It may only be the start of 2021, but today Omega set the tone for its year, unveiling the latest update to its iconic Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. The Moonwatch— which is best known for accompanying NASA astronauts in their journeys to the watch’s namesake celestial body from 1969 and onward — is today one of the watch world’s most recognizable models. In an effort to stay true to that history, and to maintain that iconic energy, the brand has chosen to update the latest releases on the technical side rather than stylistically. The most substantial upgrades are the inclusion of a new Master Chronometer-certified movement — 2019’s Caliber 3861, which replaces the Moonwatch’s previous standard Caliber, the 1861 — as well as several new case-material options.
Four different watches comprise the new launch, each of which is further subdivided into two different references based on their accompanying strap and bracelet options, making for eight total new additions to the Omega catalog. These include a steel model with a sapphire crystal; another steel variation with the historical hesalite glass; a Canopus (white) gold model with a white dial; and a Sedna (rose) gold variation with a black dial. Outside of the colorway and materials, each watch bears the same classic design scheme.
Omega, as a testament to its faith in that iconic design, has mostly kept true to the original vintage spirit of the fourth-generation Speedmaster of 1965, from which the modern versions takes most of their inspiration. The 42-mm case has alternating brushed and polished finishing throughout. On its top and bottom are slightly twisted lugs, a signature of the series, connecting the watch to either a five-link metal bracelet with alternating finishes or to a leather or canvas strap, depending on the specific reference. On the right side of the case, the Moonwatch’s asymmetrical style is in full view via the slight extensions seen around the grooved, signed crown as well as the watch’s standard pump pushers. Interestingly, the watches use the push/pull-style crown seen on previous models in the series, rather than a screw-down type, which allows for a solid but relatively uninspiring 50-meter water resistance.
Surrounding the dial is the familiar fixed bezel with a tachymetric scale, which secures the crystal, made of either sapphire or hesalite depending on the reference. On the dial proper, we find a slightly stepped facet, with indentations for the subdials and an outer minute ring providing the matte coloring life and texture. On the outer edge is a chronograph-style minute ring — one which the original Speedmaster models of the mid-century helped to establish — while printed lume-filled markers indicate each hour, along with the significant double-dot at the 12 o’clock position.
The aforementioned indented subdials, positioned at three of the quarter-hour markers, include a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock. At 12 o’clock is an applied Omega symbol, with “Omega,” “Speedmaster,” and “Professional” printed in white directly below it. Sweeping over the dial are the Moonwatch’s signature lume-filled, sword-style hands for the hour and minute, while a stylized arrow pointer counts the chronograph seconds.
The new model offers two choices for its caseback, with some of the references, like the steel/hesalite model, using the traditional solid caseback, and others, like the steel/sapphire watch, opting for a more modern sapphire-exhibition style. The solid caseback is heavily stylized with printed descriptors of the watch and the series’ famous seahorse emblem, engraved at its center and surrounded by double beveling. The exhibition back has some of the same descriptors, much smaller, printed on the edge around the sapphire window that showcases the caliber.
Speaking of the caliber, all of the references contain the Omega Co-Axial Caliber 3861, one of Omega’s most championed hand-wound movements in its modern catalog. It features 28 jewels and runs at a frequency of 21,600 vph. It boasts a Master Chronometer certification by METAS, has an antimagnetic rating up to 15,000 gauss, and is capable of a 50-hour power reserve. As mentioned earlier, the 3861 is the updated version of the vintage Caliber 1861, now featuring a co-axial escapement and a silicon balance spring which help add to its accuracy, power reserve, and anti-magnetic resistance.
The watch takes its inspiration from a model from 1965, and in an effort to maintain that spirit includes a number of small details to establish itself in the 55-year canon of the Moonwatch: the slightly asymmetrical case, twisted lugs, stepped dial, and double-bevel caseback (on the solid-back models) are all obvious features, but even more subtle touches include the dot over 90 (“DON”), and the dot diagonal to 70, on the aluminum bezel ring.
Despite the watch’s aesthetic faithfulness to its historical source material, Omega has also worked to upgrade the model from a technical perspective, and push some of the references in a more modern direction — i.e., with the use of Caliber 3861 and the addition of sapphire casebacks to some models, the latter a departure from most of the flagship Moonwatch models. Furthermore, the re-introduction of a rose-gold version of the watch, along with its first white-gold variant, points to the model’s continuing evolution from a sports watch to a luxury item.
With 2021 not being an anniversary year for the Speedmaster, and 2020 hosting the much praised 50th Anniversary “Silver Snoopy Award” edition, it is no surprise Omega decided to keep its updates to the line more conservative than some fans of the brand might have expected. Nonetheless, with a new caliber and some fresh new material options, Omega’s standard-bearer has a received a welcome refresh, and one that resets the conversation around the Speedmaster collection heading into the new year.
Pricing for the new Speedmasters varies widely, with the steel/hesalite models marked at $6,300 on a metal bracelet and $5,950 on a canvas strap; and the steel/sapphire models priced at $7,150 on a metal bracelet and $6,800 on a leather strap. The two gold models only have pricing available in Swiss Francs as of yet, with the Canopus gold model priced at CHF 41,900 on a white-gold bracelet and at CHF 28,100 on a leather strap, while the Sedna gold model is marked at CHF 32,200 on a matching gold bracelet and CHF 22,800 on black leather.
To learn more and inquire for purchase, you can visit Omega’s website, here.
In my opinion the only true Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch” is the manual wind 321 or 1861 movement models with the hostility crystal and were NASA approved. And yes, I own one.