Today is Tuesday… and in terms of watches, you know what it means. Omega didn’t wait long in 2021 to bring its first novelty for “Speedy Tuesday” and, clearly, this is a very important one. Today, Omega updates its most iconic watch, a model that has been practically untouched since the late 1960s, with the current reference dating back to 1997. We, of course, talk about the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, the classic 42mm stainless steel reference with an asymmetrical case, the core member of the collection. Indeed, not a watch that can be updated without consequences. And here is the new Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, which introduces the Master Chronometer Co-Axial Calibre 3861 in a regular production Speedy, with small (but cool) visual updates and new iterations in Sedna and Canopus gold.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, until now
While this article isn’t the place to make the complete history of the Omega Speedmaster – for this, you can check this in-depth article, which includes the evolution of the Speedmaster to the Moonwatch and an identikit of its most iconic references – it is important to understand where the model that used to be the standard Moonwatch (the reference 3220.127.116.11.01.005, when it comes to the steel on steel model with Hesalite crystal) until now comes from.
First of all, the “Professional” mention. Until late 1963, Speedmaster watches were so-called straight lugs with no Professional mention. The 42mm asymmetrical case, the one that we today see as the classic shape, has been introduced in 1964 with the reference ST 105.012 together with the Professional mention. Of course, as you’d expect, the name “Moonwatch” only appeared in 1969, after the Apollo 11 mission and the Moon Landing. This case, with its lyre-type twisted lugs and protection for the crown and pushers, is basically unchanged since 1964 and has only been altered by minor updates. Same goes for the hands and dial, once again almost identical today expect minor changes such as the flat dial replacing the step dial or the printed logo in place of an applied one. Still, the display and the overall style is in 2021 almost the same as what used to be found in the late 1960s. At first equipped with the Calibre 321, the watch will receive a new movement in 1968, the cam-operated calibre 861 – first used in the reference ST 145.022.
From this moment, the Speedmaster Professional will only undergo minor updates and, if you remove the effect of time and patina, watches from the late 1960s or early 1970s are not very different from what Omega offers today. From 1968 to 1997, the Speedmaster Professional will remain almost untouched, until Omega introduced an updated movement, the Calibre 1861 with the reference 3570.50.
Finally, the last important update to be seen on the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional occurred in late 1997, when Swiss authorities prevented the use of radioactive material for the hands and markers, Omega replacing it with Super-LumiNova – watches with this material are easy to spot, thanks to the no-T dial and the pure white colour of hands and markers.
Other than the mechanical evolution, the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional as for sale until early 2021 is pretty similar to all the watches produced since 1968 and even almost identical to the watches produced since 1997, with its mechanical evolution. The Moonwatch was until recently available in 4 references:
- steel-on-steel with Hesalite crystal and steel caseback – 318.104.22.168.01.005
- steel-on-leather with Hesalite crystal and steel caseback – 322.214.171.124.01.001
- steel-on-steel with sapphire crystals front and caseback – 3126.96.36.199.01.006
- steel-on-leather with sapphire crystals front and caseback – 3188.8.131.52.01.002
The introduction of the Calibre 3861
While not yet used in the regular production Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, Omega introduced a new movement in early 2019 which was the first major evolution to be seen on the 1861 architecture since 1997. Launched in the gold Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary and a couple of months later in the Steel Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary, this new calibre, dubbed 3861, includes all the modern technologies that the brand developed over the past 10 years.
First, the calibre 3861 includes the co-axial escapement, which is a first for a hand-wound Speedmaster engine. Second, it is also Master Chronometer rated, meaning that it has been tested for both accuracy (within the specifications defined by METAS, meaning +0/+5 seconds a day) and magnetic resistance, with the ability to resist to fields up to 15,000-gauss. This has been achieved thanks to the use of silicon Si14 for the balance spring. While visually close to the Calibre 1861, almost all the parts have been upgraded – with now 26 jewels instead of 18 jewels, just as an indication of the work done – and even the power reserve is longer, now at 50 hours.
