The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional might just be the most famous watch of all time.
Of course, you probably know it better as the ‘Moonwatch’, and there’s no mystery why: while other watch brands might have seen their products make it to space before OMEGA, the Speedmaster has the unique boast of being the first watch on the moon, worn on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin (Neil Armstrong left his watch back in the lunar module).
Originally designed as a sport and racing chronograph, the Speedmaster was chosen by NASA thanks to its durability, legibility and accuracy – all traits that watch fans continue to resonate with over 50 years since the first moon landing. It also helps that it’s a particularly handsome watch.
Since the Apollo 11 mission catapulted the ‘Speedy’ to international fame, literally hundreds of different versions and references of the ‘Moonwatch’ have been produced, with a variety of different movements. The most enduring of these, the Calibres 861/1861, have been used for around 50 years with only minor changes – yet another testament to how technologically superior the Moonwatch really was, and still is.
2021, however, has seen OMEGA take a huge leap for Speedmaster-kind. After experimenting with the movement in a few limited-edition models in 2019 and 2020, the storied Swiss watchmaker has announced that they’re replacing the Calibre 1861 in their entire Speedmaster Moonwatch collection with the all-new Calibre 3861 – a decision that seems mundane on the surface but is sure to excite dedicated ‘Speedy’ fans.
What makes the new Calibre 3861 so special? Aside from being a change half a decade in the making, the new Calibre 3861 now meets Master Chronometer specs, which is the highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic-resistance in the Swiss watch industry. In short, the beating heart of the watch is tougher, more accurate and most importantly, more space-proof, than ever before.
Other changes to the new Speedmaster Moonwatch are just as subtle. Taking inspiration from the 4th generation Moonwatch style – examples of which were worn by the Apollo 11 crew members on the moon in 1969 – the 2021 Moonwatch contains little space-era tributes including the classic asymmetrical case, the step dial, the double bevel caseback plus the famous dot over 90 and a dot diagonal to 70 on the anodised aluminium bezel ring. In accordance with the new Calibre 3861’s frequency, the minute track is now split by 3 divisions, as opposed to the 5 divisions on previous models. They’re real “blink and you’ll miss ’em” details but die-hard ‘Speedy’ fans will lap them up.
Bracelet design has always been one of OMEGA’s strong points and the 2021 Moonwatches don’t disappoint. Its integrated, fully-brushed bracelet offers a five arched links per row design evocative of past Moonwatch styles of the past combined with a new clasp that features a polished OMEGA logo on a satin-finished cover. You can also get the new Moonwatch on a leather strap for a more formal look, or a nylon strap for a more technical look.
On top of the myriad material and bracelet combinations the 2021 Moonwatch is available in, you can also choose to have the watch come with a sealed, embossed caseback and Hesalite (plexiglass), or have sapphire crystal on both sides so you can admire the new movement.
It’s a hard choice: the former is what the astronauts’ watches would have had, but the latter gives you the chance to look at the famous watch’s new heart. We say follow your heart, too.
You can check out the new Moonwatch range on the OMEGA website here.