The original Moonwatch been practically untouched since it was launched into the stratosphere of horological iconography in 1969. Omega’s Speedmaster ST 105.012 equipped the Apollo 11 astronauts and has been a part of spacefaring history ever since. You can see why they’ve not changed it much. In fact, aside from an updated movement, the Calibre 1861 when that was shiny and new, the modern Speedmaster is almost identical to its archival counterparts.
Still, that movement update is important because, while many a watchmaker is still recovering from the Christmas break, Omega is making another mechanical update to the classic Moonwatch: the Calibre 3861. The new calibre was initially launched in 2019 but only in the gold and steel Apollo 11 50th anniversary pieces. Now, the new movement – the first real update of the Speedmaster calibre since 1996 – is being installed across the base Moonwatch collection. So let’s take a closer look at it.
The Calibre 3861
It took four years of development to create the 3861. That wasn’t entirely due to meeting Master Chronometer standards – Omega has been building calibres to that standard for years now – but was partly down to ensuring the right dimensions. It needed to occupy exactly the same space as the previous calibre 1861. Not only is the new movement equipped with the George Daniels Co-Axial escapement, but it’s Master Chronometer Certified, ensuring accuracy of +0/-5 seconds a day and incredible magnetic resistance, in large part thanks to silicon balance spring. In short, it’s an improvement in almost every conceivable way. It’s also a bit of a stunner.
On the out, the core design elements – the 42mm asymmetrical case, the tachymeter et al – have been retained but given a slight historical twist. These include the dot over the 90 and one diagonal to 70 on the tachymeter, which are sure to be two little touches that will make collectors’ absolutely twitch with delight. The lume on the dials has been given a cream tint rather than bright white, and the lettering on the front has been redesigned a little. The minute track has also been split into divisions of three rather than five to match the frequency of the update movement. The changes are nothing major, but an overall shift towards a softer, vintage look. There are four base models in the Moonwatch Professional collection, depending on what you’re after from your Speedy, as well as two gold models if you’re feeling flash. So what’s the difference?
A Redesigned Bracelet
To give the new generation Speedy an extra touch of design savoir faire, Omega has finally overhauled the bracelet. The five-link affair is a throwback to the bracelet of the old Ref. 1479 Speedmaster and has a much more classic profile to more modern versions, 20mm at the lugs tapering down to 15mm at the clasp. The smaller links mean it sits far more comfortably on the wrist and the clasp has room for micro adjustments for an overall better wearing experience. The eagle-eyed may have also noticed a slight difference between the models. The sapphire model has a mix of brushed and polished links, while all other bracelets in the new collection are brushed all-over. It’s a nice, subtle difference that helps you tell which is which at a glance.
The original, Apollo mission Speedmasters used Hesalite crystals rather than the higher-end sapphire. This was because the material is more flexible, scratches rather than breaks and was more fitting to go through the rigours of space travel. Today it’s still the iconic finishing touch to the Moonwatch Professional and is, on the new models, available with either a steel bracelet or nylon strap. These being the most faithful in the collection, they also have solid casebacks stamped with the iconic seahorse logo.
Generally a better material than Hesalite, sapphire is harder, more scratch resistant and will last better. It’s not the original of course, but then are you actually taking your shiny new Speedmaster into space? The biggest benefit though is that the Sapphire versions come with an exhibition caseback, giving a great view of the very, very pretty movement. This version is split between a steel on steel version and one with a leather strap. There is a premium on the sapphire versions, but that’s to be expected, given it’s a pricier material.
To round off the collection, there are also two gold models: one in Sedna gold (Omega’s in-house take on rose) with a black dial and rose gold indexes and the other in Canopus gold (white gold) with a silvered dial and black indexes. These models use the exact same case shape and movement as the steel models, but priced at £29,840 and £38,830 respectively, they’re not exactly ‘professional’ watches. They are, however, stunning. To see the differences between the models for yourself, check out our quick reference guide.
Model: Omega Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer
Ref: 310.30.42.50.01.001 (black dial, steel bracelet)
310.32.42.50.01.001 (black dial, nylon fabric strap)
310.30.42.50.01.002 (black dial, steel bracelet)
310.32.42.50.01.002 (black dial, leather strap)
310.60.42.50.01.001 (Sedna™ gold on Sedna™ gold bracelet)
310.63.42.50.01.001 (Sedna™ gold on leather strap)
310.60.42.50.02.001 (Canopus Gold™ on Canopus Gold™ bracelet)
310.63.42.50.02.001 (Canopus Gold™ on leather strap)
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter, stainless steel, 18k Sedna gold or 18k Canopus gold
Water Resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: In-house Calibre 3861, hand-wound chronograph, Master Chronometer certified, 26 jewels
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power Reserve: 50h
Functions: Hours, minutes, tri-counter chronograph
Strap: Steel, Sedna™ gold or Canopus Gold™ bracelet, leather or nylon fabric
Price/Availability: £5,100 (black dial, nylon fabric strap)
£5,370 (black dial, steel bracelet)
£5,840 (black dial, leather strap)
£6,120 (black dial, steel bracelet)
£21,130 (Sedna™ gold on leather strap)
£26,040 (Canopus Gold™ on leather strap)
£29,840 (Sedna™ gold on Sedna™ gold bracelet)
£38,380 (Canopus Gold™ on Canopus Gold™ bracelet)
More details at Omega.