While Omega’s main focus for Baselworld 2018 was the Seamaster collection – which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year – the Biel-based brand couldn’t entirely ignore its other icon, the Speedmaster. Apart from the modern and surprising Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 edition, Omega also had something very desirable to show: a new CK2998 Limited Edition. Nothing revolutionary here, just a cool vintage-inspired chronograph with several pleasant details. Meet the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer.
The new Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer is the latest iteration in a line-up started with the Speedmaster FOIS – for First Omega in Space. This watch was launched in 2012 and introduced a new case inspired by the Speedy Straight Lugs of the 1960s – in particular, reference CK2998. This symmetrical case will later be found in the FOIS Sedna Gold/Panda dial (launched in 2015) and more recently in the blue CK2998 (launched at Baselworld 2016). All of these watches share several common elements, such as a vintage-inspired look reminiscent of the early Speedmaster, a case that is smaller than the Professional version, but the same hand-wound – and legendary – calibre 1861.
For Baselworld 2018, there is a new version in this Speedmaster sub-collection, called the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer – and honesty, it is a winner. Casually introduced and not officially promoted by the brand during the Basel Watch Fair, the CK2998 isn’t what you’d call a revolution. Yet, with a few updates compared to the blue CK2998, it looks very cool – and here is why.
The basic recipe for this Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer is the same as the one used in 2012 with the FOIS and the CK2998. The stainless steel case is inspired by the first generations of Speedmaster watches before NASA, and Omega decided to offer more protection to the crown and pusher – see why here. While the Professional Speedmaster has an asymmetrical case with lyre lugs and a 42mm diameter, the CK2998 relies on a so-called “straight” or symmetrical case where the crown and the pushers are unprotected. Because of that, the case is also smaller than the Professional version, measuring 39.7mm – yet, it still has a great presence on the wrist due to its rather long lugs.
The case, with a plain steel back embossed with the Seahorse logo, is polished on flat surfaces and brushed on the sides – again, nothing revolutionary going on here. Where this Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer first evolves is on the bezel. Previously, all models displayed a tachymeter scale to measure average speeds – whether with an aluminium insert of the FOIS steel or a ceramic insert on the gold FOIS or the blue CK2998. However, looking back at Omega’s history, the tachymeter bezel we’re so used to see on the Speedmaster wasn’t the only option. During the 1960s and also during the 1980s, Omega offered four different inserts for the Speedmaster: tachymeter (of course), decimal (for production calculations), telemeter (for average distances) and pulsometer (to measure heartbeats – see an example here). The latter is reintroduced this year.
First of all, this new Speedmaster CK2998 has a pulsometer scale on the bezel… but it is not exactly the same as the original version. In the past, the pulsometer bezels were graduated for 15 pulsations, meaning that the scale was printed on less than half of the bezel and the rest was empty. To make this new version more lively, Omega has decided to feature a pulsometer scale graduated to 30 pulsations (and written in French, may I recall). Even if it is not a faithful recreation of what doctors would normally use, these new graduations allow for a more “scaled” bezel. Also, on the contrary of the previous CK2998, this bezel is still in ceramic, but now in black and the numerals/inscriptions are filled in with white enamel.
The second major evolution is the dial, which now displays a true panda style. Again, nothing historically relevant, as the Speedmaster has never been a panda-dial watch… But honestly, this new white dial with black sub-counters is a killer. To indicate the time, we have Alpha-shaped hands in steel (hours, minutes) and in white (chronograph counters), just like the vintage version. The central seconds hand is painted in red, just like the Speedmaster logo – a discreet but welcome touch of colour to liven up this watch. The dial is protected by a box-shaped sapphire crystal.
Inside the case is the same legendary hand-wound movement as the Professional Moonwatch, the calibre 1861 – a cam-operated engine, with 3Hz frequency and 48h power reserve. To complement the racing look of this Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer is a black perforated leather strap with contrasting stitching and a steel pin buckle.
Overall, with this new Pulsometer version, Omega remains in its comfort zone and provides a watch that is close in style to the previous variants… And to that objection, my answer is: “whatever”. And that’s because this new watch is really cool. The Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer will be produced in 2,998 pieces and priced at CHF 5,400 (before taxes). No words yet concerning the availability. More details on omegawatches.com.