A complete review of the Omega Speedmaster
The Omega Speedmaster is one of the most recognisable luxury watches in the world. With such an illustrious past, it’s difficult to write an Omega Speedmaster review without focusing on its history, how the range has evolved over the years and ultimately what makes the Omega brand so popular.
The Speedmaster name can be traced back to 1957 when it was introduced as a sports/racing chronograph. By then, the Omega brand was already synonymous with sporting events, having been named as the Olympic Games’ official timekeeper. An association with such a renowned sporting event meant that Omega was already positioned to be trusted as a reliable watchmaker, although the brand has another unique selling point up its sleeve, too.
First watch on the moon
In an era of optimism, limitless possibility and international competition, NASA had chosen Omega to provide chronographs for each of its manned missions to space, including the successful Apollo programme. Omega had been forced to compete with other highly skilled watch manufacturers like Longines and Rolex for the honour, and its complications went through rigorous testing to ensure they could withstand going where man had never gone before.
The result is an incredibly robust and durable timepiece which is built to last. The fact that original Omega Speedmaster timepieces continue to command high prices on the resale market is testament to the engineering prowess of the manufacturer, the timeless design of the watch and the demand to own a unique piece of history.
The era of the professional
After Omega had been chosen as the official NASA watch manufacturer, the Speedmaster received the addendum of ‘Professional’ to its name. Professional these timepieces certainly were, as one was used to time a precise re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere after the internal systems of the Apollo 13 rocket had failed. Ultimately, this helped to save the lives of all crew on-board and landed the Omega Speedmaster Professional with a Snoopy award. To commemorate the feat, Omega even released a limited-edition ‘Snoopy’ timepiece.
With both sporting prowess and space exploration under its belt, the Omega Speedmaster continued to grow in popularity. This demand led to the development of new models which boasted different complications, dial and sizes. However, despite subtle differences, the main iconic design remained largely unchanged – as it does to this day. In fact, Omega still manufactures the original Speedmaster “moonwatch” design all these years later. It's true what they say: the classics never go out of style.
Classic case design
While some may consider a case diameter of 42mm as slightly large or clunky, the Omega Speedmaster must be witnessed first-hand to be believed. Yes, on paper the case might seem large – however, the dial measures just 34mm in diameter, and the overall case is angled, which makes watch seem much more intricate than the initial measurements suggest. The tachymeter scale is set upon the outer bezel, which further helps the watch to appear more compact.
The indices and hands of the dial are painted white and filled with luminous material, to make telling the time in the dark as easy as can be. These strikingly vibrant details contrast wonderfully against the classic grey dial, even when the lume itself hasn’t been charged. This is useful because as much as the Omega Speedmaster represents a piece of history, it also functions perfectly as a watch for daily wear. It’s reliable, it’s historic, and it’s fashionable; what’s not to like?
Understanding the Omega Speedmaster chronograph
When it comes to value for money, the best Omega Speedmaster to buy is one which features an 1861 calibre chronograph. There’s something nostalgic about the morning ritual of winding your watch at breakfast time that you simply don’t get to enjoy with more modern timepieces. Winding your own watch helps you connect more with the timepiece – and while the 1861 calibre chronograph can be loud in comparison to other watches, it’s anything but disruptive.
In silence, you may notice a dull rhythmic tick which is personal to you – because, without your winding up of the watch, it wouldn’t function. It’s nice to feel a human connection to something so mechanical, and it’s one of the joys of owning a classic Omega Speedmaster.
The Omega Speedmaster from a design perspective
While the mechanics and engineering of the Speedmaster have long been established, it’s hard to deny that from an aesthetic perspective it’s almost faultless. Any luxury watch enthusiast will instantly recognise the Speedmaster, and anybody who owns a Speedmaster will understand that it complements practically any outfit that you wear. It’s a true all-rounder for all occasions and is something of a contradiction in that it’s rugged yet delicate; intricate yet simple, and professional yet casual all at the same time.
Materials of the Omega Speedmaster
Classic watch fans will be aware than older Speedmaster models are likely to feature materials which are less scratch-resistant than modern examples. For example, older Speedmaster models feature hesalite crystal glass and aluminium bezels, both of which are easily damaged or scratched. This can take a little bit of enjoyment out of wearing older Speedmaster watches, particularly if you’re intending on undertaking some sporting activity while doing so. It could be the case that you even become paranoid about damaging your watch, although in fairness these materials can withstand minor knocks, bumps and scratches without becoming noticeably scuffed.
