As a watch collector, it’s only natural to create lists, whether physical or mental, of the timepieces we wish to acquire. On one end of the list might be new and noteworthy watches you just have to try, while on the other are watches you wish you could have but know are unlikely to obtain. For me, somewhere in there is an offshoot of watches I’ve stumbled upon that intrigue me, but don’t have a pressing need to be bought. Perhaps they are odd or obscure but not highly valuable, relieving purchase pressure. Or they have some feature I want to experience, but not so urgently as to force me to spend the cash. The Speedmaster 3520.50.00 was one such watch. For years it lived on this limbo-list, occasionally prompting an inquiry on the forums, a trade offer here and there. However, thanks to a mix of flipping, being slightly disappointed in some purchases, and having too much time on my hands during the lockdown, this Speedie moved off the list and into my collection in mid-2020.
Ever since picking up the criminally underrated Speedmaster Mk 4.5 some years ago (which since left my collection, but I feel will make a return) I gained an appreciation for off-the-beaten-path Speedmasters. Speedmasters that might only resemble their kin thanks to the word “Speedmaster” being printed on their dials. Models that feature different case shapes and styles, not to mention wholly different movements and dial designs. While these models might not be what normally comes to mind when one says “Speedmaster” they take their namesake seriously, and are ultimately great expressions of my favorite type of watch, the chronograph, made by one of the great Swiss brands.
As such, I’ve always kept a keen eye on the so-called “reduced” models. A shockingly large catalog of models with 39mm, and later 40mm cases, in the style of the iconic twisted-lug Speedmaster Professional case, they offer a quirky and typically less expensive Speedmaster experience. In addition to being smaller, they are also all automatic, which unto itself is a major departure from the Speedy Pro (in-fact, “reduced” is the nick-name, Speedmaster Automatic is the official).
With a multi-decade run, it should be of no surprise that there are many, many references in this sub-genre. The most Speedy-esque, and best known, are the 3510 and 3539 refs, the former of which Brad Homes discusses in his article Affordable Classics: Omega Speedmaster Automatic “Reduced” Ref. 3510.50. From there, one can delve into the racing and Schumacher refs, the date models, chronometers, and the sub-sub-genre the 3520 belongs to, the Day-Dates. A misleading title used on Omega’s own site, one might picture a classic day/date window on a Speedy, but these are in fact triple calendar chronographs with their own distinct personality, earning them the nick-name Mk40, spiritually aligning them with the mark series of Speedies.
It is with this stage set that I will review a watch that has been out of production for nearly 20 years. This watch has taken me by surprise and represents a fantastic value at this moment, and likely into the near future as well. With Omega having just released the newest generation of Speedmaster, ushering in the era of the Master Co-Axial 3861 caliber, and pushing the Speedy Pro further into luxury territory, the 3520 is a refreshing alternative with a true tool watch spirit.