On many occasions, I’ve seen people ask about the Omega Speedmaster sizes. Usually in terms of the “will it fit” conundrum.
“42mm, that’s too big, I’ll go for the FOiS (First Omega in Space, a reinterpretation of the CK 2998 design) it’s smaller.”
Ummm, well, that’s not really correct. Let’s have a look at why is that so.
During all the time I’ve spent at watch forums, I’ve encountered quite a lot of questions concerning the Speedmaster.
Most just keep repeating, so I’ve decided to create a short guide to them (well, to some of them).
- Can the running seconds be hacked on a Speedmaster Pro?
- What’s the deal with the NASA’s approval for the Speedmaster’s use for space flights and EVA (extravehicular activity)?
- Can a Speedmaster be taken swimming?
- Where to service a vintage Speedmaster, at Omega or an independent watchmaker?
- Which is a better choice, the sapphire crystal version, or the hesalite?
- Is it OK to pay more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a limited edition?
In 1959, the short-lived (2 years in production) original Speedmaster reference, the CK 2915, got something of a makeover. The result was the reference CK 2998, currently the second most desirable vintage Speedmaster.
Powered by the calibre 321, it was – just as the 2915 – intended as a watch for drivers (racing drivers included), and marketed as such.
With its dashboard instruments inspired dial, clean and uncluttered, it was a very appealing design. Appealing enough to a US Navy pilot, captain Walter Schirra, who in 1959 became a part of NASA’s very first manned space flight program, the Project Mercury.
In 1962, Schirra’s own CK 2998 accompanied him on an almost 10 hours of the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, when aboard the Sigma 7 Schirra orbited the Earth 6 times.
In 1967, the reference 105.012 has been replaced with the 145.012.
Nearly identical to its predecessor, it was in production for two years, from 1967 to 1968.
It was the last Speedmaster to be equipped with the column wheel cal. 321 (Lemania CH27 C12), prior to the introduction of the cal. 861, a cam-switching movement built on the same baseplate.
In 1968, the long-standing workhorse chronograph movement of the SSIH, the Lemania CH27 C12 (Omega 321), was discontinued.
It was replaced with the Lemania 1873, which became the famous Omega 861 “Moon” movement. Sic transit gloria, if I may say so.
Obviously, its later Moonwatch movement fame was somewhat undeserved, as that title goes to the 105.012 and its cal. 321.
It was constructed on pretty much the same baseplate, only the column wheel was replaced with a cam-switching mechanism. Less costly to produce and easier to service. Omega still uses it until this day (as the cal. 1861, with an additional jewel and rhodium finishing).
The introduction of a new chronograph movement meant something of a revolution for the Speedmaster.