The reason that Omega Speedmaster turns out to be one of the most collectible watches cannot leave apart his relationship with Astronaut. Omega and NASA have always cooperation relationship, they launch new watch models together, and astronauts once wore an Omega watch to the moon, and that model was Speedmaster.
What is special about Omega Speedmaster?
Some watches represent a piece of history, and the Speedmaster is one of them. It is a watch that is synonymous the conquest of space, gracing the wrist of astronauts who landed on the Moon, accompanying them in their successes and vicissitudes. As a result, it has become one of the world's most beautiful and appreciated sports chronographs, ready to grace your wrist with equal class and technical perfection. A perfect specimen for any watch collector. Are Omega watch overpriced? For Speedmaster, its fans just won’t care.
Chronographs and navigation
Precision in the measurement of time has been fundamental to humankind. Above all, to determine the nautical point by observing the stars. But since travel has moved from water to air, measurement demands have shifted to timing precisely smaller intervals. And because of this, early long-distance air travel used the chronograph for this specific task.
Sure - the wrist chronograph became a backup after adopting specialized instruments in the cockpit. But - as proved in the Apollo program - a critical one that ensured the safety of astronauts - who are nothing more than extremely specialized airplane pilots.
What watch did astronauts wear on the moon?
The Speedmaster was not the first watch to orbit the Earth. Instead, this record goes to the Sturmanskie worn by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. As for the USA, the first watch was the one worn by Scott Carpenter, a Breitling Navitimer.
Related article: Which Watches OMEGA and NASA Brought to the Moon?
However, astronauts at that time wore their personal watch: it was only in the late Fifties, with the beginning of the Gemini program, that NASA decided to adopt an official watch.
It submitted to specific evaluations several commercial watches, including Elgin, Benrus, Hamilton, Mido, Piccard, Omega, Bulova, Rolex, Longines, and Gruen. Of these, only three of them were selected for comparative evaluation tests: Longines, Omega, and Rolex (Omega mounted the caliber 321, Rolex the Valjoux 72, and Longines the caliber 13 ZN). The ordeal devised by NASA consisted of a series of very tough tests that each watch had to undergo to be flight-qualified for all manned space missions. And the Speedmaster came out on top, with the first "space" Speedmaster, Ref. 105.003.
To say that the Moonwatch - as this marvelous timepiece was later called - was on the wrist of Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin in July 1969, when they walked on the Moon, is to tell only half the story. The other half was about the tragic Apollo XIII accident, after the power generator failure, when the crew of James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise calculated with their Speedmasters the exact ignition time of the rockets to be able to pilot the re-entry of the capsule in Earths's atmosphere. And here, too, it was a success.
How to land on our wrist?
Those who dabble in horology know that the quartz revolution characterized the years around 1970. And back then, for several years, mechanical watches were considered much less prestigious. So it took quite some time for the Speedmaster to be recognized for what it was: an excellent sports chronograph that managed to make a tremendous general-purpose watch. It's elegant enough to look great as a formal watch and sporty enough to accompany you on any adventure.
Although it seems so normal to us today, the Speedmaster was the first chronograph to feature a tachymeter scale on the bezel when it was launched in 1957. That happened because early chronographs were used for both aviation and motor racing - and the Speedmaster belonged to that large group. The first version, with reference CK2915-1, was distinguished by its hands, with the famous Broad Arrow, but it was very similar to what would become the Moonwatch - and still is.
There have been countless Speedmaster models over these 65 years, but among the many, the Moon landing was an important date for the Moonwatch. The first specimens, produced before the Moon landing, are called Pre-Moonwatch by enthusiasts, and - among other details - on the case back is engraved a hippocampus. In contrast, the specimens after the landing also show the typical NASA inscription.
Around 1968 the new caliber, the 861, created to be simpler and cheaper to produce, was introduced and gradually replaced the original 321 in all Speedmasters. It was improved in 1997 with the rhodium-plating of the surfaces, to originate the caliber 1861, to arrive at the latest version launched in 2021, ref. 310.30.42.50.01.001. The last - for now - edition of the Speedmaster mounts the caliber 3861, a wholly renewed movement offering a 50-hour power reserve and Master Chronometer certification.
Today, the old caliber 321 has been put back into some select models, with a dedicated production line in the Omega manufacture. And again, it lets the few enthusiasts who manage to snag it experience the feeling that astronauts did when they descended to the Moon - and back.
Why choosing an Omega Speedmaster?
Among the many chronographs that have made watchmaking history, the Speedmaster, as we've seen, is a legend in its own right that is closely tied to space exploration, and this appeals - perhaps in a naive but profound way - to the child within us, who when asked what he would do when he grew up, replied: "I want to be an astronaut". And with a Speedmaster on your wrist, you feel a little closer to the stars.
Whether it is a "true" Moonwatch or a "simple" Speedmaster, this timepiece is a memorial to a success story that has made it one of the world's most beautiful and iconic timepieces - that everyone can wear on their wrists and imagine, on their wildest dreams, how does it feel to see the Little Blue Planet before their eyes, as Armstrong and Aldrin did in that historical Summer of 1969.
That state of mind aside, the Speedmaster is a perfect watch. It comes in several sizes that gravitate around 40mm perfection, with the Professional around 42mm and the Automatic, often called Reduced, around 38mm, which makes it really wearable by everyone. It also has a gorgeous performance on the wrist: important but not flashy, and very elegant but assertive in its sportiness.
How do you wear an Omega Speedmaster?
No wristwatch could be considered without its strap. And apart from anything else, the Speedmaster is historically sold with a steel bracelet with a typical design. Which, however, unlike the Rolex bracelet, does not fully convince in use. The main problem is that it looks important - too important to be able to completely enhance the perfection of the watch design, which remains a bit sacrificed.
After all, The Seedmaster's design dates back to the middle of the last century - and chronographs of the time gave their best when paired with nato straps: and the Speedmaster, in this role, does not disappoint expectations at all. A nato strap made by premium nylon, walnut coloring and contrasting stitching proves to be perfect. A nice color to break away from the black of the bezel and dial and perfect with clothes in autumn colors such as Khaki, military green or black.
Classy but not conformist, sporty but not over the top. Well-balanced and professional. A perfect match for you and your style.
Find related straps here: Leather Nylon NATO Watch Bands