I've been wearing the Omega Speedmaster for over a year now, there are some things pictures or videos just can't show, and I'd like to share them with you.
I was never interested in watches; That completely changed when I joined WatchGecko. Working in this industry makes you realise what watches are all about and how inspiring they can be. When I first learned about Omega’s Speedmaster and its heritage, I instantly knew that was the watch for me. If I was going to own a luxury timepiece, it would be the Legendary Moonwatch.
After some consideration, I made my purchase and I’ve been wearing the Speedy daily ever since. Over the year, I’ve made observations about the watch that pictures or videos just can’t show, and I’d like to share them with you. So let’s take look at the Omega Speedmaster, ref. 3126.96.36.199.01.005, the first watch worn on the Moon.
FROM RACING TO THE REAL STAR WARS
It’s impossible to talk about this watch without glancing over what this range has been through and what made it so popular. The Speedmaster name dates back to 1957, when it was introduced as a sports and racing chronograph. At that point, Omega had already been quite involved in that industry, being the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games. However, that part of Speedmaster’s heritage is overshadowed by one of its main selling points; NASA had chosen Omega’s chronographs for all its manned missions into space, and more importantly, the Apollo programme. It is after the Moon landings of 1969, that ‘Professional’ was added to Speedmaster’s name, and the watch we love today was born. I’m quite the space geek myself, and I must say that if not for Omega’s involvement in NASA’s space missions, I might never have purchased this watch.
Omega’s space adventures were not over after the first Moon landings. NASA kept using the Speedmaster for future missions, which led to Omega receiving the Snoopy award after the chronograph was used to time a precise re-entry burn when the internal systems had failed, potentially helping save the crews’ lives during the Apollo 13 mission. Omega released a limited edition ‘Snoopy’ piece to commemorate this feat.
The range became increasingly popular, spawning many new versions of the Speedy.
Omega had a design on their hands that was both iconic and loved by the public. They built on the original design and now offer options with different dials, complications and sizes. It’s important to note that the Speedmaster design remains largely unchanged even to this day, with the original Moonwatch designs still being sold.
SPEEDMASTER AS A DAILY WATCH
When buying a Speedmaster, you are likely buying into its heritage. There’s a chance that you won’t be going into space wearing this watch any time soon though, so what makes it a good watch to wear daily?
I’d like to start off by talking about the size and the case design. Until I tried the watch on, I was put off by the 42mm case diameter, as watches larger than 40mm don’t usually fit my wrist very well. However, the case and dial have been designed in such a way that the watch looks and feels smaller than it actually is. The tachymeter scale was set on the outer bezel and the dial has been brought inward, this way the dial measures at just 34mm in diameter. When you put that together with the angled case, the overall watch appears smaller and more intricate.
Next we get to the dial itself. The indices and hands have been painted white and filled with a luminous material, offering great contrast against the dark grey dial. I noticed that even if the lume is not charged, it’s still easy to read the time even in extremely low light conditions, thanks to the black/white contrast of the hands. This is important as I want to be able to quickly read the time on a watch I wear and rely upon every day.
The 1861 caliber chronograph movement is great value for money at this price range. I enjoy the morning ritual of winding the watch during breakfast. The need to manually wind the watch makes it far more personal in my opinion, it’s as if every time you wind it, you become a part of the watch. It’s loud compared to most other watches I’ve seen but it’s not disruptive, the sound is yet another detail that you can only notice by wearing the watch yourself. I notice the rhythmical tick from time to time and it reminds me of how much I enjoy this watch. I can even hear the watch quietly ticking away as I’m writing this article. This, again, personalises the watch, as I’m usually the only person close enough to hear it.
The most important criterion for wearing a watch every day is the design and looks. And this is where you can’t go wrong with the Speedmaster. The watch offers a classic design that any watch enthusiast will know, anyone can appreciate, and that will compliment any outfit you wear. This, to me, truly is an all-rounder watch for any situation. It’s both professional and casual; intricate and simple; rugged and delicate.
So far I’ve been praising the Speedy for many of its aspects. While it’s hard for me to find something truly negative about this watch, I believe it’s worth mentioning the materials used. Mainly the aluminum bezel and hesalite crystal glass, both of which can scratch or damage quite easily. Initially, this took some enjoyment out of wearing the watch. Often I would be quite paranoid about damaging the watch, but over time, I got used to wearing it and I could finally relax.
Of course, Omega has already addressed this by offering the original Moonwatch design with a sapphire crystal option, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to go for the hesalite crystal, which was originally chosen by NASA. This was due to the fear sapphire crystal could shatter into tiny bits and endanger the crew and equipment.
It’s also worth mentioning that this watch isn’t a certified chronometer, and while accurate enough for daily use, it is possible to get certified chronographs for a similar price. Then again, the caliber 1861 carries a part of Speedy’s heritage and without it, there would be no ‘Moonwatch’.
The start of your Speedmaster’s journey feels quite special. The branded outer shell opens up like a gate to reveal a secure canvas box. Upon opening the inner box you are greeted by your Speedmaster and a collectible coin that resembles the caseback of your watch. You’ll also find tools useful for changing your strap and inspecting your watch up close. It doesn’t end there, underneath the canvas box you will find a book that tells you the whole story of the Moonwatch, in far more detail than this article. You will want to start wearing your watch as soon as possible, and what you are left with is a fantastic, collectible box. On the flip side, the box can be quite unwieldy and hard to store due to its size and weight.
REFRESHING THE WATCH
Wearing a new watch is a great feeling. When you’ve been wearing your speedy every day for over a year, that feeling can wear off. Fortunately you can invest in a new strap to give your watch the ‘new’ feeling all over again. I’ve experimented with many straps since I got the watch and I’ve converged on 3 favourites. The Alderbury Horween leather in reddish-brown is my go-to strap for most occasions. It gives the watch a clean, classy look and goes well with most outfits. I enjoy swapping out the Alderbury for the Italian Vintage Racing from time to time, it offers a similar look, but is a bit more casual & sporty. For outdoors activities I like to go with the Classic Bond NATO strap because of the additional security, I wouldn’t want to lose my Speedy in the wild!
Overall, the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is a great mechanical chronograph filled with stories to tell. Many things can happen in a year, many memories can form, and I’m happy that my Speedmaster will always remind me of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Where I go, my Speedy goes too. To capture those memories almost like a camera.
It is a watch that every watch collection should include…