- Intro – Reaching for the stars
- 60 years of Speedmaster
- Speedmaster, a design story.
- Interview with Ben Clymer, founder of Hodinkee.com
- People Power, The growth of the SpeedyTuesday community
- New Speedmaster 2017
1. REACHING FOR THE STARS
Few watches have the power to inspire like the Omega Speedmaster. The first watch ever worn on the moon, it has become an enduring symbol of the ingenuity and skill that took us into space. On the sixtieth anniversary of the Speedmaster’s release, we look back with space-enthusiast and brand ambassador, George Clooney, at the heady days of the Apollo program and reflect on why the Speedmaster was able to go where it did.
While he’s played an astronaut more than once, few people know about George Clooney’s love affair with space exploration. Clooney grew up in the sixties and was eight years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon. Like most children of his generation, astronauts were his heroes and going into space was his dream.
Thinking back to that moment in his life, Clooney says, “It was the most exciting time to be a kid. We knew all the astronaut’s names. We even ate the food that the astronauts ate… During one of our vacations, we drove through Neil Armstrong’s hometown, simply because we wanted to drive through his hometown. The astronauts were that big a deal to us.”
In 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy set a bold challenge for the American people. He stated, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
According to Clooney, this challenge felt almost impossible at the time, but it did create a new level of optimism that reflected itself in everything that was happening around him.
“In just 60 years, we’d gone from inventing cars to [talking about] landing a man on the moon,” says Clooney, “It felt like the ultimate in optimism, the ultimate in forward thinking. It made us feel like anything could be done.”
When Apollo 11 touched down on the moon on July 20th, 1969, and Kennedy’s challenge was answered, the young Clooney watched from his suburban backyard. Standing with his father, looking up at the moon, he felt a special connection with his heroes as they took their first steps into a new world. Like the astronauts they were straining to see, Clooney’s father also wore an Omega.
In fact, Clooney still has the same watch today. When Clooney Senior heard that his son was working with Omega, he presented him with his old Omega as a gift.
“He brought it down from the attic, after putting it away for 20 years,” says Clooney, “and he wound it and it started running again. It was a special moment. I grew up with that watch on his arm.”
According to Clooney, all the kids knew that the astronauts were wearing Omega watches. He remembers that “Omega was absolutely part of the space program when I was growing up. Omega was about precision time… and it seemed like the space program was a natural progression.”
What Clooney didn’t know then, however, was that the Speedmaster was originally envisioned for a completely different purpose. As the name suggests, it was built for speed, and when first released 60 years ago, it was intended not for rocket ships, but for racing cars.
Upon release, the Speedmaster was an instant hit with professional drivers. Its rugged construction meant that it could withstand intense vibrations and shocks while keeping perfect time. And thanks to the tachymetric scale on its bezel, drivers could time their laps more easily than ever before. It was the first watch with these features, and at the time, revolutionized the design, durability and functionality of wristwatches.
Ultimately, it was these two features that would make the Speedmaster so suitable for space exploration, and would lead to its place on the wrist of every astronaut in the Apollo program from 1965 onwards.
It was in 1964 that NASA began hunting for a chronograph to use on its manned space missions. They chose watches from a number of different brands and put them through the same series of tests that were used for every piece of hardware that was intended for space. Only one watch survived the extreme temperatures, vibrations, hard shocks, and unforgiving vacuums of the testing process – the Omega Speedmaster.
Today, six decades on, the Speedmaster is still qualified for all manned space missions and is a permanent piece of equipment on the International Space Station. In testament to the forward-thinking design of the original, the Moonwatch made now is essentially the same as the one released by Omega in the pre-space age.
For Clooney, this makes the Speedmaster a true classic, like a vintage wine. He explains it like this, “Some things are classic, and when they’re classic, you will always want them. You’d be really upset if they changed. We want modern technology – like our cell phones – but there is something about having certain classic things, that if they changed, it would break your heart.”
On the inside, the calibre is also unmodified and manufacturing the Moonwatch remains a complex exercise, as it has always been. It takes a staggering 14 months to prepare all the separate component parts prior to assembly, and 80 manual operations are needed to assemble the base plate alone. Like when it was first released, the human hand is an essential part of the process.
It is ironic that the Omega Speedmaster has required no modification, considering that the NASA space program can be credited with technical innovations spanning from mobile telecommunications to SMS messaging, and from solar panels to water purification. As Clooney says, the Speedmaster may well be the true definition of a classic: a design that need never be altered.
Further proof of the enduring quality of the Speedmaster’s design can be found closer to home, as a navigational tool for terrestrial explorers. In 1968, Ralph Plaisted used his Speedmaster and sextant to determine the exact location of the geographical North Pole for the first time. Likewise in 1985, explorer Wong How Man used his Speedmaster to help discover and map the elusive source of the mighty Yangtze River.
When asked about the legacy of the Speedmaster and the space program that it was a part of, Clooney responds, “[They are symbols] …of a time that our world was looking forward to challenges. When we thought we could do better, and when we thought that we could reach for the stars and actually get to them. It was without question, us at our finest and our bravest, and the astronauts were in the lead.”
Looking back on that fertile period of discovery and exploration, it is clear that Kennedy’s challenge was essential to the achievements that followed. For Clooney, now is a moment when we need more great challenges to lead us into a new period of optimism and technical progress.
“I don't worry that it won't happen again,” he says, “I only hope that next time it’s as productive and exciting as it was then.”
