HANDS-ON: The Omega Speedmaster 321 is the grail-Speedy of the modern catalogueZach Blass
Omega’s main point of distinction in the modern era is their METAS-certified Master Chronometer co-axial movements. They have superb build qualities inside and out, and are wonderfully decorated – albeit industrially. But, the Omega Speedmaster 321 was an incredibly well-received novelty upon its debut in 2020 thanks to its heritage qualities rather than a future-forward nature. The reference 105.003 is one of the most sought-after vintage Speedmasters today, a pre-moon and “pre-professional” Speedmaster known as the “Ed White” thanks to the astronaut utilising the watch on the first-ever American spacewalk. And it is this reference that inspired the new Omega Speedmaster 321, which, as its name suggests, is powered by the legendary resurrected calibre 321.
The 105.003 case design the Omega Speedmaster 321 takes inspiration from is notable because it is a tad smaller than the Omega Speedmaster Professionals. It clocks in at 39.7mm in diameter, 13.7mm thick, and it is 48mm across the wrist lug-to-lug. The 50 metre water-resistant case also has a more elegant finish style, entirely polished on its front side with the flanks of the case richly brushed. Many Speedmasters, especially the ones we see today, have twisted or lyre lugs to the case. The Speedmaster 321, like its 105.003 muse, has more flat and squared off lugs. Surrounding the domed crystal covering the dial is a dot-over-ninety tachymeter bezel, the insert made of black ceramic with white enamel inlays for the scale.
Looking inwards towards the dial, you will notice a lot of vintage-inspired elements. You have a black pie-pan dial, evocative of the era, where the matte black central medallion is ever so slightly raised. At 12′ there is no “professional” branding, just like what you would see on pre-moon references like the 105.003. You also have three stepped chronograph registers at 3′, 6′, and 9′, displaying the running seconds, elapsed hours, and elapsed minutes respectively. The Omega Speedmaster 321 has the common alpha handset, which conveys the central hours, central minutes, and central chronograph seconds. All the luminous material utilised on the dial leverages the faux-tina effect. It is not super aged in tone, more of a sage colour rather than the pumpkin tone we see on vintage watches left in a dresser drawer for decades. One issue with aged SuperLuminova® tones at times is how they appear to uniform and perfect. With the Omega Speedmaster 321, there appears to be subtle imperfections, at least on the hour indices, that give a greater sense of realism to its hue and texture.
A really cool feature about the Omega Speedmaster 321 is its flat link bracelet, yet another nod to the era of the 105.003. It features a broad brushed centre link shouldered by two narrower links that are mirror polished – which continue the lines of polish from the squared off lugs. It is a very distinct look against the Speedmaster case, and one that I personally think adds a layer of sophistication (which is apt considering this is the highest-end steel Speedmaster).
The undisputed star of the show here is the ressurected calibre 321, visible beneath an exhibition caseback. What makes this caliber, designed by Lemania’s Albert Piguet, so legendary is that it was the actual calibre found not only in the pre-moon references that went into outer space, but also in the Moonwatch itself – the 145.012 worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Omega painstakingly recreated the calibre to be manufactured today to be near-identical if not 1:1. It is a manually-wound lateral clutch column wheel caliber that is an absolute beauty to look at. The lateral clutch architecture, and the fact there is no winding rotor, means you can see the entire movement on display. This is really the movement design equivalent to singing acapella, nothing is really hidden. To mimic the sort of copper finish of the old 321, Omega has plated elements of the new calibre 321 with their Sedna gold to give it that look and feel. Lastly, the calibre 321 offers 55 hours of power reserve. So as long as you wind it every two days to or so it will keep running accurately.
If you were to ask me to compile a list of the best heritage revivals, I would be inclined to put this watch at the top. Most revivals faithfully recreate an aesthetic of the past, but the Omega Speedmaster 321 is a faithful tribute inside and out. I would not change a single thing Omega has done with this watch, truly. And that is a rare sentiment in any review. The only issue I take with the release is the limited number produced each year, which is justified at the end of the day. Moral of the story: if you see this watch in a case at an Omega boutique, and have the means and interest to purchase, do not think – just pull the trigger. You will be glad you did.
Omega Speedmaster 321 pricing and availability:
The Omega Speedmaster 321 is limited in production each year, and available now for inquiries and purchase. Price: US$14,100
|Case Diameter||39.7mm (D) x 13.7mm (T) x 48mm (L2L)|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Crystal(s)||Sapphire crystal and caseback|
|Strap||Omega Flat Link Bracelet|
|Movement||Manually-wound calibre 321|
|Power Reserve||55 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph|