First Look: The Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer LE

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It really should come as no surprise, but once again Omega released a limited edition Speedmaster, and it’s pretty damn cool. In the last few years, Omega seems to have really gotten a grip on who is buying their limited editions, catering more and more to the enthusiast crowd rather than the general consumer. This year’s CK2998 Pulsometer Speedmaster feels not just like it was designed for the enthusiasts, but frankly like it was designed by them, too.

The CK2998 Pulsometer LE, like its too-similarly named older blue brother (CK2998 LE) is based on the straight lugged “First Omega in Space” reissue from a few years back that is, in turn, based on the original CK2998 from 1959 (which was worn into space by Wally Schirra in 1962). Well, sort of. When that watch was released, alongside of it was a Sedna Gold version, which featured a brown panda dial that visually referred to a very rare and much sought after Japanese LE from 1997, dubbed the Golden Panda, which featured a solid gold case and a black and white panda dial.

With the pedigree out of the way, the new CK2998 Pulsometer is a fun iteration on the format that frankly I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more fanfare at this year’s Baselworld.

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The design should be pretty self-evident at this point. You have the 39.7mm, straight-lug case featuring the manual-wound caliber 1861, a sapphire crystal, a deeply stamped case back and a black and white true panda dial. One unexpected detail is the use of a red seconds hand and the red “Speedmaster” text on the dial, which perhaps is a nod to the Schumacher Chronometer, ref. 3559.32.00. Or, perhaps it’s just the kind of fun detail that watch enthusiasts will appreciate.

The most curious detail is definitely the pulsometer scale bezel. A nod to Speedmaster history, pulsometer scales have been available for special-order since the ’60s. Vintage versions have a strange look to them as they are calibrated for 15 pulsations, so much of the bezel is actually left blank. After all, if you or your patient’s pulse drops below 40, things are not going too well.

The new model goes for a 30 pulsations scale, which extends around the entirety of the insert. On one hand, this looks more normal, but on the other, it’s not the  brand’s true heritage (though neither is the panda dial). I have to admit that the emptiness of the original is a charming quirk. Graphic implementation aside, the bezel insert, like the blue CK2998, is done in ceramic giving it a high-gloss finish and solid scratch resistance. New for 2018, the white index is actually enamel rather than paint, lume, or a metal inlay. This gives the index a clean, true-white tone, a high-gloss finish, and the promise that the markings won’t yellow over time.

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Though my time with the watch was brief and fleeting, it made an impression. It’s a Speedy after all, and I’m a confessed fan. Black and white panda dials are always striking, somehow more so in Speedmaster form, so the watch grabs your eye and doesn’t let go. The red highlights, which almost feel like aftermarket mods, add a rare punch of color to the design and act as a visual center point for the dial. The bezel looks great shining in the light, while the pulsations index changes up the texture just a bit. And while I prefer the twisted-lug, 42mm Speedmaster Professional case, the 39.7mm straight lug FOIS does wear very well.

So, there you have it—Omega’s newest Speedmaster, limited to 2998 pieces, which will sell out faster than you can say “gradué pour 30 pulsations.” It’s a gorgeous version of the icon, if quite non-traditional. My only real issue with the watch, which wouldn’t prevent me from owning or wearing it, is given that a panda dial with a red hand feels so automotive-inspired and racing-oriented, I’m not sure if this was the right time to break out the pulsations bezel.

Pricing and availability are TBD, but the previous blue CK2998 was around $6,500 at launch. Omega

Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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