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FIRST LOOKS: Omega Speedmaster Professional 3861 Moonwatch reviewed

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Omega’s new year gift to the watch world of a Master Chronometer-spec Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has been greeted with delight by experts.

The design of the watch has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, with the 2021 collection revealed this week styled on the ST 105.012, which was worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon in 1969.

The key upgrade is under the bonnet, with a new Calibre 3861 movement delivering enhanced precision, performance, reliability and magnetic-resistance.

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Paul Altieri, CEO of Californian pre-owned specialist Bob’s Watches, suggests the familiar design will appeal to traditionalists, but the movement upgrade is a game changer.

Classic Speedmaster

“While the classic Speedmaster is undeniably a rock-solid platform with a proven track-record of being able to perform in some of the most demanding conditions both on and off this planet, its traditional hand-wind movement was starting to seem undeniably outdated compared to the brand’s most recent generation of highly advanced, in-house calibers. Omega clearly felt the same way, and the introduction of the new ‘Master Chronometer’ Speedmaster marks the single most significant update to Omega’s iconic chronograph in the last fifty years,” he says.

Jack Forster, editor-in-chief of Hodinkee, believes that Omega retiring the Moonwatch’s previous caliber 1861 will make models using the movement more valuable on the secondary market, but appreciates the upgrade to the 2021 collection.

“I expect that this news will produce a bit of a run on the caliber 1861s still out there,” he suggests.

“At the same time, the Moonwatch caliber 3861 is still very much the Moonwatch, but perhaps more oriented towards the future of space exploration than rooted in nostalgia for its past. If a mechanical Speedmaster is on board a Crew Dragon, or an Artemis mission headed to the moon, the logical choice would be a Moonwatch 3861 – still very much the Moonwatch, and the latest in a long lineage of mechanical chronograph movements whose future, when the Speedmaster was first launched in 1957, could hardly have been foreseen,” he concludes.

Omega’s Calibre 3861.

aBlogtoWatch‘s Zach Pina is delighted that a much-anticipated upgrade to the Moonwatch has survived the challenges of 2020.

“The legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has finally gotten the update we’ve all been waiting for: an updated Master Chronometer-certified engine, a new(-ish) bracelet, and plenty of fan service in the dial, crystal and bezel for good measure. All without forsaking the single most important detail about the perennially handsome Speedmaster: it remains flight-qualified by NASA “…for all manned space missions.” Speedy collectors may now breathe a collective sigh of relief, this is the worthy successor you wanted,” he writes.

Speedy Tuesday founders Robert-Jan Broer and Rob Nudds shared their views on a Fratello podcast and blog, noting that the 2021 upgrade is a perfect bridge between the past and future. “Bringing an update to an all-time classic needs to be done with care, and that’s exactly what Omega did. They took their time and updated the bits and pieces that everyone felt needed an update (the bracelet comes to mind). Besides that, Omega included a number of new cool details that grab back to the past. What stayed are the things nobody should ever touch,” they say.

Continuity is prized in watch circles, but the most visibly significant change to the new Moonwatches is its bracelet, which Mr Broer suggest is “one of the main reasons to add one to my modest Speedmaster collection”.

4 Comments

  1. Two sentences in and this article gets it wrong. The 3861 is not an automatic movement. It’s a manual wind watch.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder