Your Next Watch Episode 4: To celebrate the moonwatch at 50, it was only right we talk about why you need a Speedmaster...
Continuing our celebration of the moonwatch at 50, today we further explore the deserved icon of Omegas history. The Omega Speedmaster Professional reference number 318.104.22.168.01.005 (long, I know) is probably one of the most accurate to original and obtainable Speedy’s available on the Omega website today.There’s a mutual agreement between watch collectors that the story and emotion behind watches are a pretty big reason why people like certain pieces. And, coming in at £3,810 the Speedmaster is a watch that is up there with the true greats when it comes to story and province. If you’re a chronograph guy looking to get into the luxury watch market, the Speedy is probably near the top of your list.
But what do you need to know before you pull the trigger and add one to your watch box?
A stat overview
The classic Speedy we have today comes in at 42mm wide, with a thickness just shy of 14mm. If we exclude the hesalite crystal for a moment and just look at the physical stainless steel case and bezel, then it comes in around 12mm. Combine this with the Speedmaster’s ability to hide most of that thickness into the wrist and you’re left with quite a deceiving thickness stat, and more importantly, a watch that sits pleasingly on the wrist.
As with most watches, the proportions of the Speedmaster aren’t decided on just the case width and thickness. The lug to lug length also plays a part, and here on the Speedmaster it's a big part to play. 48mm is the magic number and it massively impacts how it wears.
If you’re looking at going for the Speedmaster but have concerns about the size and it being too large just know that the watch, in reality, wears a lot more like a 40mm. A tachymeter scale sitting outside of the dial on the outer bezel means the actual real estate of the dial is taken up timing and the chronograph function of the watch.
The tachymeter construction and hesalite crystal really help to create the illusion of two clear parts of the Speedmaster’s case. It’s almost as if the case, sides, lugs, crown and pushers is one section, and the tachymeter, crystal and dial is part two. This disconnect is a fundamental part of the Speedmaster archetypal look.
The dial of the Speedmaster is a matt black, colour and texture. If you're used to glossy black enamel dials, the Speedy’s dial will almost look a soft grey once on the wrist and out in the world.
Sunken into the matt dial we find three evenly balanced sub-dials. These sit relatively central to the dial, just kissing the end of the 3,6 and 9 indices. Compared the sub-dial position to the likes of the Speedmaster Reduced and you can really start to appreciate the Speedmaster Professional’s sense of balanced aesthetics.
Commanding the dial of the Speedmaster we have bold, high contrast painted white hands. For a chronograph, these are actually surprisingly legible. Once the lume on the hands and indices is charged, it further contributes to the legibility. The most dominating hand on the dial is the chronograph one that skims the edge of the dial.
The final piece of the puzzle for the Speedmaster’s aesthetic is the all deep black aluminium tachymeter. In terms of durability, a ceramic bezel would be much better here, but it’s hard to not enjoy the simplicity and readability of the aluminium. It really helps to add definition to the whole watches look.
The Omega Speedmaster watch here is powered by the 1861 hand wound movement. As you’d expect from Omega, this movement is sharp and crispy to wind. A genuine quality engine inside this world-renowned watch.
Is the Speedmaster too big?
On the wrist, the Speedmaster has an overwhelming tool watch feel to it. You might think the likes of the Rolex Submariner would be the same, but in comparison, the Submariner is smaller and feels much more compact. The Speedmaster feels like a real piece of kit that you know you’re wearing.
Looking directly down at the watch a few key things will jump out at you. The case has a great defined curve to it from lug to lug which strongly reminds me of the space age design (pun not intended). The biggest contributing factor to this look is the large presence of polishing on the side of the case.
The hesalite crystal may be the more authentic choice to go for, but it does add further height to the watch, also making it more reflective. Of course, you could go for the sapphire crystal option which comes with the added bonus of a display case back and a little more peace of mind knowing you’re not going to pick up scratches so easily.
