Omega surprised us yesterday with the release of an all new chronograph dubbed the Omega Speedmaster Chronoscope. This is essentially the debut of a new collection for Omega, with a total of three Chronoscope dial variants in stainless steel, plus an additional reference in their “Bronze Gold” alloy, which first appeared in the re-launch of the Seamaster 300 earlier this year. The new Chronoscope is an interesting mix of the old and new, with an intentionally busy dial meant to evoke a period of time that predates much of the current inspiration for new vintage inspired watch designs, a case that for all intents and purposes seems to be roughly equivalent to that of a modern Speedmaster Pro, and an interesting and beautifully decorated movement. Let’s get into it.
The headline grabbing feature of these new watches is the dial, which Omega tells us is meant to pay tribute to classic “snail” design dials that were popular in the 1940s. These watches used multiple, overlapping scales so that the wearer could make calculations relating to a variety of measurements. This dial features a tachymeter scale (for measuring speed based on distance traveled), a pulsometer scale (for measuring the rate of a beating heart), and, my personal favorite, a telemeter scale, which measures distance based on the speed of sound, and can be used to outrun artillery fire if you’re ever in that unfortunate position. Simply observe the flash of canon-fire, start the chronograph, and then stop it when you hear the explosion. The scale will tell you how far away you are from the source of the artillery. The final step, of course, is to run away, if necessary. A slightly more mundane but practical use for the telemeter scale is to gauge your current distance from an electrical storm.
As you can see in the photos provided by Omega, these scales are tightly packed into an interior section of the dial, and overlap the sub registers at 9:00 and 3:00 in a way that is sure to trigger many collectors who prize clean, symmetrical, and unfussy dials. The Chronoscope dial has none of those attributes, but seems to be a remarkably faithful rendering of what in the 1940s could be described as a true tool watch. At launch, the Chronoscope is available in stainless steel (on a bracelet or strap) with dials in white with blue accents, white with black sub registers and red accents, and blue with white sub registers. The Bronze Gold version of the Chronoscope has a chocolate brown dial with white sub registers and gold accents throughout.
The movement powering these watches is Omega’s Calibre 9908, which is a hand wound version of the Calibre 9900, seen frequently throughout the Speedmaster Racing collection, as well as in some Planet Oceans in recent years. A notable aspect of this movement is the stacked hands on the 3:00 chronograph register, from which one times both the hours and minutes, which is a very different layout than what you might be used to if you’re coming to this watch from the comfort of a Speedy Pro.
Omega’s decision to go with a hand wound movement for the Chronoscope further ties it to watches of the 1940s, and provides an opportunity to take in some impressive movement decoration, which features what Omega refers to as ‘Geneva waves” that start at the balance wheel, rather than the center of the watch. It’s rather nice looking, and of course the movement is up to date from a technical perspective as a certified Master Chronometer, passing the various METAS tests for accuracy, magnetic resistance, and so forth.
That brings us to the feature of this watch that is, at first glance, most bewildering: the 43mm case. It would appear from an examination of the photos to have the same lines as a standard Speedmaster Professional, but measures a millimeter larger, putting it right between the Pro and the Speedmaster Racing, which measures 44.25mm (and wears like it, in my opinion). There doesn’t appear to be another Speedmaster in the collection with a diameter measuring 43mm, so this would seem to be a brand new case. If you’re at all familiar with the old chronographs the Chronoscope is based on, it’s a bit jarring to see a dial like this in what is basically a Speedy case. This watch essentially combines design hallmarks of the 40s with those of the 60s in a way that is unexpected, to say the least. Remember: watches with these snailed dials would have been sized well under 40mm in their day.
The all new Speedmaster Chronoscope is available now through authorized Omega channels. The retail price is $8,300 for steel models on a strap, and $8,650 if you go with the bracelet. The Bronze Gold version has a retail price of $14,100. Omega