Omega Speedmaster – The History And Evolution

22 Oct, 2022 Chat 0
Omega Speedmaster – The History And Evolution

The Speedmaster is not just the most iconic Omega watch in existence but one of the most iconic watches of all time. Interestingly, this timepiece that boasts an inspiring space legacy was originally designed for people who have to reckon time in seconds. The classic three-register chronograph is considered a high-precision wrist computer that can precisely read up to one-fifth of a second. Manufactured by Omega SA, this exemplary timepiece was first introduced in 1957 and is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year.

Omega Speedmaster — The Genesis

Astronauts wore the Omega Speedmaster series to various space exploration missions and even extravehicular activities after the timepiece was qualified for space use by NASA. However, the Speedmaster series was initially planned for something other than space missions. It was designed primarily as a timekeeper for racing events and sports enthusiasts (hence, came with the chronograph complication) consistent with the Omega’s then lineup – the Seamaster and the Railmaster. 

A chronograph is a watch that comes with an innate ‘stopwatch’ functionality. This function is essential for engineers, doctors, technicians, and sports professionals to determine the production rate of a machine or a worker, the speed of a car or a projector, or sports athletes to keep track of their performance – where every milli-moment matters. Watch wearers did not widely use this feature until the 1970s and Speedmaster was one of the frontrunners that made its mark as a reliable chronograph timepiece. It was the first watch to place a tachymeter (previously known as T.P.M. or Tacho-Productometer scale) on the bezel and highlight it separately from the dial. This design innovation cleared up space on the dial giving it a more streamlined look. It also helped the sport racing drivers to calculate the speed faster by allowing a quicker reference to the scale.

The Moonwatch – Beginning Of The Space Adventure

As aforementioned, Omega Speedmaster was one of the first watches cleared by NASA for use in space. Speedmaster passed various tests, such as extreme cold, heat, shock, fog, etc., to be qualified for space missions. Before the testing, American astronaut Wally Schira was the first to wear his personal Speedmaster CK2995 in space during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission in 1962. Astronaut Ed White wore a Speedmaster 105.003 during the first American Spacewalk. Speedmasters were officially issued to all the Gemini Space mission crew members. 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
This Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch comes with a 42mm case and the manual-winding movement worn on the Moon — Calibre 1863
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Finally, this elite timepiece was also worn on the Moon Mission in 1969 by both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The model used for the mission was later christened the ‘Moonwatch’. Interestingly, Armstrong left his Speedmaster in the lunar Spacelab as a reserve, but Aldrin wore it during his Moonwalk. Hence, Aldrin’s Speedmaster became the first watch to go to the Moon. Since its inception, the Omega Moonwatch has been worn on six moon missions.

Omega Speedmaster – Love At First Sight

Omega Speedmaster

The Speedmaster carries a clean and easy-to-read look with a number of signature elements that have remained a part of the design language since the beginning

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One of the main reasons behind Speedmaster’s desirability is its classic design and artistry. The original Speedmaster (referenced as CK2915) is similar to the Speedmasters produced in current times. This Omega watch featured a three-register layout with sophisticated slim lugs, streamlined hour markers, and small button pushers at two and four o’clock positions. It had a large-sized case (39 mm) made of stainless steel. It also featured a separate tachymeter at the bezel, separated from the dial, giving it a clean and easy-to-read look. This timeless model was water-resistant up to 200 feet, shock-proof, and anti-magnetic. Finally, the classic Speedmaster offered a supreme degree of precision and used characteristic arrow-shaped hands, which are still featured on Omega’s latest models. 

Omega Speedmaster
Omega Speedmaster Watch
Omega Speedmaster Dial Closeup
Omega Speedmaster Dial
Omega Speedmaster Back

The Most Memorable Speedmasters

Since its inception in 1957, the brand has introduced numerous models under the Speedmaster umbrella. After the original Speedmaster CK2915, Omega introduced the reference CK2998, which astronaut Wally Schira wore during his space mission. This model introduced lots of advancements and innovations. It flaunted a sophisticated stainless steel case, a black dial, the characteristic tachymeter bezel, and alpha hands. 

When reflecting on the most desirable Speedmaster models by Omega, it is undeniably the Moonwatch (referenced as ST105.012), dated back to 1965. The ‘Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th-Anniversary Omega Speedmaster is another charming model designed as a tribute to the award Omega received from NASA astronauts back in 1970 for its contribution to the Apollo 13 mission and space exploration. The silver dial of the watch has blue PVD angle-shaped hour markers and hands and an embossed silver Snoopy medallion at the 9 o’clock blue subdial.

The Omega Caliber 321 ‘Ed White’ Speedmaster is an equally interesting iteration based on the reference 105.003 worn by Ed White. It is a 39.7mm stainless steel wristwatch equipped with a sapphire crystal caseback featuring the famous manual-winding calibre 321 with a column-wheel chronograph. It has the signature tachymeter ceramic bezel.

Second To None – Omega Speedmaster In The Pre-owned Market

The Omega Speedmaster make for a highly sought-after piece in the pre-owned watch market. Only a few hundred original Speedmaster CK2915 and Moonwatch CK2998 in working condition (with full specifications) are available in the pre-owned market. The ones in good polished condition are even rarer. The Omega Speedmaster has retained its value in the pre-owned market for three main reasons – its iconic legacy, timeless design, and cutting-edge, pioneering mechanism.

Omega Speedmaster is one of the fastest-selling timepieces at Second Movement. Most Speedmaster watch editions find new owners within days of stocking up at retail outlets and online stores.

Omega Speedmaster
Omega Speedmaster Watch
Omega Speedmaster
Omega Speedmaster Online
Omega Speedmaster watch at Second Movement
Unique, interesting models of the iconic Omega Speedmaster from Second Movement's versatile selection

Final Thoughts

The characteristics of the Omega Speedmasters available today are almost similar to those featured in the original. They highlight the same sleek hands and a redefined case finished with broader lugs. The newer models come in a range of wearable sizes with extra protection for the crown and pushers. Every new iteration of the Speedmaster tries to redefine the legacy of the classic while keeping the best features intact. All these characteristic features and innovations keep the love and intrigue among the patrons perpetually high.

Happy 65th, Speedmaster!


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