Made intensely popular after it became the first watch to land on the moon, the Omega Speedmaster is a favorite of watch lovers and is often the first choice for a mechanical watch as you enter the market as an enthusiast.
There are some factors to keep in mind when you’re looking to choose your first Speedmaster. Read on so you know what to consider before making your investment.
1. What kind of movement do I want?
An automatic or self-winding watch instinctively keeps time for you using the movements of your arm to keep it going. The Speedmaster for the most part is mechanical, but in 1988, they introduced the Omega Speedmaster Automatic, also called the Speedmaster Reduced because of its 39mm case – smaller than the 42mm MoonWatch case.
Speedmaster Reduced and various Speedmaster Olympic models offer an automatic movement which is perfect if you want to start at the fringes of their catalog. The Omega Speedmaster Reduced comes with 40 hours of power reserve.
A mechanical or hand-wound watch uses the crown to create tension on the mainspring, thus providing a source of power that keeps the watch going. A manual watch needs to be wound once a day, and many collectors love it because it creates a real connection between the timepiece and its wearer.
The manual winding Speedmaster Professional is the best-known watch hand-picked by NASA and flown to the moon. This manually wound model finds itself at the center of the brand having undergone rigorous testing to become NASA’s official timepiece for its lunar missions. The Omega Speedmaster manual wind comes with 48 to 50 hours of power reserve depending on the model.
2. What case size best suits me?
You can read those numbers on a piece of paper or your computer screen all you want but it will never mean the same thing to you compared to the feel of a watch on your wrist. This is especially true of the Omega Speedmaster. To get the best case size for your wrist, here’s our guide on How to Find the Right Watch Size.
44mm – Speedmaster Racing
Designed to include all the dials for a tachymeter scale, this watch has the largest case size in Omega’s line. Between lugs, it only measures 21mm which can distinctly change how the watch feels on your wrist. This collection celebrates their motor racing heritage rather than space travel.
42mm – Speedmaster Professional
As the first watch on the moon, the Professional is one of the most iconic Omega watches. Lug-to-lug this watch usually measures around 47mm and while that sounds incredibly large, on the wrist it feels so much different. The actual bezel width is only around 40mm, so the watch wears much closer to a 40mm watch rather than a 42mm.
40mm – Speedmaster 57
This vintage reissue measures 20mm between lugs. Maintaining tribute to the original 1957 Speedmaster model, most changes are made on the inside with the addition of co-Axial Caliber 9300.
38mm – Speedmaster Reduced
While the case measures 38mm, there’s only 18mm between the lugs. This stylish and simple design retains the look of Omega watches while keeping the size more modest. They went with a refined look for this model.
The original Speedmaster’s modest 38mm size is mimicked with modern updates like a subdial and date window. With 16 iterations of this soft, oval case, there’s a watch to suit everyone’s style.
3. Do I want a vintage model with some history or a modern model with the latest technology?
Provenance and History
Do you desire to wear one of the most famous chronograph calibers ever developed and placed on the market?
The Caliber 321 was placed in the Speedmasters that were worn on the moon during the 1969 expedition. Even if you don’t care about the history behind it, the technical and aesthetic reasons are more than enough to choose the vintage brands.
Your vintage watch will have a real patina from its actual age rather than the faux patina that many brands are using on the newer models today. Tritium, used on pre-moon Speedmasters, ages to a dark yellow color over time.
Actual vintage versions of the Speedmasters that pre-date the moon visit are much closer to the actual watches that made the space trip before the company marketers got to them. However, servicing these watches is an expensive proposition, so it’s not advised that a vintage Omega Speedmaster be your only day-to-day timepiece.
Those newer models will properly light up for you. Low light or bad light isn’t an issue for newer models compared to their vintage counterparts, as they make use of longer-lasting Super-Luminova luminous material.
Movement and Accuracy
Newer updated models are accompanied by far more accurate movement. Omega Speedmaster does a great job with their newer models of maintaining the vintage looks while updating with new technology and that comes to movement. For instance, their new caliber 3861, introduced in 2021, has anti-magnetic technology that guarantees an accuracy of -0/+5 seconds per day.
4. Water Resistance
Whether you should take a swim with your Speedmaster really depends on your choice of watch. If you’ve decided or want to be able to take a dip in the pool with your watch on, then it’s not recommended you consider the vintage Omega Speedmaster with 30 meters of water resistance.
More modern models, however, are water-resistant to 50 meters which should be fine with splashes or surface swimming. To be safe, make sure that the crown is sealed before exposure to water.
5. Original Parts and Maintenance
The Omega Speedmaster line is over 60 years old now and has an incredible resale value. With all the vintage models out there, it’s important to know that the watch you’re purchasing has the correct parts inside and out.
Over the years movements have changed, as well as hand shapes, dial designs, and bezel styles; even smaller details such as crown guards, lume types, case back styles, crystals, logos, also vary from model to model. While these differences tend to be minor, you’ll need to decide which combination appeals to you. Even a subtle change can make or break your opinion of a watch.
Like all machines, watches need a little maintenance from time to time. Speedmasters are no different. It’s recommended that you get your Omega Speedmaster serviced once every seven years, more often if it’s your daily go-to timepiece.
Omega Speedmasters: Conclusion
There are a lot of choices to make when considering your first Omega Speedster watch. If you’re seeking that iconic and historic watch that landed on the moon, then you’re going to want to find a vintage model from that era.
If you’re looking for the look of the iconic MoonWatch with all the power and accuracy of the technology available today, then a newer model that maintains that vintage look on the outside with improved mechanics on the inside may be more your style. If you’ve decided on an Omega Speedmaster check out the wide variety of models available at SwissWatchExpo.com.