WATCH TEST

Chasing Nostalgia: A Test of the Omega Speedmaster Racing


The Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer is in gear for a new generation of fans. We tested the current Speedmaster with a retro-inspired dial and the latest in watchmaking technology under the hood.

Omega Speedmaster Racing - soldier
The Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer is based on a model from 1968.

The Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer, may not have been on the moon, but it is nevertheless a thoroughly convincing watch: its sporty yet elegant design offers excitement without being polarizing; its components are of high quality without unduly raising the price; and its movement’s technology can be described as ingenious.

The Speedmaster Racing that we tested comes with a distinctive minutes circle along the edge of the dial, inspired by the checkered flags used to signal the end of a race. These “Racing Dials” with bicolor markers to show fractions of a second first appeared on an Omega model in 1968. They became famous in 1969, the year of the first moon landing, when Omega unveiled the Mark II as a modern development of the Speedmaster. The brand revived the Mark II in 2014, followed in 2017 by the Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer that we scrutinized in this test.

OMEGA AND THE “RACING DIAL:”

“Master Chronometer,” the final words in this model’s name, stands for an Omega movement of the latest generation that combines various quality features and certificates. Indeed, manufacture chronograph Caliber 9900 offers so many technical advantages that it’s not easy to summarize them all. It runs extremely precisely thanks to Omega’s own coaxial escapement, which has an especially complex shaped lever and escape wheel. Two serially switched barrels keep this movement running for 60 consecutive hours without a transfusion of fresh energy. It runs with low wear thanks to a silicon hairspring, DLC-coated barrels, a newly calculated tooth system on the gears, special lubricants, and a rotor that glides atop ceramic bearings. And the use of exclusively anti-magnetic materials assures that this caliber remains blithely unimpressed by all the magnetic fields that can occur in daily life.

Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer - back
The Omega Master Co-Axial Caliber 9900 is visible through the caseback.

Ever since the introduction of the manufacture line in 2007, Omega has followed its own special paths with the decorations, thus assuring that its calibers prove their exceptional status at first glance. The rotor, as well as the bridges on the back side of the movement, are not only plated with rhodium, but also are engraved with a special decorative pattern called “côtes de Genève en arabesque.” Moreover, the bridges have beveled and polished edges. These flat parts are held in place by blackened screws that match the color of the balance and the two barrels, which are visible along the periphery of the movement. Furthermore, the engravings on the bridges and rotors are filled with red lacquer.

Also not to be overlooked: all of the abovementioned technologies and decorations are housed in a very neatly crafted stainless-steel case with a ceramic bezel and two curved sapphire crystals, and the entire ensemble retails for just $8,450. Here again, Omega, with support from its parent company, the Swatch Group, has spared no effort in developmental work. The tachymeter scale along the bezel is fabricated from Liquidmetal, a patented material that’s poured into the milled indentations while still molten, allowed to harden, and then matte polished on its upper surface. Ceramic has a greater surface hardness, so polishing the Liquidmetal leaves no unwanted tool marks or other traces on the ceramic. This method allows Omega to give the bezel a completely smooth scale consisting of both polished ceramic and matte metal.

If you look for a fly in the ointment regarding the high-quality, complex-shaped, partially polished and partially satin-finished case, then you will find the sunken crown, which can only be pulled out by stout-heartedly using your fingernails. This issue could have been avoided if a screw-down crown had been used: after such a crown is unscrewed, the pressure of a spring automatically pushes it outward from the case. If Omega had opted for a screw-down crown, this model may also have achieved pressure resistance to more than just 50 meters.

Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer - buckle
The watch fastens with a sturdy, secure folding clasp.

The push-pieces, on the other hand, can be operated flawlessly. They demand a bit of force, but their pressure points are well chosen and, fortunately, the same for both buttons. It’s just as convenient to operate the secure folding clasp, which opens on one side only. This sturdy and functional component, with which the wearer can adjust the wristband’s overall length, rounds out the good impression made by the high-quality leather strap and by the watch as a whole.

Our test shows that the Speedmaster Racing certainly has what it takes to win over a watch enthusiast, who will surely enjoy this new timepiece and hardly ever be disappointed with its performance.­­­­­

SPECS:
Manufacturer: Omega S.A., Stämpflistrasse 96, 2504 Bienne, Switzerland
Reference number: 329.32.44.51.06.001
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph with concentric counters for 30 elapsed minutes and 12 elapsed hours
Movement: Automatic manufacture Caliber 9900 with anti-magnetic components, chronometer, 28,800 vph, 54 jewels, stop-seconds function, rapid-reset mechanism for the date display by repositioning the hour hand in hour increments, co-axial escapement with silicon hairspring and titanium balance, column wheel, two barrels, fine adjustment via weights on the balance, Nivachoc shock absorption, 60-hour power reserve, diameter = 32.5 mm, height = 7.6 mm
Case: Stainless steel, ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale of Liquidmetal, curved sapphire crystal with anti- reflective treatment on both sides, fully threaded screw-in back with pane of sapphire with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, water resistant to 50 m
Strap and cla­­sp: Leather with secure stainless-steel buckle that opens only on one side
Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours, fully wound/after 24 hours):
Dial up +1 / 0
Dial down +3 / +3
Crown up +1 / +1
Crown down +1 / +1
Crown left +2 / +2
Crown right +1 / +1
Greatest deviation 2 / 3
Average deviation +1.5 / +1.3
Average amplitude:
Flat positions 261° / 265°
Hanging positions 246° / 246°
Dimensions: Diameter = 44.25 mm, height = 14.9 mm, weight = 107 g
Price: $8,450

SCORES:
Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): Good craftsmanship distinguishes both the leather strap and the sturdy, functional and secure folding clasp. 8
­­­Operation (5): The chronograph has good pressure points, but the deeply inset crown is difficult to pull out. 4
Case (10): The steel case with ceramic bezel and two curved sapphire crystals is well crafted but resists pressure only to 50 meters. 8
Design (15): The version in gray, brown and orange has a chic and sporty yet elegant appearance, but the main hands look a bit slim. 13
Legibility (5): Matte dial, luminous material, and hands that are the correct lengths assure good legibility both day and night. A weak point can be seen in the details: the scales look too crowded. 4
Wearing comfort (10): The comfortable strap and the low overall weight (107 grams) contribute to a very good feeling on the wrist. 9
Movement (20): The manufacture chronograph caliber is one of the best on the market. 19
Rate results (10): A gain of just 1.5 seconds on both the timing machine and on the wrist, and only 2 seconds difference among the several positions 10
Overall value (15): High-quality craftsmanship, innovative technology, a trustworthy seal of quality – and all this at an affordable price 13
Total: 88 POINTS

Original photography by Nik Scholzel. This feature originally appeared in WatchTime’s May-June 2018 issue.

Leave a Reply