Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition
It's not every day you turn 60. It's quite the milestone. With the Speedmaster hitting 60 in 2017, Omega could have slapped a birthday badge on the current Moonwatch and been done with it—and we know from experience that they're not above that—but for this particular birthday, they've pulled out all the stops. This watch here may seem like a very well looked after 1957 CK 2915, but it's not—it's the 2017 Omega Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition.
Watch our video review of the Omega Speedmaster '57 Chronograph 38.6mm 3188.8.131.52.01.001
The origins of the Speedmaster don't lie with Omega, or NASA—they fall right back to 1815, to the birth of the chronograph. Louis Moinet's 'computer of thirds' had a new complication that could, at the users request, measure time to an accuracy of a sixtieth of a second—also known as a 'third'.
Two years shy of a century later, and that complication made its way onto the wrist in the form of the 1913 Longines 13.33Z. Wartime applications warranted the need for watches to be operated hands free, despite men's predilection for pocket watches as dictated by fashion, and so the wristwatch began to take over. These were used in combination with calculator scales printed on the dials, dedicated for use by pilots, medics and so on.
The Speedmaster '57 Chronograph 38.6mm celebrates 60 years of the iconic Speedmaster chronograph
Following the Great War, as wealth began to increase, the sport of car racing began to shift from gentleman pastime to competitive profession. Watchmaker Heuer saw this as an opportunity to develop a niche in manufacturing dash timers. These were essentially aircraft instruments mounted on the dashes of racing cars, used with a bullhead pusher arrangement for co-pilots to time stages in the road rallies popular at the time.
As speeds rose and road rallies were phased out, racing moved to the track, with single-seaters, and it was only a matter of time before a watch manufacturer moved the game on to accommodate this new breed of professional driver. That manufacturer was Omega, with the 1957 Speedmaster CK 2915.
The Speedmaster was the first chronograph to move the tachymeter outside of the dial
This was a watch built from the ground up to be useable at speed. It was two millimetres larger than Rolex's 6234, but it seemed even larger thanks to one simple, pioneering development: the tachymeter, a scale for calculating speed over time, was moved outside of the dial, to the bezel. This opened up the dial, made it more legible. This was the origin of the sports chronograph, and would become the new standard.
So how does the 60th Anniversary Speedmaster differ from that original CK 2915? It doesn't, really. The bracelet, while it looks similar, is sturdier and has a better clasp. The movement is the current generation calibre 1861, the offspring of the original 321. It says, 'Swiss Made' above the second track rather than below. And that's about it.
The original hands and logo are complemented by a faux tropical dial and 'aged' lume
With the rest being the same as the vintage classic, how does it compare to the old favourite, the Moonwatch? It's 4mm smaller for a start, but it still wears well. It has the plain metal bezel rather than the later black one. It has straight lugs rather than lyre lugs, and no crown guards, just the like the original.
Zoom in closer and you'll see the original Broad Arrow hands—white for the sub dials—which were reportedly changed for the later straight style to aid visibility of the chronograph. Closer still and the original logo with original brand and model fonts will become apparent, too. There's no, 'Professional' moniker of course, as that didn't come into play until NASA began flight testing the Speedmaster for use in space in 1964.
Omega has also taken the opportunity to use a little bit of artistic license here as well, tinting the luminous paint with an aged tritium effect, and the dial with a slight tropical aging. It's subtle, especially the dial, but it will still likely be contentious. What do you think about it the faux aging? Let us know in the comments.
The 60th Anniversary Speedmaster is quite different to the Professional Moonwatch
This Speedmaster 60th Anniversary comes in a limited run of 3,557, which, while not that limited at all, is a considerable amount less than previous Omega special editions. It carries a price tag of £5,360, so it's a fair bit more expensive than the standard Moonwatch, which tips the scales at £3,520.
It's a collector's dream, however, and the lengths to which Omega has gone to provide an experience as close to the original as possible—without the trappings of owning a vintage watch, of course—are more than worth it. A Rolex Daytona is still £3,740 more—think about that.
It's a fine and fitting acknowledgment of the origins of perhaps the most famous watch to have ever existed, and pretend aging aside, should make even the most die-hard fan crack a smile. Happy birthday, Omega Speedmaster.
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