Among the Omega faithful, few Speedmaster models carry the caché of the legendary “Ed White.” The original model, predating the signature Omega twisted-lug design, became immortal on the wrist of the astronaut of the same name during America’s first spacewalk in 1965. As its first release of 2020, the brand has reintroduced the “Ed White” as part of its regular lineup with the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph 39.7 MM reference 318.104.22.168.01.001, powered by the same Calibre 321 movement as its 1965 predecessor.
While the Calibre 321 was reintroduced to production after decades of hiatus in January 2019, this new model is the first steel Speedmaster to be powered by the movement in over 50 years. The new Calibre 321 “Ed White” is an incredibly faithful reproduction of the classic model, updated with modern Omega quality. The case is substantially smaller than the traditional Speedmaster Professional, measuring in at 39.7mm, thanks to the simpler straight-lug design. Other hallmarks of the original — the stepped dial with applied Omega emblem, the dot over 90 and accented “Tachymètre” on the bezel, and the flat-link oyster-style bracelet are all present here.
Upon close inspection, however, the benefits of 50 years of advancement in production become apparent. The bezel insert is polished black ceramic with enamel markings, the crystal is anti-reflective sapphire, and while the lume on the dial is faux patina, it’s one of the lightest, most subtle and best-executed patina treatments of the past few years. Around back, however, is where the new “Ed White” truly sets itself apart. The column wheel marvel of the reborn Calibre 321 is visible through the sapphire display window.
While retaining the original specifications, this new Calibre 321 hand-wound movement is tweaked for modern performance including a 55-hour power reserve.
While the Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph 37 MM is a surprising revival of a legendary reference, perhaps the most surprising aspect of the new watch is the price. The watch is slated to retail for $14,100 when it debuts at Omega authorized dealers in early 2020. While there’s no doubt that the first stainless steel revival of the Calibre 321 and a reissue of a legendary reference is special, it’s undoubtedly steep for a non-precious metal Speedmaster. For more information on the new model, please visit Omega’s website.