Hands-On Review: Omega Speedmaster US1171 and US1035 Flat Link Bracelets from Uncle Seiko

The Omega Speedmaster Professional is one of the few watches that looks more or less the same today as it did in 1969. Sure, there are differentiating details like stepped dials, different lume treatments, and dots over or next to various numbers. The near perfectly balanced Speedmaster Professional dial has seen relatively few substantial changes in the past fifty years. That means there are a lot of Speedmaster Professional watches out there. What a perfect opportunity for Uncle Seiko to diversify from Seiko within the watch enthusiast space.

Uncle Seiko Omega Speedmaster Flat Link Bracelet
Going old school on the Speedmaster Professional .

Omega Speedmaster Bracelet Shortcomings

The Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: The end links hang too wide and the clasp doesn’t have enough micro adjustments. It also lacks enough taper. (ref. STZ004194)

The Speedmaster FOiS/CK998: There is no bracelet! These models are available on leather strap only. The 19mm Speedmaster “Racing” bracelet (ref. 1565) is a popular workaround. For $900 it has the same issues as the Moonwatch bracelet. In addition, the 976 endlinks on that bracelet lack a truly precise fit.

On With The Reviews

Today I will review the Uncle Seiko US 1171 on my Speedmaster Professional and the Uncle Seiko US1035 flat link bracelet on my CK2998 Speedmaster. Are Uncle Seiko Speedmaster Bracelets viable alternatives?

The Uncle Seiko US1171 Bracelet 

Fits: Omega Speedmaster Professional / FOiS/ CK2998 

Material: Stainless Steel (Brushed) 

Taper: 20mm/19mm to 16mm 

Endlinks: Hollow 

Price: $89 


Why “US 1171”? The US is easy, it’s the initials for Uncle Seiko. The 1171 portion is a little bit more of a story. The number “1171” refers to the Speedmaster bracelet that Omega produced from 1970 and was phased out in 1982. Despite the bracelet’s long run, collectors will pay a premium well over $1,000 for a new-in-box example that is period specific. Even the 1171’s successors, the 1447 and 1450, were used in tandem until 1990. That means there are a lot of vintage Omega Speedmaster cases that are changing hands that need new bracelets. 

Uncle Seiko Omega Speedmaster 1171 Bracelet
The look of the US1171 on the Speedmaster Professional is timeless.

I’d like to point out that the Speedmaster Professional case has a lug width of 20mm while the Speedmaster FOiS (First Omega in Space) and CK2998 reissue (inspired by the original pre-Professional design featuring symmetrical cases and straight lugs) both have 19mm lug widths. I strongly prefer the Uncle Seiko US1171 on the Professional as opposed to the FOiS/CK2998 models. The US1171 is a truer representation of the original Speedmaster bracelet combinations of the 1970s and 1980s. Putting the 1171 style bracelet on a Speedmaster like the FOiS or CK2998 reissues crosses into mismatch territory because of the original early 1960’s ref. 2998 would have come on a flat-link semi-expandable bracelet such as the ref.7077. 

Uncle Seiko 1171 Speedmaster Profesional Bracelet
The US1171 is nothing like the modern Speedmaster bracelet.

The US1171 is sometimes referred to as the Speedmaster “President” bracelet as it resembles the same three-link design as the Rolex President (Day Date). The Omega bracelet is obviously steel, not precious metal. The wearing experience is helpful for those who feel that the Speedmaster Professional on the modern bracelet (Ref. STZ004194) is too big for their wrist due to the poor design of the overly wide center end link. I’ve ranted about it here before. The US1171 will correct that problem for smaller wrist sizes. If you have a larger wrist the US1171 is available in a large size. Uncle Seiko has you covered either way. 

One of my favorite subtle features of the Uncle Seiko 1171 is the use of the “U.” Turned upside-down it is similar to the Omega “Ω”. One of my least favorite parts was, as you may have guessed, the pins.  I’d love an updated version of the US1171 that use screws to add and remove links.  

Uncle Seiko 1171 Omega Speedmaster bracelet
The US1171 and US1035 share the same clasp.

