Fastening The Forstner Flat Link Bracelet To The New 2021 Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
It has been almost a year since I ran a comparison between Forstner and Uncle Seiko aftermarket watch bracelets. Specifically, I compared both 19mm flat link polished and brushed variants that fit the Omega Speedmaster “First Omega in Space.” Over these past twelve months, the article grew to become one of my most well-read write-ups. To this day, I still receive comments, emails, and direct messages on Instagram about the review (P.S. follow me on Instagram @benjameshodges). Today, I am following up this review with the new 20mm all-brushed Forstner Flat Link for the Calibre 3861 Omega Speedmaster. So how does the new bracelet stack up against its predecessor? Let’s find out.
Firstly, the flat link style bracelet is a spiritual successor to the Omega reference 1039 produced between 1966 and 1972. I went into further detail previously about the history of the bracelet here, as did Balázs. I do not wish to retread a worn path, but the flat link style bracelet traces its heritage to the Omega Speedmaster. Especially during the Speedmaster’s most critical era in supporting NASA’s Apollo missions. But what has changed since last year’s review is the introduction of the new Calibre 3861 Moonwatch. Specifically, it’s the new stainless steel Nixon bracelet, based on the reference 1479, which sent shockwaves amongst the Speedy community. I said in my Moonwatch review, and I’ll repeat it here, the Nixon bracelet is the key differentiator between the 2014 and 2021 generations.
Forstner Flat Link
So, if the standard Moonwatch bracelet is so fantastic, why even look at the aftermarket options? The outgoing Moonwatch bracelet was a bit of a punching bag to Speedy skeptics. The mild indifference to the link design led the model to become the king amongst the strap monsters in many ways. But with its near-universal acclaim, surely the new bracelet ought to be permanently affixed to the new Speedy case? Well, it seems that strap monster identity shows no sign of vanishing, even with a significant update to the stock bracelet. And it didn’t take me long before I carefully removed the OEM band to assess my options.
The new Forstner end links do away with the “lug stopper” tabs.
I had a spare set of 20mm Forstner end links, which you can purchase from the site separately. With this, I intended to fit the polished/brushed Forstner flat link to my new Moonwatch. As it turns out, the altered case design of the new Moonwatch was different enough that the placement of the spring bar holes no longer lined up with the Forstner end links. I reached out to Forstner, who informed me new bracelets were on the way with an updated end link design for the Calibre 3861 models. What’s crucial is that the new case design has an underside indent where the bracelet connects. The new Forstner end links do away with the “lug stopper” tabs, similar to the official Omega bracelet, which can scratch the lugs.
Paying lip service
As soon as I received the new bracelet, it was clear to see the end links now attach to the lip on the underside of Calibre 3861-fitted Omega Speedmasters. Notice that I did not specify the 2021 Moonwatch? While the Forstner website offers the choice of “post-2021” end links and “pre-2021” end links, the new bracelet is adaptable to more than just the most recent Moonwatch. The post-2021 end links will also connect to the 2019 Apollo XI steel/moonshine gold Speedmaster and the 2020 Snoopy 50th Anniversary. Having the post-2021 end links fit Calibre 3861 models will come as excellent news to Snoopy owners. The Snoopy watch only came with a blue Cordura strap, so the update provides an aftermarket bracelet option with solid end links that sit snug to the case.
The new Flat Link bracelet will also fit the Silver Snoopy and Apollo XI 50th anniversary models.
The lip on the Forstner end link is not the entire width of the available space on the case. But it’s just enough to prevent any wiggle from the end link without the use of those pesky lug stoppers. Fitting the end links is far simpler now with the metal tabs removed. My criticism of the previous generation Forstner design was that the solid end links offered little space for tools to access the spring bar shoulders. There is still a lack of space, but there’s far more maneuverability without the tabs. With the end links fitted, it was time to size up the bracelet by removing links. Forstner caters to a wide variation of wrist sizes, so each bracelet comes with a fair few spare links. With my 18cm wrists, the bracelet size out of the box would wear too loose.
Separating the link
To size the bracelet, you have to unscrew the links on the bracelet end that has no expanding links. In my case, this was five links. From there, you detach the connections next to the expanding links. The expanding links cannot be separated, so you’ll end up removing fewer links on this side, especially if you want the clasp to sit in the middle of your wrist. Taking two links on this side left me with four screw links on each side. Considering my criticism of last year’s double screw head construction, you may assume removing links was a frustrating task. But I am glad to inform you; the latest Flat Link design has single screw heads on one side of each removable link.
Forstner supplies each bracelet with a screwdriver with precise dimensions.
Double screws were my most significant source of frustration with the previous construction, and I am so pleased Forstner listened to the feedback. With the new system, links come apart by unscrewing one end. With some force at first, but eventually, the threading loosens enough to complete the task with just a thumb and finger. Forstner even supplies each bracelet with a screwdriver with the precise dimensions to undo the screws.
The turn of the screw
As Rob stated in his review of the President (1450) bracelet from Forstner, note which screw belongs to which link. Noting this will ensure the threading retains its pattern. Last time, it was a fear that fixed threading puts excessive strain on the links themselves rather than the screws. While I am yet to observe any stretching or loosening, other than where desired, ensuring the screws remain partnered up to their associated link is one way to prevent metal from wearing away. With the number of links feeling just right on my wrist, it was time for some micro-adjustments. A stamped clasp offers no room for ratcheting or fold-out extensions for tool-less adjustments. Therefore, the tried and tested method of clasp holes with a pin tool is the only choice.
As with the previous Flat Link, you cannot move the bracelet end without expanding links to another position. In any different placement than the outer holes, the clasp would not clip in place. Therefore, the bracelet side near the expanding links is the only choice for micro-adjustment. Initially, I migrated the links to the second position from the end of the clasp. The bracelet felt secure on the wrist, but I soon noticed the expanding links were partially stretching even when my wrist was cold. The purpose of those expanding links was to ensure comfort in more strenuous activity or warm environments when my wrist is likely to swell. So, with that, I moved the link connection to the clasp to the most outer holes available. This outermost position ensures the maximum capability of the expanding links to flex when required.
So, with the Forstner Flat Link fitted and adjusted to my 2021 Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, how does it wear? As soon as I stepped out for a day of errands, the Flat Link was supremely comfortable. Wearing the new Flat Link took me back to last year to my first exposure to expanding bracelets. Unlike the vintage examples that feel flimsy, the modern Forstner construction feels robust with a touch of vintage lightness. The Flat Link is a bracelet you can wear all day long with no discomfort. Even hair or skin pinching is not an issue due to the expanding inks stretching above where the folding clasp sits rather than with direct contact to the skin. The flexible links were the critical differentiator compared to the Uncle Seiko option, despite the $61 premium. With the changes, including the single screw heads and removal of the lug stoppers, this new Flat Link is even better.
Although, one slight criticism remains for the bunching up of the links near the end. I shared this feedback in my last review and have experienced this with the new bracelet too. It is nowhere near as noticeable as the previous version, so Forstner has made some improvements. But I still find myself unsticking the links on occasion. In the grand scheme of the significant upgrades Forstner has made, I still believe this is the best aftermarket bracelet option for the Calibre 3861 Omega Speedmaster. Rob may argue the Forstner 1450-style triumphs, but the Flat Link is the vintage style that speaks to me from a design and a historical perspective. The price for the Forstner remains at $150, and you can check out the options for finishing styles and different Speedmaster case eras here.