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BaselWorld 2014: Belles of the Fair: A Tale of Two Omega Speedmasters

by Robin Lim on May 16, 2014

The Omega Speedmaster, also affectionately known as the “Moonwatch”, is perhaps one of the most iconic and recognized timepieces in the world of horology thanks to its provenance as the first watch that went onto the moon in 1969. In this year’s BaselWorld, Omega decides to add two more Speedmasters into their collection- the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition and the updated Omega Speedmaster Mark II.

I believe I have mentioned this many times, but Omega is a brand that is really close to my heart. Even though the first watch that I have bought for myself was a classic Seamaster, but what I wanted back then (and even till now) was a Speedmaster. The reasons are simple- the Speedmaster has a beautiful and iconic design, and the story behind the watch is just fascinating. That compelled me to fall in love with this watch, even till today.

The Deployant Team knew that Omega have a penchant for making “Limited Edition” timepieces upon certain milestones, which was why we were pretty excited as the days to this year’s BaselWorld exhibition drew closer. This year, being the 45th year since Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, made us believed that Omega have something up their sleeves for the Speedmaster. And boy, our intuitions were right!

speedmaster-dial

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition.

First up, we have the Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition. Unlike some “Limited Edition” Speedmasters, this one is pretty special. One of the most conspicuous feature of this Speedmaster would be the dial of the watch. In this edition, the Speedmaster is produced with a black PVD dial. The sub-dials, minute markers, and the details on the dial (e.g. the brand and model) of the watch are produced using a special laser engraving method that removes the material surrounding these features. The end result is a beautiful dial with unique detailing; something that is vastly different from what we usually see.

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The color scheme of the face of the watch is tastefully done too. The black PVD dial contrasted very well with the 18K red gold indices and hands of the watch (do note that the central chronograph hand is red gold-plated though). This made the red gold stands out, which in turn makes the Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Speedmaster even more special.

speedmaster

This Speedmaster features a NATO-inspired fabric strap, instead of the usual metal bracelet or leather strap.

The 42 mm sized Speedmaster Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited Edition is cased in brushed grade-2 titanium, with the 18K Omega Sedna gold bezel which surrounds the matte black ceramic ring that features the iconic tachymeter scale. The heart of the watch is powered by the usual manual-winding Calibre 1861. This Speedmaster also comes with a NATO-inspired fabric strap, which is said to be more comfortable on the wrist itself. I am, however, not really a fan of NATO straps, but we believe the reason for Omega’s choice is that the strap is a way of paying homage to the Speedmasters that were worn on the moon.

This Speedmaster is certainly very unique indeed, thanks to the dial and the color scheme of the watch. However, this variant of the Speedmaster is relatively limited; only 1969 pieces were made. It is a good thing for the owners though, since they might not probably find as many people having such a beautiful and special Speedmaster as they do.

The reintorduced Omega Speedmaster Mark II.

The reintorduced Omega Speedmaster Mark II.

Next up, we have the reintroduced Omega Speedmaster Mark II. The Omega Speedmaster Mark II was first introduced in 1969. 45 years later, Omega relaunched the highly sought-after Speedmaster Mark II, but this time round it is a little wee bit more different than what we have expected.

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In terms of the design, the differences between the old and the new Speedmaster Mark II is pretty subtle. The main difference would be the addition of the date display, at the 6 o’clock position of the watch itself. To be honest, we do not really like the date display, as it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb.  The watch could have easily done without the date; it would have made the dial much more “cleaner”.

In the dark, however, the differences would be more obvious. The tachymetre scale on the sapphire crystal is transparent, and therefore it is illuminated from beneath by an aluminium ring filled with Super-LumiNova (when the watch is worn in the dark, of course). This makes the Speedmaster Mark II a little more special than the original one.

Can you tell if this Speedmaster Mark II is the original or the relaunched version?

Can you tell if this Speedmaster Mark II is the original or the relaunched version?

As mentioned, there is not much difference in terms of the design of the watch. The greatest difference, however, lies in the heart of the Speedmaster Mark II itself. In the relaunched version, the Speedmaster Mark II features an automatic movement (unlike the manual-winding calibre 1861 which was featured in the original Mark II). Omega used the Co-Axial Calibre 3330 self-winding movement, which features a Si14 silicon balance spring, a column-wheel chronograph mechanism, and a date display. Again, we am not a fan of this change, as we prefer the original manual-winding mechanism. But then again, the self-winding movement would be easier for the owner to operate the watch. It boils down to personal preference, really. The “purist” in us triumphs practicality, which may explains why we may be irrational at times. But I digressed.

Would you have chosen the original or the relaunched Speedmaster Mark II?

Would you have chosen the original or the relaunched Speedmaster Mark II?

Overall, the relaunched Speedmaster Mark II is Omega’s modern take on the original Mark II. No doubt, the relaunched Mark II is a better watch, mechanically. But we are still suckers for hand-winding Speedmasters, and we would pick the original Mark II anyday. Not that there is anything wrong with the relaunched version, but for us, a Speedmaster has to be a hand-wounded watch.

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