Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 Steel
- the most beautiful Speedmaster Moonwatch produced in recent decades
- a particularly faithful and successful reissue of the mythical Speedmaster 105.003
- a reference embodying the mythical Caliber 321 recreated and superbly decorated
- a vintage but contemporary design
- a sumptuous, elegant dial with a formidable functionality
- a beautiful ceramic bezel
- the presence of a sapphire case-back allowing to admire the mechanics
- a superb and ultra comfortable bracelet
- a genuine collector’s piece
- a water-resistance limited to 50m which forbids you to bathe with
- a 19mm lugs width that will force you to buy other NATO straps
- a model that seems difficult to obtain
Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321
Steel / ceramic bezel
|Case diameter (without crown)|
|Case diameter (crown included)|
Omega Caliber 321
Caliber 321 (2nd generation)
Hour ; minute ; second ; chronograph
Domed-crystal glass with anti-reflective coating
|Length from lug to lug|
135 grams (steel bracelet set for a 17,5cm-wrist)
|Retail price USA at November 18th, 2020|
|Movement Optimisation / Garnishment (/5)||4|
|Ease of handling and adjustment (/5)||5|
|Movement control proceeded by the Manufacture / horlogical awards (/3)||3|
|Power reserve (/2)||1|
|Dial finishing (/6)||5|
|Case finishing (/6)||5|
|Quality of garnishment / caseback engraving quality (/2)||2|
|Crystal quality (/4)||4|
|Clasp finishing (inner and extern) (/2)||2|
|Diurnal legibility (/5)||5|
|Night legibility (/4)||4|
|Water resistance (/3)||0.5|
|Strap : ease of size adjustment + ease of substitution (/4)||3|
|Clasp : quality and safety (/4)||3|
|Additional items (/10)||4|
|Limited edition (/3)||0|
|Watch delivered with several straps (/2)||0|
|Quality of the watch box (/1)||1|
|Portability with shirtsleeves buttoned (/2)||2|
|Goodies included (/1)||0|
|Understandability of the brochure (/1)||1|
|Value for money (/15)||15|
|When to wear it ?||At a Rolex meeting, to make them jealous!|
Speedmaster Moonwatch: the legend goes on
On October 10, I proposed to you the screening of what is probably the most famous chronograph in history and, incidentally, the best-selling one: the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch.
One of the reasons for its rise to the coveted status of icon is its exceptional history, the Speedmaster having been declared by NASA in 1965 and after a series of particularly robust tests, approved by NASA for all manned space missions.
This Omega Speedmaster, which appeared in 1957, became the essential partner in the conquest of space, even becoming the first watch worn on the Moon on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist in 1969 – a historic event which gave it its name as the Moonwatch.
To learn more, I invite you to read the above-mentioned article.
A true pillar of the Omega catalog and flagship of the Biel-based Manufacture, the line welcomed a new reference in early 2020 bearing the sweet name of Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 – a model which I am wearing on my wrist at the time of writing these few lines and from which I will find it very difficult to part with…
But first of all a bit of history, because this new chronograph is worth it more than any other.
On June 3, 1965, astronaut Edward White, on the Gemini 4 mission, became the first American to go into space, performing a spacewalk in particular, wearing an Omega Speedmaster ref. ST 105.003 on his wrist.
To be continued below…
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321:
the 2020 version of the famous Speedmaster ST 105.003
Omega has brought this legendary chronograph back to life with the Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321, a contemporary version of the ST 105.003.
Let’s first look at its gorgeous aesthetics before plunging into its mythical mechanics – as you can see: I try to calm my enthusiasm to remain objective, but I am literally won over…
Inspired by the 3rd generation of Speedmaster, this contemporary Caliber 321 version features a symmetrical 39.7-millimeter diameter steel case extended by sloping lugs to follow the curve of the wrist but straight in accordance with its source of inspiration.
The asymmetrical case with crown guard and faceted lyre-type lugs as we know it on today’s classic Speed models dates roughly from the same period as the ST 105.003 but makes its appearance on the ST 105.012 reference.
This absence of crown and pushers protection considerably lightens the aesthetics and preserves the purity of design of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 by returning it to its original round shape.
At the same time, it offers an unobstructed view of its mushroom-shaped chronograph pushers and an easier grip of its winding crown – a good thing when it’s a hand-wound mechanical watch.
Omega has not neglected the finishing touches, however, offering a finely satin-finished case middle when the upper part of the lugs is mirror-polished.
The lugs are flared on the wrist, offering visual elegance while remaining extremely robust.
To be continued below…
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 :
ultra seductive vintage aesthetics but contemporary design
The similarities with the Omega Speedmaster ST 105.003 don’t end there, of course.
This Speed Caliber 321 takes its elder brother’s black exterior tachymeter bezel, graduated and engraved with a Tachymètre 500-60 km/h scale.
I remind you that the first Speedmaster models have a bezel without insert and are graduated and engraved Tachymètre base 1000 300-60 km/h.
In 2020, however, the famous aluminum insert is here replaced by a polished black ceramic insert, the graduations and markings being made in white enamel – the point on the 90 prized by collectors still present in 2020.
With its deep black color contrasted with the white enamel, this bezel is absolutely stunning and adds a touch of luxury to the model, while offering optimized resistance to the vagaries of time.
