When you think of iconic timepieces, which watches do you think about?
Rolex Submariner? Patek Philippe Nautilus? When a lot of people think about iconic timepieces, the watch that instantly comes to mind is the Omega Speedmaster.
The Omega Speedmaster has, just like most other iconic timepieces, had a long history, evolved a lot over the years, yet still stay true to its roots.
We find different timepieces interesting for different reasons, but one reason is their history. There is a charm to the history behind watch that makes it so much more appealing. And the Omega Speedmaster is a model that surely isn’t lacking interesting stories to tell.
It’s safe to say that the Speedmaster is Omega’s most iconic model, and perhaps even one of the most iconic and recognized models in the world.
It is a model that was originally made as a watch for racing, but then came to become known as space/moon watch, to now having been a part of all six lunar missions.
The Speedmaster represents something about the Omega brand. It reflects their adventurous pioneering spirit, and it represents their constant pursuit of perfection and refinement, with all of the different Speedmasters having been released over the years. Many of which have introduced completely new materials, new construction techniques, and simply new elements that makes for a more durable, appealing, a and reliable timepiece.
In this article, we are not covering the whole Speedmaster range, because if we would, we’d be here all day.
Instead, we’re focusing on one specific Omega Speedmaster, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 322.214.171.124.01.005. This is the modern Speedmaster that is the truest to the original Speedmaster that was worn on the moon, so you can see why this is a significant reference in Omega’s collection.
Omega Speedmaster background
To fully understand where the Speedmaster 3126.96.36.199.01.005 is coming from, we need to look closer at the history behind the Speedmaster range and what it means for the Omega brand.
The Speedmaster name dates all the way back to 1957. And as mentioned, the Omega Speedmaster was originally introduced as a sports and racing chronograph. This made sense at the time since essentially all other chronographs on the market were racing chronographs as well. Because two years prior, in 1955, Rolex released its now iconic Daytona model.
At the same time, Omega had already been involved in the sports industry in many different ways. The brand was, for example, (and still is) the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games.
However, when NASA chose Omega’s chronographs for all its manned missions into space and for the Apollo program, Omega got a golden marketing opportunity that it simply couldn’t let slip away.
Today, The Speedmaster is known as the ”Moonwatch”, and it was after the Moon landings of 1969 that it was added to the name.
And what really makes the Speedmaster a hardcore Moonwatch is the fact that it wasn’t just used once, but instead, NASA kept using the Speedmaster for many future missions. This is the only watch ever to be approved by NASA to be used in all piloted space missions right up until the modern-day. This led to Omega receding the Snoopy award after the chronograph was used to time a precise re-entry burn when the internal systems had failed. Now that’s an interesting piece of history!
Following society’s great interest in space and Moon adventures, the Omega Speedmaster obviously got a lot of attention. Following this, Omega continuously released countless of new models of the Speedmaster, and continue to do so.
Like with all iconic and classic timepieces, what is so special about the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3188.8.131.52.01.005 is the fact that it is built on the original design. This makes the Speedmaster design largely unchanged even to this day.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3184.108.40.206.01.005
It’s safe to say that the Omega Speedmaster is an icon.
And there’s something truly special about an iconic design. All watches that later turn out to be icons also turn out to be truly timeless, that continues to look just as good no matter how many years pass by.
When looking at the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3220.127.116.11.01.005, you will notice that very little has changed in the design since the original was released. It still keeps all of the elements and design features that make it instantly recognizable, such as the matte black dial, its perfectly aligned sub-dials, its black tachymeter bezel, as well as its stainless steel case with beautifully ”twisted”/heavily beveled lugs.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional 318.104.22.168.01.001’s case is predominantly brushed with the pushbuttons, deployant clasp, and non-screw-down crown having a polished finish.
Despite the fact that the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 322.214.171.124.01.005 is a racing chronograph, the watch works surprisingly well for all kinds of different occasions. With such a classic design, it works just as good on formal and casual occasions. And for some, 42mm may seem like a lot, but since the casebook is flat, it sits quite slimmed on the wrist.
