Review of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Ref : 145.0022
I have waited quiet a long time before trying to make a review of the Speedmaster Professional even if this is a watch model I own sine I began to collect watches ... so why do I have waited so long ... simply because the Speedmaster professional is a myth and an Icon in the watch collector's world , and it is never easy to try to write anything on a so well known watch .
The Speedmaster Professional I am going to review today is the most classic and basic version dated 1997 : the 145.0022 with the hesalite crystal and the steel caseback.
Mechanical manual wind chronograph (no date feature)
Movement : Omega 861, 21600 bph, cam activated chronograph function
Case : Stainless steel 316L , screw-in caseback , waterproof to 3 atm (30 meters)* , double O-ring on pushers and crown
* the new spec of speedmasters is now 5 atm (50 meters)
Anti magnetism : insured by a soft iron inner case
Crystal : Domed hesalite (a kind of plexiglass) crystal
Bracelet / Strap : Stainless steel 316 L bracelet or strap on deployant buckle
Note on the movement : Introduced in the Speedmaster Professional in 1968 : had the following changes introduced during its life :
- 1974 : introduction of the Delrin Brake in order to prevent wear of the central second pinions
- 1980 : introduction of a luxury version with high finish named 863 (watch sold with display backs)
- 1992 : replacement of the rose gold plating by wellow gold plating
- 1996 : introduction of the 1861 / 1863 caliber : rhodium plated
First feelings :
A lot have been said on the design of this watch, it is a modern classic with shapes and that never age despite its age : a kind of Porsche 911 of watches
The finish of the watch is excellent, the case have the very particular and distinctive finish of the Speedmaster line : the side of the lugs are polished , inner lugs and side of the watch is satin finished. The bracelet match the case finish with satin large links and polished small spacers.
The watch is sold either on strap with deployant bucke or bracelet . The bracelet ref 1498 shown in this review is now discontinued but match the watch manufacturing date , the new version ref 1998 have a larger clasp with the new "push button" mechanism
The tachymeter scale is black anodized aluminium, the serial number of the watch (under one lug) is laser engraved
The back is engraved with the Speedmaster seahorse and the famous engraving "Flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions" "The first watch worn on the moon"
(funnilly the "first watch worn on the moon" was not exactly this model but the previous one with the caliber 321: you might be interested to read my article on NASA Speedmasters )
Daylight readability is excellent with a very high contrast between the black dial and the white hands : probably one of the best readability in the chronograph category : subregisters with the same color as dial do not affect readability of time as often seen on other chronographs.
Readability of the subdials is perfect : minute and hours hands are not very broad so they do not hide the subregisters for a long period
Night readability is not excellent but fair enough, the quantity of Tritium used on hands and dial (now Superluminova is used but this do not improve night readability) is very small , therefore the luminance of the watch is not excellent , hopefully with this "tritium" version you can read time all night long (which is not the case with newer superluminova hands and dial)
Dial / Subdials :
The dial and subdials are matte black , with a very low reflexion of the light , associated with an hesalite crystal (which have a lower coeficient of reflexion than glass or sapphire) the watch reflection is never a problem even under a bright sunshine
Hands are white painted offering the excellent contrast with the dial, note the tritium dot on the central second hand a rare feature which allow reading seconds in the darkness and giving its unique design to this hand. Indexes are simple bars , tritium painted which gives to them a very light wellow color
The "design follow function" on the Speedmaster in the interest to get the biggest dial as possible the tachymeter scale have been separated from the dial , improving again it's unmatchable readability
The speedmaster Professional is known to be a very reliable watch , you should not expect any problem with it. It have been reported very long intervals between maintenance without any problems , it is not an exemple to follow but it prooves how well built is the 861 caliber.
The accuracy of the tested watch have been done wearing it on long periods and compared to tha atomic time, but also checked on a Microset timing machine : results are comparable giving us an accuracy of + 3 s/day on a 10 days period and +2,5 s/day on the timing machine : this precision would perfectly match with the COSC specs even if the watch is not chronometer rated.
feeling of the pushers is typical from a cam activated chronograph, the pressure you need to apply is stronger compared to a crown wheel mechanism , nothing really bad here but when you have the occasion to compare you'll probably prefer the crown wheel ...
Winding the watch is easy, the crown offer an excellent grip even if it is not protruding a lot from the case because of its assymetrical design to protect crown and pushers
The "engine" :
The Omega 861 is based on the Lemania 1873, manual winding chronograph , cam activated functions, Incabloc schok guard. the size of the movement is 12''' coresponding to 26,8 mm, 17 jewels (in the 861 version, 18 in the 1861)
The Omega version of the Lemania is gold plated (861) or rhodium plated (1861) and the blocking lever responsible for braking the chronograph hand is molded in Delrin (polymer) the reason for this is purely functionnal and is not an element of economy : the brake lever came in contact with a very finely toothed wheel during operation and the Delrin piece reduce wear compared to a metal brake.
The calibre 861 is a beautifully designed, aesthetically constructed movement, on this point it is clearly superior to the manual wind version of the Valjoux 7750 : the 7765 which is also still produced today.
With a diameter of 12 ''' (Paris Line : 1 Line = 2,256 mm) , it is among the smaller chronograph movements. Its oscilation rate of 21.600 bph does not rate is as a "fast beat" but is a progress compared to its predecessor the 321, which operated at 18.000 bph.
Last but not least the 861 movement is known to be one of the most reliable mechanical chronograph ever produced, passing the NASA tests
So, my final thoughts:
- would I make this purchase again?
I am a Speedmaster "addict" so this is a question you shouldn't ask me .... but more seriously, I consider the Speedmaster Professional a "must have" for any watch collection.
- am I a happy owner?
Totally! The Speedy Pro is a modern classic with timeless design; it is a piece of history.
- do I consider this watch a good buy?
I would say more than a good buy, the Speedmaster Professional is an excellent "bang for the buck" as my American friends would say. Its price is half that of other big name watches that have a less glorious or legendary past; it is probably one of the best buys of any mechanical chronograph.
A final word:
The mystic surrounding the Omega Speedmaster Professional is justified; its self-confident representation in advertising does correspond with reality; there is no trace of exaggeration or excessive gloss. Today the Speedy Pro continues to fully live up to its role as a wristwatch officially issued by both NASA and the Russian Space Agency. For a price of less than 2,500 Euros (Jan 2005) a watch lover can acquire one of the most famous timepieces ever.