The hesalite vs sapphire crystal debate is a popular one with Speedmaster fans. If you’re unsure the best thing you can do is go and experience each for yourself. You’ll also want to consider the extra £660 price tag the sapphire comes with...
I personally look at the Speedmaster as a fantastic option for a collection. Whether you have 3, 5, 10 or 20+ watches, in a rotating collection the Speedmaster feels right at home.
Watch straps for the Omega Speedmaster
Due to the monotone colours of the watch, simple design and classic style the Speedy loves a good strap change. The below straps are some of our top suggestions, but as always, stay tuned to the Online Magazine for a further look at a huge range of straps…
Let’s get into it.
ZULUDIVER Marine Nationale NATO - Grey and YellowFirst up let’s take a look at a few classic Marine Nationale NATOs. Here, the grey with yellow stripe adds a well-deserved pop of colour to the watch. The grey of the strap really compliments the matt dial. The Swiss Style keepers also really match the quality of the piece.
ZULUDIVER Marine Nationale NATO - Black and Grey
Much like the Grey and Yellow, the black and grey are a perfect match for the Speedy. Both colours compliment different parts of the watch once again. The black picks up the aluminium black tachymetre and the subtle grey stripe.
Geckota Lenchwick Racing - Brown
Next up is my personal favourite strap on the Speedy. The Horween, chromexcel deep brown leather has a big selection of evenly positioned perforations throughout the strap. With matching stitching as well, it means the attention is kept all on the Omega’s dial. An effective strap at complimenting a watch.
In fact, this looks great on almost any chronograph...
Geckota Vintage Highley Leather - Dusty Grey
The Vintage Highley is a real classic in our range. The generous padding around the lugs is ridiculously soft and comfortable, and due to the Speedmaster’s size, it matches the thickness of the watch perfectly. Here the dusty grey option adds a nice amount of warmth. A solid everyday option right here.
Why is the Speedmaster such a popular watch?
In my personal collection, I only have the one chronograph and that was a gift. You could say I’m not a die-hard chronograph guy. Most people fall in love with the Speedmaster mainly because of the story and the fact Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had one strapped to their wrists on the moon. And as stories go, it’s pretty hard to beat how incredible and vitally important the moon landing was for the world. So to be able to buy a watch that is so well connected to that story, and played such an important part I get why people go crazy for the old Speedy.
As someone who isn’t completely enamoured with the connection between NASA and Omega, the classic Speedmaster Professional feels like a bit of a safe bet. If it was me and I was in the market for a timeless Speedy that was versatile, manual wind, still captured the charm of the original moon watch and just happened to have a smaller, different case with more classic hands AND was £200 less?
To find out more about the Speedmaster, Apollo 11 mission and own the Speedy became the watch of choice worn on the moon, you’ll want to check out Richard’s little two-parter live on the Online Magazine. Read the piece here!
Things to remember
If you’ve read this far, you’re more than likely pretty certain the Speedmaster is the watch for you. Before you go and pick up the watch and its crazy watch box (it’s a big box, by the way, get a sneak peek here!) here’s a final rundown on the key things to consider:
- The 42mm width is a deceiving one, the lug to lug is the most important stat here so if you’re unsure on the size rest assure it will wear more like a 40mm piece.
- At the price you pay, you can’t really get your hands on a more iconic watch from a well known respected brand.
- It’s universally accepted amongst all circles of watch collectors meaning you can really feel proud of what is on your wrist.
- For a chronograph, the watch has a seriously impressive amount of legibility and usability.
- It loves a good strap change, so you can make it your own pretty easily.
For the price tag, reputation, respect and prestige the Speedmaster commands, not many watches come close. Of course, examples from Zenith, Rolex, Breitling and Patek Philippe offer similar importance, but the Speedmaster is the first, number 1 watch that was worn on the moon.
And, if you still like the watch but wish it had a splash of red, a blue bezel or was solid gold? Omega have you covered with a huge selection of limited edition models...
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