We get hands on with Omega's latest version of the iconic Moonwatch to see whether it lives up to its heritage...
The Speedmaster is undoubtedly Omega’s most iconic watch. Not least because Omega won’t let anyone forget that it was the first watch worn on the moon.
Thanks to their ceaseless marketing, the Speedmaster has achieved a cult status akin to that of the Rolex Submariner. And fans of the Moonwatch hold it up as the quintessential chronograph. The one that you simply must have in your collection.
Now I have to be honest and say that this is actually the first Speedmaster I’ve got to spend any time with. What this means is that I’m approaching this review with a fresh pair of eyes, unburdened by the knowledge and reputation of previous Speedmasters. So, I’m not going to try and compare this to the older generations of Speedmaster, but instead judge this new one purely on its own merits.
There are two versions of the new Speedmaster. The first comes with a Hesalite crystal and the second features a boxed sapphire crystal. It’s the sapphire option we’ll be looking at today, and it retails for £6,120 on a bracelet.
So, let’s see how it stacks up once you take away the hype…
On The Wrist
Now the first thing that hits me about this Speedmaster is just how well it wears. With a case that’s 42mm wide and 13.49mm thick, the Speedy isn’t small, but it sits very well on my skinny 6.25-inch wrists. The reason it wears so well is the gorgeous case design. The twisted lugs, stepped bezel, and mix of finishes all help to trick the eye into thinking that the watch is thinner than it really is.
Compared to something like the new Tudor Black Bay chrono with its slab-sided case, the difference is night and day.The wearability is further enhanced by the new 5-link bracelet. With its small links it’s really flexible, so it hugs the wrist nicely, and it’s got that jingly-jangley feel that fans of vintage bracelets will love. It does have a pretty aggressive taper from 20mm at the lugs to 15mm at the clasp, which personally I’m not a fan of, but that’s a purely subjective opinion. The clasp itself has a new retro design that I adore, and it feels very solid. My only complaint is that it has just two adjustment positions.
Though, as great as this bracelet is, we all know the Speedy is a strap monster. So naturally I'm going to take the opportunity to show you the Moonwatch on three of our own straps, so you can see just how different this watch can look off the bracelet.
Besford Premium Leather Watch Strap - Chestnut
If you want to smarten up the Speedmaster then you can't go wrong with our Besford watch strap. As one of our premium straps, the leather is incredibly supple, and easily conforms to the shape of your wrist. I opted for the chestnut colour, as I think the rich brown perfectly complements the monochrome Speedmaster by bringing a touch of warmth to the watch. Meanwhile, the white contrast stitching pairs well with the white markers of the watch.
You can explore the full Besford range here.
Premium Seat Belt Watch Strap - Olive Green
If there's one type of strap the Speedmaster is best suited to, it's the humble military style strap. This utilitarian strap takes the Speedmaster back to it's tool watch roots, and that makes it perfect for a weekend watch & strap combo. This time I chose to go with our Premium Seat Belt in olive green. The material of our Premium Seat Belt military styles is 1.4mm thick and exceptionally tough, but the smooth texture stops the strap being too casual. The military style strap also has a floating keeper, allowing you to move it to secure the tail properly. Whilst the new 3861 Speedmaster would look good on almost any colour military style, the olive green gives the watch a military vibe that's hard to beat.
Check out all our Premium Seat Belt here.
ZULUDIVER Quick Release Padded Sailcloth Watch Strap
Lastly I put the Speedmaster on our ZULUDIVER Padded Sailcloth Watch Strap. This strap is something of a halfway point between the smart leather and casual military style. The back material obviously goes well with the black and white of the Moonwatch, and its neat finish keeps the watch looking smart. But the material is also water-resistant, so the strap is a very practical one.
Have a look at the ZULUDIVER Padded Sailcloth Strap here.
A New Movement
Of course, the other big update in this new Speedmaster is to the movement. The watch now uses the Calibre 3861, which is actually an evolution of the Calibre 321 used in the original Speedmaster.
The 3861 is a 28-jewel manual-wind movement that’s got a 50-hour power reserve and a silicon balance spring. It’s also a METAS certified Master Chronometer, which means it’s accurate from zero to plus five seconds per day and resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.
The 3861 also has a Co-Axial escapement, and it’s the first Speedmaster movement to do so. The Co-Axial escapement produces less friction than a traditional lever escapement, which results in the watch being more accurate and able to go longer between services.
A Watch That's Very Easy To Read
Now, having a fancy movement is all well and good. But, as someone who’s detached from the Moonwatch hype , I was curious as to how I’d feel about the Speedmaster after wearing it for a few days.
Well, now I’ve spent some time with it, I can say that putting on the Speedy really does feel as though you’re equipping a precision instrument. The pushers operate with a satisfying click, and the chronograph reset is exceptionally crisp.
Plus, the fact that you can see the movement ticking away through the sapphire case back only adds to the aura of technical precision.
And like any good instrument, the dial of the Speedmaster is very legible. The stark white hands and markers on a matte black dial provide some exceptional contrast, and I’ve no trouble telling the time in any lighting.
The same goes for the tachymeter scale on the bezel. It’s easy to read despite the small size of the numbers. And whilst to casual observers like myself it looks pretty much the same as any other Speedmaster bezel, the scale has been updated to have the “dot over ninety”, which is a nod to the pre-1970’s Speedmasters.
Part of why I think the Speedmaster feels like such a precision tool, is that there are very few elements to the design that are purely aesthetic. Everything on the watch is there for a reason and has been distilled down to its simplest form.
About the only concessions to design are the stepped minute track and sunken sub-dials. These give the Speedy some wonderful depth and subtle detailing without adding unnecessary clutter.And, as you can guess by now, I don’t really have anything particularly negative to say about the 3861 Speedmaster. Sure, the lume isn’t terribly bright, but I didn’t expect it to be given how much of it there is.
It’s also a little tricky to wind because the crown is shrouded by the case. But these are very small things on an otherwise excellent watch.
So, even though I’m not versed in the history of the Speedmaster, I can tell that the new 3861 is a watch with over 50 years of history behind it. It’s clearly a watch whose design and components have been refined over the decades until what you’ve got is something that’s damn near perfect.
Every aspect of the 3861 Speedy comes together wonderfully, and after wearing it for a few days, I completely understand why you’d fawn over this watch. The build quality is outstanding, and it wears really nicely.
Combined with the impressive Master Chronometer movement, there’s an awful lot to love about the new Speedmaster, and not very much to hate.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: “well done Omega, you hit a home run!”
You can find out more about the new Omega Speedmaster 3861 on Omega's website here.