Earlier this week, aptly on a #speedytuesday in Switzerland, Omega has released a new generation of Omega Speedmaster watches. The upgrade has been long-awaited with the previous references largely unchanged for the past 50 years. The Omega Speedmaster 3861 models announced introduce master chronometer co-axial technology to the professional moon watch – with subtle changes to its case, dial and bezel, plus an overhauled bracelet. Let’s take a closer look at the new watches and what they may mean for prospective buyers worldwide.
The 2021 Omega Speedmaster 3861 Collection
The new-generation Omega Speedmaster 3861 collection comes in the form of four watches in eight configurations – two in steel and two in precious metals (Sedna Gold and Canopus Gold). Each can be bought on either a strap or new-generation bracelet depending on your preference.
The cases of the Omega Speedmaster 3861 collection are directly inspired by the fourth generation Omega Speedmaster ST 105.012 worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. The 42mm case is both satin-brushed and mirror-polished, with twisted lyre-style lugs that feature a mirror-polished bevelling. Omega has returned the double-stepped caseback to the new line, which will make the wear experience that much more akin to the original 105.012. Sapphire models will boast the new 38612 caliber with a exhibition caseback, while Hesalite crystal models will maintain a solid caseback. All of the cases uphold the previous 50 metres of water resistance as well.
This allows buyers to choose from a more modern and transparent configuration, or what some purists would consider the more true moon watch (as Hesalite and a solid caseback were used on the models worn by astronauts). This choice, however, is removed from the precious metal variants that are only available in sapphire configurations. Considering Neil and Buzz did not have gold watches on their wrists I don’t think this decision will offend anyone – purists included. All will be pleased, too, that the bezels on all of these watches have DON (dot-over-ninety) bezels that match the aesthetic of the 105.012 models. A small design element, its usage is highly coveted by collectors and will be sure to bring smiles to collectors and Speedmaster fanatics inquiring about the watch.
The dial, more so on the stainless-steel models, has also undergone subtle changes to match its muse. The black is much more matte and grained than the previous generation of Speedmaster watches to mimic the look of the 105.012. The minute hashes on the outer track have been reduced from five to three divisions to better match the 3Hz frequency of the co-axial 3861. The chronograph and running seconds registers are nicely stepped to make reading them that much easier on the eye.
The sapphire and Hesalite models are slightly different in that the sapphire configurations have applied Omega logos while the Hesalite versions have the Omega logo printed. Considering the attention to detail Omega had when making these watches, this may have been a small mistake on their part as the 105.012 had an applied logo beneath its Hesalite crystal.
The Sedna and Canopus gold models feature the same layout as the sapphire watches in steel, but differ in the texture applied to the dial. While the steel has more true-to-form matte and grained finishes in its centre the precious metal models have received a sunburst finish to their dials. This makes sense considering the more elevated and elegant nature of a Speedmaster executed in gold. The Sedna Gold version has a black dial with Sedna gold hands and applied logo and Sedna tone printed elements. The Canopus model has the most distinct dial with a silver white sunburst. The sunburst texture on both seems to only extend to the inner concentric portion of the dial, with a slightly brightened tone and contrasting finish to its outer minutes track.
The 2021 Omega Speedmaster 3861 watches are all available on a new-generation five-link bracelet, or on a nylon strap for steel models, and leather straps for the precious metal models. The new bracelet is a welcome change, as some were not very pleased with the aesthetic and architecture of the previous generation bracelet. A seemingly new take on the ref. 1479 bracelet of Speedmasters past, the new bracelet is 20mm wide, and tapers down to 15mm towards its folding clasp – giving it a nice classic profile. The links are smaller in length which should in theory result in better size adjustment for the wearer, and the clasp with two points of micro-adjustment will also help as well.
