The latest Speedmaster has arrived, but how new is it really?
Updating an icon is never easy. Tackling a much loved and adored beast requires respect, a deep understanding of why it holds such status, and an extremely delicate approach. An evolutionary mindset is expected here. This allows companies to push a design forward gradually and yet at the same time hold onto what made it so well-loved in the first place.
So when a new Speedmaster was released earlier this year, we knew this was something we wanted to look at. Today let's go through the always-exciting unboxing process and gather our first impressions…
Unboxing and first impressions
The unboxing of a Speedmaster is always a special occasion. Previous generations of the Speedy have arrived in quite literally briefcase-sized watch boxes that required a gym membership to move.
Non-gym-goers (and the environmentally-conscious) will be pleased to hear however that the latest Speedmaster reference 310.30.42.50.01.002 comes in a much more sensibly-sized watch box. The tough woven nylon outer still remains though, while the whole execution of the box reflects the Speedmaster’s accolades very well.
Contrary to things that have stayed, the spring bar tool, commemorative coin, eye loupe and extra straps have been banished from this generation of the watch.
A new bracelet for the Speedmaster
Once the box was open the first thing to instantly hit me was the bracelet. That might seem quite an odd thing to pick up on, but on the latest Speedmaster, it's actually one of the most noticeable changes. The previous bracelet was introduced in 1996 and was beginning to show its age with its chunky look. For 2021, Omega swapped it for an elegant five-link version.
The bracelet has a generous taper from 20mm at the lugs down to 15mm at the similarly updated buckle. The buckle hints at history but avoids leaning into it too much with just a clean Omega logo and some engraved leading lines.
Some details we’ve seen before have returned..
The most noticeable change for this generation of Speedmaster is the stepped dial, adding both detail and depth but also a subtle nod to references from the past.
In a similar vein, the dot over 90 has returned, to really send Speedmaster fans into a frenzy, and the teardrop counterweight on the chronograph hand returns.
Some new additions have arrived
On the other hand, it isn’t just all previously seen details that make an appearance here: Omega has also made this Speedmaster suitably modern. To start with, the sapphire model has an applied logo rather than a printed one, as well as a display caseback (sorry, moonwatch purists…)
Probably the biggest upgrade for the Speedmaster this year is the new Calibre 3861. This is a METAS-certified movement that is accurate to 0 to +5 a day. It now also features the co-axial escapement, which offers less friction and helps to play a part in that impressive accuracy (thanks to George Daniels). It’s additionally anti-magnetic to more than 15,000 gauss.
It’s exactly the calibre of movement we’ve come to expect from Omega, making its inclusion in a Speedmaster an impressive yet logical one.
What is it like on the wrist?
On the wrist, the benefits of the new bracelet become apparent. The Speedmaster has always been a watch that wears smaller on the wrist than the case dimensions suggest, but now with this new bracelet wearability increases tenfold.
I’ll hold my hands up and say I'm not a die-hard Speedmaster purist. Of course, I like the watch but as mentioned previously, true Speedmaster fans go deep with their affection and knowledge of both the model and the whole aura surrounding it.
Having said that, I can’t help but feel that those purists out there will be extremely pleased with the changes made to their beloved Speedmaster. Omega has acknowledged the past through this execution but has also brought the watch right up to date and beyond with a modern Omega movement. After these quick hands-on and first impressions, it seems Omega has set the Speedmaster on a very solid path for the future decades to come.
Even if it will now set you back £6,120 for the sapphire model...
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