It’s Speedy Tuesday! On this very last day of 2013, we thought it would be nice to do a side-by-side article on three different Speedmaster ’57 models. One of them is the very first Omega Speedmaster from 1957, reference CK2915 with caliber 321 movement. The holy grail to a lot of Speedmaster collectors and enthusiasts. The other two are homage watches to this very first Speedmaster CK2915 and feature some of the characteristics that this watch has. One of them is the Omega Speedmaster ’57 Replica or re-edition that was in production from 1998 to 2003 and the other one is the Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 that was introduced in 2013.
In the photo above you see (from left to right): Speedmaster ref. CK2915, Speedmaster ref. 318.104.22.168.01.001, Speedmaster ref. 3594.50 (3894.50 on a strap). This picture already gives you a quick glance on the similarities and the differences between these three watches. Below, we do a drill-down per watch to give a more detailed description.
Omega Speedmaster CK2915
One of our readers and avid Speedmaster collector, Hans, showed us his Speedmaster CK2915 during the Speedy Tuesday Event that we co-organized with Omega at ESA – ESTEC’s official visitor centre, Space Expo. An amazing piece that was quickly checked by one of the people from the Omega Museum in Bienne and considered to be all original except for the bezel. This is clearly a replacement by the later Speedmaster ’57 replica (3594.50) that we discuss later on in this article.
Luckily, Hans let us play around with his much beloved Omega Speedmaster CK2915 and that gave us the opportunity to make some photographs of this watch and also together with the Speedmaster ’57 replica and the recently introduced Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 watch that was lend to us by Omega for a test drive.
In 1957, years before NASA’s James Ragan ordered the Speedmaster for testing purposes, Omega’s head of creation of that time Pierre Moinat had a team of designers and watch makers to come up with a sports chronograph. Designed by Claude Baillod, the Speedmaster was meant to be a solid and robust chronograph watch with a dial that reflect the design of Italian race cars of that period. The case, as you can see, has a symmetrical design as opposed to the later – and current – Speedmaster Professional watches. Omega used this case design in the first years of the Speedmaster history, until they came up with a crown guard and pusher protectors on the later reference 105.012 and 145.012. This modification was performed as per request of NASA, as they were afraid that pushers might be ‘bumped’ off by astronauts during use.
The first CK2915 had these broad arrow hands, as can be seen on the photos here as well. On one of the later CK2915 references (CK2915-3), produced around 1959, the broad arrow hands were replaced by so-called Alpha hands (similar to the later reference CK2998) and the stainless steel bezel was replaced by the one with the black inlay as we know them now.
Inside, Omega used the Lemania based caliber 321 movement (based on the Lemania 2310). A column wheel chronograph movement that Omega already started to use in 1946. This caliber 321 was used in the Speedmaster family from 1957 to 1968, when the caliber 321 was replaced by Lemania based caliber 861 (based on the Lemania 1871) in their Speedmaster Professional 145.022.
The back side of the movement didn’t had a transparent case back, something that became a trend a few decades later. It just shows the engraved Seahorse logo and ‘Speedmaster’ wording. As you can see, this Speedmaster CK2915 shows a bit of patina on the case and lugs. We’ve seen it more often on these older Speedmaster (and Seamaster) watches and we assume it is because of some fluids containing traces of acid that corroded the steel case.
This Omega Speedmaster CK2915 is the holy grail to many Speedmaster collectors and enthusiasts out there and are very hard to get. It is probably easier to buy that perfect Rolex Daytona Paul Newman than to obtain a perfect Omega Speedmaster CK2915, even if you have (almost) unlimited resources. They are just really scarce.
Omega Speedmaster ’57 Replica 3594.50
From our own modest collection of Speedmasters is this ’57 Replica or re-edition. The official name contained ‘Replica’ but a lot of collectors and enthusiasts didn’t like it for obvious reasons. This Omega Speedmaster ’57 was part of the Missions Collection suit case that Omega introduced in 1997 and could also be bought separate from 1998 to approximately 2003. The case was identical to the regular Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 3570.50 case. The main difference was in the details, such as the stainless steel bezel, the broad arrow hands and the pre-Professional like dial, with applied Omega logo and lack of ‘Professional’ written on it.
These Speedmaster ’57 Replica watches came either with a stainless steel bracelet (in the first years they used the older model without push buttons on the clasp that is also the one that tapers a bit to the end, later on Omega used the current model with pushers on the clasp and measures 20mm at both ends). The version with the strap (Speedmaster ref. 3894.50) had a light tan strap with white stitching and folding clasp. This particular strap was – we believe – exclusively for this Speedmaster Replica and not used on any other references.
