Omega Speedmaster ’57 Ref. 318.104.22.168.01.002
Omega is going large this year with their Speedmaster collection. Not only did they show us the new ceramic Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon models (we covered all of them here), White Side of the Moon models (review coming up), Speedmaster Snoopy II (covered it here) but also this new Omega Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 model. In the past, we already reviewed the Omega Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 watch (here) and compared it to the original Speedmaster CK2915 and the later 1997 re-edition. However, that was the model introduced in 2013 and even though it showed some similarities with the original CK2915 reference, it lacked proper broad arrow hands for the large hour and minute hands for example.
This year, Omega showed us the new additions to the Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 collection and for today’s Speedy Tuesday feature I take a closer look.
Comparing the Omega Speedmaster ’57
Not too long ago I listed a Top 5 of my favorite vintage Speedmasters for Speedy Tuesday and stated that I prefer the 2nd generation of Speedmasters (CK2998) better than the first (CK2915). That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, I just prefer the later models that look a bit more like the Speedmaster as we know it now. I own a Speedmaster ’57 Re-Edition and find myself wearing it quite a bit. The stainless steel bezel and broad arrow hands make it a watch that has a slightly different appeal than the ‘Moonwatch’, with its white baton hands and black tachymeter scale bezel. The same goes for this Omega Speedmaster ’57 reference 322.214.171.124.01.002 (and 3126.96.36.199.01.002 for the version on a tan leather strap).
However, I should stop comparing the Omega Speedmaster ’57 to the original CK2915 or the Moonwatch in general, as it is simply not even part of the Moonwatch collection. No, Omega decided to design and produce a number of Speedmaster watches that are clearly inspired by the original Moonwatch but put them in the market as a more modern timepiece. No hand-wound movement, no Hesalite (plexi) crystal and so on. Actually, the fact that Omega keeps the Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ in the collection is probably to pay tribute to the watches that actually made it to the Moon.
I sometimes wonder how often the managing board discussed the possibility of discontinuing this Speedmaster Pro in its current form during the last 10 years as it is a watch that doesn’t have the Co-Axial escapement, has no (real) water resistance, no automatic movement, no date and so on. It is basically still the design of 1968, except for the bracelet. Not only that, but it also has a suggested retail price of €4300 Euro, far away from the pricing table of their newer watch collections. On the other hand, it is probably one of their watches that sell in high volume year-after-year and it is probably one of the coolest “entry-level” watches a brand can wish for. Even if you have a somewhat limited budget for watches, it is a timepiece that someone can save-up for in their life and buy (and wear) it. The ceramic Speedmaster models are all priced around the €10.000 Euro mark which is not for everyone. This new Omega Speedmaster ’57 caliber 9300 retails for €7400 Euro (and €7300 Euro for the version on a leather strap).
Anyway, the urge to compare the Omega Speedmaster ’57 to the Moonwatch (or the CK2915 reference) is perhaps also a logical one, as Omega uses a lot of design aspects from those watches for their new Speedmaster family members.
When I laid my eyes on the Omega Speedmaster ’57 references 3188.8.131.52.01.002 and 3184.108.40.206.01.002 for the first time, I was enthusiastic straight-away. The new line-up of ceramic Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon models I understood from a commercial perspective but prefer either the original DSotM or the GSotM (which Michael reviewed here), the Snoopy II is something I ordered even before seeing it in the flesh as I have the original Snoopy and the 1995 Apollo XIII limited editions as well in my modest collection, but these new Speedmaster ’57 additions are something ‘refreshing’ even though it is heavily inspired by the CK2915. Somehow they sparked my interest more than the first caliber 9300 Speedmaster ’57 with leaf-shaped hands did.
Faux-Patina and Broad Arrow Hands
The Omega Speedmaster ’57 ref. 3220.127.116.11.01.002 is an attractive watch for a number of reasons. The case has a very nice size of 41.5mm (yes, even smaller than the Speedmaster Professional) which seems to be an accepted size for a men’s watch by many. The DSotM/GSoTM/WSotM and other stainless steel Speedmaster Caliber 9300 models are all 44.25mm, which is still considered to be a large watch and not for everyone. The Omega Speedmaster ’57 has a modest diameter and looks sleek anyway because of the lack of crown guards, like the original straight-lug Speedmaster watches. Another aspect that makes this watch attractive is the use of the in-house developed caliber 9300 movement. As we already wrote in our Speedmaster ’57 review in 2014:
This column wheel chronograph with George Daniel’s Co-Axial escapement is the result of years of development. Omega industrialized the production process of this movement (and that of the caliber 8500 family) to be able to provide the high number of watches they produce every year with one of these in-house movements. It is not only the finish of the movement that is so beautiful, also the fact that it uses a column wheel mechanism for the chronograph, a Co-Axial escapement and silicon parts make this a very interesting movement. Operating this chronograph movements by using the start/stop and reset pushers does feel very solid and ‘precise’. The caliber 9300 movement also have been chronometer certified, which means they have a maximal deviation of -6 and +4 seconds per day.
