Sometimes watch brands do something that takes everyone by surprise and I feel pretty confident in saying that many of us didn’t see this latest member of the Speedmaster family coming! Sure, we’ve seen different takes on dial colours and at times an illustration or logo in one of the sub dials but the formula has been pretty faithful to the DNA of the Speedy that we know and love. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…unless you do what Omega have done with the new Chronoscope. This watch is killer and truly has something for everybody.
There have been white and silver dialled Speedies a-plenty over the years, but nothing like this with its applied arabic numeral hour markers, mid-20th century printed scale dial and leaf hands. The dial is what collectors refer to as a snail scale featuring all the “big three” scales; tachymeter, telemeter and pulsation. The watch also maintains the signature Speedy tachymeter bezel insert in anodized aluminium in the steel bezel. And the biggest thing to note – two registers instead of three. This truly is a tipping of the hat to some of Omega’s earliest steel chronographs! And I have to say I’m rather taken with it…
In terms of the brand’s heritage, the inspiration of early pre-Speedy chronos is clear to see. Much like the leap we’ve seen in the value of Pre-Daytonas from Rolex over the past decade, pre-Speedmaster chronos have been having something of a moment in recent times. Omega’s most desirable early chronos were those driven by the calibre 33.3 movement. The calibre 33.3 was made by Lemania and was used in both Omega and Tissot watches in the 1930s and 40s before the introduction of the Cal 27 or as it better known the Cal 321.
The 43mm steel watch is available with three dial versions – silver on silver, blue with silver sub dials and silver with black sub dials. The latter, the so-called Panda version, has a more contemporary look to it. On this version, Omega has made the scales still highly legible by using striking colour changes where the scales travel over the black sub dials and the overall effect is actually quite funky!
So let’s have a quick refresher course on the different chronographs scales, what they do and why they were initially devised. During the 1960s motor racing had a large surge in popularity and so watch manufacturers began producing chronographs with scales that enabled not only the time of an event to be measured, but also average speeds reached. The most commonly used scale for motor racing was the tachymeter, which was printed on the dial. Using this scale, it was possible to measure the time it took to cover the distance of a mile or a kilometer and immediately see the average speed. Of course, eventually the tachymeter scale moved onto the bezel, a key feature of the Omega Speedmaster.
In the early 20th century, timing instruments became key for military use and tool watches were in high demand. From the 1930s, the telemeter scale was used in battle scenarios to enable military leaders to monitor enemy positions when under fire. Essentially, an officer started the chronograph when he saw the flash of artillery and then stop it when he heard the sound of the explosion. This measured the time lapse between light and sound, which when read against the telemeter scale, told the operator how far away the explosion had taken place.
Finally, the pulsation scale. This was used by doctors and medical professionals to quickly calculate a patient’s pulse. To calculate heart rate the doctor would traditionally need to count your pulse and count to ‘15’ and then multiply the number of pulses by four. This scale allowed the doctor to start the chronograph, count 15 ‘pulses’ then stop the chrono and take the reading – no need for any multiplying!
This is a truly modern watch that has one eye in the past but is very much on the modern road. The movement is the Master Chronometer certified Co-Axial Calibre 9908 that has a special bridge that in Omega’s words has “Geneva waves in arabesque, that start from the balance wheel instead of the centre of the movement – a first for OMEGA.” The manual wind column wheel movement’s power reserve has been drastically improved by the used of DLC coated twin barrels.
In addition to the steel watches there is also a ‘Bronze Gold’ model. Bronze Gold is a proprietary alloy from Omega that includes 37.5% gold as well as palladium and silver to afford the case a soft pink hue. The dial is in aged bronze and the ceramic bezel insert has been given the vintage enamel moniker. The watch is supplied on a brown leather strap and is a very beautiful execution of the Chronoscope.
Case and dial: 43mm brushed and polished steel case. Two register ‘snail scale’ dial with leaf hands.
Movement: Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 9908
Strap: Steel bracelet or leather strap with new steel buckle.
Bronze Gold Chronoscope
Case and dial: 43mm Bronze Gold case. Two register ‘snail scale’ in patinate bronze finish dial with leaf hands.
Movement: Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 9908
Strap: Brown leather strap with Bronze Gold buckle.