Today, Omega has unveiled a new Speedmaster that their social media team has been teasing aggressively for the past few weeks. They promised a “tiny device” delivering a “massive change,” and to that end the announcement today is really more about mechanics than a new watch. There is a new watch, of course, but to the extent that today’s news excites you, it will almost certainly be a result of a very small component that Omega has completely rethought.
The Speedmaster Super Racing is the first timepiece from Omega to feature what they’re calling “Spirate” technology. Spirate is essentially a new method of movement regulation by way of a small knob connected to the balance that allows a watchmaker to adjust the rate in increments down to the tenth of a second. Omega claims that the end result is a movement that’s accurate to within 0/+2 seconds per day. Again, this is a mechanical movement that is, yes, METAS certified to be within two seconds per day. That’s Spring Drive level accuracy, without the benefit of quartz derived regulation. Assuming Spirate works as advertised (there’s no reason not to assume that given Omega’s proficiency in making highly accurate movements at a large scale) this is an enormously impressive accomplishment.
How does it work, exactly? Omega had to develop an entirely new silicon balance spring that can be adjusted for stiffness via a mechanism connected to the balance bridge (easily visible through the sapphire caseback – check out the photos in this article). The mechanism itself works with tiny ball bearings and represents a completely new way of thinking about rate adjustment in watchmaking. It would appear at once to be both simpler for a properly trained watchmaker to engage with, while allowing for a dramatic accuracy benefit at the same time.
The new Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9920 caliber makes its debut on the somewhat underappreciated Speedmaster Racing platform, though this new watch has been given an entirely appropriate “Super” designation. This is a motorsport inspired Speedmaster with a 44.25mm case and two register layout with a date at the 6:00 position. The aesthetic is inspired by the Aqua Terra 15,000 Gauss, a cult classic in the Omega collection that was given the “Bumblebee” nickname for its yellow and black color scheme. Well, Omega has fully leaned into the bee stuff with this one, giving the dial a honeycomb pattern that should probably come with a trypophobia warning, along with generous yellow highlights throughout, including a chrono seconds hand in a yellow gradient that looks quite nice.
The new Speedmaster Super Racing feels like it should be met with genuine accolades given the technology at play, but it feels difficult to get too excited about given the highly niche design of the watch itself. I’m left to wonder if we’d seen this movement tech come to life in a more approachable version of the Speedmaster, or even an Aqua Terra, if the response might be a little different. A watch with this much yellow and such an unusual dial design seems like it’s going to have a narrow appeal after the chronometry nerds get a crack at it (it absolutely will bring out the chronometry nerds). In any case, Omega surely doesn’t intend for Spirate to be a one and done proposition, so now the waiting and guessing games begin as to where it’ll turn up next.
The Speedmaster Super Racing has a retail price of $11,000, and is expected to be available later this year. Omega