Like Cher, Bono, or Rihanna, when a watch goes by a single name, you know it’s an icon. Case in point is the Speedmaster. First launched as a watch for race car drivers in 1957, and later linked to mankind’s greatest leap in 1969, few watches come close to the cachet of Omega’s signature chronograph. However, because the Speedmaster is Omega’s most famous watch model, there are so many variations (Speedmaster Reduced, Speedmaster ’57, Mark II, Racing, etc.) that it can be challenging to understand what the differences are.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Omega Speedmaster watches are “Moonwatches” – those are specific versions that are either direct descents of the Apollo 11 Speedmaster Professional watches or versions that Omega created in honor of the lunar landing. For instance, while at first glance the Omega Speedmaster Reduced may look like a Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” it is a different watch altogether.
A standard Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: widely considered to be one of the best timepieces ever manufactured.
The Smaller Speedmaster
Introduced in 1988, the Speedmaster Reduced was sold as the smaller and cheaper version of the Speedy among the various watches in the Omega Speedmaster collection. Consequently, the first thing you’ll notice if you have a Speedmaster Reduced in your hands is its size. Sporting a case that is 39mm in diameter, the aptly named ‘Reduced’ is noticeably smaller than the 42mm size of the Speedmaster Professional watches. It is also slighter than the 41.5mm size of the Co-Axial Speedmaster ’57 model and the 44.25mm size of the Speedmaster Racing edition.
There were a few versions of the Speedmaster Reduced chronograph during its two-decade production run. Omega offered the Speedmaster Reduced in stainless steel, solid yellow gold, and two-tone steel and gold. There were also bracelet versions and leather strap versions, in addition to different dial colors. Omega even made date, perpetual calendar, day-date, and moonphase versions of the Speedy Reduced chronograph.
Omega Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3510.50.00 (Image: Omega).
The most common Speedmaster Reduced models are the no-date stainless steel ones with black dials and black bezels. The first generation included the references ST.175.0032 (leather strap) and ST.375.0032 (steel bracelet). Because Omega changed their coding system in the late 1980s, this version of the Speedmaster Reduced is also known as the ref. 3510.50.00.
In 2006, Omega introduced the upgraded Speedmaster Reduced (ref. 3539.50.00) with a sapphire crystal instead of a Hesalite crystal and a slightly redesign dial. However by 2009, Omega had stopped producing the Speedmaster Reduced collection altogether.
Omega Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3539.50.00 (Image: Omega).
The Automatic Speedmaster
The Speedmaster Reduced is also sometimes referred to as the Speedmaster Automatic because, well, it runs on an automatic movement! This is in contrast to Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatches,” which are famous for their manually-wound calibers.
The movements of the no-date Speedmaster Reduced watches went by different names over the years. First Caliber 1140 (1988), followed by Caliber 1141 (1996), then Caliber 1143 (1996), and finally Caliber 3220 (2000). Regardless of the name, the movement is a time-only ETA 2892-A2 base fitted with a Dubois Dépraz 2020 chronograph module. The Omega Caliber 3220 offers users a 40-hour power reserve.
Due to the movement, the layout of the Speedmaster Reduced dial has the trio of registers spread out quite significantly where they are almost touching the outer minute track. Compare that to the Speedmaster Professional models where the three sub-dials are positioned much closer to the center. Also take note of the “AUTOMATIC” label on the dial, just under the Omega Speedmaster logo.
Although the Speedmaster Reduced has been discontinued, Omega still manufactured smaller Speedmaster watches under their Speedmaster Racing and Speedmaster 38 collections (Image: Omega).
As Omega initially promised, the Speedmaster Reduced is a smaller and less expensive version of its more famous Speedy Pro brother. Some may also argue it is a more practical version thanks to its self-winding movement. A great looking chronograph at a reasonable price point, the Speedmaster Reduced continues to be a popular option in the secondary market – even if Omega no longer manufactures it.
Update: October 2019
Although the Omega Speedmaster Reduced was discontinued in 2009, smaller Speedmaster watches still exits within the Omega catalog today in the form of the Omega Speedmaster Racing and Speedmaster 38 collections. The standard Omega Speedmaster Racing has a 44.25mm case diameter; however a 40mm version also exists (both with self-winding movements). Additionally, the Speedmaster 38 is another smaller Speedmaster, with a 38mm case diameter, and offering a number of different colors and configurations aimed at women.
Lastly the various vintage inspired Speedmaster watches like the First Omega in Space (FOiS) have vintage-inspired cases that do not have crown guards like the standard Speedmaster Professional models. Consequently the case diameter of these vintage inspired Speedmaster references measures 39.7mm, although the size difference is less noticeable among these when on the wrist.