When it comes to iconic watches, there isn’t many watch to choose. Rolex submariner would always be an icon of dive watch, just like Breitling Navitimer for aviation industry and Jaeger leCoultre Reverso for a refined gentleman. But when it is combined with human exploration achievement, nothing beat Omega Speedmaster. Worn by astronauts in the past and the present, the first watch worn on space and on the moon, it is one of the most respected watch in the WIS community. Before a WIS cringe I should tell you that there are many types of Speedmaster, but the context we are talking about here is the “moon watch”. The original Speedmaster made in 1957 and since then has developed several times including the change of movement from cal. 321 to cal. 861 and then to cal. 1861 in 1996. The most precious of them all and worth mentioning for collector is CK2915, the Speedmaster “Pre-moon” with cal. 321 that was auctioned for a stunning figure, $70.000.
What we have here is the re-issue of the second generation Speedmaster, CK2998 that was worn by Wally Schirra on Sigma 7 mission orbiting the earth. He was the first person to go to space three times in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Although there are few difference between the re-issue edition and the original CK2998, the difference wasn’t very noticeable for non-enthusiast. The original CK2998 use Hesalite crystal instead of Sapphire, which reflects light in a different way. The minute hands was thinner, and the movement use cal. 321 instead of cal. 1861. Both movement was based on Lemania (now Breguet) and there is no difference in accuracy between both watches, despite slight difference in the column wheel usage and bridges.
Some people would still prefer the Speedmaster Professional 3570 instead of a re-issue, those with baton hands, hesalite crystal and slightly larger case diameter. But for those with wrist under 7 inch, this 39.7mm Speedmaster might be a better alternative. The movement inside both Speedmaster is the same, cal. 1861 that has only slightly change for the last 50 years, a durable movement and easy to service. I guess when something endures for 50 years, it would endure for another 50 years.
Omega Speedmaster “first omega in space” use alpha hands instead of baton, and there is no crown guard unlike in the professional series. Several people comments that winding FOIS is smoother and has a better click than the professional series. There are also downside to FOIS, among them are the lack of bracelet option (buying one OEM would cost another $500-600), slightly more expensive price, and no option for transparent case back. The usage of sapphire versus hesalite crystal is also a debate that continue among WIS until today.
The FOIS comes with a memorative box, a more exclusive box than standard Omega watch. However, since 2014 the Speedmaster Professional also come with an exclusive box with loupe, two additional strap, and a Seamaster steel accessories. The second hands movement is smooth, and the chronograph movement is slightly smooth at four or five ticks per second, unlike quartz watch that has one tick per second. Movement wise, there isn’t many things to say except that it one of the best chronograph movement out there, the same base movement inside Patek Philippe, Breguet, and Vacheron Constantine for a fraction of the price.
Instead of pairing this beautiful watch with bracelet, Omega decided to give it a more vintage look using brown leather strap with light brown stitching. It is very comfortable and since Speedmaster has only 50 meters water resistance rating, it isn’t suitable for any water related activities so pairing with leather strap is a rational choice. Speedmaster FOIS could be very dressy specially when paired with black crocodile strap, and the 40mm diameter could easily slide under the cuff. Although not a limited production, FOIS is a numbered edition, mine is 43XX and I bought it in August 2015 through local Omega boutique. Recently, two forum members found that their AD couldn’t order for FOIS and the AD said that Omega is discontinuing the model, however it is currently displayed on the Omega website. So if you want this model instead of the standard “moon watch” Speedmaster Professional, you might want to be hurry.
The watch is actually proportional on my 6.5 inch wrist, I use wide angle lens when taking this photo so it looks bigger than it is.