While it is impossible to know which frontier we will cross next, we can be sure, as is Clooney, that we will continue reaching for the stars. And if there is one thing that we can take from the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster, it is that with the right tools, achieving any challenge is possible.
Omega is proud to have played a role in one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century - the moon landing - and looks forward to the many great accomplishments humans will make in the next 60 years and beyond.
“It felt like the ultimate in optimism, the ultimate in forward thinking.”
“…we thought that we could reach for the stars and actually get to them.”
“It was without question, us at our finest and our bravest…”
2. 60 YEARS OF SPEEDMASTER
Celebrating the past six decades of the Speedmaster, OMEGA proudly presents this tribute to the chronograph’s lifetime. These 60 memorable models each tell a unique story and whether they are rare editions, special tributes or significant for their technology or design, the Speedmaster spirit remains true to everyone.
The first Speedmaster
The original timepiece in a legendary family. Called the “Broad Arrow” due to its distinctive hands, this was not only the first Speedmaster, it was also the first chronograph wristwatch in the world with its tachymeter scale on the bezel as opposed to printed on the dial - a feature designed for the benefit of racing car drivers. This is perhaps the most highly valued of all the Speedmasters and it signalled the start of a very special journey.
FIRST OMEGA IN SPACE
Worn by Walter Schirra
The second version of the Speedmaster, this model differed from the original “Broad Arrow” due to its black aluminium bezel, the lollipop seconds hand for Air Force orders, and “Alpha” style hour and minute hands. The model went on to be the first OMEGA worn in space on the wrist of Walter Schirra on October 3rd 1962. He chose the Speedmaster as his personal watch on the Sigma 7 mission of the Mercury programme. From this moment, the Speedmaster’s space legacy had begun.
Tested and qualified by NASA
This Speedmaster model was the first watch to pass NASA’s rigorous testing for flight qualification. A number of brands submitted their timepieces for testing, but only the Speedmaster survived. It was launched into legend when it was worn on Gemini and Apollo missions, serving the astronauts with the utmost precision and reliability. Interestingly, the first model to be qualified would also be one of the last worn on the moon in 1972.
Delivered to the Automovil Club Peruano
Staying true to the Speedmaster’s racing origins, this rare model was specially ordered by the Automovil Club Peruano based in Lima, Peru. The tachymeter scale on the bezel was ideal for timing laps on the racetrack, which made the Speedmaster a popular choice for those in the motoring industry. With an order of just 50 pieces, this is a very rare piece, distinguished by the A.C.P lettering on the dial.
First watch worn on the moon
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in 1969, this Speedmaster model became the first watch ever worn on the moon. In fact, it has since become the watch that has served on the most lunar missions. In design, the watch was the first Speedmaster featuring an asymmetrical case, done so to provide added protection for the crown and pushers. For the first time, the word “Professional” was also printed on the dial.
Direct link to the Moonwatch of today
Launched in 1968 with the new calibre 861, this model marked a major turning point in the history of the Speedmaster. Not only did the new movement provide extra innovation, but it was also the first, from 1970 onwards, to include the famous words; “FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS”, as well as “THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”.
For enhanced readability
The origins of the rare Racing Dial model are still shrouded in mystery, but it is generally accepted that the bicolor minute markers and orange hands and logo were created to make the chronograph easier to read. This particular model has inspired subsequent editions throughout the years including the 2004 limited series which was released in Japan.
Worn in the TV series
Having appeared in the Japanese science fiction TV show “The Return of Ultraman” in 1971, this rare model is most notably distinguished by its orange seconds hand. The creator of the Ultraman series, Eiji Tsuburaya, was known for including interesting watches in his productions, and this very uncommon Speedmaster is no exception. It is unknown how many genuine pieces still exist.
For OMEGA’s achievements in space
This was the first 18K gold Speedmaster, created in a numbered edition with a rare burgundy bezel. The first watches in this series were presented to 19 astronauts during a gala dinner in Houston, Texas on November 25th 1969 to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing. Three watches were also awarded posthumously to the three crew of Apollo I – Virgil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
This streamlined Speedmaster Mark II signalled the first redesign of OMEGA’s popular chronograph. Created in 1969, it extended the Speedmaster line with a brand new look and was available in stainless steel, 18K gold, or gold-capped versions with various dial and timing scale combinations. The MARK II, with its barrel shaped case and enhanced readability, was also the first Speedmaster that did not use hesalite crystal.
ALASKA I (prototype)
Specially made for NASA
'Alaska' was OMEGA’s chosen code-name for everything that involved NASA and was always deemed top-secret. To meet the demands of the extreme temperatures of space, the “Alaska I” prototype had a removable anodized aluminium outer case or “thermal shield” and a pure titanium inner case making it the first wristwatch in the world to be cased in pure titanium. The white dial was added to better reflect the heat of the sun.
OMEGA’s first self-winding chronograph
Launched in 1971, the Speedmaster Mark III, with its “pilot” case, was OMEGA’s first self-winding chronograph. The new calibre 1040 was a milestone for the brand and, in an advertisement from 1972, OMEGA famously stated, “After six landings on the moon, there was only one thing we could teach the Speedmaster. To wind itself”. Other interesting features include the cross shaped 60 minute chronograph hand and the unique 24-hour day/night indicator at 9 o’clock.
ALASKA II (prototype)
Pursuing the perfect space watch
Continuing its secret project to build the perfect space watch for NASA, OMEGA returned with a new prototype, this time in a Moonwatch style that retained some of the original features of the Alaska I model, including the large red heat shield. As before, the white dial was also retained to better reflect the heat of the sun. Other updates included rocket shaped subdial hands for balance, luminous markers and radial numerals on the subdials, and a 0 – 60 numbered bezel.
