Omega Speedmaster – A Watch of Historical Importance

Apr 12, 2019
Omega Speedmaster – A Watch of Historical Importance

Omega is popular for creating some of the best watches in the world. The Omega Speedmaster is clearly considered one of the company’s crown jewels. The significance of this timepiece is unparalleled in many ways. Even 60 years after its launch, the watch is living on in great spirits.


It is quite apt to call it one of the best watches in existence. With so many “firsts” under its belt, this watch has found itself a solid place in the books of watchmaking history. Whilst the watch community is one with extremely diverse tastes, it is safe to say that this is a watch that any collector would love to have in their collection.


The level of affection that the watch world has with this timepiece is simply incredible. Everyone wants to get their hands on their very own “Speedy”!



front view of Omega Speedmaster Ref. 311. watch


The Beginning

The story of this watch goes way back to 1957. This was a year of prime importance in Omega’s history books. The company launched a trifecta of Omega watches that would go on to rule the land, the sea, and the sky. Amongst these three was the Omega Speedmaster. While the other two watches are for professional use, this watch served a different purpose.


The main purpose of this watch was for racing sports. The watch featured a highly precise timer that put Omega in the spotlight. After watch enthusiasts saw the precision that the watch offered, Omega’s reputation became much stronger. So much so that they now have the role of keeping time in all Olympic games. This is a responsibility that the company still has on its shoulders. However, this watch would go on to achieve bigger feats in the coming years.

The Moonwatch

One of the biggest achievements that the Speedmaster has in its history is traveling to the moon. NASA selected this watch to be the part of the gear of the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It is interesting, however, that while NASA used the original watch for all preparations of the moon landing, the company released the Omega Speedmaster Professional.


Omega decommissioned the original intended Moonwatch, the 105.003, which Ed White also wore during the spacewalk. The watch worn by Aldrin and Armstrong is the 105.012 variant which is part of a different line altogether.


Writing Aldrin’s name before Armstrong represents an important fact. The watch Armstrong wore around his wrist did not make it to the lunar surface as he left it behind for backup with only Aldrin wearing his. Unfortunately, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch disappeared on its way to the Smithsonian museum and has been missing ever since.


front view of Omega Speedmaster Ref. 311. watch

The Apollo Homage

The history of this legendary watch has only expanded since its phenomenal success in the moon landing. It is a watch that every Apollo astronaut wore on their missions. Omega decided to pay homage to the dedication of these strong souls and launched the mysterious Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon.


This watch is not just reflective of the dedication of NASA astronauts. It is also a representation of the mysterious nature of the moon itself. Its name speaks of the moon’s unexplored and dark side.


The watch has a completely black structure with slight variants for color options. The watch features a co-axial movement called the 9300 calibre. It is a watch that has kept the spirit of the original Speedmaster very much alive to this day.

Fighting The Quartz Crisis

When the Japanese launched quartz watches, the whole Swiss watchmaking industry shook to its core. They faced an era that is remembered as the worst period in Swiss watchmaking history.


Omega watches also felt the shocks and unfortunately, the legendary Speedmaster also suffered. To be able to compete with the Japanese, Omega needed a cheaper alternative. They replaced the legendary 321 calibre with the cheaper 861 calibre.


The watches produced with this caliber kept things going till 1988 when its production finally stopped. The threat, however, affected the history of the watch badly and made a dent in its once-solid reputation. However, unsurprisingly, Omega recovered from the crisis and continued to produce high-quality watches with the Speedmaster title.


front view of Omega Speedmaster Ref. 331. watch

The Speedmaster And Its Reduced Version

Omega also released a variant of the Moonwatch that featured an automatic movement. It is called the reduced version, and it easily gets mixed with the original Moonwatch. The watch is quite different in terms of its nature from the original watch but these differences require knowledge to identify.


There are a lot of sellers who try to use this to their advantage and sell it for a bigger profit. The watch is smaller in size than the original — 38mm vs. the original 42mm dial. It is also automatic as opposed to the hand-winding mechanism in the Moonwatch. The crown is also a bit lower if you look at it from the side.


However, all this does not mean the reduced model is not a great watch. There is a reason why even Omega markets this watch as a Moonwatch because it certainly has that pedigree.

The Speedy’s Present and Future

As of right now, Omega has a full range of watches in both the professional series and the Moon watches. There are currently more than 250 variants of the Speedmaster that one can choose from.


The enthusiasm for this legendary timepiece is just as alive as it was during the moon landing. The quality that you get with a Speedmaster is unparalleled in a lot of ways. It is definitely the tool of choice for a lot of racing enthusiasts.


It also seems that the moon is not the final frontier for Omega Speedmaster. There are rumours that another variant is in development that astronauts will wear on their first visit to Mars. Whether or not that rumour is true has not yet been revealed. One thing is for sure though: we are thoroughly excited, come what may!

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