Anyways, the difference between the Speedmaster ’57 from 2013 and the one from this year is of course in the dial and hands. Although I am not particularly a fan of using faux-patina, it does suit this Omega Speedmaster ’57 and also seems to make sense because of the referral the original Speedmaster CK2915 that was in production from 1957 to 1959. As you can see in one of the images above, the original CK2915 models often show discolored hour markers and luminous material in the hands. Brands like Officine Panerai and Tudor use faux-patina for basically the same reasons and they get away with it pretty well, so I don’t assume that Omega Speedmaster fans will have big issues with it anyway. Besides the yellow-ish patina on the dial (and date disc!), the Omega Speedmaster ’57 also features the famous Broad Arrow hands. Something Omega has been reviving for the Speedmaster every once in a while since 1997 and even named an entire (now discontinued) Speedmaster collection ‘Broad Arrow’, using the F. Piguet chronograph based movement.
The faux patina is being referred to by Omega as ‘Vintage Super LumiNova’ and as you can see on the image above, the hour markers are etched in the dial and filled with this luminous material. It is not a sandwich dial. Omega uses the same technique for their Seamaster 300 range. As written above, even the numerals on the date disc are in the same ‘vintage’ color as the hour markers, minute markers and other printing on the dial. There is little to criticize on the dial for that matter, perhaps I would have preferred an applied metal Omega logo. I am not bothered by the typical two-register lay-out of the dial due to the use of their Caliber 9300 movement.
The Discussions About The Speedmaster ’57 Bracelet
Bracelets are tricky things and the only watch bracelets on the market that gets general approval are the Oyster and Royal Oak bracelets. I am guilty of that myself as well, although I certainly do appreciate certain Omega bracelets as well. The Speedmaster bracelets have been topic of discussion many times among Speedmaster fans, especially the later (post mid-1990s) and current ones used on the Speedmaster Pro are not liked by everyone. However, these are certainly more comfortable than the previous used references (1479, 1450, 1171 and so on) as they don’t pull you hairs and have a nicer clasp. For the Omega Speedmaster ’57 collection, Omega studied the original bracelets that were used on the Speedmasters of the 1950s and 1960s. We are talking references 7077, 7912, 1039 etc, with the flat links and little springs to make them capable of stretching a bit.
As you can see, the new Omega Speedmaster ’57 bracelet is heavily inspired by the appearance of the original (ref.7077) bracelet. The new bracelet is a bit thicker though – which is a good thing, as the original thickness would have been too flimsy for a watch like this – and has a modern clasp. The center links are brushed and the outer ones are nicely polished. And still, I read and hear a lot of complaints about this new bracelet. I actually prefer it over the other modern Omega Speedmaster bracelet types. To be honest I am not entirely sure what the critics of this bracelet are looking for instead. Perhaps an all brushed bracelet, but that does not correspond with the original Speedmaster CK2915 bracelet. Anyway, as shown in this article, the Omega Speedmaster ’57 is also available in a beautiful tan leather strap. I would buy the version with bracelet though, and get the strap separately for it (or have one made).
Verdict on the Omega Speedmaster ’57
You might have noticed my enthusiasm for this new Speedy with caliber 9300 and ‘CK2915’ looks. It is an awesome everyday timepiece for those who want to have an automatic winding watch with date, sapphire crystal and with an appearance inspired by the original Speedmaster. Purists will stick to their Speedmaster (pre-)Moonwatch models anyway, at least the majority of them. There is little Omega can do about that I am afraid except keeping the Moonwatch in the collection and come with interesting limited or special editions once in a while. If you can look past the Moon heritage or fixation on the original Speedmaster watches, this is a wonderful timepiece. It has the in-house caliber 9300 movement with Co-Axial escapement and very accurate action on chronograph.
The “Vintage SuperLumiNova” dial and Broad Arrow hands make it – to me – a more interesting watch than the 2013 line-up of Omega Speedmaster ’57 watches. However, if you already have one of those I am not sure I would go through the hassle of a trade or adding it to your collection. However, if you were planning to buy one of those, have a look at this new Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 ref. 318.104.22.168.01.002. As written above, the watch retails for €7400 Euro (including VAT) and deduct €100 Euro for the version with the leather strap. However, my advice is to go for the bracelet version (even if you are not a fan of it) and get a separate strap.
So, how good is the new Omega Speedmaster ’57? It is an awesome modern watch influenced by one of the most iconic chronographs in the world. Perhaps even the most iconic chronograph out there. Perhaps you are not buying the most iconic chronograph with this new caliber 9300 Speedmaster ’57, but you it will remind you about it and on top of that you will buy an Omega that has all ingredients of today’s best in watchmaking (Si14 balance spring, column wheel movement, Co-Axial escapement). If you are looking for a vintage Speedmaster, I suggest you go look at a ref. 105.003 Speedmaster that can be bought in great condition for about the same price or perhaps (but more expensive) CK2998 reference.
More information can be found on the dedicated official Omega Speedmaster website.