Today is a big day for the Omega Speedmaster, as it received a long awaited update that is sure to please many and create a lot of discussion within our community. The Speedmaster is a watch that everyone has an opinion on – Instagram and the various watch forums are filled with hot takes about the endless limited edition variants, the benefits and detriments of the Speedy Reduced, and the virtues and pitfalls of collecting vintage Speedmasters. Something that has remained relatively constant for decades, however, has been the standard “Moonwatch,” the one with the “Flight qualified by NASA…” language on the caseback, and, most importantly, the stalwart caliber 1861 beating away inside. This relatively simple hand wound chronograph caliber traces its lineage to Omega’s Caliber 321, which itself has roots with Lemania, one of the most important movement makers of the 20th century. Even beyond the moon landing, there’s a ton of history here, so it’s not a small thing when there’s an update to the movement inside the moonwatch.
The new Moonwatch features the updated Caliber 3861, which is essentially the 1861 fitted with a co-axial escapement and put through Omega’s rigorous METAS testing process. The 3861 is a relatively new movement, making its debut in a solid gold Speedmaster to commemorate the Apollo 11 anniversary back in 2019, and has been featured in a handful of special Speedmasters since then, including the recently announced Silver Snoopy. With the 3861 out in the world in these various hard to get Speedmasters, many observers felt it was only a matter of time before it made its way into the plain old Moonwatch, and that day has finally come. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 1861, being robust enough for space, after all, it could be said that it’s perhaps a little long in the tooth. The 3861 is a thoroughly modern Omega caliber, complete with extreme magnetic resistance up to 15,000 gauss, modern materials, and so on.
What’s really interesting about this release, though, is that what we’re seeing is more than just a movement swap. Omega has taken the opportunity to update and enhance other aspects of the Speedmaster Professional, creating what is truly a next generation product with its own distinct look and feel. At first glance, you might not notice all of the changes, as they’re quite subtle and, I think, geared towards vintage enthusiasts who revel in the minutiae that is so much a part of being a Speedmaster enthusiast, but there’s actually quite a bit to take in.
Let’s get this out of the way – yes, the bezel (still aluminum) has the all important “dot over 90” or “DON” layout. Old school Speedy nuts should be overjoyed by this, although my first thought is that it’s going to wreak havoc on the vintage market if new DON bezels could reasonably be passed off as vintage to unsuspecting customers. Time will tell on that one – my hope and suspicion is that there are incredibly small changes to the new bezel that should make it fairly obvious it’s new upon close inspection. This Speedmaster also sees the return of the stepped dial, a design element that has been absent from modern Speedys for years, and will add a nice touch of depth to an otherwise flat (literally and figuratively) dial. The minute track also sees a small change, with more clearly defined delineations that indicate fractional seconds.
When it comes to the case, Omega has made a small adjustment to the chronograph pushers, flattening them out a bit, giving them a more traditional “pump pusher” profile. They’re just a little more defined, and make the previous iteration look a bit mushy by comparison. The bracelet is a steel version of the gold Apollo 11 anniversary watch linked above, and is fully brushed. The clasp is new, but again evokes styles of the past.
All of these changes add up to a slightly more refined Speedy Pro with some more pronounced vintage cues, matched with a movement that takes advantage of Omega’s best technology. Putting aside objectivity for a moment, this is a great update that I’m personally very excited about, as it’s not only a great looking watch with an updated caliber, but evidence that Omega, as a brand, hears their most vocal supporters very clearly. This is both an exciting mass market product, which is something the Moonwatch needs to be, and a knowing nod to the enthusiast community. That’s a difficult line to walk, but it seems like Omega has pulled it off.
There are a total of four new watches available as part of this update: the traditional Hesalite crystal Moonwatch ($5,950 on a strap, $6,300 on a bracelet), a reference with a sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback ($7,150), and versions in both Sedna ($34,800) and Canopus white gold, with a white dial ($45,300). The new Speedmasters are available now through authorized Omega channels. Omega