With the Omega Speedmaster’s storied connection to NASA and participation in the greatest achievement known to man, it tops the lists of many watch collectors. Preference is commonly given to “pre-Moon” Speedies—that is, those worn by astronauts Ed White or Buzz Aldrin as they tested man’s capability to “slip the surly bonds of Earth.” As such, prices for these pieces can often be astronomical (see what we did there!?).
Unfortunately, these watches—more often than not—seldom or never see time on the wrist, as collectors seek to keep them in pristine condition.
To fixate on these examples—as historically-significant and collectible as they are—is to ignore the long, rich history of the model, which Omega still makes and which astronauts still strap to the outsides of their spacesuits even today (or at least as recently as 2015).
It’s that last fact that truly brings home the point that Omega designed the Speedmaster to be worn—anywhere, even in space.
Therefore, a compromise can be reached with Speedmasters produced in the 1980s or even the early 1990s. That last decade, in particular, represents a pivotal point in the Speedmaster’s history. Faced with directives from on high within the Swatch Group, Omega began to phase out the lightly radioactive Tritium dials for completely non-radioactive Super Luminova.
Also, in the 1990s Omega added a jewel to the stalwart .861 and coated it with rhodium, creating a movement that still powers Speedmasters to this day—the Calibre 1861, which first debuted in the Reference 3570.50.
The watch that we feature here, a Reference 3590.50, dates from that transitional period.
It’s one of the last of the breed to bear the Calibre .861, and one of the last to bear Tritium indices and hands, which pleases purists such as ourselves! Moreover, it retains the same proportions of its predecessors—the twisted lug Huguenin Freres case, in 41mm rather than 42. The only major difference, aesthetically, is the bracelet: a Reference 1479 which was used by Omega from 1991 to about 1996.
The Reference 1479 bracelet offered here is eminently comfortable, and its folded clasp—rather than double push-button design used from 1993 onward—hearkens back to the classic design.
With a lovely patina to the tritium on the hour markers and hands, this Speedy is neo-vintage, and just on the cusp of collectibility.
For a collector looking to get into Speedmasters, but wants to be able to wear it whenever, wherever - then this Reference 3590.50 is the way to go.