- Reference 3126.96.36.199.01.001
- 40.5mm x 13mm
- Caliber 9906 – manually wound, dual barrels, 60-hours power, dual-register chronograph with date and jumping hour
- Precision – + 0.4 seconds / day with chronograph running as measured on our timegrapher
- Release year – 2022
The Dark Side of The Moon Watch
If you, dear reader, glean one thing from this screed, let it be that the 2022 Omega Speedmaster 57 celebrates speeding here on Earth – not on the Moon – and it does so with abundant luxury, style and class. What a revelation it has been for me to enjoy this chronograph. I absolutely adore this watch, inside and out.
However, as some of you may know, I have had a complicated relationship with the Speedmaster known as The Moon Watch, and it may be instructive to consider that relationship. Indulge me.
You can’t be into watches and ignore The Speedmaster that went to the Moon anymore than you can be into rock-n-roll and ignore The Beatles. This gets tricky for those of us who don’t naturally resonate with The Moon Watch, or – I admit it – The Beatles. I swear this is not iconoclasm for its own sake, and rather a genuine quirk in my subjective point of view.
I’m still unclear about The Beatles, but I’ve dug hard to grok my relationship to The Speedmaster, and what I’ve realized is that I have always been fascinated with space but also oddly adverse to space travel. I’ve always remained a bit suspicious of the heated nationalism during race to the Moon, Regan’s weaponizing the stratosphere, and now of today’s privateer space billionaires. But my fascination with astronomy runs deep.
As a kid, when I looked up at the night sky I visualized space-time bending along torqued gravitational fields, and I didn’t fantasize about becoming an astronaut. I idolized Carl Sagan and his show Cosmos, not Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I was drawn as if by gravity itself to this wistful, handsome, elegant academic in a turtleneck who spoke in hushed, reverent tones about infinity while pulling my imagination out among billions and billions of stars. In fact, Sagan would have looked rather dapper wearing this 2022 Speedmaster 57.
It is perhaps with some irony, then, that I sat down to write this review on the same Speedy Tuesday that NASA released the first mind-blowing images from the internationally endowed Webb Telescope. I’d love to see Omega work more stories about astronomy into the Speedmaster narrative. However, up until now it’s mostly been about the Moon landing of 1969, and that can be less than gravitational for those of us who don’t quite resonate with that era of space travel.
In 1957, The Speedmaster Was All About Speeding Here on Earth
I may be wistful and nerdy when it comes to space, but I’m a speed junkie here on Earth. I’ve driven a vintage Porsche 911 half way off a cliff, sped a Ducati motorcycle straight to jail, ploted a screaming Donzi powerboat, bombed a giant slalom course, raced bicycles down Italian mountains, and tucked low on a very long skateboard pointed downhill toward an intersection. I absolutely love speeding here on Earth.
And that’s exactly why I’ve chosen to review the 2022 Speedmaster 57 – because this watch’s pedigree long predates Omega’s relationship with space travel, and as such it doesn’t orbit the Moon. I finally found my in-road to The Speedmaster via this new 57 model.
The Background of The 2022 Speedmaster 57
The very first Speedmaster (Reference 2915) came out in 1957, coincidentally the same year The Beatles formed. The Speedmaster 2915 was a three-register chronograph with a stainless steel tachymeter bezel and a broad-arrow hour hand. It housed the venerable Caliber 321 manual-winding movement and was 38mm across. Within a couple years, the Speedmaster Ref. 2915-3 saw the bezel go black, forming the three-register blacked-out chronograph that most of us have in mind when we say Speedmaster. A 42mm iteration of that watch went to the Moon in 1969 as Reference 105.012.
In 2011, Omega announced a large 44.25mm Speedmaster housing the auto-winding Caliber 9300 with a Co-Axial escapement and a two-register configuration with a date aperture at 6-o’clock. Many found the 2012 release too large and/or too unconventional, but the co-Aaxial auto-winding Caliber 9300 finally showing up in a Speedmaster made headlines.
Then in 2013 Omega released the first Speedmaster 57, (Reference 3188.8.131.52.02.00x), which also housed the co-axial auto-winding Caliber 9300 but measured 41.5mm across. Still a little large for a vintage recreation watch, there was also no broad-arrow hour hand. Smaller watches would soon become the trend, and 2013’s Speedmaster 57 eventually seemed primed for an update.