As you know, there are an array of different Speedmasters available to choose from, but the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3126.96.36.199.01.005 still remains the most popular.
Why is that?
Well, the Speedmaster .005 is the watch that stays the truest to the original Moonwatch, the reference that was worn on the moon. Furthermore, the watch is very classic in its design. It does not feature any redundant elements, nothing that stands out. But more on this later.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” features a black dial covered by a hesalite crystal rather than a sapphire crystal, and on the dial, you will find a small second sub-dial, 30-minute recorder and 12-hour recorder along with a central chronograph hand. The black bezel, with its tachymetric scale, is mounted on a 42 mm stainless steel case and presented on a matching bracelet.
Without further ado, let’s go into the specifications of this timepiece:
Omega Speedmaster 3188.8.131.52.01.005 movement
This Omega Speedmaster is equipped with the mechanical calibre 1861. This movement is of great importance because it is Omega’s famous manual-winding chronograph movement – descendent of the calibre that was worn on the Moon. The movement has a rhodium-plated finish.
What makes this watch unique is that the movement is manual wound. This is not very common for modern sports watches, but for the Speedmaster, the reason is simple: to stay more true to the original.
Since there is no gravity in space, it does not make sense to have a rotor in a watch. Therefore, Omega made the Speedmaster Moonwatch manual, and since the Speedmaster .005 is the one that is meant to be closest to the original, it made sense that Omega would make this watch manual.
Sure, a manual watch demands a little bit of work, because if you forget to wind it, the watch will stop after 48 hours when the power reserve is empty. At the same time, a lot of people find charm in manually winding their movement. But this all comes down to personal taste.
What many Speedmaster owners say, however, is that they get used to winding as it becomes almost like a daily routine. When you’ve wound the watch for some time, the resistance gets harder, and because the crown is protected by crown guards when winding it, it can be more tricky to get a good grip of the crown. But this is generally no problem.
What you will find is that there is no date function on this watch.
To satisfy this need, Omega does produce Speedmaster versions which have a date function, but again, being a watch that is meant to stay true to the original, it wouldn’t make sense to include it. Even though there is a level of practicality of it, of course.
Also, adding a date window to this watch would damage the already symmetrically perfect dial, harming its visual appearance.
Something to add is that this caliber is not a certified chronometer. At this price point, you kind of expect watches to be that.
The watch has a 42mm case, as mentioned. Some people are afraid of anything above 40mm, but the fact is that the Speedmaster works on more people’s wrists than one may think. The diameter doesn’t always determine how a watch will fit. Additionally, Omega provides the diameter including the crown and pusher guards. In terms of how a watch wears, this does not have much influence on how the watch is perceived in terms of size. The most important part is lug to lug.
With its flat caseback, it sits slimmed on the wrist, and the lugs being 48mm. In other words, the lugs are relatively short, which makes the watch wear smaller than what you may think on paper.
Plus, if you have the watch on a bracelet, you will notice that right where the first link bit attached to the case ends, the link is free to point straight down. Unlike watches like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak with its integrated bracelet, this enables the bracelet to perfectly hug the wrist and not point out, adding more millimeters to the lug to lug.
This watch has a between lugs size of 20 mm. As you would expect, the case is completely made in stainless steel. The case offers a water resistance of 5 bar (50 meters/ 167 feet).
Attached to the case, you have a fixed tachymeter bezel that allows you to operate the chronograph and time units.
Of the case, you will see a mixture of both brushed and polished metal.
- 12 hour counter sub-dial located at the 6 o’clock position
- 30 minute counter sub-dial located at the 3 o’clock position
- The seconds for the chronograph being indicated by the big central seconds hand
- A small continuously running seconds sub-dial is located at the 9 o’clock position
The Moonwatch uses an Omega Caliber 1861 being rhodium plated and beats at 21,600 v\h, containing 18 Jewels and has an approximate power reserve of 48 hours.