First electronic Speedmaster
This model is nicknamed the “lobster” due to the unusual shape of the bracelet which resembles the tail of a crustacean. With the growing desire for electronic watches, the Speedsonic was created with an innovative electromechanical movement to meet the demand for greater precision and reliability. Interestingly, the crown was deliberately made smaller in size to emphasize the reduced need to change time or date.
Celebrating 125 years of OMEGA
This model was the world’s first automatic chronograph to receive an official Chronometer Certification. It was released to celebrate the founding of the OMEGA brand in 1848 and 2,000 pieces were produced to mark the occasion. The watch’s adventurous spirit was embraced by the Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov who wore the Speedmaster 125 in 1978 when he spent a total of 145 days and 16 hours in space.
Celebrating the American-Soviet mission
In 1975, Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts wore Speedmasters during a historic meeting in space that signalled the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Made in a limited edition of 500 pieces to mark this famous American-Soviet space rendezvous, this watch was the first of the “Patch” watches. It has the mission patch at 12 o’clock in place of the OMEGA logo as well as longer markers on the dial and wider pushers.
Built for the Space Shuttle
When OMEGA began work on the “Alaska III” project, its aim was to adapt the classic Moonwatch to include anti-reflective surfaces and an easy-to-read dial. The result included a brushed stainless steel case and large radial numerals on the subdials. A first batch of 56 pieces was delivered to NASA and they used them on board the Space Shuttle in the 1980s. A second batch soon followed.
Quartz prototype for NASA
When the Speedmaster briefly went digital, this prototype was created for the astronauts at NASA based on the commercial models. The functions were still the same but it also included a BETA light system as an innovative way to illuminate the display without using a typical lightbulb. 12 pieces were sent to NASA astronauts who tested the watch in training and on the Space Shuttle. Ultimately, they chose not to adopt the watch.
OMEGA’s first sapphire crystal caseback
Launched to celebrate the 1969 Apollo 11 mission in which the Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon, this yellow gold model was the first to use the 861L calibre and to have a glazed display back with sapphire crystal. Produced in a very small numbered series of around 300 pieces, the L following the calibre 861 indicated that the calibre was the “Luxury” version with a higher level of decoration than was normally afforded.
Bringing a two-tone style to the Speedmaster’s iconic design for the first time, this bicolor model was made using a steel case with a golden dial, silvered subdials and a bracelet made from steel and 14K gold. The exact number produced is unknown but very few are known to still exist.
First Speedmaster Moonphase
Twenty years after the Speedmaster began preparing to go to the moon, the moon came to the Speedmaster. Known as the “Speedymoon”, this watch was produced in a series of 1,300 pieces and features a Moonphase complication with a painted moon and stars. It was the Speedmaster’s first Moonphase model and, on some rare Speedymoon models, a face is also painted on the moon.
The “Holy Grail” for collectors
This was the first Speedmaster that combined an automatic movement with a Moonwatch case. OMEGA only produced the watch during two years. For collectors, finding an original piece can become an obsession full of disappointment, joy and despair – hence its “Holy Grail” nickname. In design, the case is slightly thicker to accommodate the automatic movement and the buttons and crown are closer fitting than the usual Moonwatch.
Made especially for Italy
Limited to 500 pieces, this timepiece was created for the Italian market. It featured a black dial with golden subdials, a yellow gold bezel and yellow gold-plated crown and pushers. Interestingly, the Speedmaster has a historical connection with Italy. The Seahorse medallion that features on the caseback of many Speedmaster and Seamaster models was in fact inspired by the Seahorse emblems found on the sides of gondolas in Venice, Italy.
For Switzerland’s 700th anniversary
This Speedmaster model was limited to 50 pieces. Although it celebrated the 700th anniversary of Switzerland, the watch was released exclusively for the Japanese market. As well as the chronograph function, it also includes a Moonphase and a perpetual calendar programmed up to the year 2100. It is often considered to be the most complicated watch OMEGA has ever produced in series.
Rare hand-crafted limited edition
In this captivating Speedmaster model, OMEGA’s hand-crafted excellence is clear to see. The skeletonised design was limited to just 50 pieces, each with a transparent caseback.
The inspiration was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of OMEGA’s 27 CHRO C12 project, which led to the creation of the calibre 321 that was used in the very first Speedmaster. In terms of highlighting innovation and excellence, this timepiece was a wonderful tribute.
First COSC-certified manual-wound Speedmaster
OMEGA launched the 27 CHRO C12 project in 1942 which led to the creation of the calibre 321 that was used in the very first Speedmaster. To mark the 50th anniversary of this occasion, OMEGA produced this unique “Jubilee 27 CHRO C12” model in 1992. It was the first COSC-certified manual-wound Speedmaster and was a limited edition of 50 pieces.
The OMEGA Speedmaster served a life-saving role aboard Apollo 13 in 1970 when it helped the astronauts return safely to Earth. This 25th anniversary model is a favourite among collectors due to it being the first in a long series of Mission models that followed. It includes an Apollo 13 badge and was limited to 999 pieces.
MIR 365 DAYS
365 days on MIR Space Station
In 1990, ten standard Speedmaster Moonwatches were kept aboard the orbiting MIR Space Station for 90 days to test the effects of zero gravity on the watch. Two years later, a second series spend 365 days on the station in a further experiment. 28 of these history-making watches were sold in 1995. On the caseback are the words “365 DAYS ON BOARD SPACE STATION MIR, JULY 1993 – JULY 1994”.
