A Classic Omega in the 21st Century – The Omega Speedmaster Mark II10:45 am
On the occasion of the 47th anniversary of the moon landing by NASA, I was looking back at some of the watches that were a part of this momentous journey and I happened to come across one of the best Speedmaster watches money can buy today.
Sure we all remember 1969 as a memorable year for mankind. For the first time, we broke our terrestrial bonds and set foot on another land. But ’69 was a big year in the collective history of Omega too; the astronauts who took those first steps on the lunar surface – Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, were well equipped with their Speedmaster Professional chronographs as utilitarian tools. 1969 was also the year Omega introduced the Speedmaster Mark II, that set new standards in watchmaking history. The 1969 Omega Speedmaster Mark II was a solid continuation of Omega’s ability to make appealing timepieces equipped with the hand wound calibre 861 that had a staggering accuracy of 21600vph! It was also the first time that Omega used the “shuttlecam” chronograph and dropped its expensive “schaltrad” chronograph.
As a testimonial to the 1969 model, Omega has re-introduced the iconic Speedmaster Mark II powered by an automatic chronograph movement (the original being hand-wound). An original case design with a distinctly retro appeal, let’s talk about ‘one of the best Speedmaster watches money can buy today’:
Then and Now
As we explore, you’ll see just how far the watch has come from the original, whilst still retaining its character. Most of the changes are subtle, but they are absolutely there. Apart from the fact that this one is an automatic, the biggest difference you’ll notice straight away is the presence of a date aperture at 6 o’clock within the hour sub-dial counter. The hands and the co-axial chronometer writing on the dial have some more details that differentiate it from its predecessor. Small but visible differences.
Interestingly, this time on there are two versions to choose from. One has the conventional monochromatic Speedmaster dial, with chronograph subdials; the other one has the ‘racing dial’, with a distinctive fluorescent orange detailing. The racing dial is really something special and for someone looking to make a statement.
First – The Dial
The Omega Speedmaster Mark II Co-Axial Chronograph is equipped with one of the best matte finished 42 mm dials we have seen off late. The dial features the recognizable small seconds subdial at 9, a 30-minute chrono-scale at 3 and a 12-hour chrono-scale at 6. The stainless steel case is polished and brushed (very similar to the one in the original version) with a polished crown and pump pushers. The minute track markers are quite different than the original, but then, that’s probably only to enhance its racing style appeal and add up to a much more legible watch, especially for someone who’d want to wear it for different activities during the day. The hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova as are the index markers. More on the ‘crowded’ side, but looks good anyway.
A quality Case
It is, in fact, distinctly noticeable that the case is thicker compared to the old Omega Speedmaster Mark II. A truly exceptional case for that era, it’s a timepiece inspired by the 70s – the overall styling shows that. The matte finish of the dial allows the wearer to easily keep track of elapsed hours and the contrast between the hands and dial could not be better. A perfect flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides enhances readability and protection to the matt black or grey dial. And, the flattened sapphire crystal will not chip or break when bashed into a metal door frame.
Coming to the calibre: The heart of this chronograph is the exclusive Co-Axial calibre 3330, a different movement from the original Mark II. This movement is an automatic-winding one complete with a Si14 silicon balance spring, and has a power reserve of 52 hours when fully wound. Plus, it is a COSC-certified chronometer. In case you are wondering, the silicon balance spring increases the movement’s durability, maintaining its utilitarian effect, because after all it was invented to be a tool watch. Given this, the Mark II performs well, is very faithful to its original roots and looks absolutely incredible.
The tachymetric ring illuminates from beneath and starts to glow during low light conditions. The tachymeter function is a crucial element within the Speedmaster design and Mark II approaches it from an entirely new angle. The tachymeter scale is integrated around the edge of the anti-reflective sapphire crystal that allows the numbers of the scale to be transparent and takes on a different character every time the light changes.
On the Wrist
Arguably, it is one of the most comfortable watches to wear. The more you’ll wear it, the more the watch grows on you. The 42 mm stainless steel case is presented with a matching brushed stainless steel bracelet, complete with Omega’s patented fold over rack-and-pusher clasp — two release buttons and extremely easy to resize. The stainless steel bracelet is brushed to reduce glare from the sun. One other addition, a small one though – within the clasp there is a small button that allows the owner to access a ratcheting extension that provides an additional 9.6 mm length, an interesting and perhaps significant addition! Overall, I think the casework and the bracelet displays the same level of attention to detail as the dial.
The Speedmaster Mark II Co-Axial is water resistant up to 10 bar (or 100 meters), another feature of a modern watch that meets today’s requirements.
True to its Character
From a collectability standpoint, this watch is definitely suitable for someone who likes the legacy of the Moonwatch design, perhaps has seen it on his grandfather or father and decides to buy a touch of vintage appeal with all the modern technology inside.
There is a certain charm about this watch, which comes from its honest quality. I have to agree that it is one of the nicest modern Speedmaster watches seen so far. A brand that has too many accolades to even count, the ‘Marks’ are a collectable and iconic vintage in their own right!
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