The five-link bracelet has an arched structure to the link components and, depending on which reference you opt for, they will actually receive a slightly different finish. The Hesalite models and precious metal variants have a fully satin-brushed finish, excluding the polished side flanks of the bracelet where you will find the steel screws that secure each link. The sapphire sandwich in stainless steel, however, has a mirror polish finish to the two thinnest central components framing the centre link of the five-link bracelet.
The biggest update to the watch is clearly not externally, but internally. Previously only found in the Speedmaster Apollo XI Moonshine watch, the manual-wound co-axial 3861 makes its debut in standard production Speedmaster Professional watches. The co-axial technology acquired from George Daniels will allow the chronograph movement to have much less friction in its escapement, and will also help extend service intervals for the watch over time.
The 3861 is also a master chronometer, which means the caliber now upholds a much greater standard of accuracy and resistance to magnetism. Not only will the watch run from 0/+5 seconds per day, but thanks to its silicon escapement it will resist magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. It ticks away at a classic 21,600 vph and has a 50-hour power reserve that will surely get the job done. I personally would go for the sapphire sandwich versions, as the movement is nicely embellished with Geneva stripes and bevels.
What does its introduction really mean for prospective buyers?
The only downside of the new era of Speedmaster is the new era of pricing. When considering your first luxury watch, the Speedmaster has long been a safe suggestion. It’s iconic, historic and, previously, very well-priced considering its prestige and performance capabilities. The 1861 models initially were lower in price, and over time crept up to meet the current standing of the marketplace.
The 2021 Omega Speedmaster 3861 models are effectively a thousand dollars more expensive (at least in USD) than the previous models, which is leading some to cry foul. If I am being honest though, I think the increase is quite fair, all considering. These new co-axial powered models are effectively the middle ground between the previous generation and the revived 321 model. At this time, it would seem the 3861 powered models are replacing the 1861/3 models that came before them – but at the time of writing the sapphire sandwich 1861 Speedmasters are still available for purchase through Omega’s official channels while supplies last, and there will be no shortage of availability on the pre-owned market.
Believe me, my ease towards the new pricing is not necessarily shared throughout the Time+Tide team. When I make my case for the price increase, I explain that the superior movement technology, bracelet, and subtle aesthetic changes to the dial and case go a long way to justifying the cost. Plus, considering the mass availability of these watches, I don’t see how this hike affects buyers who want 1861-powered Speedies – they’ll still be pretty easy to track down. Considering a Rolex Daytona is twice the price of the new Speedmaster, and chronographs from Breitling, Zenith, and others hover around this price point as well, it was fairly inevitable the price would eventually rise.
To sum it all up, the new watch definitely caters to the tastes and preferences of the brand’s most devoted followers and I applaud Omega for making the external incremental changes we all wanted to see while also including the latest movement technology – previously only found in a much more expensive Apollo XI Moonshine watch that was a limited edition. Like the Grand Seiko dual impulse 9SA5 making its debut in steel in the SLGH003, I believe this is a real win for most buyers.
2021 Omega Speedmaster 3861 collection pricing and availability:
Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer Professional Chronograph – Hesalite – 42 mm – Calibre 3861:
Reference 310.30.42.50.01.001 has an RRP of $9575 AU.
Reference 310.32.42.50.01.001 has an RRP of $9075 AU.
Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer Professional Chronograph – Sapphire – 42 mm – Calibre 3861
Reference 310.30.42.50.01.002 has an RRP of $10,900 AU.
Reference 310.32.42.50.01.002 has an RRP of $10,400 AU.
Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer Professional Chronograph – SednaTM gold – 42 mm – Calibre 3861
Reference 310.60.42.50.01.001 has an RRP of $53,150 AU.
Reference 310.63.42.50.01.001 has an RRP of $37,625 AU.
Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer Professional Chronograph – Canopus goldTM – 42 mm – Calibre 3861
Reference 310.60.42.50.02.001 has an RRP of $69,150 AU.
Reference 310.63.42.50.02.001 has an RRP of $46,375 AU.