And so when the Speedmaster 57 hit the market in 2022, many rejoiced. At 40.5mm across and under 13mm tall, this is the smallest Master Chronometer Speedmaster to date (though there are smaller ones that do not meet the strict METAS certification requirements). This model brings back the original’s broad-arrow hour hand, flat-link bracelet, manual-winding movement and it is a little smaller at 40.5mm. Yet, the 2022 Speedmaster 57 still sports the dual-register dial.
Two Is More Than Three
As iconoclastic as this may seem, I prefer the dual-register dial far and above the original three-register dial of 1957’s Reference 2915.
My defense of the two-register dial configuration is founded on the notions that legibility is highly increased and that we rarely time things into the hours anyways. By putting both the minute and hour totalizers on the sub-dial at 3-o’clock, Omega has cleaned up the Speedmaster dial considerably, and the dual function of that sub-dial just feels sophisticated, especially as one imagines the concentric works below that drive those two totalizing hands. Additionally, two-register chronographs are more traditional and dressy than three-register chronos.
And I really adore this date aperture. That’s an unpopular (perhaps iconoclastic-seeming) opinion among tool-watch aficionados, but to my eye the date aperture civilizes this Speedmaster, suggesting dress-watch pedigree and civilian travel usage. That travel-readiness becomes obvious when using the amazing Caliber 9906 manually-wound movement, which is a delight.
The Caliber 9906 & Dress Watch Vibes
I’ve always been drawn to watches with a strong connection between the movement and it’s front-facing aesthetics, and the 2022 Speedmaster 57 makes that connection quite strongly.
On the surface, this watch is abundantly sophisticated. Its subdued green dial, quieter two-register configuration, rhodium plated hands and markers with bright white lume all exude luxury. The moment I slipped it on, I felt more sophisticated, like I do when wearing a fine dress watch. I wouldn’t hesitate to wear the Speedmaster 57 in green with even a tuxedo. You still get a dose of that James Bond tool-watch-with-tux vibe, but understatedly so, not like the kids sporting gleaming Rolex Submariners with black tie.
Beneath the surface, you’ve got a movement that supports those dressy vibes, with a healthy dose of travel-readiness built into the works. In the first crown-out position, the hour hand jumps backward and forward, making time-zone leaping a breeze. This is also how one sets the date, which is abundantly fast given that there’s no traditional quick-set function. It’s a great compromise, and the Caliber 9906 offers a significant dose of high horology as you jump the hour hand. In the second crown-out position, one sets the minute hand. With the crown in, you manually wind the watch for up to 60-hours of power reserve delivered from dual barrels arranged in series.
Flip the watch over, and you’d have to be blind not to swoon. The massive spirally engraved three-quarter bridge dominates the view, while the dual-mounted balance bridge sings with co-axial sophistication. Exposed rubies suggest the placement of the gear train’s various wheels, and the overall impression is so highly horological that I can’t help but feel as if I’m wearing a dress watch – even if in essence the 2022 Speedmaster 57 is a tool watch.
The flat-link bracelet is Omega’s best – elegant yet sporty, thin yet offering excellent support for the watch head, vintage yet unique among tool watch offerings. This bracelet is a must-have for anyone considering the 2022 Speedmaster 57 – unless, of course, you just don’t like bracelets, in which case each of the four colorways is on offer with a lovely matching leather strap. Arguably, the 2022 Speedmaster 57 looks dressier on leather.
Either way, I just keep swooning.
Speeding Past The Moon (Swatch)
I encourage anyone who has struggled to connect with The Speedmaster as I have to consider the 2022 Speedmaster 57. Its design not only predates the Moon landing, but its formal features simply defy association with the now hegemonic three-register Speedmasters. It’s freeing to wear a Speedmaster free of such strong lunar associations.
I also find the coincidence of the release of the 2022 Speedmaster 57 with the release of the mania-provoking MoonSWATCH poignant – and smart. With this revised Speedmaster 57, Omega has set a weighty stone on the other side of the Speedmaster scale, the side that remembers the origins of this watch as rooted in defying the effects of gravity here on Earth, the one planet worth investing all our human ingenuity into – at the highest speed possible, of course.