As we head into the Year of the Ox, it’s starting to seem like the Year of the Chronograph in the watch market, with blockbuster releases dominating the talk thus far. The long-awaited facelift to the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional has been at the forefront of this charge. While collectors’ interest in the venerable “Speedy Pro” has never waned, Omega’s reluctance to upgrade its most important property has begun to wear thin, leaving the Moonwatch feeling antiquated in the face of increasingly tough competition from Breitling, TAG Heuer, and, most recently, Zenith. All of that changes with the new Master Chronometer-certified Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, which completely modernises Omega’s most beloved chronograph while gently improving its visual identity while appeasing the extremely fussy Speedmaster collecting community. More importantly, it allows “Speedy-curious” collectors the opportunity to revisit a classic and possibly perceive it in a whole new light.
Which is better: hesalite or sapphire? It’s the most natural place to start with the Moonwatch, and probably the most well-known “this or that” conundrum in the watch world, despite the fact that there’s no right or wrong answer. Unfortunately, the launch of the latest Moonwatch generation is unlikely to make the decision any easier. The new hesalite front crystal variant is still the most faithful specification to that which was originally flight-qualified by NASA and would later walk on the moon, while this “sapphire sandwich,” nicknamed for its sapphire front crystal and exhibition caseback, appeals to those who want the iconic Moonwatch’s visual identity with a subtle, more luxurious flourish. Omega has made the visual differences between the two varieties a little more clear in this long-awaited upgrade, with the hesalite getting a more matte presentation and the sapphire having polished centre links, case flanks, and an attached Omega logo at 12 o’clock. Both variants have had their dials and physical bracelets upgraded, and the watch is now powered by Omega’s cutting-edge cal. 3861 hand-wound movement – all of which do little to detract from what makes the Speedy fantastic in the first place. Message in Advertising Message At The End Of Advertising
It’s a massive task to reimagine a cherished property without abandoning its millions of admirers — a group so dedicated that their enthusiasm has its own day of the week (thanks to our friend RJB at Fratello for kicking off the #SpeedyTuesday craze). To give credit where credit is due, Omega’s designers did “just enough” to keep the Moonwatch current, generating paying fan service along the way, while prudently rejecting the impulse to completely revamp the platform, as the company frequently does with many of other trademarks. I’ll be the first to admit that, while I’ve always admired Omega’s proclivity for flipping the script and constantly tinkering with its own formulas, borrowing a page from a certain Geneva maker’s book – to make minor, incremental changes over time – was a refreshing change of pace and an absolutely sound decision when it came to the crucially important Speedmaster Professional.
It was perhaps a step made to repair prior errors, since the 9300-series Moonwatch from 2011 – a dramatic, divisive, and then-modernized automatic Speedmaster Moonwatch with a bi-compax layout, a bigger 44.25mm casing, and 100 metres of water resistance – was the result of such constant tinkering. For a time, it appeared as if this might become the modern Speedmaster Moonwatch, but it was only a Moonwatch in name, and the community reacted accordingly. The line was quietly discontinued in 2017 and renamed “Speedmaster Two Counters Chronograph” to ensure that the essential elements of what makes a Moonwatch a Moonwatch – a 42mm case, three registers, no date, a hand-wound movement, and an aluminium tachymeter bezel – are all present and correct, just as god and Ed White intended.
The new Master Chronometer-certified Moonwatch is everything the “Two Counters Chronograph” tried to be — totally modern and dripping with all of Omega’s latest technology, but without sacrificing everything collectors love about the watch that travelled to the moon. Despite its newness, the new Speedy Pro feels eerily similar to the previous Speedy Pro – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s a Speedmaster, of course. Its presence on the wrist has a tactile familiarity to it, as if it were an old friend returning from a summer at Space Camp — something has changed, but you can’t quite put your finger on it until you look closer. Message in Advertising Message At The End Of Advertising
On paper, the METAS-certified Master Chronometer movement is likely the most significant upgrade, but on the wrist, the biggest change is clearly in the bracelet, which retains the classic five-link design but does so with a dramatic taper, with the three main links now sharing a similar width and much shorter individual lengths – a trait borrowed from late-sixties era ref. 105.012 Speedmasters, and one that len admired. Far has been remarked about the new reference’s lack of an adjustable clasp, yet thinner bracelet links inherently allow for a much more exact fit on the wrist, requiring only minor micro-adjustment as needed.
It made natural to polish the dial presentation while Omega was revising the movement to Master Chronometer spec, but only in the spirit of certain elements that have long been highly sought-after by collectors in the old Speedy sector. This includes a matte “step” dial with minute markers that drop away at the edges (the second graduations have now been updated to correctly reflect the movement’s 21,600 vph beat rate), a “teardrop-style” chronograph seconds hand (pay close attention to its pointed base), and an aluminium “dot-over-ninety” (DON) tachymeter bezel. At the end of the day, most of it is just fan service, but perhaps more importantly, it all feels more cohesive. A little more polished. More information. The Speedmaster has long been regarded as a deservingly famous (and attractive) timepiece, but it was beginning to feel lacklustre, at worst, and a victim of its own adoration, at best. The new Master Chronometer Moonwatch corrects this: it has more of everything Speedmaster fans love (and, let’s face it, they’re a fickle bunch) without sacrificing any of the classic Moonwatch cues, such as how it relays vital information or how it has presented so perfectly on the wrist for the better part of the last 70 years.
The new Speedy, which was announced little over a month ago, is already on the wrists of collectors who ordered from Omega’s website as well as select boutiques. Instant satisfaction has never seemed to be a part of the watch release cycle, particularly Omega’s, but if this is a newly trending side consequence of 2020’s pandemic malaise’s unending waits, I’m down for it. If this is the Speedmaster you’ve been waiting for, the “Sapphire Sandwich” (ref. 310.30.42.50.01.002) will set you back $7,250 on a stainless steel bracelet. Omegawatches.com has more information and can help you order one.