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.
“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.”
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.
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.