Five OMEGA Speedmaster Watches With ‘Racing’ Dials
Speed over space.
Originally published by Logan Baker on HODINKEE, March 10th, 2020
Is it really any surprise that the OMEGA Speedmaster was born to go fast? It’s right there in the name, after all. OMEGA debuted the original Speedmaster back in 1957, just as the world of motorsport was beginning to rev its engines. OMEGA wanted to be a part of the action from the start, and a new chronograph wristwatch, with a few identifiable attributes intended to endear it to the nascent racing enthusiast market, was how the Swiss brand decided to tap into this burgeoning demographic. Little did OMEGA know that the Speedmaster’s future success would rely on its efficacy in outer space rather than down at the race track.
But that doesn’t change the fact that the Speedmaster was designed to race. It was the first watch to feature a tachymeter scale on its exterior bezel, rather than printed on the dial, which allowed the watch’s wearer to more readily calculate their speed while behind the wheel. While this might seem a trivial detail, it’s a fundamental part of the Speedmaster’s history, and it helps keep the watch grounded as a tool for racers. OMEGA hasn’t forgotten about the Speedmaster’s origins, and the company celebrates it with the contemporary Speedmaster Racing line. While the stylistic cues of that very first Speedmaster from 1957 are more accurately portrayed in the Speedmaster ’57, the Speedmaster Racing sub-collection draws on the aesthetic traits of a particularly memorable timepiece from 1969 called the Mark II, which featured staggered, bicolor hash markers that indicated one-fifths of a second on the periphery of the dial – a look now known as a “racing” dial – and a compelling use of orange accents.
Five OMEGA Speedmasters are newly available in the HODINKEE Shop today, four of which are variants on the modern Speedmaster Racing identity, while the other pays especially close attention to the unique characteristics of the Mark II’s trendsetting design.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer Chronograph
OMEGA has never been hesitant to iterate on the Speedmaster Racing theme. The initial dial design is believed by many to have first appeared in 1968, as an update to ref. 145.022-68, but its most notable application was with the barrel-shaped Mark II in 1969 (more on that in a bit). The look was revived sporadically over the following decades, including in a colorful series of watches co-branded with Michael Schumacher from 1996. In 2004, a limited edition of 2,004 Speedmaster Professionals with a checkered minute track were released as an exclusive for the Japanese market. It’s this specific model that is the closest relative to today’s Speedmaster Racing, and the cult following those watches have received in the years since is what helped inspire the development and eventual launch of today’s Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer series.
Released in 2017 as part of the 60th anniversary celebration of the OMEGA Speedmaster, the Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer channels the high-octane spirit we’ve come to associate with the racing dials, while offering a formidable combination of specs and pricing that make it one of the most appealing Speedmasters to be released in recent years. Under the Master Chronometer designation, the latest Speedmaster Racing features caliber 9900, an automatic chronograph movement, with column wheel and vertical clutch, that is visible through a sapphire exhibition caseback. Time is indicated through a two-register design, with a stacked register at three o’clock displaying elapsed hours and minutes, while running seconds are located at nine o’clock. The movement is certified as a chronometer by both METAS and COSC, and OMEGA has finished the movement with rhodium-plated bridges, clean bevels, blackened screws, and the brand’s signature Côtes de Genève en arabesques.
OMEGA adjusted the build of the Speedmaster Racing models in a number of other ways, especially when compared to other Speedmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronographs, like the Dark Side of the Moon, that use a similar case profile. The sub-dials on the Speedmaster Racing are slightly larger than usual, a nod toward legibility on the race track, and the case design is slimmer by a little less than one millimeter, a detail resulting from a redesigned caseback made of sapphire crystal. The cantilevered bezel design features a ceramic insert, while the tachymeter scale is rendered out of Liquidmetal.
Four models from the Speedmaster Racing series are available in the HODINKEE Shop today. There are two white dial variants, available on either a black leather strap or a five-link steel bracelet, that channel a pseudo-panda dial layout with bi-compax registers featuring black accents and numerals. There’s a grey dial variation more closely based on the Mark II design, with its slate-colored dial and orange accents, but it’s executed in a more dressy fashion with an attractive brown leather strap. And finally, there’s a black dial version that eliminates the orange accents, and instead offers a sleek, sporty, and refined aesthetic.
The Speedmaster Racing is the perfect alternative to the standard Speedmaster and is an ideal acquisition for someone searching for a different take on the Speedmaster identity – one that shares a comparable legacy to the more popular Moonwatch. The Speedmaster Racing is also more wearable and affordable than its Moonwatch Co-Axial Master Chronometer siblings (like the Moonphase or the Grey Side Of The Moon models), but it maintains the benefits of OMEGA’s latest movement technology, unlike the standard Moonwatch Professional or the ‘First OMEGA In Space.’ Overall, the watch has a sporty and well-proportioned feel on the wrist, offering a different take on one of the watch world’s most recognizable constituents. Its use of colorful accents adds a dose of levity, especially when placed next to more sober and monochromatic options in OMEGA’s vast catalog. In short, the Speedmaster Racing is an excellent option for someone who appreciates the Speedmaster’s history, but who also wants to stand out at their next watch meetup. The price of the OMEGA Speedmaster Racing varies between $8,450 and $8,750, depending on the use of a strap or bracelet.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Mark II Co-Axial Chronograph
While today’s Speedmaster Racing largely remains true to the idea of what a Speedmaster should look like, the original Mark II ref. 145.014 from 1969 deliberately bucked convention. Characteristics that separated the watch from its asymmetrically shaped predecessors included a barrel-shaped case with hooded lugs, graphic orange accents on the dial (including the alternating “racing” track on the periphery), and a tachymeter bezel located inside the crystal but raised far above the dial.
OMEGA brought the Speedmaster Mark II back to life in 2014, just in time for its 45th anniversary, with a re-edition that remains largely true to the original release. Yes, the quasi-tonneau case is slightly larger, and yes, caliber 3330 is automatic, has a date, and is equipped with a silicon hairspring, but the overall appearance is right on the money. One of the most enjoyable features of the watch is that the raised tachymeter scale is now fully lumed thanks to a layer of Super-LumiNova that shines through the transparent numerals. A tachymeter scale is one of the Speedmaster’s foundational features, and OMEGA found a new way to bring it to life with the reborn Mark II. The OMEGA Speedmaster Mark II Co-Axial Chronograph is available now in the HODINKEE Shop for $6,250.
More OMEGA In The HODINKEE Shop
The Speedmaster’s motorsport heritage is a pivotal part of the watch’s cultural development, a fact never celebrated more than when OMEGA breaks out its “racing” dials. Every OMEGA watch in the HODINKEE Shop comes with a six-year warranty, and you can learn more about the history of the Speedmaster Racing and explore our entire OMEGA collection right now in the HODINKEE Shop.