Hands-On with the Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday “Ultraman”

Vintage-inspired but fun.

Just over a month ago, Omega repeated the success of last year’s online-exclusive Speedy Tuesday, with the second instalment of the series, the Speedmaster “Ultraman” selling out in under two hours.

Named after a social media hashtag coined by Robert-Jan Broer, founder of Dutch watch blog Fratello Watches, the first Speedy Tuesday was highly anticipated, but disappointed on some counts, namely with long delayed deliveries as well as issues with the colours on the dial. Omega fixed all of that with the Speedy Tuesday “Ultraman”, with the first watches being delivered in third week of August, free of any reported issues.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 8

#SpeedyTuesday

The original Speedy Tuesday might have taken itself quite seriously, being inspired by the experimental Alaska Project III wristwatch of 1978 – developed to satisfy NASA’s need for a timekeeper that could survive extreme temperatures – the latest Speedy Tuesday is orange, black and dedicated to a Japanese superhero who transforms into a giant alien to defend Earth from other giant aliens.

Omega Speedy Tuesday 1 and 2

Speedy Tuesday parts one and two

Omega Speedy Tuesday 2017

Unlike the black and silver Speedy Tuesday of 2017,  “Ultraman” is striking in black and orange. The colours pop, and give the watch a greater sense of fun than the average Speedmaster. The contrast between the colours is enhanced by the matte, grained surface of the dial.

So even though the watch feels exactly like any other Speedmaster Professional – since the case is exactly the same – it looks a great deal more interesting.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 11

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 10

The watch is inspired by the Speedmaster Professional “Ultraman” (ref. 145.012) of 1968, which was essentially a standard Moonwatch with an orange central seconds hand (and bona fide “Ultraman” watches are known to bear serial numbers within a fixed range). It got the nickname from the fact that made a prominent appearance in the 1971 television series The Return of Ultraman.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 12

Ultraman consequently makes an appearance on the Speedy Tuesday edition, with a caricature of the superhero’s head printed on the constant seconds register at nine o’clock. Being tone on tone and fairly indistinct in form, the Ultraman head is not especially noticeable on the wrist, though it glows orange when illuminated by UV light (a small UV torch is provided with the watch).

Also a nod to the television show is the three-minute segment in orange on the minute counter, explained by the fact that the titular hero could only be a giant alien for three minutes before reverting to his human form.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 9

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 6

Though the Speedy Tuesday “Ultraman” doesn’t take itself too seriously with its pop culture inspiration, it has enough smartly executed throwbacks to vintage Speedmasters to satisfy high-minded collectors. In fact, the subtle inclusion of elements from “pre-Moon” Speedmasters is perfectly attuned to the zeitgeist of today’s collecting, where vintage watch enthusiasts obsess over minor details.

The first on the list of its vintage detailing is the stepped dial. It’s not quite as pronounced as that on a vintage Speedmaster, but obvious nevertheless. Interesting, the hour markers on the “Ultraman” are painted into shallow recesses, whereas on most other Speedmasters, new and old, they are painted onto the dial.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 1

Omega Speedmaster 105.012

A Speedmaster ref. 105.012 from the 1960s

Also draw from vintage Speedmaster is the “dot over 90”, or “DON”, aluminium bezel insert, as well as the retro Omega logos on the dial and crown.

Omega-Speedmaster-Speedy-Tuesday-Ultraman-2a

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 3

The rest of the watch is pretty much stock Speedmaster Professional. The 42mm steel case has the same alternating brushed and polished finish on its signature lyre-lugs, though the case back has some extra commemorative engraving.

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 5

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 4

Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday Ultraman 7

Underneath the back is the Omega cal. 1861, the hand-wound movement based on the Lemania cal. 1873 that’s been used in the Moonwatch since 1969. It’s a fairly simplistic, but robust and reliable, cam-based chronograph movement that’s long in tooth but so strongly associated with the Moonwatch that it’ll probably never change.

The “Ultraman” also departs significantly from last year’s Speedy Tuesday in its packaging. While the 2017 edition came wrapped a modestly sized leather roll, the “Ultraman” arrives in an impractically large octagonal box modelled on the table used by the Ultraman team in the television show. Underneath the insert to hold the watch sits a spare leather strap (which is a superior choice to the NATO strap that leaves the watch quite bulky) and strap tool that has a built-in UV light. Though a steel bracelet isn’t part of the package, the various bracelets for the Moonwatch will fit.

