Monthly Archives: April 2003

Press Release – A Speedmaster Racing with carbon dial

Omega Speedmaster Racing 3552.59.00

Omega Speedmaster Racing 3552.59.00

The OMEGA Speedmaster was originally conceived for those who needed to rely on precision timekeeping: scientists, engineers, athletes and the like. At the time of its launch in 1957, nobody could have predicted that the Speedmaster would also be chosen to keep track of time on the world’s first manned spaceflight missions, notably taking it to the Moon several times and leading to a vital role on the Apollo 13 mission, where it timed the firing of the rockets to help the crew return safely to Earth. More recently, the Speedmaster’s racing links are illustrated by five-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher, who is both an ambassador for and an avid collector of the Speedmaster. The new Speedmaster Racing offers a contemporary interpretation of the racing theme whilst maintaining the unmistakable and classic look of the Speedmaster.

April 4th 2003 – read more below the gallery

The first-ever advertisement for the OMEGA Speedmaster in 1958 presented the new chronograph as a watch “for men who reckon time in seconds”. The picture accompanying the advertisement showed a co-driver timing the speed of a car over a test mile. In a time before computers, the Speedmaster was the perfect instrument for calculating the exact speed of a vehicle or the hourly output of a machine, which could be read off at a glance using the tachometer scale on the watch’s bezel. The tachometer scale, etched into the black aluminium ring on the brushed steel bezel, remains to this day the unmistakable characteristic of an OMEGA Speedmaster.

The Speedmaster Racing marries this classic Speedmaster look with a modern interpretation of the dial, in which the traditional matt black colour is replaced by black carbon fibre, a high-tech material used in Formula 1 construction. The sporty look of the dial is completed by luminous hour markers in Super Luminova with red outlining and the “RACING” inscription on the dial in white letters with a red outline.

The exclusive OMEGA calibre 3301 used in the Speedmaster Racing fulfils the original remit for the Speedmaster to be a robust and reliable chronograph – a claim that remains true today. The self-winding chronograph movement has a power reserve of 55 hours and is also an officially certified chronometer. It is fitted with a vertical coupling, which means that there is no delay in the chronograph hand when the chronograph is started, and a column wheel, which ensures precision start, stop and reset functions for the chronograph hand and totalisers. This superlative chronograph (only few watch manufacturers have mastered the sophisticated techniques required to produce column-wheel mechanisms) is perfectly complemented by the OMEGA free sprung-balance without index, which ensures that the regulating power of this timepiece remains excellent over the long term.

A screw-in case back (with RACING inscription in red) and OMEGA double gasket crown ensure that the stainless steel case is water resistant to 100 metres and a scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal protects the unique look of the dial. The Speedmaster Racing is available with a stainless steel bracelet with RACING inscription on the safety clasp or a black alligator leather strap with a stainless steel foldover clasp. It is the perfect timepiece for anyone looking for a chronograph of distinction with an unmistakably sporty edge.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase 3876.50.31

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase 3876.50.31

There is only one watch in the world for which a moon phase indicator can stand as an analogy of its history: the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional. As the only chronograph to be flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions, it is the only watch ever to have been worn on the Moon. Today, over 30 years later, the Speedmaster remains a legend in watchmaking, its popularity unwavering amongst aficionados of classic timepieces.

April 4th 2003 – read more below the gallery

The Speedmaster Professional Moon Phase retains the essential characteristics of the original Speedmaster models, such as the stainless steel case with tapered, facetted lugs and the stainless steel bezel with black aluminium ring and tachometer scale for calculating speeds or other units per hour. The black dial, with luminous hour markers and hands, is also typical of the Speedmaster Professional, as are the chronograph counters at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock and the continuous small seconds display are 9 o’clock. It is the presence of an additional sub-dial in the 12 o’clock position, however, that sets this watch apart from the standard Speedmaster Professional: it contains a moon phase display, with a silver moon in relief against a sky blue background and an additional hand which points to the date around the circumference of the moon phase sub-dial. As an extra touch of refinement, the classic Speedmaster Professional look is complemented by rhodium-plated steel rings surrounding the chronograph and small seconds counters.

The OMEGA calibre 1866 movement provides the functions for this Speedmaster and, like the original Speedmaster Professional movement, it is a hand-wound chronograph calibre. In addition to the chronograph function, which records elapsed times with an accuracy of 1/5th of a second, this movement can also display the date and the Moon’s 28-day cycle. It has a 45-hour power reserve and its elegant, rhodium-plated finish can be admired behind the transparent sapphire crystal on the case back. Surrounding the movement on the screw-in case back, which ensures water resistance to 50 metres, is an inscription that recalls the Speedmaster Professional’s heritage: “THE FIRST AND ONLY WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”. The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moon Phase is available with a matching stainless steel bracelet with safety fastening clasp or a black alligator leather strap with stainless steel foldover clasp.

Press Release – Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Michael Schumacher Limited Edition

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Michael Schumacher 3159.50.00

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Michael Schumacher 3159.50.00

OMEGA ambassador Michael Schumacher had an astounding Formula 1 season in 2002. His achievements equalled or even broke records established by such legendary names as Juan-Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost, securing the Ferrari driver a place in the annals of Formula 1 history. As a long-term partner of Michael Schumacher, prestige Swiss watchmaker OMEGA celebrates the motor racing star’s historic five world championship titles with a limited-edition model whose lavish design is an appropriate tribute to such an extraordinary achievement.

April 4th 2003 – read more below the gallery

Only one other Formula 1 driver has won five world championship drivers’ titles: Argentinean Juan-Manuel Fangio, who stormed to success during the very first years of the sport, taking the title in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. Though numerous drivers have since beaten Fangio’s points total of 277, only Michael Schumacher has managed to equal his record five championship titles. In doing so, he also set a new record for the total number of Grand Prix victories, with 53 of his 114 podium positions being in first place, beating Alain Prost’s previous record of 51.

Though OMEGA has already issued limited-edition Speedmaster RACING timepieces to celebrate Schumacher’s individual victories, something very special indeed was required to commemorate such an historic achievement. The model chosen for this star treatment was the Speedmaster Broad Arrow, a fine example of a superlative chronograph, thanks to its exclusive OMEGA column-wheel chronograph movement, OMEGA calibre 3303. The column-wheel mechanism ensures precision operation of all the watch’s chronograph functions and its vertical coupling ensures that there is no delay in the start, stop and reset of the chronograph seconds hand and counters. However, due to the sophisticated production techniques required, column-wheel mechanisms are only offered by a handful of watch manufactures and are therefore much sought after.

The calibre 3303 also uses OMEGA’s free sprung-balance without index, which offers better regulating stability. As a result, the self-winding movement, which has a power reserve of 55 hours, has obtained chronometer certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institue [Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, COSC].

This prestige movement is housed in an equally prestigious case, finished in 18-carat red gold. The luxury theme continues with red gold accents distinguishing the watch’s look: brushed 18-carat red gold bezel with tachometer scale, applied 18-carat red gold hour markers on the dial, 18-carat red gold “Broad Arrow” hour and minute hands and red gold hands for the chronograph seconds and the sub-dials, which are outlined by rings.

The black dial (the traditional Speedmaster dial colour, as seen on the original Speedmaster Professional “Moon Watch”) displays the typical Broad Arrow configuration of 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and continuous seconds at 9 o’clock, with a red gold on black date window situated above the 6 o’clock hour marker. The ultimate touch of personalisation on the dial is Michael Schumacher’s name written in red gold in lower-case letters on either side of the sub-dial at 6 o’clock.

Press Release – Omega Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award

Omega Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award 3578.51.00

Omega Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award 3578.51.00

Since the very beginnings of space exploration, the OMEGA Speedmaster has been the only timepiece flight-qualified by NASA for extra-vehicular use on manned space missions. Snoopy has also been linked with space for over three decades: the Apollo 10 lunar module was called Snoopy and the popular cartoon dog was chosen as the emblem for NASA’s most prestigious award. OMEGA now presents a special limited-edition Speedmaster Professional chronograph in recognition of having itself received the Snoopy Award.

People have always liked to read what Snoopy had to say and his popularity at the time of the Apollo lunar program had already been confirmed by the Apollo 10 crew, who had named their lunar module after him and their command module after Snoopy’s human pal Charlie Brown. Snoopy was therefore chosen as the watchdog for NASA’s prestigious manned flight awareness award because he was a character that everyone could associate with. The “Silver Snoopy” is still awarded today, both to individuals and companies for outstanding efforts that contribute to the success of human space flight missions.

The coveted award comprises a sterling silver pin, which has flown aboard the Space Shuttle, in the form of Snoopy wearing a space helmet and space suit. Recipients are also presented with a certificate and a letter of commendation, personally signed by an astronaut, citing the astronauts’ appreciation of their outstanding performance. OMEGA received its Snoopy Award on 5 October 1970 in recognition of the crucial role that its Speedmaster chronograph played on the Apollo 13 mission. Individually signed by each of the three crew members, the certificate reads as follows:

“For dedication, professionalism and outstanding contributions in support of the first United States Manned Lunar Landing Project Apollo The NASA Astronauts team recognizes the achievements of OMEGA Watch Company Switzerland.”

Apollo 13 was to have been the third mission to land on the Moon, but an explosion in one of the oxygen tanks crippled the spacecraft during flight and the crew were forced to orbit the Moon to place the spacecraft on a free-return trajectory which would take them back to Earth. In order to conserve power for the return to Earth, the module was powered down except for environmental control. As such, the only functioning timing device on board was the OMEGA Speedmaster, which the crew relied on to perform two operations: firstly to time ignition of the rockets to shorten the estimated length of the return to Earth and secondly to time ignition of the rockets to decrease speed and raise the flight path angle for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This second operation was crucial, since any mistake in the timing could have led to an incorrect entry angle and, as a result, potential disaster for the crew.