Since its introduction in 2019, this movement has also been used in the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary. But no regular production Speedmaster until today have been equipped with it.
The 2021 Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer
So here it is, Omega updates its most important watch, the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional. First of all, without surprises, the movement has been changed for the new co-axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861, which we’ve seen above. But that’s not only a mechanical update that Omega is presenting today, as the Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer also introduces several visual updates, with slight vintage inspiration to make the watch look close to the ST 105.012 we’ve mentioned at the beginning of the article.
First of all, importantly, the case retains the same style with its lyre-type lugs, its 42mm diameter, its combination of brushed surfaces and polished accents and a 50m water-resistance. As before, the stainless steel model is available in two versions, one with a classic Hesalite crystal and a solid steel back – new for this reference, the caseback is double-stepped. The other steel model has a so-called sapphire sandwich with sapphire crystals front and caseback. However, if the mention “The First Watch Worn on the Moon” is still present, the other one has been updated, now being “Flight Qualified by NASA in 1965 for All Manned Space Missions”.
The rest feels pretty close to the original model, but once again, some updates are to be mentioned. The external bezel with tachymeter, an important feature of the Speedmaster (this was the first watch with a scale printed on an external bezel in 1957), is still made of anodized aluminium but now features two historical elements, being the famous dot over 90 (DON) and a dot diagonal to 70.
The dial of the new Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer has also been updated and take inspiration from the ST 105.012, including the step profile and the matte black grained texture. The hands and indexes are now coated with cream-coloured Super-LumiNova and the “Omega Speedmaster Professional” printing has been slightly redesigned. The Hesalite model has a printed Ω logo white the sapphire model has an applied Ω logo. Finally, to match with the 3Hz frequency of the new calibre 3861, the seconds track has been redesigned too, as it now split by 3 divisions, as opposed to the 5 divisions on previous models (which were not bringing a precise measurement).
Finally, concerning the steel models, the bracelet retains the same style has before, however, it introduces a new clasp with a striped pattern, polished Omega logo and satin-finished cover. Also, note that the Hesalite model has a fully brushed bracelet, while the sapphire sandwich model has polished mid-links.
Also, just like previous iterations, the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer can be ordered on a strap too. The Hesalite model comes on a black fabric strap while the sapphire sandwich watch is delivered on a smooth calfskin strap.
However, there’s more than the 4 stainless steel references to this new Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional collection. There are indeed 4 other references, all new to the Moonwatch, this time made of precious metals. This includes 2 watches in 18k Sedna gold and 2 watches in 18k Canopus gold – both proprietary alloys.
The first one is a classic gold-and-black combination, with all the elements of the dial and the bezel also printed in gold colour or being made of gold – hands and indexes. This Sedna gold model is available either on a gold bracelet or an alligator leather strap and comes standard with a sapphire sandwich construction. Other than the different materials and colours, the specifications and decoration of the movement are identical to the steel models.
Last but not least, Omega introduces an 18k Canopus gold – the brand’s own white gold and platinum alloy – with a silver-coloured sunray-brushed dial. Once again, this model has sapphire crystals front and caseback, the same Calibre 3861 and can be worn on either a gold bracelet or an alligator leather strap.
Availability & Price
As you can expect, with the addition of a more modern and better-finished movement, the price of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer has been increased – about EUR 1,300 more compared to the previous references. The stainless steel Hesalite model on bracelet (ref. 310.30.42.50.01.001) will be priced at EUR 6,200, while the stainless steel sapphire model on bracelet (ref. 310.30.42.50.01.002) will be priced at EUR 7,000. For the complete price list, check the specification table at the end.
Note that the Canopus and Sedna gold versions will only be available in Omega boutiques. The stainless steel models are available as of now from boutiques and retailers. Finally, all watches are covered by a 5-year warranty program.
More details at www.omegawatches.com.