The wearing experience and feel of the Uncle Seiko 1171 is what you would expect from a vintage bracelet. If you handle a modern Speedmaster with the stock STZ004194 bracelet and then the same watch on an Omega 1171 you’ll get it. There is a certain lightness to the US1171 that liberates your wrist from the modern heft. This is echoed through the true to form hollow endlinks. What you lose in rigidity, you make up in nostalgia. 

The Uncle Seiko US1035 Bracelet 

Fits: Omega Speedmaster Professional / FOiS/ CK2998 

Material: Stainless Steel (All Brushed or Brushed & Polished) 

Taper: 20mm/19mm to 16mm 

Endlinks: Hollow 

Price: $89 

The Omega Ref. 1035 bracelet was supplied on Speedmasters from 1967-1972. However, there are several other types of Omega flat link bracelets from that era such as the 1501,1506, and 1039. The Uncle Seiko US1035 is a blend of each.   

Uncle Seiko Flat Link Omega Speedmaster Bracelet.
Decisions, decisions: all brushed or brushed & polished?

Choosing between the all brushed or brushed center links/polished outer links was easy for me. The answer was to get both. It’s all about the style of lugs and how the light interacts with them. The straight lugs on my CK2998 reissue are polished. Naturally, the bracelet version of the polished outer links helped to keep the shine flowing off the lug and down the bracelet.  

Uncle Seiko Flat Link Omega Speedmaster Professional and FOIS Bracelet
The endlinks and bracelet links should always compliment the lugs.

Conversely, the all-brushed version of the Uncle Seiko US1035 lends itself to the brushed inner side of the curved Speedmaster Professional’s lugs. I was concerned that the flat link bracelet would take away from the ruggedness of the classic tool watch persona of the Speedmaster. Once the US1035 was installed the heft was gone. It was a weird feeling to put it back on my wrist. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have had “the right stuff” to be rocking that style Speedmaster vibe as an astronaut in the early days of NASA. But for a second I felt like I was part of the 1960s support team and I had been issued a Speedmaster by the new (at the time) government agency. Give me the black plastic glasses and a pocket protector and I’m ready to go! 

Uncle Seiko Flat Link Omega Speedmaster Professional and FOIS Bracelet
The flat links are only 3mm thick.

The clasp was the same stamped version as the US1171. There are four micro-adjustment positions and I was able to get a perfect fit. Despite the lack of a safety clasp, the bracelet never popped off unexpectedly. I did have to play with the arch of the clasp arm to adjust the tension for a proper release. That’s normal for stamped clasps. The flat links are only 3mm thick and I could slide the watch in and out of my shirt cuff, even with multiple layers on. The modern Speedmaster link problem (mentioned above) is once again solved for a great fit on multiple wrist shapes and sizes.

Uncle Seiko Omega Speedmaster CK2998 on a Flat Link Bracelet.
The endlinks help guide the bracelet down making the CK2998 fit smaller wrists.

I’m always amazed by how a bracelet or strap could completely transform a watch. This aftermarket offering from Uncle Seiko made both Speedmasters feel more authentic to the past. I don’t swap bracelets and straps often. I wonder how long these flat link bracelets will stay on my Speedmasters? 

Omega Speedmaster CK2998 bracelets
CK2998 aesthetic comparison: modern on the left vintage on the right.

Conclusion 

There is a difference between going through the motions and being a student of the game. There are a lot of Speedmaster collectors out there that own multiple versions of the Omega icon. Uncle Seiko even has 18mm options for the Speedmaster “Reduced”. Everyone is invited to this party. Swapping-out endlinks to move the Uncle Seiko bracelets between different Speedmaster cases is an easy and cost-friendly approach. You can grab an extra set in a different size under the “Endlink, Spring Bars, and Other Stuff” section of Uncle Seiko’s e-store for $25. 

Uncle Seiko Flat Link bracelets for the Omega Speedmaster Professional and CK2998
It’s hard not to love these combos.

The most annoying thing for me was that I found myself looking at vintage Speedmasters and telling myself, “no big deal, I’ll just put an Uncle Seiko bracelet on it”. Hopefully, the US1171 and flat link US1035 bracelets do the trick and scratch that itch with my modern pair of Speedmasters. If you don’t like the modern stock Speedmaster bracelets from Omega, these Uncle Seiko alternatives will scratch that itch too.

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