Launched by Michael Schumacher
This striking model is notable for its “younger aesthetics” and was produced in both red and yellow versions. The piece was launched by racing legend Michael Schumacher who had become a new OMEGA ambassador in 1996. As well as featuring a racing-style minute track, the watch had a rubber presentation box that resembled the tyres of F1 cars and featured Schumacher’s signature in white.
Inspired by the 1957 original
With the exact same dial, bezel, hands and logo as the famous “Broad Arrow” of 1957, this watch, sometimes to referred to as the “Replica”, was the first to be included in the “Missions” set of 1997 which marked the 40th anniversary of the Speedmaster. Along with this watch, the set contained 22 other Speedmasters each with a different mission patch on the dial.
“THE GOLDEN PANDA”
Exclusive to Japan
40 of these Speedmasters were created for the Japanese market. Thanks to the silvery-white dial and black minute scale and subdials, the watch closely resembled the face of a panda, which gave it its memorable nickname. Combined with a yellow gold case, it has become a popular collector’s item.
40 years of the Speedmaster
To celebrate 40 years of the iconic Speedmaster, OMEGA released this model in 1997 featuring a cream dial and front glass made from sapphire crystal – which was unusual for the time. Limited to 500 pieces and exclusive to Italy, it was also one of the first models with hands and a dial coated in LumiNova.
Favoured by pilots
Known as the “Mars Watch”, the X-33 was designed for the possibility of man landing on the red planet. It took five years of collaborative development between OMEGA and the world’s major space agencies, as well as the USN “Blue Angels” and the USAF “Thunderbirds”. With its futuristic design, it was worn on board NASA’s space shuttles and the Russia MIR Space Station.
Launched in 1999 to mark the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11, this model was the second Speedmaster Professional to have a moonphase indication and the first Speedmaster Moonphase to be created in gold or, in fact, any other metal other than stainless steel. This white gold model featured a silver dial and was available exclusively on a leather strap that included a white gold buckle.
With their spacecraft docking together in space in 1975, the Apollo and Soyuz commanders shook hands through an open hatch and signaled a bright future for the two nations. This gold watch was created to mark the 25th anniversary of that landmark event and was limited to 50 pieces. The mission name appears in English and Cyrillic in the counter at 6 o’clock and a special dedication inscription is included on the caseback.
Celebrating the success of Apollo 13
This model commemorates the “Silver Snoopy Award” that OMEGA received in 1970 for helping to get the Apollo 13 crew safely home. The watch has a representation of the “Eyes on the Stars” patch on the subsidiary small seconds dial as well as reverse printed on the sapphire crystal caseback. It was limited to 5,441 pieces referencing the length of the mission – 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds.
FROM THE MOON TO MARS
Anticipating the future
Built for the next great human destination. This model coincided with the American announcement that they planned to build a permanent space station on the moon before 2020 to act as a launch site for future manned missions to Mars. Celebrating those celestial bodies, the watch has counters printed with images of the moon, Earth and Mars.
Created to mark the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission when the OMEGA Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon, this watch was produced in a limited edition of 3,500 pieces. It features the date July 20, 1969 printed in red in the upper half of the dial and the Apollo 11 patch reverse-printed on the sapphire caseback.
In 1965, Edward White became the first American astronaut to walk in space. With a Speedmaster strapped to his wrist, it also became the first time that an OMEGA ventured outside the spacecraft. This Speedmaster was created in a limited edition of 2,005 pieces to mark the 40th anniversary of that Gemini IV mission. The dial of the watch is blue, along with the bezel, and on the other side, the Gemini IV patch is printed on the sapphire caseback.
With pioneering escapement
OMEGA has always been known for its pioneering innovation and dedication to the art of watchmaking. In its quest to perfect the movement, this Speedmaster was the first to include the Co-Axial escapement, which revolutionised precision and reliability. As well as this, the watch saw a return of the iconic “Broad Arrow” hands, a red-tipped GMT hand, and a 1 – 23 GMT hour ring that beautifully fitted between the hour markers.
This Speedmaster was created in a limited edition of 1,971 pieces to mark the 35th anniversary of Apollo 15. It was during this mission that the Lunar Rover Vehicle was used for the first time. Its special details include 18-carat pink gold push buttons and a mission patch etched on the sapphire crystal caseback with three birds representing the astronauts.
50th ANNIVERSARY PATCH
50 years of the Speedmaster
Created in a limited edition of 5,957 pieces to commemorate the birth of the Speedmaster in 1957, this watch has a golden Seahorse printed on the dial, representing the emblem with which the Speedmaster is most closely associated. The OMEGA logo is printed in red and the watch was presented in a black wooden box with a painted 50th Anniversary badge.
Celebrating the XXIX Olympiad
As the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, OMEGA celebrated its role by creating this unique Speedmaster 5-Counters Chronograph. For the first time ever, five counters were displayed on the dial of a mechanical wristwatch, arranged in the form of the iconic Olympic rings. The functions included a small seconds counter, a 7-day chronograph recorder, a day indicator, a 12-hour chronograph recorder and a 30-minute chronograph recorder.
A prototype becomes reality
In this timepiece, one of OMEGA’s most innovative dreams became reality. Created in a limited edition of 1,970 pieces in 2008, the watch is based on the “Alaska II” project which used a “standard” Speedmaster with a modified dial and hands in conjunction with an outer anodized aluminium “thermal shield”. This allowed the watch to withstand temperatures, in lunar or spatial atmospheres, ranging from -148C to +260C.