Something that is quite unique in today’s watch market is the use of a hesalite crystal instead of sapphire crystal.
Acrylic comes under a multitude of trademarks, including Plexiglass, Perspex and, of course, Hesalite, which is the material Omega has chosen for the Speedmaster.
Sapphire crystal has its advantages of being very durable and scratch-proof, but since Omega wants to stay as close to the original as possible, there is no other alternative than hesalite.
The reason why the original Moonwatch has a hesalite crystal is that if the sapphire crystal would break, it would shatter, thus causing a danger in space. The hesalite crystal, however, won’t shatter.
Now, there’s no denying the fact that the hesalite crystal will acquire scratches over time. The good news is that superficial hairlines on the crystal are easily polished away with some toothpaste. Plus, the crystal is not very expensive to replace shall you get deeper scratches and dings.
As mentioned, the caseback of the Speedmaster 3184.108.40.206.01.005 is flat which makes it sit really comfortably on the wrist. And like the original, it does not feature a see-through caseback.
What it does features, however, is an engraving with the message: “flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. The first watch is worn on the moon”. This engraving really adds to the charm of the watch, as it allows you to really understand and appreciate the important history behind it.
In the middle of the casebook, you will also find the well-known sea-horse.
What you will notice about the dial of the Speedmaster .005 is that it has a very rich texture. Both on the hands and the dial.
The base is painted black, and unlike other Speedmasters which have a ceramic polished dial, the matte texture on this reference gives it so much more personality and appeal. This is especially true when the light hits it and you will be able to fully experience how it shines.
The indices and hands have been painted white and filled with luminous material. Against the black dial, it creates a great contrast which makes for really good legibility. The lime is not as good on a diver, as you would expect, but because of the good contrast between the hands and dial, the watch is still easily legible, even in poor lit rooms. Plus, with a brief charge, you will be able to see the lime shine for many hours. The lume starts to get a little dim after about 6 hours.
The three sub-dials create perfect symmetry and prevent the dial from becoming boring and flat. What is also worth noting is that the dial is not completely flat. Instead, the dial is domed/sloped which, together with the domed sapphire crystal creates a really interesting effect.
The dial has fine white printed sub-second markings with luminous fill applied to the hour index markers as well as the white second, minute, and hour hands.
The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Profession ref 3220.127.116.11.01.005 is actually available in three different configurations.
But the most common configuration that people choose is on the steel bracelet.
The Speedmaster .005 is available to purchase on a leather strap, on the steel bracelet, and on the NATO strap.
Of course, the price between these models varies slightly, but not a lot.
Because the watch with the steel bracelet is the ”standard” set, that’s what we will be focusing on.
The Speedmaster .005 bracelet feels solid and qualitative – as you would expect. Just like the case, the bracelet combines bushed with polished elements. It opens and closes with a folding clasp that has the Omega logo, and beneath it ”Speedmaster” and ”Professional”. The clasp is completely brushed, and this will attract a bit of scratches and hairlines over time. It is opened with two buttons on the side of the clasp.
The good thing about this bracelet is that it offers many links for adjusting the size. Some bracelets have limited adjustable links, but if you look at the bracelet from the side, you can see the links that have exposed screws.
The bracelet is not the most comfortable sports bracelets out there, partly because it doesn’t taper. But it does the trick and looks quite good on the Speedmaster .005.
The Speedmaster set
The Omega Speedmaster 318.104.22.168.01.005 comes in a luxurious presentation box that makes unboxing it an occasion in itself.
Omega introduced the new set in 2014, and this is an excellent demonstration of Omega trying to make their watches seem more luxurious by increasing the size of the boxes their watches are supplied in. Previously, the Omega Speedmaster came in a small red faux leather box, like most other Omega watches. And the truth is that the way something is presented has a great effect on how we perceive it. So this large and luxurious box really helps improve the unboxing experience and the perceived value of the watch.
