Last week saw the last of our Speedy Tuesday events of 2019 returning to Biel, Switzerland. With the return to Omega Headquarters, a year full of Speedy Tuesday events ended where it started almost twelve months ago. Twelve months full of Speedy Tuesday events that saw great novelties and the last one was no exception.

With the ‘Back To Base’ event held last Tuesday at the brand new Omega Museum in Biel, the Speedy Tuesday events have come full circle. The first of the eight Speedy Tuesday events in 2019 events took place at Omega HQ back in January of 2019 and saw the introduction of the new caliber 321 movement. At last week’s event guests had a chance to experience the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Caliber 321 Platinum,  the first Omega to come out that is actually powered by the new caliber 321 movement. Next to that ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and Omega Head of Product Management Gregory Kissling and Fratello’s own Robert-Jan Broer discussed the incredible challenges of designing a watch suited for space travel and last but not least it was the first chance for many of the guests to fully experience the incredible new Omega Museum.

Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann

For this special occasion, we were honored to be supplied with Hasselblad camera equipment. Hasselblad was the supplier to NASA for all manned (and a few unmanned) space missions, and always had a special place in our hearts. It was a Hasselblad 500 EL Data Camera which, used by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission, became the first camera used on the Moon. So for them as well, this is the 50th-Anniversary Moonlanding year. And just like Omega introduced their commemorative Speedmaster editions, there will be a 50th-Anniversary Special Edition of a Hasselblad camera as well. For this occasion, we were equipped with a Hasselblad X1D II 50C with a 45mm f/3.5 lens. A more in-depth article on the use of Hasselblad cameras during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, plus the 50th-Anniversary Hasselblad Special Edition, is published at Fratello here.

The Omega Museum

A visit to the Omega Headquarters is always a special occasion. The Speedy Tuesday ‘Back To Base’ event in Biel last Tuesday the 17th of December was extra special however as not all of us had seen the finished new Omega Museum. It was a great chance to experience the great Omega history with the Speedy Tuesday guests in the new building that was opened in October of this year. After a very warm welcome to the museum by Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, we were introduced to ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy – who has a great connection to Omega – and Robert-Jan who gave a short recap of the incredible year it has been for Fratello and Omega with Speedy Tuesday events in Frankfurt, Milan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and twice in Biel.

Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy

After the introductions, it was time to divide the 60 guests into two groups so everyone could enjoy the experience to the fullest. The first group had a chance to explore the museum first while the second group enjoyed the panel discussion and product presentation first. A great feature of the new museum is the 360-degree cinema at the entrance. Before we entered the actual museum we enjoyed two short movies that become a great experience because there is so much to look at all around you. The first was Omega’s history of time movie and the second was an incredible experience as we travelled into space and be in the International Space Station (ISS). The 360-degree images gave you a good sense of what it feels like to be in space and enjoy some amazing views of Earth from the ISS. It was great to have Jean-François Clervoy in the room to explain more about everything we witnessed. Mister Clervoy was part of three Space Shuttle missions in 1994, 1997 and 1999. For his last mission, Clervoy and the other six crew members of mission STS-103 were responsible for servicing the famous Hubble Space Telescope. Mister Clervoy turned out to be a great storyteller and really explained a lot of details about the magic of space travel.

When the two movies were finished, it was time to actually visit the museum and experience many of the great Omega stories. As Petros Protopapas (Omega Head of Brand Heritage) explained in his short introduction speech, the great thing about the museum is that it is built to be interactive so there is never a feeling of ‘look but don’t touch’. The museum puts great focus on the three big Omega stories that many have come to love. There is a lot to find out about Omega’s great involvement with the Moon landing, the Olympic Games and of course the James Bond franchise. Walking around the museum was also a chance for many to see the new titanium Seamaster 300M Bond Daniel Craig will wear in the upcoming Bond-movie No Time To Die. The watch was presented in the last of many glass displays that tell the story of Omega in chronological order. The amazing thing is that all of these displays are built into a huge first-generation Speedmaster bracelet that serves as a divider between the museum space and the entry hall. Next to that it also connects the 360-cinema at the entry and the 360-cinema at the exit of the museum that is built inside a large Speedmaster case. Walking around and seeing all the incredible watches and memorabilia give you a great impression of the Omega brand heritage. All around people were very impressed by the new Omega Museum and it is a must on the list of locations to visit if you are a watch enthusiast in general and an Omega fan in particular.


