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Here’s Why Omega and Breitling Reissue Their “Greatest Hits” Watches

Paul Altieri

As we reported the other day, Omega just released its Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition. Although some features have been enhanced, it’s more or less a reissue of the original gold Speedmaster – which was also a limited edition, and itself a tribute to the original Moonwatch. At $32,000 the 42mm chronograph is one of the most exclusive Omega Speedmaster watches ever made. And as the Financial Times reports, it’s also part of a growing trend among heritage watchmakers like Omega (and numerous others) to reissue famous timepieces from their archives.

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The Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is a reissue (with some updates) of the original gold Apollo 11 Speedmaster (Image: Omega).

“A Link to an Incredible History” – Not a Reissue 

One of the most striking features of the 50th Anniversary “Moonshine Gold” Speedy is its semi-transparent caseback, which features “1969-2019” and the limited edition number highlighted in burgundy, as well as well as the words “Master Chronometer” and an inner gold and PVD decorative ring. “The caseback was a long discussion,” Omega’s President and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann tells the FT. The original “is very famous for its engraving celebrating the Moon landing, but as the new watch uses the latest certified Master Chronometer movement with the co-axial escapement, the decision was taken to have a transparent back.”

Aeschlimann is at pains not to call this a “vintage” reboot. “I don’t call it vintage, I call it a link to an incredible history,” he tells the paper. “The Speedmaster was never discontinued – it is a unique look. As much as I hate the word, it is a very modern iconic design: it was the first chronograph with the tachymeter scale on the bezel, and the watch community understands this is not just part of the DNA of Omega – it is part of the DNA of the chronograph wristwatch.”

He notes that Omega keeps an eye on the burgeoning market for vintage Speedys, which partly inspired this reissue. “Recently I spoke to someone who told me they paid €1,500, not for a watch but for the box it came in,” he adds. “Apparently they are harder to find than the original watches. When people start fighting for a box, I can’t help thinking that we live in interesting times for Omega.”

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The Navitimer Ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition is a reissue of one of its early iconic references from 60 years ago.

Not Just Omega, but Breitling Too (and Many More)

Meanwhile Breitling is also getting in on the reissue action. The brand recently unveiled an almost exact replica of its black-dial 806 Navitimer from 1969, in both gold and stainless steel, which is set to officially debut at Baselworld this month. The texture and color of the hand-painted luminous numerals were specially mixed to replicate the original, as was the number of “beads” on the bezel.

However, the case is 0.15mm thicker to make it sufficiently water-resistant. “Breitling has one of the richest, nicest back catalogues,” as the watchmaker’s CEO Georges Kern tells the FT. “I decided to go for a limited series that honors one of the more mythical models.” Two great watches to be sure.

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More than heritage watches, Omega is reissuing their classic and highly-regarded cal. 321 movement (Image: Omega).

P.S. – check out a very cool selection of Breitling timepieces on Bob’s Watches, as well as our always-impressive selection of Omega Speedmasters.

Paul Altieri

Jared Paul Stern, is the Executive Editor-at-Large at Maxim magazine as well as Editor-at-Large of JustLuxe.com, and has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the New York Times' T magazine, GQ, WWD, Vogue, New York magazine, Details, Hamptons magazine, Playboy, BlackBook, the New York Post, Man of the World, and Bergdorf Goodman magazine among others. The founding editor of the Page Six magazine, he has also served as a judge for everything from the International Best Dressed List to the Ford Supermodel of the World contest. He currently contributes to A Continuous Lean, AskMen, CNN Style, Pursuitist, Airows and InsideHook, among others.