Built for Solar Impulse
The Solar Impulse project captured the world’s imagination with its ambitious aim of flying around the Earth in a plane powered only by the sun. OMEGA was a Main Partner of the mission and produced this watch named after the Solar Impulse prototype plane. The design took inspiration from the plane itself, with a titanium case and a dial made of black carbon fibre, similar to the HB-SIA’s composite covering. A central GMT hand, which completes one rotation in 24 hours, can be used to read a second time zone.
Made in a limited edition of 69 examples to mark the 40th anniversary of man’s conquest of the moon, this Speedmaster model made in platinum has a unique yellow gold medallion on the small seconds counter representing, in high relief, the mission patch of Apollo 11. This is repeated, again in gold, on the caseback.
First Speedmaster with meteorite dial
With a dial and subdials made from slices of meteorite, this Speedmaster was built from a real piece of space. It commemorates the historic moment when astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (USA) and cosmonaut Alexei A. Leonov (USSR) shook hands in space in 1975. The caseback features two spacecraft from both the USA and the Soviet Union and the names of the cosmonauts and astronauts involved.
This watch celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 15 moon landing and is included in a numbered series of 1,971 pieces. The red, white and blue colours on the dial were inspired by the mission patch and the caseback includes a superb engraving of the Lunar Roving Vehicle which was used on the moon for the first time during the mission.
This Limited Edition timepiece is one of OMEGA’s most iconic Speedmasters and celebrates the 40th anniversary of the final lunar landing in December 1972. It features a striking and unique 925 silver dial embossed with the same design as the Apollo XVII patch which represents Mankind, the future, the image of Apollo and the United States flag. The watch was limited to just 1,972 pieces.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
First Speedmaster in ceramic
Emblematic of OMEGA’s bold style, innovation and pioneering spirit, the 'Dark Side of the Moon' brought the Moonwatch to a new generation. Crafted from a single block of sleek ceramic, the sporty model also features a black ceramic dial with 18K white gold hands and a nylon fabric strap. The incredible production techniques used to create this watch have been some of OMEGA’s most celebrated achievements.
On a brown “NATO” strap, this watch commemorates the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11. It uses the colours of the moon and the lunar and command modules and features a brushed case with a touch of gold. It has a black PVD dial and a lightweight grade 2 titanium case - inspired by the titanium ore that covers the moon’s surface.
Built for the European Space Agency
Designed especially for space explorers, the Speedmaster Skywalker is an innovative upgrade of the Speedmaster Professional X-33 released in 1998. The new model, powered by an advanced quartz calibre, was thoroughly tested and approved by the European Space Agency for inclusion in all of its missions. Built from titanium, it includes a ceramic bezel with a chromium nitride scale and an LCD display with an electroluminescent backlight.
SILVER SNOOPY AWARD
Apollo 13 45th Anniversary
A tribute to the 45th anniversary of Apollo 13 and the Silver Snoopy Award that OMEGA subsequently received from NASA, this watch features a white dial with special comic strip inscriptions and a small Snoopy decorating the 9 o’clock sub-dial. On the caseback, a 925 silver Snoopy medallion is surrounded by alluring dark blue enamel.
New approach for Solar Impulse
The Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse Limited Edition celebrates OMEGA's partnership with Solar Impulse, whose team succeeded in circling the globe in a solar powered airplane in 2016. Made from titanium and presented on a NATO strap, the quartz watch is particularly lightweight and features a ceramic bezel with a chromium nitride scale. There are skeletonized black and white hour and minute hands and a central seconds hand distinguished by green and black colouring.
Worn by George Clooney
The Speedmaster '57 is an innovative wristwatch that salutes its legendary ancestor and has been designed to experience new adventures of its very own. The model recalled a number of features similar to its famous ancestor including the black dial with beige indications, straight lugs, and a brushed metallic bezel with a tachymeter scale. George Clooney proudly wore this model for the international advertising campaign in 2015.
Inspired by the 1959 original
The original OMEGA CK2998 was released in 1959 and has become one of the world’s most sought-after vintage Speedmasters. This watch used the classic model as inspiration, with classic Alpha and lollipop hands, a symmetrical steel case and three subdials in blue. This colour theme continues on the bezel, minutes track and leather strap.
First Speedmaster Master Chronometer
The first Speedmaster certified as a Master Chronometer, this blue Moonphase timepiece reaches the industry’s highest standards of precision and performance as approved by METAS – another important milestone in OMEGA’s superb history of watchmaking. Most incredibly, the image of the moon on this watch is as detailed as a NASA photograph. Zoom in close and you’ll see an astronaut’s footprint.
An online community tribute
In 2012, an online community of #SpeedyTuesday fans began to grow around the world, with Speedmaster pictures and comments being shared every week. In tribute to these Speedmaster devotees, OMEGA produced this new Limited Edition model to celebrate the 5th anniversary. It marks the first OMEGA watch marketed purely through social media and sold exclusively online, and the design was based on several vintage models from the past including the “Alaska III”.
SPEEDMASTER 38 mm
Simplicity meets iconic design
The refined 38 mm collection retains the famous look and 60 year heritage of the Speedmaster, but also updates it with a pure and new aesthetic touch. For this ladies’ model, the diamond-paved bezel also includes a tachymeter scale on a brown aluminium ring. This dual design has enabled OMEGA to add the elegance of diamonds and also retain the sporty DNA of the original Speedmaster models.
