Chronographs and cars go hand-in-hand. Nothing exemplifies this relationship more the love race car drivers have for their watches. Formula 1 legends Derek Bell, Jochen Rindt, and Jo Siffert favored Heuer, while Jim Clark wore Gallet. But there's another name in automotive sports that might not spring immediately to mind, given its more established connection to space travel. That's right, we're talking of none other than Omega and its legendary Speedmaster Professional.
As devotees of the moon watch (in all iterations, from the Caliber .321 that Buzz Aldrin wore, to later sub-references featuring the Caliber .861, even one in gold), we can often forget that Omega intended the Speedmaster to be a racing chronograph. The name hints at it: a not-so-subtle nod to Omega's innovative placement of the tachymeter ring on the bezel, rather than on the dial. Its design has remained unchanged, unmistakable, for more than five decades, as an indispensable tool in the astronauts' arsenal.
But occasionally Omega will come out with a special edition that hearkens back to the Speedy's racing heritage. The "Schumacher" Speedmaster was released in 1996 by Omega's brand ambassador, Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, in the German town of Kerpen where he got his start at the karting track. The Schumacher--released in yellow and red dials with matching straps--was polarizing to collectors at first, given Omega's decision to release it in the automatic "reduced" version rather than the larger, manual-wound "moonwatch" case design that's become so iconic.
The Reduced has its own legitimate connection to NASA, though. In 1988, two years after NASA ceased manned space missions after the tragic explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, NASA decided to resume manned spaceflight. To commemorate this, Omega released the Speedmaster Automatic, with a self-winding movement and a smaller case size of 39mm.
The Speedmaster Automatic presents an attractive alternative to the standard moonwatch. So it's no surprise, then, that Omega would choose to produce the Schumacher in an automatic version. And the Schumacher, with its association with one of Formula 1's greatest drivers and vibrant dial--here in red--definitely trends toward a younger aesthetic, perfect for an entry level collector or a dedicated enthusiast of motorsports.