For those who want the Speedmaster design combined with more robust engineering, the good news is that Omega now manufactures the original Moonwatch design with the option of sapphire crystal instead of hesalite. However, it’s worth pointing out that NASA originally opted for hesalite over sapphire because it was less likely to shatter and endanger Apollo crew members. It’s nice to have the option – if you’re a purist, opt for hesalite; if you want scratch protection, choose sapphire.
For all the talk of being the first watch on the moon, the Speedmaster’s credentials in the ocean are just as impressive. Moderate moisture won’t do anything to damage the watch, which is resistant up to 50 metres.
It is often said that there are two different types of Speedmaster owner: those who wouldn’t dare to even wash their hands while wearing a Speedy, and those who will happily set sail on a windswept adventure wearing theirs. While the choice is yours, it’s refreshing to know that all models are guaranteed to be water-resistant for up to 50 metres – this is truly a watch for adventurers, regardless of whether you’re sailing the seas, traversing the stars or simply enjoying some leisure time.
Is the Omega Speedmaster a certified chronometer?
Contrary to popular belief, the Omega Speedmaster is not a certified chronometer. While it is accurate enough for daily use, it is possible to get professionally certified chronographs for a similar price. However, with the Speedmaster, you’re not paying for a certified chronograph – instead, you’re purchasing a piece of heritage; a reminder of mankind’s journey to the moon and stars, if you will.
Unboxing the Omega Speedmaster
There’s something special about beginning a lifelong journey with an Omega Speedmaster. The branded outer box features a gate-like opening which reveals a secure box made from canvas. When you open the inner box, you’re immediately greeted by a classic Speedmaster complete with a collectable coin which matches the reverse of the watch case – this feels like a moment to truly savour.
Elsewhere in the box, you’ll also find a series of tools which are useful for inspecting your watch or changing its strap, which you’ll want to keep hold of in the event of your timepiece requiring repairs, or simply on the off-chance that you want to refresh the look of your Speedmaster in the future.
Below the canvas box, you’ll find a book which provides you with the entire history of Omega’s “moonwatch”. It’s incredibly well-written and has the effect of making you want to show off your Speedmaster as soon as possible.
While the box itself is eminently collectable, it can be difficult to store due to its weight and size. That said, if you love your watch, you might want to consider finding some premium shelf space for the box too, as it is a work of art in itself.
There’s something refreshing about wearing a new watch, but after a few weeks or months, things can begin to feel a little stale. Thankfully, there are lots of new strap options available to give your Omega Speedmaster that “brand-new” feeling once again.
Of course, not all Omega straps are built for their fashion appeal. Accessories like the Classic Bond NATO strap provide the wearer with additional security – and with good reason. After all, nobody wants to lose their luxury Omega timepiece in the wild.
Whatever the occasion, you’ll be certain to find the right accessory from Omega’s approved list of designers. From casual and sporty to clean and classy, you’ll be amazed at how a quick strap-change can give your Speedmaster a new lease of life. This versatility is certainly part of the appeal for thousands of Speedmaster owners around the world.
How much is an Omega Speedmaster?
The price of an Omega Speedmaster can vary dependent on its age, model and provenance. For example, an original Omega Speedmaster from the 1960s typically fetches in the region of £15,000 on the resale market. In contrast, an unworn Speedmaster from 2020 could fetch anywhere between £4,000 - £8,000.
Limited edition models, rare models and timepieces which have been previously owned by persons of note all command higher price tags. Ultimately, if you’re uncertain of how much your Omega Speedmaster is worth, it might be worthwhile doing some research online or contacting an expert to help with a valuation.
Is the Omega Speedmaster a good investment?
As one of the world’s most iconic watches, it’s fair to say that the Omega Speedmaster is a fantastic investment. Older models tend to appreciate in value over time, particularly if they are kept in perfect (unworn or near-unworn) condition.
Regardless of whether you’re thinking of buying a classic or modern Speedmaster, you’ll gain the satisfaction of owning an iconic luxury watch which also functions as an investment for further down the line. It makes sense to purchase a classic timepiece which retains its value, and there are few luxury watches which fit the bill quite like the Omega Speedmaster.
The Omega Speedmaster is a fantastic mechanical chronograph which essentially feels like wearing a piece of history. It’s also surprisingly versatile in terms of the outfits you can pair it with, and the applications it offers. The Speedmaster is held in high regard around the world with good reason: it’s a classic example of Swiss design which offers practicality and style – and with so many customisation options, it’s versatile enough to wear on a daily basis.
As an investment, it’s perfect; as a daily-wear watch, it’s even better. You simply cannot go wrong with an Omega Speedmaster in terms of practicality or luxury. It’s the watch you’ll want to wear to functions and events, but it’s also an heirloom for you and your family to treasure for generations to come. After all, who wouldn’t want to own the first watch worn on the moon?
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