The year 2020 ended with the news that the Speedmaster First Omega in Space was being discontinued, and Omega didn’t wait long in 2021 to confirm the speculations.
After fifty or so years, the Caliber 1861 is officially discontinued. The chronograph movement is used in the most legendary Speedmaster models, including the Moonwatch professional Hesalite ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.005 and Moonwatch professional Sapphire sandwich ref. 3220.127.116.11.01.006 As such, the two models have also been phased out and replaced with new versions, using the co-axial caliber 3861.
Before getting into detail about the new movement, let’s look back at what we loved about the Speedmaster FOiS.
What made the Speedmaster First Omega in space remarkable?
Introduced in 2012, the Omega Speedmaster First Omega in Space takes its name after its inspiration: the Speedmaster CK2998, which was the watch astronaut Walter Schirra wore in 1962 during the Mercury Sigma 7 mission.
While it isn’t a replica of the CK2998, it still was quite faithful to its predecessor, reproducing its measurements and other features—a 39.7mm case, non-protected crown and pushers with flat case bands, and the polished bevel on top of the lugs.
A manually-wound chronograph with ground-breaking history, the model, on the other hand, separates itself from the regular Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with its leather strap, sapphire crystal glass, and a modern caseback with an embossed seahorse logo. The FOiS is a limited edition, with each piece having a unique number on the case back and the date the Speedmaster was first used in space (October 3, 1962).
With such a winning concept, one would wonder, why did Omega discontinue it? As it turns out, the brand didn’t exactly retire the idea.
The Calibre 3861: What You Need to Know
Omega already introduced the new movement early in 2019. It has also been used in the gold Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary and later, in the Steel Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary. However, no regular production Speedmaster, until today, has been equipped with it. It is the culmination of all the modern technologies developed for the past ten years.
The new Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with co-axial Caliber 3861 looks almost like the previous models, only with a few visual updates that wouldn’t be so obvious to the untrained eye.
What’s New in the Next Generation Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch?
The Speedmaster was until recently available in four references.
- Steel-on-steel with Hesalite crystal and steel case back (318.104.22.168.01.005)
- Steel-on-leather with Hesalite crystal and steel case back (322.214.171.124.01.001)
- Steel-on-steel with Sapphire crystals front and case back (3126.96.36.199.01.006)
- Steel-on-leather with Sapphire crystals front and case back (3188.8.131.52.01.002)
New bracelet options and redesigned bezels
But, early in January, Omega released 8 different new Speedmasters with different more bracelet options including gold and white gold versions.
The bezels remain almost the same, except for the new dot over ninety design, which pays homage to the vintage Speedmaster detail that attracts collectors. The case also retains the original style with its 42mm face, a combination of brushed surfaces and polished accents, and 50m water-resistant capabilities.
New sapphire sandwich model and updated dials
In the past, the stainless steel model was only available in two versions—one with a Hesalite crystal and solid steel back. But, for the latest versions, there is another steel model called the sapphire sandwich model, which has a sapphire crystal front and case back.
In steel models, the bracelet also retains the original style as before, but with a few iterations, including a new clasp with a striped pattern, satin-finished cover, and polished Omega logo. The Hesalite models boast a brushed bracelet, while the sapphire sandwich models feature polished mid-links.
New matte black grained texture
The dial of the new Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional has also been updated with a matte black grained texture. Meanwhile, the hands and indexes are now coated with luminescent, cream-colored Super-Luminova. The logo also underwent some minor changes—the Hesalite model has a printed Ω logo, which is in contrast to the applied Ω logo on the sapphire model.
It’s also worth noting that the Hesalite models are available on a black fabric strap, while the sapphire sandwich watches differentiate with a smooth calfskin strap.
More precious metal options
Aside from the four stainless steel references, there are also four other references, including two watches in 18k Sedna gold and another two in 18k Canopus gold, which are all new to the Moonwatch.
These precious metals are both proprietary alloys—Sedna gold is an 18K rose gold that blends three elements, gold, copper, and palladium. Canopus gold, on the other hand, is white gold that combines gold, palladium, and small quantities of platinum and rhodium, and is distinct for its high brilliance and unique white color.
Slightly higher prices
With the introduction of a more modern and better movement, you can expect a higher price tag for the latest Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Master Chronometer. Meanwhile, the Canopus and Sedna gold versions are currently available in Omega boutiques. But, you can still shop for the stainless steel models from your trusted boutiques and retailers.
2021 is an exciting time to explore new options in the world of fine watchmaking and what better way to do so than weighing the pros and cons of the new Omega Speedmaster? Nevertheless, if you’re still wanting to get a hold of the First Omega in Space, it’s a good idea to visit your local Omega boutique or an official online retailer, like The Watch Company. Check out the website to get the best deals on the Omega Speedmaster pieces.
What are your thoughts about the new Caliber 3861? Let us know by leaving a comment below.