Earlier this year, Omega made an announcement that many of us had hoped for (in some cases, for decades) which was that, after a five decade hiatus, one of the great classic movements of mid-century watchmaking was going back into production. That movement was, and now is (it is a great feeling to be able to use the present tense about this caliber) the Omega caliber 321, derived from the caliber 27 CHRO C12, which was a chronograph, with 12 hour recorder, developed in 1942. The movement, in various forms, would go on to have a most illustrious career, but one of its most famous iterations was the caliber 321 chronograph movement. This Omega caliber was used in a number of Omega watches but it is probably most famous for having been used in the Speedmaster. It was the movement which Omega used in the very first Speedmaster wristwatch the reference 2915, and it is the movement used in the first Omega to go to space, which was Walter "Wally" Schirra's, on board Mercury Atlas 8, in 1962 (nobody owns history, and these sorts of coincidences are objectively meaningless, but nonetheless, I have always gotten a kick out of the fact that the first Omega Speedmaster went into space the year I was born, and for that matter within a few weeks of my birthday).
The original caliber 321; image, Omega.
It's a beautifully made movement one of the last mass produced chronograph movements which, although it existed in some very hifalutin versions and some less hifalutin versions, was still something that fundamentally, nobody wants to make any more today. There are some modern movements which are column-wheel updates or upgrades to basically economically conceived chronograph movements but that is not quite the same, and we have had no less an authority than Roger Smith, as well as several other folks who may be presumed to know something about a movement, praise the 321.
Omega Speedmaster CK 2915, the first Speedmaster, introduced in 1957.
Omega has now announced, right on the minute in terms of the moment when Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon, the first Speedmaster to be equipped with a caliber 321 in five decades. It's a Moonwatch, very much in every respect but in platinum.
The Caliber 321 Platinum.
This is a major announcement for Omega, and of course, big news for the enthusiast community; the return of the caliber 321 to a regular production Speedmaster, albeit in a precious metal and at a relatively expensive price, is big news. In most respects this is a Moonwatch, in the conventional sense, with of course the exception of the case metal, and the material for the sub-dials, which is meteorite. The case design is inspired by the reference ST 105.012, with twisted lugs.
The new Caliber 321, inside the 321 Platinum.
This is very much a commemorative Speedmaster; the dial is in onyx, and the indexes and hands are white gold, except for the central chronograph seconds hand. We've noted that the chronograph subdials are meteorite; Omega says that they are, in fact, made from meteoric material that coms from the Moon itself.*
The return of the caliber 321 to regular production was major news for dyed in the wool Moonwatch and Apollo enthusiasts; Omega has for obvious reasons chosen to make the first outing of this motor, a rather exclusive piece but of course what we'd all love is the movement in a steel Moonwatch case. In the meantime, the 321 Platinum is a piece of watchmaking history. No word from Omega yet on pricing or availability, but we'll update you as soon as we have that information. In the meantime, see more of *this refresh of one of the most important movements of all time, at Omegawatches.com.