Launched in 1957 as the brand’s flagship chronograph watch, the Speedmaster was the first chronograph to have a tachymeter scale engraved into the bezel rather than on the dial. This was done for better legibility and it wasn’t long before other watch brands followed.
Although the Omega Speedmaster was originally positioned as a watch for motorsports, the chronograph gained global recognition as the watch that accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts to the Moon in 1969. It was in 1965 that the Speedmaster became flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions.
After the 1969 Lunar Landing, the Speedmaster became affectionately known as the Moonwatch. While space exploration remains a major theme in the Speedmaster line—and Omega continues to make Speedmaster Moonwatch models — the brand has not forgotten the watch’s roots in car racing and manufactures motorsports-inspired Speedmaster models too.
When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins became the first crew to successfully land humans on the Moon, all three astronauts were equipped with NASA-approved Speedmasters. In fact, when Buzz Aldrin became the second man to walk on the Moon, he had an Omega Speedmaster chronograph wrapped around the exterior of his astronaut suit, making the Speedmaster the first watch to land on the moon.
Although all Speedmaster watches are sometimes nicknamed “Moonwatch,” when collectors and enthusiasts discuss the Omega Moonwatch, they are typically referring to the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional models, a.k.a. the Speedmaster Pro. These chronograph watches (which are direct descendants of those taken aboard Apollo 11) are characterized by 42mm cases, dials with a trio of registers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, a black tachymeter scale bezel, and a manual-winding movement inside the case. Speedmaster Pro watches traditionally had Hesalite crystal protecting the dials and a solid caseback shielding the movement but now also come with the option of sapphire crystal and an exhibition caseback.
In 2021, Omega unveiled the newest Speedmaster Pro generation with updated movements and more material and dial color options. Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional models are the most popular among all Speedmaster watches and vintage editions are especially sought after by collectors.
Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional features and options
Given the popularity of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, it comes as no surprise that Omega has made several iterations of iconic Speedy Pro design throughout the decades. These aren’t technically Moonwatch models, however, they do share many similar design traits.
For instance, there’s the discontinued Speedmaster “Reduced,” also known as the Speedmaster Automatic that was released in the 1990s, which not only has a smaller 38.5mm case but also runs on an automatic movement instead of a manual-winding one.
There’s also the Speedmaster Chronograph Cal. 9300 range, which at first glance looks similar to the Speedy Pro but a closer look reveals a dial with two counters instead of three, and the addition of a date window. What’s more, the case measures larger at 44.25mm, and the watch is powered by the automatic Caliber 9300.
In 2019, Omega enthusiasts were delighted to hear of the return of Caliber 321, which was the legendary manual-winding movement that powered the original Speedmaster watches, including those that went to the Moon. The revival of Caliber 321 made its debut in an ultra-luxurious platinum Speedmaster, shortly joined by a stainless steel model in early 2020. As expected, this steel Speedmaster Caliber 321 “Ed White” (nicknamed so for its similarity in design to the vintage Speedmaster ref. 105.003 worn by astronaut Ed White) sold out almost immediately and is a highly coveted Speedy watch in the pre-owned market.
The “Dark Side of the Moon” Speedmaster editions feature large ceramic cases in a range of colourways. It made its debut in 2013, sporting an all-black look, soon followed by other variations called “Grey Side of the Moon,” “White Side of the Moon,” and “Blue Side of the Moon,” to denote the various ceramic case colors.
In addition to the various color options, Omega has expanded the original black Dark Side of the Moon collection with several iterations ranging from special editions made in honor of Apollo 8 (the first crewed spacecraft to successfully orbit the Moon and return to Earth) to Team Alinghi-themed versions.
Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon features and options
Released in 1957, the inaugural Speedmaster chronograph model featured a stainless steel case, broad arrow hands on the three-counter dial, and a bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale. The Omega Speedmaster was the world’s first chronograph to have the tachymeter scale on the bezel rather than on the dial. As its name suggests, the Speedmaster was developed with the fast-paced world of motorsports in mind and the chronograph was positioned as a tool to time car races.