Priced at US$7100, or S$9180, the Speedy Tuesday Ultraman costs about 10%, or US$600, more than last year’s edition. That increase is probably due to the instant sellout of the first edition, rather than any material increase in cost of production. That being said, the “Ultraman” is still a much more attractive watch, because it smartly blends Speedmaster history with a bit of fun.


Correction August 30, 2018: The calibre inside is the 1861, not the earlier generation 861. 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

MB&F Introduces Grant, a Triple-Tracked Transformer Clock

The shape-shifting, armoured robot.

The extraordinary imagination of MB&F has produced some of the most elaborate timekeeping contraptions, from spaceships to creepy crawlies. Needless to say, robots have been a recurring subject, starting with the brand’s first clock, Melchoir, and continuing with the schizophrenic Balthazar to the benevolent Sherman. And now MB&F has introduced Grant, a robot clock sitting on three wheeled tracks that can transform.

Named after the American M3 Lee “Grant” tank of the Second World War, the compact but weighty 2.34kg clock is designed by MB&F and once again built by Swiss clockmaker L’Epée 1839. Fashioned from steel, nickel-plated and palladium-plated brass, Grant stands on three continuous rubber tracks and is made from 268 components.

MB&F Grant Robot

Grant is powered by L’Epée’s in-line eight-day movement, with time displayed on a shield across its back. Like the previous robot clocks, it has a glass dome on the robot’s head that protects the balance and escapement. The regulator is equipped with an Incabloc shock protection system to reduce risk of damage when the clock is moved.

The movement is wound on the dial side of the clock with a double-depth square socket key, which is mounted on the robot’s right hand, doubling up as a cannon.

MB&F Grant Robot 9

MB&F Grant Robot 6

However, what distinguishes Grant from MB&F’s earlier robot clocks is its ability to transform. In its lowest position, the dial is horizontal and almost parallel with the table. The dial can also be set at 45 degrees for an optimal viewing angle as a desk clock, and also vertical at 90 degrees.

Grant measures 166mm tall at its tallest standing position, and just 115mm high when flat.

MB&F Grant Robot 5

MB&F Grant Robot 2

Price and Availability

Grant is priced at SFr22,200 and is available in Nickel, Black, and Blue, each limited to 50 pieces.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Swatch Group and Audemars Piguet Develop Non-Magnetic Balance Spring Alloy

Nivachron is its name.

Switzerland’s biggest watch conglomerate the Swatch Group has just announced Nivachron, a cutting edge, non-magnetic alloy for hairsprings developed in collaboration with a surprising partner, high-end watchmaker Audemars Piguet. Though the announcement does not explicitly says so, it appears Nivachron is an alternative to silicon, having most, or perhaps all, of silicon’s properties while retaining the malleability of a metal alloy.

The new alloy has “exceptional paramagnetic characteristics”, according to the Swatch Group. Nivachron has a “complex composition” with a “titanium base”, which allows it to reduce the effect of magnetism “by a factor of 10 to 20”, depending on the movement it is used in. In addition, Nivachron also boasts resistance to ambient temperature changes as well as shock.

Not much has been revealed about the cooperation between the Swatch Group and Audemars Piguet, however, the name of the alloy indicates a major role played by Swatch Group subsidiary Nivarox-FAR, the biggest producer of tiny movement components, including those of the escapement and hairspring. Also, all of the trademark registrations for “Nivachron” available online are in the name of Nivarox-FAR and the Swatch Group.

The development of Nivachron is notable in that the material is a metal alloy, rather than silicon, which has been the most popular paramagnetic material for hairsprings in recent years. While silicon has all the ideal properties for a hairspring, it is relatively fragile and prone to breaking when handled improperly during assembly or servicing. Nevertheless it has been adopted by various Swatch Group brands, including Omega (where it’s named Si14), Breguet, Blancpain and Tissot, as well as Rolex and Patek Philippe. That made it seem like silicon was on its way to dominance, but Nivachron might be an alternative.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Breaking News: Swatch Group Half-Year Profit Plunges

The largest Swiss watchmaker announced a sharp fall in sales and 50 to 60 per cent drop in profits for the first half of 2016.

A tribute to Gerald Genta from Audemars Piguet

Swatch Offers Lifetime Battery Replacement for All Swatch Watches

A new battery gratis, available at any Swatch boutique.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.