Omega In Space With Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy

Omega Head of Product Management Gregory Kissling, ESA Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and Fratello’s Robert-Jan Broer

In the second part of the program, it was time to go up a couple of floors for a panel discussion hosted by Robert-Jan in which he asked Jean-François Clervoy and Omega Head of Product Management Gregory Kissling about the difficulties of developing a watch suited for space travel. It was great to hear that mister Clervoy is not only an ESA astronaut but he also developed the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 together with Omega. So mister Clervoy and mister Kissling were the perfect people to explain the dangers of magnetism, the wish from astronauts to have two different time systems (Earth time and space or mission time), the use of different materials, the wish for different sounds for different alarms and a whole set of other features that not only make life easier but are also essential in doing your job properly as an astronaut.

After explaining more about the Skywalker X-33 and the list of features a space watch needs to have, Robert-Jan asked both men what the future holds for developing a new space watch. It was nice to hear from mister Kissling that developing a new watch for use in space will be a big challenge, but one that Omega is ready to tackle with the help of astronauts. One of the great questions from the audience was how you balance all the functional features with aesthetics as many would like to have a nice looking watch as well. Obviously with an astronauts’ watch form needs to follow function so the end results might not always be to everyone’s liking. It’s a great question though because do we want a next-generation X-33 to be a beautiful watch? As a proud owner of a first-generation Speedmaster X-33 I can honestly say that I have grown to love the quirky looks of the watch along with the incredible story that makes this a stand-out Speedmaster. It will be great to see what Omega will come up with as the next Speedmaster to be used in space.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Caliber 321 Platinum

The last part of the program was the chance for guests to witness the new Speedmaster Professional Caliber 321 Platinum in the metal. First Omega Head of Product Management Gregory Kissling explained in detail how Omega developed the new Caliber 321 movement, what challenges arose and what improvements were made compared to the old version. He then went on to explain more about the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Caliber 321 Platinum (reference 311., the first watch that is powered by the Caliber 321 movement.  After his presentation, guests were able to see and try on the watch and experience the impressive overall weight of the watch, the deep black onyx dial and the incredible meteorite subdials that are actually made from meteorite coming from the moon. Robert-Jan wrote in detail about the watch here if you want to find out more.

I had a chance to take a closer look as well and my first reaction was a simple ‘wow!’. Not only is the weight of the watch impressive but there is also a lot to take in when you first lay your eyes on the watch.  And I mean that in a good way. There is simply a whole lot to discover when you see the watch. And no matter how many pictures you have seen, you have to witness the watch in the metal to be able to fully appreciate it. The two things that stuck with me the most are the realization that the meteorite actually comes from the moon and the incredibly deep black colour of the dial. Simply stunning! A lot of people were impressed with the watch but the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Caliber 321 Platinum is a watch for the happy few as the €56,000 Euro price tag makes this a watch that is not for everyone. The people that will be able to afford it, however, will end up with something truly special in their collection.

After the last part of the official program, it was time to catch up with all the guests and have dinner at the beautifully situated restaurant Aux Trois Amis in Ligerz just outside of Biel. There everyone was able to enjoy a very nice dinner and talk more about the world of Speedmasters. It was incredible to see so many great Speedmasters in one room together and discuss what makes them so special. To my and the other Fratello team members’ surprise, the Speedmaster that was seen most of the wrists of guests was the full gold Speedmaster Apollo 11 Anniversary Limited Edition. Everyone that has one is absolutely in love with the watch. And it shows the incredible power of the Speedmaster, the vision and craftsmanship of Omega and the passion of the Speedmaster enthusiasts. The dinner was a great finish to a great day and a great ending to the last of a series of incredible Speedy Tuesday events in 2019. It will be great to see what 2020 has in store for the Omega Speedmaster and the Speedy Tuesday community. Until then we hope you will enjoy the video and pictures of the event in Biel and hope to welcome you to a Speedy Tuesday event in the new year!

All other Speedy Tuesday articles can be found here.

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