The watch is presented in a huge black box that opens up on both sides. Inside of the outer box, you have a ‘watch chest’, which has been made in a textured black fabric textured fabric that gives a sense of durability. This fabric box unclips by two hooks and upon opening it, you are positively welcomed. Simultaneously, the inside of the case is comparatively quite minimal with a simple back finish. The accessories that are included are neatly hidden away in two compartments. In the first compartment, you have alternative watch straps (a ‘NATO’ and a Velcro strap), a tool for removing the bracelet and replacement spring bars. In the second compartment, you have an Omega loupe.
If you lift the ”main” box, the textured fabric box, you also have a photographic book on the Speedmaster that talks about its history and connection to space. You will also have an instruction manual for removing the bracelet.
Inside the box, you will find the following:
Inside the box, we have a good selection of extras including:
- An Omega branded loupe with a tachymeter bezel
- An Omega spring bar replacement tool
- 2 additional spring bars
- A G10/NATO fabric strap in black
- A NASA velcro watch strap (for all aspiring astronauts)
- One Speedmaster steel paperweight
Behind the watch chest, you will also find an Omega cardholder with Pictograms, and red Operating instructions manual
While the box is really nice, it takes up a lot of space! You just figure out where to store it.
Additional thoughts about the Omega Speedmaster 322.214.171.124.01.005
The Omega Speedmaster 3126.96.36.199.01.005 is and will remain a future classic. It has been appreciated and loved for decades by astronauts and collectors alike. If we are going to try and find something negative about this watch, it could be that it does not have long-lasting materials. For example, Rolex does everything they can to use materials that won’t tarnish or fade over time so that the watch continues to look just the way it did upon purchase. However, with the Omega having a hesalite crystal and an aluminum bezel that both fades and scratches, this Speedmaster will show inevitable signs of aging.
Of course, many find charm in this, but others may be afraid to use it.
Which modern Speedmaster is closest to the original Moonwatch?
As you have probably understood by now, the Omega Speedmaster 3188.8.131.52.01.001 that we have focused on in this article is the reference among the Speedmaster references that stays the truest to the original. So if you want the original Moonwatch reference, but don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for it, the Speedmaster 3184.108.40.206.01.001 is a great alternative.
It has a manual wound movement, based on the movement used for the original Moonwatch, it has a hesalite crystal, a three-dial chronograph, no date function, a black dial, a black tachymeter bezel, and a solid case back. When comparing the original and the .005, some people may even have a hard time telling them apart.
Is the Omega Speedmaster 3220.127.116.11.01.001 good as a Daily Watch
The Omega Speedmaster 318.104.22.168.01.001 is a great everyday watch. However, as mentioned, the watch will acquire inevitable signs of wear, in particular on the crystal. But again, this can easily be polished out. Plus, a lot of people who own it find charm in the scratches on the crystal.
Apart from that, this watch is a perfect daily wearer. Despite originally being a racing chronograph, this watch works surprisingly well on most occasions. It looks great for casual wear, but it also complements your outfit perfectly when you are dressed more formal. The size is a perfect all-around size that both slides under the cuff discreetly, but at the same time looks sporty enough to be worn on casual occasions as well.
Is Omega Speedmaster a good investment?
Now to the inevitable question. Is the Omega Speedmaster a good investment? Well, if you look at the vintage Speedmasters today, it is obvious that they are good investments as they sell for prices considerably higher than they originally retailed for. The Omega Speedmaster is Omega’s most important iconic model, and therefore, it is the most popular model. The Speedmaster has played an important role for Omega and it has gained a lot of fans and enthusiasts.
Furthermore, Omega regularly increases its prices for its watches, including the Speedmaster, and this also naturally affects the secondhand value of an Omega watch, and how good of an investment it will be in the long run.
Now, have in mind that the thing with investments is that you can never know for sure whether it is good or not, but if you look at the past, the future looks good for the future secondhand value of Omega Speedmaster watches. The prices of modern Speedmasters, like the .005 may not skyrocket, but they will most likely remain stable and increase slightly over the years.