The modern-day Speedmaster ‘57 collection, which Omega updated this year, borrows the same engraved bezel design from the very first Speedmaster model and pairs it with a 40.5 mm case, a two-counter dial with a date window and broad-arrow hands, and manual winding movement. Previous generations of the Speedmaster ‘57 had larger 41.5mm cases and automatic movements.
Speedmaster ‘57 features and options
Since the Speedmaster was the first watch on the Moon, it comes as no surprise that the brand would make a moonphase version of its famed chronograph model. The Speedmaster Moonphase includes a window at 6 o’clock to display the current phase of the moon, which is flanked by a pair of chronograph counters at 3 and 6 o’clock.
The Speedmaster Moonphase collection is diverse, with the 44.25mm case available in an assortment of materials while the ceramic bezel is offered in a range of colors. Rounding out the lineup are the various dial color and bracelet style options.
Speedmaster Moonphase features and options
Thanks to Omega’s close ties to NASA, the brand boasts plenty of space exploration-themed Speedmaster Anniversary watches in both its current catalog and archives. Some sought-after examples include the Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Awards” anniversary watches, the Speedmaster “Apollo 11” anniversary watches, and Speedmaster “First Omega in Space” watches, which are also known as “FOIS” models.
Along with space exploration, Omega is also closely tied to the pursuit of sports excellence as illustrated by its long-running Official Timekeeper status of the Olympic games. As such, Omega has made several commemorative Speedmaster Olympic models over the decades.
Positioned as the ladies’ Speedmaster collection, the automatic Speedmaster 38 line offers smaller watches equipped with 38mm cases — often with the choice of diamond embellishments on the bezel. Aside from the more petite proportions, the Speedmaster 38 watches also feature oval-shaped counters instead of round ones and a discreet date window tucked away at 6 o’clock.
While Omega does offer the familiar steel case with a black dial and black bezel combination within the Speedmaster 38 range, the women’s chronograph collection offers many additional material and colour options.
Speedmaster 38 features and options
Speedmaster Instruments are analog-digital (a.k.a. ana-digi) variations of the Speedmaster and there are a few models that fall into this broad category.
Omega released the first Speedmaster X-33 in 1998, explicitly designed with astronauts in mind. The watch made its debut at the Houston Space Center. The first and second generation (introduced in 2001) Speedmaster X-33 features a 42.25mm titanium case and the dial combines an LCD screen for digital indicators and an analog handset to display the time. Omega discontinued the Speedmaster X-33 in 2006 only to bring it back in 2014 in the form of the Speedmaster X-33 “Skywalker” with a larger 45mm case and upgraded quartz movement.
Another Speedmaster Instrument model is the Spacemaster Z-33, launched in 2012 for pilots. The watch features a prominent 43mm x 53mm ovoid-shaped titanium case, which houses an analog-digital dial. The case is punctuated with four pushers and a winding crown where the former controls the multiple digital indicators while the latter adjusts the analog hands.
Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 features and options
Speedmaster Spacemaster Z-33 features and options
The newest Speedmaster to join the collection, the Speedmaster Chronoscope is based on Omega chronograph wristwatches from the 1940s. The vintage-style dial includes a tachymeter scale to measure speed and distance, a pulsometer scale to measure pulse and a telemeter scale to measure the distance from something that can be heard or seen, such as a storm. Of course, there's also a tachymter scale on the bezel. Other vintage touches include leaf-shaped hands, a “spiral” track pattern under the Arabic hour markers, and the thre trio of scales on the dial are executed in the "snail pattern" that was popular in the mid-20th Century.
The Omega Chronoscope watches include 43mm cases, which are offered in either steel or bronze gold. What's more, Omega offers a variety of dial and bracelet/strap styles to choose from.
Speedmaster Chronoscope features and options
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