Those looking for a fantastic-looking, classy Omega Speedmaster in Sedna gold just got a gift for 2015 with the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition 39.7mm ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001. Disregard the totally odd-sounding name that doesn't really help you understand the design inspiration for the watch and focus on just how beautiful this new Panda-dialed Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch looks. Slyly released at Baselworld 2015, this new Omega Speedmaster is going to be a hit for those collectors able to pony up the price for gold. Also, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition 39.7mm watch is also often referred to as the "Speedmaster First Omega In Space," and because I like that name better I will also refer to the watch as that in this review.
According to Omega, the aesthetic inspiration for this version of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch was a watch worn by astronaut Wally Shirra in 1962 during the NASA Sigma 7 mission where he orbited the earth. While this was not the first watch in space (that was a Russian timepiece), that 1962 mission marked the first time an Omega was in space. Thus, the Speedmaster "First Omega In Space" collection was born. Also interesting is that, according to information from Omega, Shirra purchased the Omega Speedmaster himself for the mission, and this was before there was any official relationship with NASA.
This 2015 gold version of the "First Omega In Space" Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition watch isn't really the first of its type. That was the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.001 that came out in 2012, I believe. This was a good-looking, short-lived timepiece that I don't believe is still being made and, in my opinion, was a design study before Omega released the Speedmaster '57 Co-Axial Chronograph (aBlogtoWatch review here). What Omega did was interesting, actually. The most notable element is the "early" Speedmaster hands matched to Moonwatch style dial, but a closer inspection reveals a number of interesting qualities that should really excite some collectors. Each of those qualities have been carried over to this 18k Sedna gold version with the stunning dial.
Because the steel and gold versions are so similar, allow me to discuss some of the qualities that they both have. First is the case size which is a modest 39.7mm wide in a classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch style case. Omega opted to pair them with brown straps, in this case, a lovely matte alligator strap with white contrast stitching. At just under 40mm wide, this wears a lot like a dress watch, making it good for formal attire and long sleeves, but it still has that classic Omega Speedmaster look which is perpetually desirable.
Unlike the "classic" Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatches that are still produced today, the First Omega In Space models have domed sapphire crystals (versus acrylic) and ceramic bezel inserts. This adds a modern flair with a vintage look, meaning that these watches will age a lot better. You also get the traditional arrow-style hands versus the more simple (and arguably, more legible) baton-style hands people mostly associate with Speedmasters.
While there isn't much of it, the luminant on the dial is very good (well, there really isn't much on the minute hand), and in our opinion (thanks, David), looks sort of Star Wars-esque in the dark. With that said, the flat, polished hands aren't as totally legible as you'd like in a Speedmaster. It isn't that they aren't legible, but they aren't as legible as some other models. Given the sexiness of this two-tone black and white dial, this is something I can easily forgive.
What makes the panda-dial here a bit unique is the alternating rows of black and white rings that start with the black ceramic tachymetre bezel. The inner white dial with slightly recessed black subdials completes the panda dial look. There are a surprisingly small number of Omega Speedmaster watches with panda dials. Those that exist are collectors' favorites, and I very much welcome more panda dial-style Omega Speedmaster - especially classic-looking Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch models. A version of this model in steel... with a panda dial would be incredible and, in our opinion, sell out almost immediately.
The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch First Omega In Space is water resistant to 50 meters and has a specially engraved caseback with the Speedmaster seahorse and the "First Omega In Space Numbered Edition" text. The case size, of course, is on the petite side, given that the largest Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph is over 44mm wide. Those who want a great-looking Omega Speedmaster in a smaller size should certainly take a close look at one of these or the earlier steel model. I really like how this is both a dress watch and a sport watch, but with also a kick-ass dial.
Purists will love that the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition First Omega In Space contains the caliber 1861 manually wound chronograph movement. With just the time and 12-hour chronograph, the dial is wonderfully symmetrical. One of the first things you notice on the dial is the welcome lack of text. There is, of course, the "Omega Speedmaster" text, as well as the much smaller "Swiss Made" text, but otherwise, this dial feels exactly as clean as one could hope for.
The 1861 movement isn't an automatic, of course, and while I wish it was, it is a classic and what makes a Speedmaster Moonwatch... well, a Speedmaster Moonwatch. What is important is that you get the purist experience but with the sapphire crystal and the ceramic bezel with this very traditional-looking package.
Most people already have familiarity with the Omega Speedmaster family as well as the various options included therein. This review is on the shorter side because so much has been said (by us and others) about the world of Omega Speedmasters. This is just yet another flavor in the larger world of Omega Speedmasters, and a particularly nice one - but for a price.
The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch "First Omega In Space" Numbered Edition (meaning that it is not limited but each piece will have a unique number in the series) 37.9mm in 18k Sedna gold reference 3220.127.116.11.01.001 is priced at $18,000. omegawatches.com
>Model: Speedmaster Moonwatch Numbered Edition 39.7mm "First Omega in Space" ref. 318.104.22.168.01.001
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Speedmaster watch lover looking for a gold dress watch with a historic, sporty flair.
>Best characteristic of watch: Simply beautiful-looking Omega with a combination of modern materials and classic charm.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Expensive premium for gold and really needs to have a sister watch in steel. Hour and minute hands could be slightly more "three-dimensional" for a more legible look.