Return of the racing dial
The distinctive minute-track style on this stainless steel watch first appeared on a 1968 Speedmaster model. Linked to the Speedmaster’s motor racing heritage, it returns again, this time on a matt-black dial. Other features on the dial include the orange markings and bevelled 18K white gold arrowhead indexes. The perforated rubber strap is another new addition that enhances the innovation.
3. SPEEDMASTER DESIGN STORY: THE LOOK OF LOVE
It is instantly recognisable and universally admired. Watch buyers are drawn to it. Collectors are driven and inspired by it. But what has made the OMEGA Speedmaster perhaps the most famous and desirable chronograph in the world? Even if you ignore its historical importance, the watch is still anchored by a timeless design that has endured for 60 years. Evolution may have produced different variations, but these are just some of the “classic” Speedmaster features that have helped create an icon.
Since 1964, the “twisted lugs” of the Speedmaster have given the watch a truly distinctive look. Their addition enabled the creation of an asymmetric case that provides extra strength and protects the crown and pushers.
The Speedmaster was the first watch in the world to take the tachymeter scale off the dial and place it on the bezel. The change was initiated with racing car drivers in mind and this is where the “Speedmaster” name originates.
Loved by watch fans for its understated simplicity, the classic triple-register Speedmaster design delivers superb readability thanks to its black dial with luminous markers and contrasting hands.
The glass that protects the dial is cleverly domed to give the impression of an overall thinner watch. Over the years, both hesalite and sapphire-crystal glass has been used.
Aside from the Broad Arrow and Alpha hands associated with early models, it is the Baton style hands that have been most used. Slim and elegantly flat, they further add to the uncomplicated design.
4. Hodinkee.com is where watch lovers from all over the world go to stay informed, swap stories and purchase collectables.
We talked to the site's founder Benjamin Clymer about the watch that kick-started his passion and why it still holds a special place in his heart.
When did your love of the OMEGA Speedmaster begin?
My love of the Speedmaster began the moment I saw my grandfather’s watch on his wrist. He was a hero to me and I had never been exposed to so many wonderful things as when I was around him – whether it was cameras, cars, stereos, computers, or of course watches. The Speedmaster was a watch that he bought later in life, when I was around him, and in many ways I felt like he had bought it for me to have. He had two other fine watches, one that would go to my father and another that would go to my uncle, and although he never told me so, I just knew the third watch, the Speedmaster, was for me. It was the watch that started it all, the watch that gave me the life that I am so proud of now.
Do you remember the moment your grandfather gave you his watch? What were your first thoughts when you saw it?
I do. I was about 16 years old and I was simply in awe of it; the sheer complexity of it, the weight, the quality. I often saw him wearing it and one day he took it off his wrist and handed it to me. It’s been with me ever since. When it first became mine I thought I would never need another watch – and in many ways I almost wish that were true. Then again, it has opened up my eyes to everything that watches can be. For that, I am very grateful.
You recently published a list of the 12 biggest mistakes a watch buyer can make. You said one of those mistakes is: “never owning an OMEGA Speedmaster”. Why is it such a special watch?
I remember the first time I met a huge watch collector – the type you would only read about in magazines. His collection was worth probably $10 million and I was so nervous to meet him. But as soon as he entered the room, I expected to see some grand complication on his wrist, and instead, he was wearing a Speedmaster Professional. I asked him why this was when he could wear any number of the most important watches in the world and he replied “because the Speedmaster is the best watch in the world”. That changed things for me. Since then, I’ve known several of the world’s most prominent high-end collectors and each one agrees that the Speedmaster is special, no matter what else you want. It is the perfect culmination of art, design, functionality and historical importance. To me, as a pure horological object, a manually wound, three register, black dial chronograph is as pure as it gets – and that doesn’t even begin to mention what the watch has meant to humanity and space exploration. I meant what I said - you can not call yourself a watch person until you’ve at least tried to own a Speedmaster.
How excited do collectors get when a rare model comes on the market?
There is no end to it. I myself simply can’t contain my energy and emotion when one of my dream watches becomes available. I have travelled around the world for them, spent hours and hours online and in books researching them and I can say many other collectors have as well. I think a very special Speedmaster is one of the holy grails of all watch collecting. When one is offered, there is no outcome too high.
You’ve spent a lot of time with OMEGA and our vintage watches. What feeling do you get when you’re able to hold a rare Speedmaster in your hand?
As one grows to become a bigger and better collector, your feelings change. The first time I bought a 321 Speedmaster, maybe ten years ago, I paid $1500 for it, and I thought I was King of the World. It was just incredible. Since then, I’ve owned several variations of the 321-powered Speedmaster and it would now take a lot more to get excited than a 145.012-67 - which, by the way, I think is still one of the best watches in the world. It’s just that I’ve seen so much more now and I know what is out there. When you get that perfect watch, there isn’t a better feeling a collector can have.
What about the style of the watch? It’s endured for 60 years. Outside of its heritage and space story, do you still think it’s a good looking timepiece?
I love it. As I mentioned before, the purity of the black three register dial is unmatched. It goes with anything and something I’ve always enjoyed doing is matching a black dial Speedy with a half watch strap from the HODINKEE Shop. I think putting watches born on a bracelet onto a leather strap gives them new life. Also, the origin of the Speedmaster is very compelling to me as a lover of vintage cars. I spend most of my free time in old cars and to know that this watch was first designed with racing in mind makes it even more interesting to me. As a friend says, there is no need for a tachymeter in space. I think it is so charming, that after all these years, and as the narrative about the watch has shifted away from racing and towards space, that it remains on the watch.