The case back was a modern interpretation of the Speedmaster CK2915 case back, only with a Seahorse and ‘Speedmaster’ wording. This Speedmaster used the Lemania based caliber 1861 movement that was also introduced in 1997 and which succeeded the caliber 861 movement. This movement only had minor changes compared to its predecessor, an extra jewel and some optical finishing were the biggest enhancements.
There was also an all gold version of this Omega Speedmaster Replica, limited to 150 pieces only (reference 3193.50).
Although this Speedmaster ’57 Replica or re-edition has a CK2915 appeal, there are some major differences of course that immediately will tell you it is a modern variant. Keep in mind that the CK2915 had a smaller (39mm) diameter as opposed to the 42mm diameter of the Speedmaster ’57 and the Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’. The broad arrow hands with their silver color, the pre-Professional dial and the stainless steel bezel are a bit more deceiving though. These watches were not produced in limited numbers so you should be able to obtain one in the pre-owned watch market.
Omega Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300 322.214.171.124.01.001
The only watch in this article that is in the current collection, the Omega Speedmaster ’57 Co-Axial Chronograph with caliber 9300 movement. It has been introduced during Baselworld 2013 and even though it was a bit in the shadow of the presentation of the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, it is gaining popularity quite fast.
Omega was so kind to lend us this Speedmaster ’57 3126.96.36.199.01.001 to do a little test drive with it. A more in-depth review will be given in another Speedy Tuesday article, but we also decided to already use it for this Speedmaster ’57 article. The review will discuss how this watch wears during daily use and how it performed during the test period.
This 41.5mm diameter Speedmaster has been named Speedmaster ’57 due to its symmetrical straight-lug case. As you can see below, the hands are Alpha hands (instead of Broad Arrow) and the dial has a two-register lay-out.
This Omega Speedmaster ’57 seems to be more of a homage to the founding year of the Speedmaster collection than to the very first Speedmaster CK2915 itself. The small chronograph hour and minute recorder at 3 o’clock are surely Broad Arrow hands, but the main hour and minute hands show more resemblance with the second generation of Speedmaster watches (CK2998).
It probably has not come unnoticed, that this watch uses the recent developed and introduced caliber 9300 movement. We did a thorough review of the first Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph watch with this movement in 2011 already (click here) and Omega also decided to use it in a new range of models of the Speedmaster collection such as this ’57 edition and the earlier mentioned Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon.
Of course, we have the gold/steel version here and it would be more ‘appropriate’ to use an all stainless-steel model for this comparison but this was the version that was available for review at that moment. However, there is definitely a stainless steel version available for you, with both a stainless steel bracelet and a leather strap. The stainless steel bracelet looks very similar to the 7077 and 1039 bracelets with its polished and matt surfaces, but with a modern twist of course.
The Speedmaster ’57 edition in stainless steel starts at approx. 6600 Euro on a leather strap and approx 6700 Euro on a stainless steel bracelet (price can vary per country due to VAT differences). This gold/steel version on a leather strap has a price tag of approx 8100 euro. Quite a mark-up compared to the good ol’ Speedmaster Professional (which has a price tag of approx 3400 Euro), but keep in mind that this new caliber 9300 series of Speedmaster watches are newly developed watches with new in-house developed column wheel movements as opposed to a watch that has basically remained the same since 1968. You should rather compare it to the Rolex Daytona with caliber 4130 or Breitling Navitimer 01 with in-house movement than to the original ‘Moonwatch’.
However, the evolution of Speedmaster watches is clear. From the very first CK2915 via the ‘modern’ Speedmaster Professional variant called ’57 Replica’ to the hyper modern Speedmaster ’57 Caliber 9300. Purists might always choose for a Speedmaster Professional or for something vintage even, but we also hope that we increased your interest in the new caliber 9300 Speedmaster ’57 watch. As written above, we will come back to you with a more in-depth review which hopefully will explain our enthusiasm for this watch (we couldn’t take it off our wrists to be honest).
In the end, the watch we would love to own ourselves is the version pictured below, the CK2915. However, for daily use, the new Speedmaster ’57 is just awesome.
Below, a few more photos of the Speedmaster ’57 watches discussed in this article. We used the book called ‘Moonfire’ from Taschen as a ‘prop’ for these photos. You can purchase this interest book via this link for just 30 Euro. We used the sold out version of this book, limited to 1969 pieced and signed by Buzz Aldrin. Thanks to Ibo, friend of the show, for lending his book to us.