Omega has just taken the covers off the second, and more affordable, of the commemorative Speedmasters made to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing in 1969.
While the first edition was entirely resplendent in 18k gold, the new Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary is essentially a two-tone Moonwatch in steel with several Moonshine gold accents. The overall look is a blend of new and old; it’s based on the vintage Speedmaster Professional ref. 105.012, but with tweaks and additions for the occasion.
Made in a somewhat large edition of 6,969 pieces, the new Speedmaster boasts several notable technical improvements, including the new Co-Axial cal. 3861 and a revised case construction.
Moonshine on the front…
The 42mm case is steel, with a bezel in 18k Moonshine gold, Omega’s proprietary alloy of pale yellow gold. And like most current Speedmasters, the bezel insert is scratch-resistant ceramic, instead of anodised aluminium as on the historical Moonwatch.
The dial is stepped, as with vintage Speedmasters, but also two-tone, with a dark grey centre and black chapter ring. As is traditional for the Speedmaster, the hour markers are batons, save for an “11” that’s a nod to the Apollo mission number.
All the hour markers, the applied Omega logo, as well as the hands, are 18k Moonshine gold, save for the central seconds hand. That’s gold-plated brass since it has to be lightweight to survive the chronograph reset.
And the constant seconds register at nine o’clock is a medallion of blackened, 18k Moonshine gold, featuring a relief of Buzz Aldrin disembarking from the Apollo Lunar Module.
Footprint on the back
Over on the back, the lunar references continue with an engraving of Neil Armstrong’s footprint on the surface of the Moon, along with his famous line as he set foot on the moon.
Notably, the case back engraving is always the right way up because the case back is secured with Omega’s Naiad Lock, used for the first time in a Moonwatch. It is essentially a bayonet mount like that for a camera lens.
The calibre 3861
Under the case back is probably the most important element of the watch: the Master Co-Axial Calibre 3861. The updated movement will only be utilised in the two Apollo 11 50th Anniversary timepieces from this year while the stock Moonwatch will rely on the cal. 1861.
It’s the most significant upgrade to the Moonwatch movement since, well, forever.
Since 1969, the Moonwatch has been powered by the cal. 861, based on the Lemania 1873, and then upgraded to the cal. 1861 in 1996. The new cal. 3861 takes the movement into the 21st century with several upgrades.
The first is the Co-Axial escapement, the lubrication-free invention of George Daniels that’s now Omega’s de facto escapement. It’s paired with a new, free-sprung, adjustable mass balance wheel and silicon Si14 hairspring. They help increase the power reserve to 50 hours.
Second is Omega’s magnetism-resistance technology that relies on patented alloys for the escapement. That allows the movement to resist magnetic fields of over 15,000 Gauss.
And the last is a hacking seconds, an elementary feature that was surprisingly missing from the Moonwatch for decades.
Bits and bobs
The watch is accompanied by two strap options: a steel bracelet with flat links modelled on that used on the Speedmaster ref. 105.012-65, and a second black cork strap inspired by the heat-protection layer made of cork that covered the Apollo 11 Command Module.
And like all Speedmaster limited editions, this is sold in a large presentation box with several accessories, including two mission patches and a strap removal tool.
The watch itself sits on a miniature model of the Lunar Module.
Material: Steel with 18k Moonshine gold bezel
Water resistance: 50m
Movement: Manual-winding cal. 3861
Power reserve: 50 hours
Strap: Steel bracelet, and cork strap
Price and availability
Limited to 6,969 watches, the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary (ref. 310.20.42.50.01.001) will be delivered starting autumn 2019, with a retail price of 8,900 Swiss francs.
Update May 22, 2019: The stock Moonwatch will be equipped with the cal. 1861, and not the updated cal. 3861.Back to top.
You may also enjoy these.
A new gold alloy and a hand-wound Master Chronometer movement.
50 years ago Lt Commander Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth in the Aurora 7 spacecraft with a Breitling Cosmonaute ref. 809 on his wrist. It was Lt Cmdr Carpenter who first mooted the idea of a 24 hour version of the classic ref. 806 Navitimer in the late fifties because it enabled him to keep track of the time while in space.