While we all know about the first watch that landed on the moon with Buzz Aldrin, the actual timepiece that ventured into space proper is the Speedmaster Moonwatch with the iconic 321 movement worn by pioneer spacewalker Ed White. The year 2020 will see the revival of this beloved movement in the latest Speedy albeit with a new armour of steel.
While the rest of the watch world is hurtling towards more bells and technological whistles in their new releases, Omega has decided once again to swim upstream, buck the trend and resurrect its legendary hand-wound movement, the 321 calibre in its latest versions of the Speedmaster Moonwatch – last year in luxurious platinum casing for the 50th anniversary lunar festivities, and now in the stainless steel form.
For Speedy fans, this calibre is regarded as almost sacred for its participation as a very reliable timekeeper for those involved in the early forays of space exploration. Placed into the very first Speedmaster watches and also worn by astronauts in the Apollo missions, the calibre 321 was present right up to the last Apollo mission, worn by the last man standing on the moon in 2017, a Commander Gene Cernan. And this new 321 in steel commemorates the moment in 1965 when astronaut Ed White, wearing his trusty Speedmaster ST 105.003 of 321 calibre steps out of the shuttle to become the first American to walk in space.
An important thing to note, is that significant elbow grease have gone into the careful recreation of the former 321 – the watchmaker even scanned Gene Cernan’s watch to make sure all details were faithfully followed to a tee. Whilst some materials were replaced for better durability such as Sedna gold plating, there were also a few technical niggles to overcome, like the guard pin for the lever escapement had to be reverse engineered from scratch. Omega spared no effort to rebuild this version from start to finish to produce a timepiece of stellar quality and standard.
And so, at where we stand now, there are 3 updated hand-wound movements responsible for the Speedy range. The current 1861, the new 3861 and now the 321.
Apparently, die-hard fans have long been asking for a reissue of a Speedy with more nostalgic feels and this latest Moonwatch is the response. Taking a lot of cues from its predecessor, it bears the old-school Omega logos throughout, vintage-style 19-mm steel bracelet, the smaller 39.7mm straight-lug case, the stepped dial as well as the” dot-over-90” black ceramic bezel with its familiar tachymeter scale in white enamel.
The black dial carries through the nostalgia with the original Moonwatch hands, small seconds sub-dial, 30-minute recorder, 12-hour recorder and central chrono hand. Subtle tweaks have been made to accommodate the 21st century: the original solid caseback has been replaced with a see-through sapphire one so that all can behold the beauty of that movement that went to the moon and back. Many times. Punters predict that while this is not a limited edition, it is likely that this watch will swiftly rocket to the status of a classic when it is released in early 2020.
Images courtesy of Omega, artwork by Curatedition, link in bio.