Icons: Omega Speedmaster Manual

This was the original post to this blog, but as we revamp things, we are going back and publishing articles again. This is also due to the great news that Spazz.com is now available on Apple News Publisher.

So here we go...

Being the first entry of this blog I thought it best to begin with some basic info about the kind of advice one can expect to get from Spazz.com, and in doing so, I will use a true classic as my reference: the Omega Speedmaster. 

First and foremost, it is my opinion (and should be yours too), that overpaying is not a good thing. But in the world of watches it can be tricky to identify when you are overpaying. Of course sometimes it's dead easy, i.e. any Hublot, but often times it can be tricky.  

The Omega Speedmaster is more than a classic. It's a legend, and some have gone so far as to say it is the greatest wristwatch (relatively speaking of course) ever made.  

But this is only true for one model and one model only: the Lemania-based manual version. All the others are a waste of your time and money.  

But why? 

The reason is actually quite simple.  

Back in the day, NASA needed a watch for its astronauts to wear. To determine which they'd choose, a couple NASA employees in Houston went out and bought a bunch watches off-the-shelf. The Speedmaster was one of these watches.

The Speedmaster went on to sweep all tests NASA could throw at it, and was the overall unanimous winner. Since then, it's the only certified watch by NASA to travel to space on NASA missions.  

The interesting detail was that none of the watch companies were notified of this test. So imagine their surprise when Omega found out they won, and won so convincingly.

They literally wiped the floor with the competition, which included Rolex, Longines, Heuer, Bulova and a couple others.

That particular Speedmaster had a Lemania-based manual movement in it, the Omega calibre 321.  

Since then, it evolved into the 861 in 1968, and the 1861 during the mid '90s (the difference between the 861 and 1861 is literally one part so one should consider these, for all intents and purposes as the same movement).

Those manual movements are the only ones that were approved by NASA (they wanted a manual movement fearing an automatic would have issues in the extreme space conditions), and the only ones that went into space and landed on the moon. In other words, those are the ones with the true horological significance.  

All the other movements, the automatics, have nothing. In fact they're ETA based movements, which are fine, but are a dime a dozen. Even the *famous* co-axial versions are made for Omega by ETA and have zero pedigree.  

There are those who will argue these points as if they own stock in Omega, but they're wrong. The bottom line is if the manual movements don't make it into space, not only would the subsequent automatics mean nothing, but who knows if Omega would even be around today. Period. 

And I say that for another factor when understanding where your money is well spent or not, and that is that after the 70's rolled around, along with the invention of the Quartz movement, companies like Omega were hit hard and severely dropped their quality in order to save money. Swatch Group eventually bought them out (they also own ETA), stuffed ETA's into them, and that was that. But the Lemania-based manuals are, to this day, unchanged.  

Given all that, and so much more not mentioned here, why would anyone think it smart to spend close to $10,000 (and sometimes more), for meaningless automatic Speedmasters, when at most, a manual will cost $3500 after discount (no more than $3000 if pre-owned)?

The vintage market has some exceptions price-wise, for example a Speedmaster with the very first 321 will be closer to $6000, and there are some extra rare variations ('57-'59 broad arrows), that can fetch much much more, but at least then it'd be worth it.