What do you think of the most recent versions, such as the Dark Side of the Moon or Moonphase for example?
I think they are wonderful and natural progresssions for the Speedmaster family. I particularly like the Dark Side of the Moon. As I wrote when the watch was first introduced, I think when the world heard Omega would be making a black ceramic Speedmaster, we all thought “Ugh, this will be absolutely terrible”. Then we saw it, and somehow, Omega had done what is essentially impossible to do and made a really lovely, tasteful update to a classic, but in ceramic! I think it’s a great watch and it is one I have thought about buying many times.
Is there a Speedmaster model that you’d love to own?
I’m lucky to have owned several early examples of the Speedmaster, and to this day, I only own two examples of the Speedmaster – the Mark 40 my grandfather gave me, and then a reference 2915-1. I worked my way up to that watch and traded several in to get it. So in terms of original Speedmasters, I am quite content. There is still, however, one watch that escapes me. It is an Alaska Project Prototype. I simply love the story and the provenance, and above all else, the look! The re-edition is beautiful, but to me, the original is a must. This year, Phillips had one come up for sale and I was an active bidder on it, but it ended up going just a little too high and I had eyes for another watch in the sale. We can not always have what we want, but that is one piece I would love to acquire before my time with watches is through. I’ll start saving now…
Is there a Speedmaster you’d love to see? - Maybe in a different material or the return of a particular model?
I do think Omega has done an incredible job at cycling through the classics. If I were able to design a Speedmaster for today - and in fact, some have suggested I do that - I would love to see a very small limited series made using the original case, radium dial, hands and Lemania 321 caliber just like the originals. Of course, because this would be a highly limited edition piece, I would want the case in platinum and made in no more than 50 examples. Perhaps another watch of the same specifications in steel for a few hundred examples, but I do think there is huge appetite for Omega to re-release a highly limited watch using the 321 caliber to produce something that is truly collectible today. It would be an instant dream watch.
Finally, what makes a wristwatch iconic?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many possible reasons why a watch can become a legend. Is it the person who wore one? Sure. Could it be the beauty of the design or quality of the craft? Both of those make sense too. For the Speedmaster, I think it is all of the above, in a way that almost no other watch today can match. The appeal of watches, and in particular the Speedmaster, is so multi-faceted, and I think that is why I love them so much –because the person next to me can love the Speedmaster as much as I do, but for a totally different reason. That, to me, is how one judges a product – by how multi-dimensional its strengths can be.
5. PEOPLE POWER
The growth of the Speedy Tuesday community
Robert-Jan Broer is the founder of Fratello Watches and the creator of the Speedy Tuesday phenomenon. Here, he talks about the day it all began and the community that has formed around the world’s most iconic chronograph.
Tell us how the Speedy Tuesday “movement” got started.
I have always been captivated by the world’s most beautiful and innovative timepieces. One of my most beloved pieces is my 1967 Speedmaster Professional. One day back in 2012, a Tuesday as it happened, I casually posted a picture of the watch on our site with a simple “Speedy Tuesday” caption. From there, the idea began to take off. Soon after, my one post had become a weekly recurring feature called “Speedy Tuesday”.
How many Speedmaster articles have you actually written?
To date, our team has created over 250 in-depth articles featuring the Omega Speedmaster and we still have plenty more to come. The articles have included Speedmasters flown in space, very early models, or simply a story from a reader who wants to tell the tale of their own Speedmaster. We’re never short on content.
And it’s really brought the Speedmaster community together!
Yes, absolutely. The Speedy Tuesday articles are among the best-read features of our magazine and have created a strong following of Speedmaster fans and enthusiasts. The growth and popularity of Speedy Tuesday really has been very natural and “people-powered”. On Instagram alone, the tag has been shared over 40,000 times
Why do you think so many people have adopted the tag? Can you explain its popularity?
I think the popularity lies partly in the fact that the Speedmaster is an icon. It is the watch that was worn on the moon. And not only that, it is still a watch that people can purchase today for a very reasonable price. I also believe that people started adopting #SpeedyTuesday because there is no commercial drive behind it. It doesn’t require much effort to see that I – and the rest of our editorial team – have a sincere interest and passion for the Speedmaster. But in the end, it is just a great watch. Also without the NASA story to it, it is a wonderful hand-wound chronograph with one of the most readable dials ever. Whether you have a beautiful collection of pristine vintage models or just bought one fresh from an Omega boutique, everyone can join #SpeedyTuesday.
What’s special about the Speedmaster community? How is it different to fans of other watches?
About ten years ago, I went into a watch shop that had a display with a nice number of vintage Speedmasters. This display was located in the centre of the shop and there was actually a guy lying on the floor so he could see all the details of the watches. People go nuts over details. The store owner told me that ‘Speedmaster people’ are a special kind of client. They are people who are all about the watches, not about the possible investment or the money involved. That summed it up quite well, even today. The Speedmaster community is about watches, sometimes about the space programme as well of course. But the community is super friendly and people tend to help each other out to find details, or help source specific watches or parts. What’s also important is the fact that Omega supports this community. Omega has a very active museum and archives department which is there to document certain events, specific watches or to provide support to collectors who have questions. It is rather unique that a watch manufacturer goes as far as Omega does, but it is very much appreciated by the entire Speedmaster community.
Would you say that the Speedmaster has a more “emotive” hook compared with other watches?
