Editor’s Pick: Omega Speedmaster 50th Anniversary
by Hugh Taylor | February 06, 2018
This is the second Speedmaster to make its way into my editor’s pick series. For the last one, a vintage Ref. 145.022-69 “pre-moon”, I told the story of the early pieces and its path to becoming the legendary “Moonwatch”, so named for being strapped to Buzz Aldrin’s space suit when he first walked out onto our planet’s number one fan. So head over there for a more detailed background on what makes the Speedmaster one of the world’s favourite chronographs, but here’s a brief synopsis…
The Speedmaster was made as an extension to the Seamaster range, which in the fifties was the number one wristwatch in the eyes of the world’s leading militaries. It had reaped the rewards of being live-tested by the likes of the British Special Boat Service and from Omega’s pioneering efforts in the areas of durability and water resistance. So when in 1962 Aldrin and team put a bunch of top chronographs, including the latest from Rolex and Breitling, through a punishing selection test, the Speedmaster came out on top by a comfy margin. The subsequent moon landing was the single greatest watch advert of the twentieth century and the Speedmaster even played a crucial role in one of the later Apollo missions.
Fast-forward five decades and the Speedmaster has been tweaked and tuned more times than a NASA space shuttle. Recent versions are undoubtedly superior to earlier ones in terms of build and function, but there have been so many that it can be difficult to know where to start. So while modern editions still hold their position in the top three of the chronograph leaderboard, the pieces that interest the collectors are the early ones and the special editions. One such piece was released in 2007 to mark the Speedmaster’s 50th birthday.
The reference 3220.127.116.11.01.001, in my eyes, is the smartest in the family. Although the Speedmaster is a sport watch, born and bred for stainless steel, this edition in rose gold works particularly well thanks to some clever design choices. Firstly, it has two colours only, rose and black, down to the strap, which is black alligator. Secondly, the dial is made from a shiny, enamel-like material that looks particularly snappy. Thirdly, the whole piece is minimalized—the hands and markers are slimmed down, as are the sub-dials and there is less information on the dial. This allows the shape and the colour contrast to do all the work and the result is elegance. It has a couple of signatures too, including the edition number, a more retro font for “Omega” and an ancient Greek style take on the Omega symbol. As a final touch, the two dots either side of the 12 o’clock marker are silvered, something you only notice up close.
There have been a handful of gold Speedmasters over the years but none have hit the mark quite like this one for me. Inside the watch, we find another positive, Omega’s in-house co-axial movement, which has only appeared in more recent editions. You can read my piece on what makes the co-axial superior here, but in short, it needs very minimal servicing and it’s more robust than (possibly) any other on the market. In this instance, it’s beautifully finished too and is on display through the caseback, a further sublime touch on this 50th-anniversary edition.
Although the price of this reference has understandably risen since its release, it’s still in affordable territory. But the best is yet to come. Thanks to its significance as the 50th birthday piece, limited numbers and fine looks, this one is sure to stay on the collector’s watch list.
For more watch reviews and recommendations follow our magazine or for buying options you can shop pre-owned and vintage Omega Speedmasters on Xupes.