Omega Unveils the Speedmaster Calibre 321 in Canopus Gold

Simple but strikingly luxe.

Omega’s opening act for the year is a splendid reinterpretation of the first-ever Speedmaster, the ref. 2915-1 of 1957. More accurately, it’s a splendidly luxurious take on the vintage original.

The Speedmaster Calibre 321 in Canopus Gold is equipped with (almost) the same movement as the ref. 2915, and retains the same dimensions – but it’s entirely in Omega’s proprietary white gold alloy and enhanced with extras like an onyx dial and enamelled tachymeter scale.

Entirely in Canopus gold, Omega’s own white gold alloy

Initial thoughts

Omega is starting 2022 in a big way with a heavyweight timepiece that perfectly encapsulate the brand’s historical greatness – which naturally means a Speedmaster. And it’s not just any Speedmaster, but arguably the ultimate iteration of the Moon Watch: the cal. 321 in a CK2915-1 case.

The result is a watch that seems straight out of 1957 at a glance, but one that’s definitely heftier and shinier up close.

The new Speedmaster does a good job at evoking a perfectly preserved example from the 1950s, thanks to clean dial that avoids faux patina. The purely modern aesthetic makes sense, since it gives the watch its own identity and clearly distinguishes it from the vintage originals and later remakes, most notably the 1957 Trilogy Speedmaster released in 2017 for the 60th anniversary of the model.

That said, the new Speedmaster isn’t particularly creative – it does feel a little like yet another Speedmaster – since it is essentially a combination of elements from various current Speedmasters but elevated with top-of-the-line materials.

Still, it is highly attractive – and equally expensive at US$81,000 (though it’s a bargain compared to the vintage original, one of which recently sold for over US$3 million at Phillips). The price is arguably justified for a chronograph with these attributes, namely the gold case and bracelet as well as the cal. 321, but it is expensive for a Speedmaster.

The watch is presented in a wood box unique to this model

Luxurious and modern

While black dials are common on sports chronographs – it’s the de facto Speedmaster dial colour – Omega has given this a more lustrous shade of black with a dial made of polished onyx, a mineral stone that has a deep, glossy sheen. Add to that the polished hands and indices of solid white gold, the dial appears strikingly luxurious.

The printing on the dial appears notably fine, giving it good resemblance to the vintage original

Despite being a faithful reinterpretation of the vintage ref. 2915-1, the latest Speedmaster is a modern watch. It is the third contemporary model to house the revived cal. 321, after the uber-expensive platinum variant and the “Ed White” in steel.

The markings on the bezel are filled with Grand Feu enamel

The new Speedmaster boasts modern conveniences like a see-through case back, allowing a peek at the cal. 321  that’s plated in Sedna gold, Omega’s proprietary, fade-proof pink gold alloy.

But the movement sits under a Speedmaster seahorse emblem printed on the underside of the crystal, which does seem unsightly up close, though it blends into the intricate mechanics from afar.

Another detail enthusiasts will appreciate is the robustly constructed bracelet – made even heftier in Canopus gold – which has solidity lacking on the vintage original that relied on a bracelet made of stamped metal.

At the same time, the clasp is equipped with a quick-adjustment system that allows for better fit, a feature missing on most other Speedmaster bracelets.


Key facts and price

Omega Speedmaster Caliber 321 Canopus Gold
Ref. 311.50.39.30.01.001

Diameter: 38.6 mm
Height: Not available
Material: 18k Canopus Gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 60 m

Movement: Cal. 321
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Hand-wound
Power reserve: 55 hours

Strap: 18k Canopus Gold bracelet

Limited edition: No
Availability:
 At Omega boutiques and retailers
Price: US$81,000; or 118,750 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Omegawatches.com.


 

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Vacheron Constantin Introduces the Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Bacchus

Elaborately decorated and grandly complicated.

Vacheron Constantin is starting the year in a big way with the Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Bacchus. A double-faced grand complication, the Bacchus is part of the brand’s annual collection of one-of-a-kind timepieces. The Bacchus ranks amongst the most complex watches produced by Vacheron Constantin, thanks to the cal. 2755 GC16 that’s made up of over 800 parts.

Though the Geneva watchmaker has used variations of the same calibre in past watches, the Bacchus is unusual even amongst its siblings because of its case decoration, which includes both hand engraving and gem setting, forming a grapevine motif in relief on both sides of the case.

The star chart display on the reverse of the Bacchus

Initial thoughts

The Bacchus is the sort of grand complication that makes a statement, belonging in the same category of watch as the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon. It’s extremely large, very complex, and impossible to miss on the wrist.

Though a one-off creation, the Bacchus is not the first two-faced grand complication from Vacheron Constantin. In fact, several past models, notably the Phoenix of 2018, have contained variations of the same calibre found in the Bacchus. But the Bacchus has a unique decoration, in fact one of the most elaborate to date.

The minute repeater is activated by turning the bezel, leaving the case free of a traditional slide

Vacheron Constantin’s grand complications are frequently engraved, but Bacchus seems to be the first – or at least the first revealed publicly – that has precious stones forming part of the engraved motif. While the ornate style won’t be for everyone, it is impressive in both craft and execution.

The brand won’t reveal the price of the watch, but with similar past models priced in the US$2-3 million range, it won’t be easily affordable. That said, such watches typically sell quite quickly, especially in past years when Vacheron Constantin staged travelling trunk shows at key cities around the world. Or perhaps the Bacchus was conceived with a wine-drinking, complications-loving customer in mind.

An oenophile’s fantasy

The 18k pink gold case is a massive 47 mm in diameter and 19.1 mm high, leaving ample room for engraving on almost every surface. Bot the bezel, lugs, and back are engraved with a repeating grapevine motif, but the most elaborate decoration is found on the flanks of the case.

Requiring the skills of both an engraver and gem-setter, the case decoration took some 300 hours of work to complete. Both sides of the case are relief engraved with grapevines and accented with rubies, some 113 of them totalling 1.84 carats.

The process started with the engraving putting in the outlines of the motif as well as the recesses for the rubies. Then the gem-setter set the cabochon-cut rubies before returning the case to the engraver for the final step of completing the engraving by adding definition and depth.

Within the large case is the cal. 2755, a hand-wind movement that’s descended from the calibre developed for the Tour de l’Ile, the mega-complication created for Vacheron Constantin’s 250th anniversary in 2005.

Though simpler than the Tour de l’Ile movement, the cal 2755 still boasts a long list of complications – explain its 839 part count – including a perpetual calendar with equation of time, minute repeater, and a star chart on its reverse.

An exploded view of the cal. 2755 showing the layers of the complication plates

The front of the watch contains both the perpetual calendar, power reserve, and tourbillon, while the reverse accommodates the star chart and sidereal time display.

The fan-shaped displays on either side of the tourbillon indicate sunrise and sunset times

The reverse of the watch has a star chart, sidereal time display, as well as a zodiac and seasonal calendar


Key facts and price

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Bacchus
Ref. 9700C/000R-B755

Diameter: 47 mm
Height: 19.1 mm
Material: 18k pink gold, set with 113 rubies of 1.84 carats
Crystal: Sapphire
Water-resistance: Not water-resistant

Movement: Cal. 2755 GC16
Functions: Time, minute repeater, perpetual calendar with equation of time, sunrise and sunset times, power reserve indication, and tourbillon regulator; on reverse, sky chart with sidereal time and zodiac calendar
Winding: Hand wind
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 58 hours

Strap: Alligator with hand-engraved folding buckle

Limited edition: Unique piece
Availability: From Vacheron Constantin boutiques
Price: Upon request

For more information, visit Vacheron-constantin.com.


 

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