Definitely. Of course, this goes two ways. One is a personal relationship with a watch, that can be any other model or brand, but in general you can ask any Speedmaster ‘Moonwatch’ owner why he or she bought the watch and you will get an interesting and very personal story in most cases. The other part is that the watch has a clear link with some great events in the past, perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments ever by mankind. For people who were a witness of those events in the 1960s and 1970s the Speedmaster has a special meaning. People who were born later (like me) or were simply too young to be aware of what happened back then, the watch is perhaps a tangible link to those events they couldn’t witness themselves.
What’s been your most interesting story that a community member has contacted you about?
I think one of the most special moments was when I was contacted by a former astronaut and his son who told me that they had ‘some watches’ and didn’t know what they were exactly. I met with the son at my house and he literally emptied a plastic bag with watches on my dining table. One of them was the Speedmaster Alaska Project III, one of the original 56 models from 1978. That watch made a huge impression on me and gave a special sensation when I strapped it on my wrist. Other stories that got to me were about Speedmaster watches that were inherited and got lost, and the email I received one evening from someone (well-known) who used to work for NASA, telling me I was doing a wonderful job on these Speedy Tuesday articles. That meant a lot to me. But in general, I appreciate all the messages I receive on a daily basis regarding Speedmasters and Speedy Tuesday.
What do you talk about most when you get together?
It is simply all about Speedmasters. We discuss details on various (vintage) Speedmaster references, talk about what our next ‘grail’ would be, what we would love to see from Omega in the future and of course we discuss boxes, paperwork, books and so on. We also talk about the information that is out there and has been so well documented by Speedmaster enthusiasts. One of the first people to do so online was Chuck Maddox (who passed away in 2008) who deserves a special mention here as he sparked my enthusiasm for the Speedmaster. His work is still out there and is still regarded as one of the best sources on the subject.
Do you think the community is growing?
Definitely. The number of #SpeedyTuesday tagged Speedmaster images is going up as well as the number of readers of our Speedy Tuesday articles. Not only that, but I also see that there is really a demand for get-togethers. We organize them once in a while, sometimes with Omega, but I feel we could do (and join) more of them. Although it is fun to discuss and show Speedmaster watches online, nothing beats meeting people who are like-minded and talk watches. In this case, social media is really interesting as it leads to meeting people and making the community really a social thing.
And you’ve inspired the new Speedy Tuesday watch! How did that feel?
It’s been fantastic to see OMEGA embrace the Speedy Tuesday idea and recognise its popularity amongst fans. I feel immensely proud that the brand has created the watch and especially that it uses some of the vintage touches that we love so much. Apparently, it sold out in 4 hours, 15 minutes and 31 seconds. Another incredible and surprising moment in this Speedy Tuesday story! Luckily, our articles, meetings and posts will continue for much longer.
6. NEW SPEEDMASTER MODELS 2017
The Speedmaster 38 mm
Simplicity meets iconic design
The OMEGA Speedmaster is one of the most recognised chronographs in the world. Now, OMEGA introduces this refined 38 mm collection. The famous look and heritage is still at the heart of creation, but this time, the enduring design has been given a pure and new aesthetic touch.
This model nicknamed 'Cappuccino' is just one piece in the complete collection for both men and women. Its case is made from stainless steel and 18K Sedna™ gold, while the strap has been made from taupe-brown leather.
One of the watch’s most interesting features is the diamond-paved bezel that also includes a tachymeter scale on a brown aluminium ring. This dual design has enabled OMEGA to add the elegance of diamonds and also retain the sporty DNA of the original Speedmaster models.
The watch features a bi-colour dial with unique oval subdials in brown. At a closer look, these oval subdials closely resemble OMEGA’s own brand logo. Continuing on the dial, an oval date window has been positioned at 6 o’clock and the “baton” hands and the indexes have been created from 18K Sedna™ gold.
The caseback has been stamped with the Speedmaster’s iconic Seahorse medallion, and on the inside, the watch is driven by the OMEGA Calibre 3330, complete with Co-Axial technology and a silicon balance spring. This superb craftsmanship gives the watch a 4 year warranty.
60 years after the launch of the very first Speedmaster, the chronograph is still a great source of inspiration. Although its spirit remains the same, this new 38 mm collection has been created with simplicity, size and colour in mind.
The Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer
An iconic racing dial returns
True to OMEGA tradition, every new Speedmaster carries the spirit and design inspiration of the models that came before. In the new Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer, this is immediately clear when you view the dial.
The distinctive minute-track style on this stainless steel watch first appeared on a 1968 Speedmaster model. Linked to the Speedmaster’s motor racing heritage, it returns again, this time on a matt-black dial. Other notable features on the dial include the orange markings and bevelled 18K white gold arrowhead indexes that are filled with white Super-LumiNova.
For this model the subdials have also been slightly expanded for improved readability and the 44.25 mm case is thinner than previous versions thanks to the work done on the sapphire crystal in particular.
The polished ceramic bezel features a brushed Liquidmetal® tachymeter scale as well as distinctive orange wording that matches the colour of the varnished hands and tip of the seconds hand.
Around the wrist, there is a black leather strap that contains a section of orange rubber through the middle. A milling tool has then been used to create micro perforations through the constructed strap that reveal the orange rubber inside. This perforated design provides the perfect sporty look and also has the benefit of aerating the wearer’s skin.
The Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer represents the next Speedmaster model with Master Chronometer certification. Driven by the calibre 9900, the watch and its movement have reached the Swiss industry’s highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic resistance, as approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).