My Thoughts After A Week With The Omega Speedmaster Professional On The Wrist
Well, folks, I am honored to be holding the fort during RJs summer holiday absence. Earlier this month, I was at Fratello HQ in The Hague when RJ shouted at me from his desk. He said he was going on holiday (yes, even RJ needs a holiday sometimes) and asked me if I could make sure that Speedy Tuesday went ahead as usual. He suggested lending me a Speedmaster for a week on the wrist type of review.
While that may seem a little vanilla at first, I think I am probably the only member of the Fratello team that doesn’t actually own an Omega Speedmaster. I know, I know: on paper, that is absolute sacrilege. For some of the team members, joining Fratello was the catalyst for their first Speedmaster purchase. Many of the others already owned a venerable Speedy in their collection. For me, however, neither of those two statements applies. It’s not a matter of not wanting to own one, but rather not knowing which model is the one for me. Admittedly I am relatively new to the Speedy way of life. Apart from trying one on briefly here and there, I’d never had any solid hands-on time with one.
So the next day, RJ handed me a Speedmaster from his personal collection to borrow for an undetermined period. It was sadly caveated as a finite loan rather than an infinite one, so I think that means he does want it back. Pity…
A week (or more) with a Speedy on the wrist
The watch in question was Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. RJ dated this particular example back to 2013. I was to wear the watch and write up my experience. Easy enough, I thought. I’ve written many reviews in my time, I can handle another one. What I didn’t know is that this experience would help me realize what it is about the Speedmaster that has cultivated such a passionate fanbase. What it is that has all of us, here on Speedy Tuesday, reaching for our beloved Speedmasters so fondly. My personal epiphany that, perhaps, the Speedmaster is the worst-kept secret in modern watchmaking? But you all knew that already.
I’ve already liked the aesthetic of the Speedy and the comfort it exudes on the wrist.
So, as I mentioned, this was my first time wearing a Speedy for an extended period. I’ve slipped a few on the wrist before momentarily in ADs and at watch meetups. I’ve already liked the aesthetic of the Speedy and the comfort it exudes on the wrist. Still, those experiences were never enough to really bond with the model. If you can think back to your first week with a Speedy on the wrist, I am sure you can already imagine what awaited me.
Resizing the bracelet for smaller wrists
The first job at hand was resizing the bracelet. Our glorious leader has a manlier wrist than I. My left wrist is a little under 7”, so the bracelet was a little loose. Thankfully, when I was at HQ, Rob offered to resize the bracelet and remove a link for me. With that taken care of, the fit was a lot better. I had worried that maybe I’d have needed a little more micro-adjustment from the clasp (which only has 2 positions), but thankfully that single link did the trick. The first thing I quickly came to realize/notice was the additional weight of the bracelet.
I know it is a pretty obvious thing. Of course, a stainless steel bracelet is going to add weight to a watch. “What did you expect Dave, you total buffoon?!” I think the point I am making, is that as a man who doesn’t really wear his watches on the bracelet, I was slightly caught off guard by how noticeable the extra weight was. Not in a negative way, almost more in a reassuring, qualitative way.
…it’s been an absolute pleasure to wear.
I remember back in the day when mobile phone sizes were getting smaller and smaller. Eventually, at the peak of the cycle, the smallest phones weighed next to nothing and were almost credit-card-sized. That was one fad I never bought into. I liked being able to feel a little weight in my phone. It was reassuring to know it was there. I think the same goes for the watch and the bracelet. The tactile experience of the cold steel bracelet and its additional weight was oddly more pleasant than one might expect. If I’m honest, I had expected to get back to the UK and switch the bracelet out for a regular watch strap, but the bracelet remained. I very quickly got used to it and have to say it’s been an absolute pleasure to wear.
Getting used to the manual winding
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as with nearly any new experience. I was quick to experience a case of what I affectionately call “first-world problems.” What could I be referring to? Well, dear reader, I am referring to the manual winding caliber 1861. I do not have a single manual wind watch in my collection, so this experience was completely new to me. Despite being automatic, my Grand Seiko SGBA407 has a power reserve indicator on the dial side, which is very handy to tell the remaining power level. Alas, the Speedmaster does not have such a handy point of reference.
I may be mad, but I’m not yet totally crazy.
Of course, I am not suggesting the harmonious dial of the Speedmaster be broken up with a power reserve indicator. I may be mad, but I’m not yet totally crazy. I mean to say that without the apparent indication of remaining power coiled up in the mainspring, I found that on occasion, I would check the time, only to find the watch motionless.
To be honest, I quite quickly found myself just giving the crown a quick wind or two whenever I checked the time. Thankfully I quickly learned to deal with those first-world problems, but it was a bit of a learning curve. I’m not 100% certain that I love the manual wind aspect. I have gotten very used to a watch continuing to wind itself while on the wrist. I didn’t hate the manual wind experience either, and I appreciate that it allows for a slightly slimmer watch with no automatic winding rotor system. Still, I think the spoiled 21st-century child inside me prefers the convenience of automatic winding. Is it a dealbreaker? No. Far from it. As I found out on my recent trip to Germany.
The infinitely photogenic Speedmaster
Last week, I had to travel to Germany for work. I decided this was an excellent opportunity to have the Speedy on the wrist for some solid hours in various situations. Sat at the airport on Tuesday morning, I noticed something about the Speedmaster that I never entirely understood before. “What was it?” You might ask. Well, only how incredibly photogenic this watch is. With my DSLR camera by my side, I decided to snap a few photographs in the morning sunlight during breakfast. I quickly found that this thing is quite simply a supermodel.
Those curves, and their polished chamfers, just cry out to be photographed. Some watches can be absolute stunners in hand but fail to live up to that reputation in photographs. That might be that they’re just difficult to photograph for one reason or another. Still, the Speedmaster certainly does not fall into this category.
Photographing a watch can be tricky, but the best watches make the job a little bit easier. Think of the classic Rolex Sub; it cries out to be papped. Well, I found out that the Speedmaster was no different. It was a wonderful experience, and as an amateur photographer forever trying to learn and improve my photography skills, a subject such as this Speedmaster makes that job a little bit easier. Sure, I was somewhat spoiled by the nicely diffused natural light in the airport, but still — I think that these photographs are some of my personal favorite that I have ever taken. I don’t put too much of that down to me; I give full credit to the Speedy.
How did I get on with the Speedmaster?
So I guess that takes me nicely towards my conclusion. How did I get on wearing RJ’s beloved Speedmaster Professional for the week? I think it’s pretty clear to say that I enjoyed it. The manual winding was a slight curveball, but one I quickly got over. The bracelet was eye-opening and a welcome change of viewpoint. I’m already considering purchasing a bracelet for my Grand Seiko in response to this experience! Finally, it was a pleasure to photograph the watch. It lends itself so well to being a camera’s subject.
I think RJ’s little experiment may end up costing me…
I always thought that my Speedmaster of choice would fall in the sub 40mm category. So, I’d been looking at things like the Speedmaster Racing (Schumacher yellow, of course) or the Mk40. I love the 321, but that’s a little hard to get hold of, and pricier than my wallet will allow. Rather frustratingly, I think RJ’s little experiment may end up costing me more than the €2k-€3k that the Racing and Mk40 Speedies would cost. I’ve already started looking at the 2021 Speedmaster Professionals — sapphire crystal for me, as I’m confident that I would ruin the Hesalite in no time. Plus, that gorgeous Co-Axial cal. 3861 is too good to remain hidden away. As I mentioned in my wish list article, the wish list only ever gets longer rather than shorter. Well, here is another such addition. Thanks, RJ…
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