Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Hesalite VS Sapphire Crystal – which is the best?
We have covered this topic many times before, but the Omega Speedmaster is truly one of the most iconic watches of all time that is a must-have in your collection.
The Omega Speedmaster was first released in the 60s and was from the beginning watch made for racing. However, the Speedmaster competed with many other watch brands such as Bulova in order to create a watch that was able to handle the difficult tasks an astronaut is put up to in space – more specifically for NASA. In 1969 the Omega Speedmaster was the first watch on the moon, and that truly is a heritage Omega carries with them and still promotes til this day.
With that said, the Omega Speedmaster is a really affordable luxury watch that carries a lot of legacies and is well recognized among collectors and watch enthusiasts.
Having a closer look at the Speedmaster collection, you will find that Omega offers a vast selection of different Speedmasters. The all-time classic Speedmaster will forever be the classic Moonwatch with a black dial and a stainless steel bracelet. However, when you decide which Speedmaster to go for, you will quickly see that you can choose from two different Speedmaster “Moonwatches”:
The Speedmaster Moonwatch Sapphire reference 318.104.22.168.01.006 and the Speedmaster Moonwatch Hesalite reference 322.214.171.124.01.005. To most, they may look identical. But they are in fact not. What are the differences between these two watches and which one should you go for?
The Speedmaster Moonwatch Sapphire reference 3126.96.36.199.01.006
The Omega Speedmaster with the sapphire Chrystal is often referred to as the ”Sapphire Sandwich”, this as the watch has a see-through case back that displays the decorated caliber 1863. The model comes with the same accessories as the Hesalite version but is different in a few other ways. Here are the features of the ”Sapphire Sandwich” that makes it different from the Hesalite version Moonwatch. A downside to this watch is that if you do accidentally scratch it, or even crack the crystal, it is expensive to repair, and may result in the need of a service as small shards can find their way the dial and movement and create a lot of damage.
The Caliber 1863 is in fact a modified version of the caliber 1861 which is in the hesalite version of the Moonwatch. This caliber is of course decorated by Omega, as this model as previously mentioned has a see-through case back. The movement is mechanical and hand-wound.
In terms of size, both Speedmaster versions measure 42mm. The thickness/height is also the same.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch Hesalite reference 3188.8.131.52.01.005
This is the closest-to-the-original version of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch worn in space as this mechanical and material setup is the same that was on the moon. The watch features a hesalite plexiglass which is soft and gives the watch a more doomed look. Plexi/hesalite tends to be loved or hated depending on how you are planning to wear your watch.
As plexiglass, or hesalite, is a very soft material, the crystal tends to get scratches quite easily. The advantage of having a hesalite plexiglass is that the glass can be polished and be made to look like new with, for example, toothpaste, or other polishing paste. For very small and only superficial hairlines regular toothpaste will do just fine.
The hesalite version also has a manual-wound caliber 1861. This for many is very satisfying to wind up every morning as a part of the daily routines. It creates a connection between the watch and the owner. The case-back unlike the Sapphire version does not display the movement, but does have the classical printing ”The first watch worn on the moon”, and the emblem of a seahorse with the text Speedmaster written above it. A benefit of the hesalite crystal is that it is cheap to replace, shall you ever need to.
Both watches are great, and they do not differ from each other too much. Which model you choose should be based on how you are planning to use your watch, or just asking yourselves 2 simple questions:
Is sapphire more important than a hesalite Plexi-crystal? If the answer is yes you should choose the Sapphire version.
If you don’t mind the hesalite version you could then ask yourself: Do I want to be able to look at and admire the movement, or am I fine with having a regular case back?
There are some materials and differences in the movement when comparing these to models. Having in consideration what you prefer by asking yourself the questions above, or if you already have a preference without comparing the watches, the Speedmaster is truly one of the greatest watches of all times. The legendary history of the Speedmaster as the first watch worn on the moon is interesting even to this day. The esthetics of the Speedmaster are so appealing too.
The Legendary Moonwatch will always be a piece of history, and no matter if this is your first luxury watch or your 100, it will always be a classical watch to include in your collection.
Question: Which of the two references do you prefer and why?