At the time OMEGA received the Snoopy Award, a record 450 Speedmaster chronographs were being produced each day. Thanks to its unique space-proven pedigree, the Speedmaster remains as popular today as it did then. The classic Moon Watch retains the same look it had at the time of the Apollo programme – a polished stainless steel case with tapered and facetted lugs, steel bezel with black aluminium ring and tachometer scale and hesalite crystal. The matt black dial is also typical of the Speedmaster, together with the luminous hands and hour markers and 1/5th of a second graduations for the chronograph. As it was originally supposed to fulfil a remit for a “robust and reliable” chronograph, the Speedmaster also has a screw-in case back that ensures it is water resistant to 30 metres.

The movement in the Speedmaster Professional also remains the same, with the exception of certain improvements to bring it in line with the latest technical standards. This is hardly surprising, since the original calibre 861 is one of the masterpieces in watchmaking history. The fact that the Speedmaster Professional is still today flight-qualified by NASA and chosen for the same purpose by the Russian space agency, despite great leaps in progress since the era of the first Speedmasters, is testament enough to the extraordinary reliability of this movement. The current derivative in the Speedmaster Professional is OMEGA calibre 1861, a manual-winding chronograph movement with a power reserve of 45 hours. The hand-wound movement is perfect for use in outer space, since, unlike self-winding movements, it does not rely on the force of gravity (absent in the vacuum of space) for winding.

The limited-edition Snoopy Award version of this watch has the award patch inset in colour into the continuous seconds counter at 9 o’clock on the dial. The same colourful design, with its “Eyes on the Stars” motto, is reproduced on the watch’s special case back. A striking effect is achieved by both etching and painting the emblem on to a sapphire crystal case back, which adds an extra dimension to the colours against the light. This highly collectable timepiece is available exclusively in stainless steel with a stainless steel bracelet and production is limited to 5441 numbered pieces, with the unusual number reflecting the elapsed time of the Apollo 13 mission: 142 hours, 54 minutes and 41 seconds.

Press Release – Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase Skeleton

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase Skeleton 3688 30.32

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonphase Skeleton 3688 30.32

In line with the launch of the Speedmaster Professional Moon Phase model, OMEGA presents a special series of unique skeletonised versions. A mere 57 such models will be produced (in allusion to the first-ever Speedmaster model, launched in 1957) using the most precious of materials. Produced in-house by the master watchmakers at OMEGA’s top-of-the range manufacturing cell, each piece is totally unique and constitutes one of the ultimate Speedmasters.

April 3rd 2003 – read more below the gallery

The watch case and bezel are in platinum, the dial is silver with a yellow gold base, the hour markers in blued gold and the hands in blued steel. A sapphire crystal is used for the watch face and the transparent case back and the luxury theme continues with the black alligator leather strap, which is fitted with an 18-carat white gold foldover clasp. Only the very best materials available are used in this exclusive Speedmaster, as a fitting surround for the spectacular skeletonised movement.

The manual-winding OMEGA chronograph calibre 3604 is the result of countless painstaking hours of work by OMEGA’s most experienced master watchmakers. No less than 100 hours go in to the crafting of one single movement at the exclusive top-of-the-range workshop at OMEGA’s head office in Bienne, Switzerland. The steel components used in the movement are drawn, bevelled and polished by hand, the movement is skeletonised by hand and the decorative engravings are also done by hand. The watchmaker adds his own individual artistic touch to the decorations on the movement, making each watch unique and clearly distinguishable. Unique detailing complements the blued-steel hands and blued gold hour markers on the dial: the screw heads on the dial side are polished, whereas those on the bridge side of the movement have blued-steel heads. Furthermore, the calibre number is engraved on the chronograph bridge and each piece is individually numbered in red on the dial at 12 o’clock (01/57 – 57/57).

The limited-edition OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moon Phase models are produced entirely in-house at OMEGA’s specialist top-of-the-range workshop. This workshop is dedicated solely to the brand’s most exclusive timepieces and is notably responsible for production of the OMEGA Central Tourbillon – the only watch in the world with a central tourbillon cage, of which it produces only a handful each year. The same experience, feeling and minute craftsmanship that go into each Tourbillon are used for the limited-edition Speedmaster, representing the horological tradition of manufacture at its finest.

In keeping with these traditional watchmaking skills, the OMEGA skeletonised Speedmaster Moon Phase retains one feature that dates from before the age of the computer: the tachometer scale on the bezel, which has stood the test of time and become a trademark of the legendary Speedmaster.