What do you know about Omega's famous Speedmaster watch? You know it went to the Moon. You know its instrumenty looks with monochromatic dial, tachymeter bezel and conservative bearing. But there's more to the Speedmaster line than this most famous and significant model — much more.
Of course, the NASA-approved Moonwatch represents the collection, but there are literally enough Speedmaster watches for every Tuesday of the year. Over its lifespan (beginning in 1957), the chronograph collection has been host to everything from subtle riffs on the classic Moonwatch to, well, Speedmasters that don't look anything like Speedmasters — at least not as most people know them.
You might be surprised just how far out some cousins of the famously no-nonsense family have gotten. Here are some unexpected places the Speedmaster has gone (besides the Moon).
At first glance, this would appear to be a most oddball Speedmaster, indeed. What undoubtedly caught your eye, however, is the removable "thermal shield" made of red aluminum, and underneath is a more familiar-looking watch. The shield was made to protect the watch from the extreme temperatures it might be exposed to while worn on the outside of a spacewalking astronaut. It was recreated in 2008 based on a prototype from 1969.
In the mid-to-late Seventies, many watches were going quartz and digital, including the Speedmaster. The chronograph pushers, bezel and Speedmaster lugs are all there, but the Casio-style LCD display makes it almost unrecognizable. The pusher on the case's lefthand side is used to switch between time and chronograph modes. Omega even made a special prototype of this watch for NASA, but it wasn't adopted for use and the all-digital display didn't last long in the collection — but this model has since become the subject of cult fascination.
The Mark series as a whole represents a range of successors to the familiar Moonwatch and related models (technically, the Mark I). The Mark III was introduced in 1971 and is significant as Omega's first automatic chronograph developed with Lemania. Its "pilot" case is, first of all, quite bonkers and appropriately Seventies, but it also came in a couple of other versions. It's an odd Speedmaster in other ways, as well: the asymmetrical dial layout features two subdials, as both the chronograph seconds and minutes hands are centrally mounted.
The Speedmaster Mark watches are all a bit funky, but this just might be the line's peak funk. Introduced in 1984 for the West German market, these aggressively sized (45mm-wide), modern-looking Speedies are now rare. That case and integrated bracelet look very much like products of their time, and the watch features an automatic movement related to that found in the Mark III.
Introduced in 1999, the Rattrapante is an example of the relatively few Speedies that have features or complications beyond the basic chronograph. A rattrapante is a type of chronograph also called a "split-second" and it features two seconds hands for timing two events simultaneously, the second of which is activated via the 10 o'clock pusher. It's a rather niche function accomplished by significant mechanical complication inside, and here Omega modified an ETA 7750 to do it. Also note that this speedy features a carbon fiber dial.
TV Dial ref 1045
It might not look much like a Moonwatch, but the "TV Dial" reference 1045 sure is cool in its own right. Introduced in 1974, it competed with similar TV dial watches around that time — but this is a Speedmaster. It's powered by the same Lemania-based 1045 automatic movement as the Mark V above, so it offers chronograph minutes and seconds as central hands, a 24-hour indicator and day-date displays. It all adds up for a somewhat chunky profile.
Speedmaster Moonphase Calendar
Squint and you can still make out the shape of the classic Speedmaster — but you won't see that name anywhere on its elegant dial. This is a complicated, classical watch that just happens to be in the Speedmaster collection. Introduced in 1990, it features moon phase and calendar functions, as its name suggests, as well as a chronograph, of course. In a 38mm case, it's all accomplished by the Omega 1150 movement (based on an ETA 7750). It's even more unique in the collection with a white dial, Roman numerals and a two-tone case and bracelet.
Any number of watches in the Schumacher line might be qualify as offbeat Speedmaster examples, but yellow naturally stands out. Made in the late 1990s and promoted by F1 driver and then brand ambassador Michael Schumacher, the collection is full of bold sporty designs but housed in moderately sized 38mm cases (much like the later Racing models). These are particularly fun Speedies to seek out that offer something striking and different.
Omega still currently produces some downright funky watches, and the Spacemaster Z-33 is certainly one of the funkiest. A retro "pilot" case (like the Flightmaster or Mark III above) in titanium is combined with an ana-digi dial (both analog and digital displays) and a range of functions made possible by a quartz movement and controlled by four symmetrically placed pushers. It exists alongside the also ana-digi Skywalker in the brand's Instruments sub-collection of the Speedmaster family. ($5,900+)
White Side of the Moon
First was the Dark Side of the Moon, a modern, all-ceramic take on the Moonwatch in sleek black which has become a full sub-collection in the brand's current catalog. This is the same concept in stark white, and the effect is all the more a striking departure from the classic and familiar Speedy look. Its ceramic case is 44.25mm wide and a caseback window displays the shimmering 9300 automatic movement. ($12,000)