At the beginning of 2021, the classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch received what is arguably the most significant update to occur in more than half a century of continuous production. Although the new model largely stays true to the aesthetics of the previous generation, it now features a state-of-the art movement with Omega’s Co-Axial escapement and it offers significant performance advancements over its direct predecessor.
As you might imagine, these new Moonwatch models are accompanied by a higher price, both at retail and on the secondary market. However, the big question that everyone has been asking is whether or not these new Omega Speedmaster watches are actually worth the extra money compared to models from the previous generation.
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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch: New vs. Old
Just as before, Omega offers the classic Moonwatch in two configurations: one with a Hesalite crystal and steel caseback, and one with a sapphire crystal and display caseback (known as the “Sapphire Sandwich”). While the new generation does have some small vintage-inspired aesthetic updates such as its dot-over-90 bezel and step dial, you’d be hard-pressed to spot these details on someone else’s wrist from across the room.
Additionally, just like the previous generation, you have the option of getting either model on a strap or bracelet, although the metal bracelet is one area where a number of updates have been made. The new bracelet has a more significant taper along with redesigned links and a new clasp for a more refined overall appearance. While this does create a noticeably different presence on the wrist, the real reason why you should consider the new generation of the Omega Speedmaster is because of its advanced caliber 3861 movement.
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The Omega Caliber 3861 Movement
The previous generation of movements powering the Speedmaster was based on a platform that Omega had been using since 1969. While some might consider this generation of calibers to be outdated, it is also about as ‘tried and true’ as you will find in this industry, and the extraordinarily long duration of its use is a testament to the success of its design and implementation.
The caliber 3861 found inside the new Speedmaster is the first generation of Moonwatch movement to use Omega’s Co-Axial escapement, and along with it comes industry-leading magnetic resistance of more than 15,000 gauss, a hacking seconds feature, and METAS chronometer certification. While the cal. 3861 is still a manually-wound 12-hour chronograph, it represents a major step forward for the Speedmaster collection and brings the classic Omega Moonwatch into the modern era.
The Actual Price Difference
At a retail level, the price increase for the new generation of Speedmaster watches ends up being only about $700 to $900 more than what Omega was charging for comparable models from the previous generation. However, this price difference significantly increases when you start looking at options on the secondary market.
Given that the new generation of Moonwatch has only existed for about one year, pre-owned examples are still selling for close to their original retail prices. On the other hand, you can sometimes find older models from the previous generation for under $4k, so the real price difference between generations will actually end up being closer to $2,000 if you plan on picking one up on the secondary market. All things considered, a price difference of nearly $2k is not an insignificant premium considering that it represents nearly a 50% increase above some of the least expensive Moonwatch models that are currently available.
Which Omega Moonwatch Should You Buy?
So, is the new Omega Speedmaster with the caliber 3861 movement worth the extra money over its predecessor?
If magnetic resistance is a priority or you simply have the extra cash to spend on your next watch, then the caliber 3861 movement inside the new generation makes for a worthwhile upgrade and promises to deliver superior performance. However, the previous generation of the Speedmaster is still a fantastic timepiece, and if you want to own an example of this legendary Omega model without breaking the bank, an older reference is easily one of the best watch purchases that you can make for under $5k.
With that in mind, one of the best things about buying the classic Omega Speedmaster is that there really is no way for you to make a wrong decision when it comes to choosing a specific reference. All of the various models that fall within the traditional Moonwatch category are manually-wound integrated chronographs from one of the world’s most prestigious manufacturers, and Omega hasn’t produced a bad Moonwatch reference in more than sixty years of continuous production. Regardless of the Speedmaster you choose, you will be getting a watch that upholds the legacy of a model that quite literally went to the moon.