ago – and we can ensure you that this movement doesn’t have a single wrinkle.
The 1861 is still extremely reliable, accurate and pleasant to use. And even if it is the only movement of the Omega collection not to feature the co-axial escapement, it remains a very cool piece of mechanic. And honestly, there’s something cool in having an (almost) historically relevant movement in a vintage-inspired watch.
It’s cool because it’s a panda dial… in blue
Right, a white and blue panda is certainly something rather difficult to find in the wild. But this edition gets rid of the entirely black scheme applied on almost all the Speedmasters, including the previous FOIS. It does participate to the timeless look of the watch for sure, but it remains also very classical. This Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition instead plays with blue, for the strap, the engraved ceramic bezel (with luminescent numerals) and for the sub-counters and tracks. Of course, it is far from the original CK2998, but then again, this watch is not a proper reissue.
The second thing that is really appreciable is the “panda” layout. In watchmaking, a “panda” refers to the contrasting dark sub-counters on a white / bright dial. Apart from being easy to read and emphasizing the chronograph indication, it also gives a sporty look to the watch, immediately recognizable as a chronograph. Many great vintage chronographs had this layout and it still works perfectly on the Speedmaster. Omega did apply this on the gold FOIS and now, it comes back on the steel CK2998.
Is this Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition perfect?
The main issue – that we’re not necessarily sharing here – will certainly be brought by some hardcore vintage collectors, who will spot the lack of resemblance between the original CK2998 and this limited edition. Of course, there’s never been a Speedmaster with a “Panda” blue dial. However, Omega never does “copy-paste” reissues. Many watches have vintage-inspired elements but they never are exactly the same. The colour apart, this CK2998 is actually rather close from the original, with matching hands, matching case, same layout, of course a different movement (as the old 321 is not part of the show since 48 years) but nice details like this collector’s grail “lollipop hand. All of this is matched with a nice colour combination and the use of modern techniques, like the ceramic tachymeter bezel with luminous graduations. Overall, yes, this Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition is very cool.
The thing we’d like to put the finger on is the fact that this is a collector’s watch. It is a Speedmaster but not the Speed Pro. Ok, it is not perfectly accurate on an historical basis and the blue colour, even if very appealing, is not timeless like the original black. The original Speed Pro might be a better option for those looking for a real vintage-oriented piece. This CK2998 is certainly more dedicated to long-time collectors, which in fact perfectly matches with its limitation of 2,998 pieces – a rather small limited edition, considering Omega standards… Which makes me think that I own the original one and that I have an empty place in my watch box! Price: 5,400 Euros. Available in stores in July 2016. More detail on the dedicated page.
Specifications of the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Limited Edition
- Case: 39.7mm diameter – stainless steel with ceramic bezel – sapphire crystal on front – 50m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre Omega 1861 – hand-wound – 40h power reserve – 21,600 vibrations/h – hours and minutes on the central axis, small second at 9 and chronograph
- Strap: blue alligator leather with steel pin-buckle
- Limited Edition to 2,998 pieces – 5,400 Euros – Available in July 2016 – ref. 318.104.22.168.02.001