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Over 50 years after it was retired, Omega restarts production of the iconic Calibre 321

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Omega has started production of a modern day version of its Calibre 321, a movement that went to the moon and back when used in the Speedmasters worn by NASA astronauts during the Apollo missions.

It is one of the most iconic chronograph movements in the Omega archive, with a workhorse life that stretched from the early 1940s until the late 1960s.

For the past two years, a dedicated team of researchers, developers and historians has been working in secret with craftsmen and watchmakers at Omega’s new facility in Bienne on the Calibre 321 project.

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The project even has its own code name, Alaska 11, an echo of a name given to the development of Speedmaster designs for NASA in the 1960s and 70s.

The 2019 Calibre 321, which will be covered by the Omega 5-year warranty once it is housed in a watch collection, is based on a second generation of the original movement.

 

The original Calibre 321 that was used as the template for Omega’s 2019 re-issue.

 

The Alaska 11 team went to elaborate ends to understand every aspect of the original including scanning inside the actual Speedmaster ST 105.003 timepiece that astronaut Gene Cernan wore on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Mr Cernan was the last man to walk on the lunar surface and his Speedmaster is now housed at the Omega Museum in Bienne.

“It’s amazing that so many people are passionate about the Calibre 321. We produced the last one in 1968 and fans have never stopped talking about it. That shows how special it is,” says Raynald Aeschlimann, president and CEO of Omega. “We’re very excited to finally meet their wishes and have gone to great efforts to bring the movement back.”

The original Calibre 321 was first used in 1950s Omega Seamasters, but found its spiritual home inside a Speedmaster in 1957.

No news has been shared on which families of watches will use the re-issued 321, nor do we have any work on when or where Omega’s 2019 collections will be launched.

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Rob Corder

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