Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch AnniversaryNovember 15, 2021
The new Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer was not even on my short-term wish list, as I already have a few Moonwatch references, but I simply could not resist. This time, I was initially (and finally) aiming for the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, but the Moonwatch force was strong. I ended up buying the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer, with Hesalite crystal. Allow me to explain.
I bought the new Moonwatch with Hesalite crystal, mainly because I think it is somewhat more historically correct. But more importantly, I like the looks of the Hesalite crystal. It magnifies the dial of the Speedmaster in a way that the Sapphire crystal can’t. The Omega Speedmaster sapphire sandwich version does have an edge though, which is the transparent case back. If I wasn’t already a proud owner of the Speedmaster Apollo XI Moonshine edition, which also has the see-through case back, I might have chosen differently.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t particularly need a new Speedmaster, of any kind. But the new Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Master Chronometer (despite its rather lengthy name) somehow grew quicker on me than I thought. Omega has been taking it easy with its limited editions recently, although you can debate whether the latest Snoopy 50th anniversary isn’t secretly a limited edition. To me, it isn’t though, as it is in “regular production” and not numbered (or limited in numbers). Its slow production and deliveries might frustrate you (and me), but I am sure it will come to me, at some point.
My last Speedmaster purchase was the Calibre 321 “Ed White” in 2020, and this year I had nothing specific in mind, except for the Snoopy 50th anniversary model. When Omega introduced the new Moonwatch collection on the first (Speedy) Tuesday in January 2021, we received all of the variations in our office to give them proper coverage. Although I liked the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer, I didn’t plan to buy one yet. It will be in Omega’s collection for many years to come, as the previous version dated all the way back to 1997. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon was higher up on my list, as I wrote here. But the new Speedmaster Professional was simply irresistible. I do blame Ben Hodges a little bit, as he went for the Speedmaster Professional with sapphire crystal not too long ago and wrote about it here.
Not only Ben, but I also noticed a lot of the new Speedmaster Moonwatch models popping up on Instagram using the #SpeedyTuesday of course, and on the feed of the #SpeedyTuesday Facebook Group. I got influenced, you could say.
Of course, we covered the new Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch models extensively in January (here), even doing a side-by-side comparison to the previous Moonwatch reference. But if you don’t feel like reading up, here are some of the new Moonwatch specifications:
Before I go into some of its details, let me tell you what I like so much about this new generation of Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch models. Where my previous purchase, the Speedmaster Calibre 321, was mainly about celebrating the history of the Moonwatch and the wonderful 321 movement. The new Speedmaster Moonwatch is combining heritage with innovation. In terms of design, Omega’s new Moonwatch made a leap back to the 4th generation of Speedmasters from the 1960s. The references are 105.012 and 145.012, to be precise. These are the Speedmaster watches that featured crown guards for the first time and were sent to NASA for use during the Apollo program. It was a Speedmaster 105.012 that was worn on the moon by Aldrin, for example.
The new Moonwatch Master Chronometer uses the same case design as the 4th generation, and Omega used tomography technology to get the exact case dimensions. As you know, Omega did not have CAD solutions in the 1960s (nobody did), so with tomography, they were able to create CAD files for today’s machines. Not only does the case harken back to the original Moonwatch, but the dial has also changed in regard to the previous Moonwatch model. Some of the other updates include a step dial, updated chronograph seconds track, the teardrop chronograph second hand, and an applied logo for the sapphire version. The printing on the dial has become a bit larger/bolder, but my eyes don’t mind the added legibility.
The previous bracelet was a thorn in the flesh of many Speedmaster enthusiasts, myself included. Undeniably comfortable, its design was just not a proper fit with the Moonwatch. Especially not compared with some of the older bracelet designs. The new bracelet, like the one on my Speedmaster Apollo XI Moonshine edition from 2019, was inspired by the reference 1479 and even older reference 1116 bracelets. Finally, there’s the Dot-Over-Ninety bezel, a small detail that means so much to Speedmaster collectors. Anyway, not unimportant is to know how the new bracelet actually wears. Due to the smaller links, it is more supple on the wrist.
The clasp has two release buttons and has two positions for precise adjustment to the length of the bracelet. This way, you can either adjust it to the equivalent of 1/3rd or 2/3rd of a link, otherwise, you need to add or remove a link. It would have been nice to have an easy adjustment system, but perhaps the clasp would become too bulky. I don’t know. Either way, I rarely resize my bracelets, but I know some of you that have been waiting for a proper adjustment mechanism will just have to keep on waiting. The bracelet on the new Moonwatch with the Hesalite crystal has a fully brushed finishing. Except for the sides of the links, of course. These are polished and give a nice contrast.
On the sapphire version, the small decorative links have been polished. According to my colleague Ben, it adds a bit more depth to the bracelet. I agree with that, but I love the all-brushed look just a little bit better. But that’s a matter of personal taste. As I’ve been wearing this watch for the past few days during our stay in Geneva with a part of the Fratello team, the bracelet received many comments, all positive. I guess it just stands out, likely because of how well it suits the overall aesthetic of the watch itself.
Looking at the innovative character of the new Moonwatch, I would say the movement is the biggest step forward here. The Caliber 3861 was already introduced in 2019 in the Speedmaster Apollo XI 50th anniversary watches and used once again in last year’s Snoopy 50th anniversary edition. It doesn’t need much introduction therefore but let me just touch upon the most important features. It has the same basis as the layout as the previous 1861 movement. Meaning that the dial layout is the same, each small hand is 6.7mm away from the center pinion. The movement uses partly the same components as its predecessor, but now, of course, with a silicon balance spring, a Co-Axial escapement and chronometer-certified by COSC.
After the movements returns from COSC, they are being cased in Omega’s manufacture in Biel. When the new Moonwatch is assembled, it goes into the testing process. When it passes all 8 stringent tests, it obtains its Master Chronometer certification from METAS. Most important to know is that the new Moonwatch Master Chronometer will have an accuracy of +5/0 seconds per day on average and that it is anti-magnetic to > 15,000 gauss.
Any downsides to the new Moonwatch? Well, one of the most loudly voiced “complaints” is regarding its water resistance. If this watch is your only watch, it can be an issue, depending on what you plan to do with it. It has a water resistance of 50 meters, but it has been tested +25% to make sure the 50 meters is the bare minimum. Just to make sure, I asked Omega and they let me know that this watch is fine to swim with. I would like to add, just to make sure, that you should not be operating the pushers and crown underwater. I have taken my Speedmasters in the water in the past, and I have never had any issues.
Admittedly, I am not much of a swimmer myself. So, for me, I don’t care much about its water resistance. I think a lot of people would have felt more comfortable if Omega would have made this watch water resistant up to 100 meters. There used to be a few Speedmasters in the past that had this rating, but not the Moonwatch. And so the new Moonwatch is no exception to the rule.
Last but not least, I want to take the opportunity to answer one of the most asked questions that I receive. Even not too long ago, one of our readers (Paul) asked me “Which watch would you keep if you could only have one watch for the rest of your life?” At first, I thought, this is difficult because I have several watches that have a special meaning to me. But without all these personal stories and nostalgic feelings for some of the watches I have, my answer is sweet and simple. The new Omega Moonwatch Master Chronometer watch. Period. Despite owning some vintage Speedmasters, some in like-new condition, the Speedmaster Calibre 321, or the 18ct gold Speedmaster Moonshine, the Snoopies, etc., the regular Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is quite simply unbeatable. And with the new updated version, it got even better.
If I had to weigh in some of the sentimental factors, it would be the Speedmaster 3594.50 that I got from my wife and daughter for my first father’s day. Or my Constellation 1212.10 I got from my mom in 1998. Or the gold Globemaster that has special meaning to me as well. The list goes on and on. So you see, in that context, the question would be much tougher to answer.
Omega’s Moonwatch is a classic, there’s no one out there that will debate this. It is very tough for a brand to update and change its most iconic watch. One failure could have a disastrous effect on the desirability of the new version. But I think Omega did a great job here, they looked back to the 1960s Speedmaster Professional for some important design cues and did a few steps forward with its Master Chronometer certification.