Review of the Omega Speedmaster
Review of the Omega Speedmaster
By: John B. Holbrook, II
November 23rd, 2010
The Omega Speedmaster is one of the most famous and recognizable watches in the world. NASA chose the Speedmaster, after rigorous torture tests of several different watches, to be the standard issue watch for all astronauts in both the Gemini and Apollo space missions. The astronauts of Apollo XIII literally owe their lives to a Speedmaster which helped them with course corrections when an explosion rendered their on board instruments inoperative. Clearly the “Moon Watch” is steeped in history and tradition, and a worthy addition to any watch enthusiasts collection.
Beginning with the case of the Speedmaster Professional, the stainless steel case has a blend of finishes applied – satin-finished sides, polished beveled edges. The way the bezel angles outward as it rises from the case is quite stunning. The case is an ample 42mm in diameter, and is water resistant down to 50 meters, or 167 feet – not particularly water resistant, but then again the astronauts didn’t do much swimming on the Moon anyway. The case back features the famous engraving “First Watch Worn On The Moon” as well as proclaiming its flight qualification status by NASA.
The dial of the Speedmaster Professional is probably is strongest and most enduring quality – it may well be the most legibly designed and executed chronograph dial ever conceived. The matte black dial features white graduated hour and minute markings with white stick hands, and the subdials have the same configuration. Superluminova is the luminescent compound of choice to provide low-light visibility for the Speedmaster Pro, but because the surface area on which it is applied is small, the legibility in low-light conditions isn’t stellar, but acceptable. The Speedmaster Professional dial is protected by the famous Omega “Hesalite” crystal.
The Speedmaster bracelet and clasp are a marvelous blend of beauty, comfort, and functionality. The stainless steel bracelet is composed of links held together with friction pins. The links are primarily done in a brushed finish, but the center link has polished outer edges. These polished accents tie in nicely with the polished case, and bring out the dress appeal of the watch without unduly sacrificing the durability provided by the predominantly brushed finish – contributing greatly to the wardrobe versatility of the coveted “Moon Watch.” The two button clasp is elegant in its execution, and extremely sturdy. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a clasp design I think of more highly. Optimal comfort can be attained by the use of the fine adjustment pin located in the clasp.
Within the case of the Omega Speedmaster Professional beats the Lemania based Omega Calibre 1861 (Lemania 1873, with Rhodium plating applied). This hand wound mechanical movement has a 48 hour power reserve, and a balance wheel with a beat-speed of 21,600 bph, and is notably designed with cam activated chronograph functions. While the Omega caliber 1861 is legendary for its accuracy and robust performance, Omega has never chosen to submit the caliber to COSC for chronometer certification, though I’ve little doubt that the caliber 1861 pass with flying colors. I suppose in the eyes of Omega, the value of flight certification from NASA is a greater proof and testament to the accuracy and performance of the watch and its movement than COSC testing and certification.
Few watches in horological history epitomize the term “classic” as well as the Omega Speedmaster Professional (Reference 3570.50.00). Few watches can proclaim a longer uninterrupted production status than the famous “Moon Watch.” When one considers the extreme conditions to which the watch was put during the famous Apollo XIII mission (among others) – the freezing cold of space, the vibration and G-force of lift-off and re-entry, operating in zero gravity – it is a testament to the standard build quality of the watch that it came through unscathed. The retail price of the watch is just $3850.00. When one considers the tremendous history behind this watch, as well as the incredible performance of the piece, the value delivered by the “Speedy Pro” is nearly unparalleled.
*All text and images contained in this review are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.