Omega launched a torrent of new models and colors at Baselworld this past March, and among the new Planet Oceans and Moonphase Speedmasters we found the handsome and entirely charming Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” Limited Edition. Sharing the same basic form as the Moonwatch “First Omega in Space,” this svelte but sporty chronograph is a nod to the reference CK 2998 Speedmaster that Walter Schirra wore in 1962 during his orbital flight on the MA-8 mission of the Mercury Program. Nestled precariously within his ship, the Sigma 7, Schirra orbited the Earth 6 times and, to the benefit of modern day Omega, did so while wearing an early Speedmaster which he had bought for personal use.
Though it would be more than two years before NASA would select the Omega Speedmaster as their go-to timepiece, the CK 2998 was indeed the first Omega watch in space and has held an important place in both Omega’s history and in the hearts of many a Speedy collector. The new 2016 Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” (Omega’s quotations, not mine) boasts a beautiful blue coloring anchored by a silvery white dial and a 39.7mm steel case. The panda-style dial gives the “CK2998” a distinct look that sits somewhere between the black-dialed original “FOiS” and the Sedna gold model launched last year.
In a departure from the original and the Sedna variants, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” has been fitted with a lollipop seconds hand and a lumed tachymeter scale on the bezel. The case back is solid and bears Omega’s original Speedmaster Seahorse medallion and the “CK2998” is water resistant to 50 meters. Powered by Speedy-famous calibre 1861, Omega has wisely decided to continue their use of this legacy movement in the vintage inspired “First Omega in Space” models. The 1861 is a manually wound and cam-actuated 12-hour chronograph with a 48-hour power reserve. Given its lineage and connection to early space exploration, the 1861 is a big deal for Omega, and its continued use is not only a nod to their specific past but also to the old-school reality of watch enthusiasm – especially when juxtaposed by the highly technical reality of Omega’s modern movements (think: co-axial, anti-magnetic, and METAS certification).
Not unlike the movement, the 39.7mm case sizing feels willfully old-school, especially on a table full of 44.25mm Dark Side of The Moons, Moonphase Master Chronometers, and 55mm-wide Ploprofs. Fact is, Omega’s modern line up is, on average, quite large. While the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” is not amazingly small, its somewhat smaller case size (and steel construction) offers a handsome and appealing Speedmaster option for those not wanting something as large as a DSoTM or something as common as a Speedmaster Pro.
The quartz 5620 movement within forces the analog three-hand time telling with the addition of a countdown timer to get regatta racing, along with a multitude of digital displays. If you didn’t understand, the reason countdown timers are important to yacht racing and so often found on such watches is that ships get a running start (five minutes) prior to crossing the starting line which they need to time very carefully. The digital functions can show three time zones, chronograph, timer, (endless) calendar information, and two alerts. I’ll continue to state that negative LCD displays are only poor to favorable ones and can simply be seen as a sacrifice of legibility for aesthetics. The regatta countdown timer is triggered by the red button at 9 o’clock and activates a series of alarms with recognizable ringing sequences (seems stressful to me).Some differences from the Skywalker X-33 (hands-on here) from the Omega Speedmaster X-33 Regatta ETNZ Limited Edition watch comprise design cues for ETNZ, the specific functions intended for ship racing mentioned above, and naturally, that the omission of Skywalker from the name. The colors are of the New Zealand flag, and the blue ring at 9 o’clock that appears to reference an analog subdial is new and cool-looking. I happen to think that a more vibrant approach to the X-33, as we also saw here with all the Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse watch, makes it look a lot more modern and fun.We don’t have caseback graphics for the moment, but Omega tells us that it’s “stamped with the EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND emblem and inscribed with ‘CHALLENGER FOR THE 35TH AMERICA’S CUP,’ ‘X-33 REGATTA,’ and the limited edition number.” The bi-directional rotating bezel, made from a ceramic-titanium mix (has to be very light), comprises litle stars in the “compass points” in area of the aviation (stylized spaceship? K rail?) Symbols of this Skywalker. We can assume that there will be lume on the hands and indices, as well as the 12 o’clock celebrity on the bezel, in addition to a back light for the electronic displays.
Limited to 2998 units, you have to assume the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” will sell like hotcakes when they hit retailers later this summer. With a reserved and classic aesthetic, legacy movement, and lovely blue/silver coloring, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” is going to check the box for a lot of collectors who love the history of the Speedmaster but want a brand new watch that still manages to feel special. Costing US$6,500, fitted to a matching blue leather strap with beige stitching, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “CK2998” is nothing short of beautiful and was easily my favorite of the Omega novelties at Baselworld 2016. omegawatches.com