Omega Resumes Production Of The Caliber 321 Movement

By: Michael Penate

Last year on the TBWS Podcast, I mentioned that Omega Speedmaster fans should expect 2019 to be a year to remember. With 2019 serving as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and Swatch announcing their withdrawal from Baselworld in 2018, I think we can expect some pretty exciting things from Omega very soon. I have a feeling this is only the beginning and if you’re like me (and many other Speedmaster lunatics), you’re probably hoping for a pretty sweet watch to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing. By now, the news is everywhere but I hope (as a Caliber 1861 Speedmaster owner) I can give you some quick perspective from the TBWS side of things.

Based on the Lemania 2310 – a movement that would serve as a base for watches like the Patek Philippe 3970 – the original caliber 321 stands as the spirit of the “true” moon and pre-moon watches. As a column-wheel chronograph, it’s also highly coveted by collectors due to the historical significance and purported superiority as well. Nevertheless, the Caliber 321 Speedmasters only really saw production between 1957 and 1968. Afterward, Omega launched the 861 family of movements and eventually the caliber 1861. But now, decades later, the 321 is back.


 
 
A modern-day Speedmaster Professional fitted with the caliber 1861 movement

I would have never expected this – and that’s exactly what Omega wanted. Apparently, over the last two years, Omega assembled a covert Caliber 321 reproduction team operating under the codename Alaska 11. Much like the 1957 Omega Trilogy releases, the 2nd generation Omega Caliber 321 movement was designed and constructed with the help of tomography – used to create scans of Gene Cernan’s actual Speedmaster movement… the last man to walk on the moon. While it’s not clear if these new 321 movements will be limited, I’m sure whatever watch they are used for will be an extremely hot item in 2019 – I’m talking stainless steel Rolex Pepsi-like hysteria here.

An original Caliber 321 movement

While I can appreciate the effort that Omega has put into this reproduction, it’s unfortunate that whatever release it is allocated for will probably be very expensive. But who knows… I’ve been wrong before. I also might be in the minority, but I kind of enjoy the modern Caliber 1861 – its merits have also been widely documented. Still, I’ll be following this closely, as I’m sure the corresponding releases will be very, very cool. The second generation Omega Caliber 321 movements will be manufactured at a dedicated workshop in Bienne and all stages of assembly (for the movement and watch) will be carried out by a single watchmaker at a time.

Omega


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