Its delicacy highlights a dial that is far from being outdone.
It is punctuated by the now classic white baton-type hands which, on the ST 105.003, take the place of the polished steel Alpha hands.
Clearly more legible, they are also more elegant.
Playing the vintage card to the full, Omega uses an eggshell-tinted Super-LumiNova (evocative of the tritium of yesteryear) on this Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321, which the company uses for the hands, including the arrow of the chronograph second hand, but also to coat the stick indexes that mark the 5-minute rhythm.
The result, vintage to perfection, is once again absolutely magnificent and does not in any way alter the legendary legibility of the Speedmaster, whatever the conditions.
These indexes and hands take place on the iconic dial (known as step dial for collectors) of the famous chronograph: finely granular matte black surface to completely absorb the light, tricompax layout with recessed counters with a circular guilloché center and white graduations.
Omega finalizes this irresistible display with a polished steel applique of its historic logo.
Now it’s time to move on to the engine side…
To be continued below…
2020 version of Caliber 321: a show and qualities
which alone justify the acquisition of this Speedmaster
The origins of Caliber 321, unveiled by Omega in July 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon, take us back to the Caliber 321 built by Albert Piguet at Lemania, itself the successor in 1946 of the Caliber 27 CHRO C12 developed and launched in 1942.
At the time, it was a classic caliber with a column wheel.
However, from the outset it was manufactured to the nearest micron, and was subjected to drastic tests by Omega to ensure both robustness and precision – all details that went into the construction of the legend.
In order to pay tribute to this legend, Omega has embarked on a long and complex process of rebuilding the original Caliber 321 in 2016, using the second generation of this caliber as a basis.
To this end, the Manufacture has set up a dedicated workshop and has digitally scanned the Speedmaster worn by astronaut and Captain Eugène Cernan during the Apollo 17 mission (December 7-19, 1972).
Put back on loan by its owner to the Omega museum in 1999, it is, for the anecdote, the last Speedmaster carried on the Moon.
The tomographic process used by Omega thus made it possible to rebuild the original Caliber 321 from the measurements taken, offering it all its original specifications.
In its contemporary version carried by this new Speedmaster, the Caliber 321 thus has, like its predecessor, a column wheel and offers a slightly improved power reserve (55 hours now compared to 44 hours for the original).
As a concession to modern times and the staging of the star, Omega equips this Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 with a sapphire crystal caseback which reveals it. It allows the wearer to take full advantage of its original decoration with PVD treatment in 18-carat Sedna gold of certain components and its mythical open architecture – an absolute delight for the eye.
One last word before concluding.
Omega has dressed this Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321 with a magnificent reedition of the flat links bracelet, whose short, refined but now armoured links provide ideal wearing comfort and whose thin profile makes the whole thing lighter.
This bracelet, alternating satin-finished (central) and mirror-polished (peripheral) links, is also closed with a beautiful vintage folding clasp bearing the brand’s old logo.
To be continued below…
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 :
An irresistible version of a mythical chronograph
If the classic Speedmaster is and remains an icon among icons, this Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 is without a doubt for me THE Speedmaster among the Speedmasters.
I have been the proud owner of an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch sapphire crystal for the past 15 years and I never get tired of it.
I wear it each time with infinite pleasure and can’t help but admire its elegance, functionality and timelessness.
In the 10 years of The Watch Observer’s existence and in my years as a collector, I have also seen a large number of Speedmasters, old and contemporary.
But I must confess that this Omega Moonwatch Caliber 321 is without a doubt the most beautiful and desirable watch I have ever seen and worn.
Adopting a vintage aesthetic while benefiting from a contemporary design, it allows you to enjoy the charm of vintage watches without the drawbacks.
But most of all, it is absolutely gorgeous with its iconic dial with falsely patinated (but beautifully crafted) indexes and hands, its emblematic applied logo, all encircled by an intensely black ceramic tachometric bezel: the whole is both sumptuous and incredibly elegant.
Turn this Speed around and the enthusiasm is the same: the spectacle offered by this new Caliber 321 is stunning and elegantly highlighted.
As for the strap, it is also magnificent, with the good idea of giving pride of place to satin-finished surfaces to offer the utmost discretion.
Aside from this inherent characteristic of the model – its water-resistance limited to 50 metres, which will prevent you from swimming with it – this Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Calibre 321, with its irresistible charm, is for me a flawless model.
As such, it has just become one of my watchmaking Grails, of which there are now five.
The question remains as to its price, which seems to have caused a ruckus in the collector’s community.
It is certainly much higher than the price of a classic Speedmaster.
But I remind you that the production tool dedicated to the latter has been largely amortized over time, that of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 having required a colossal amount of R&D work upstream as well as ad hoc developments and tooling downstream.
My point is even more true concerning its movement recreated from scratch.
Finally, I would like to remind you of a few prizes that allow us to put the subject into context and put it into perspective.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400 is priced at €18,100, while the Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A is priced at €29,400, both of which are three-hand and date steel models…
I encourage you to go and try it at your favorite Omega dealer as soon as possible: this Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 is IRRESISTIBLE!
- the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321 is not a limited series
- wrist of the writer / tester = 17.5 cm