The year 1957 was an important one in the history of Omega. That was the year that Omega introduced the Seamaster 300 dive watch, the Railmaster antimagnetic timepiece, and the now-legendary Speedmaster chronograph. As a result, Omega has made a bevy of Speedys in honor of the first model, including the Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow 1957 and the Omega Speedmaster ’57 we will be delving into here.
But First, the Original 1957 Omega Speedmaster
The first reference that launched Omega’s flagship chronograph collection was the Speedmaster CK 2915. The manual-wound chronograph watch sported a 39mm stainless steel case with two chronograph pushers flanking the winding crown. One defining design characteristic of the inaugural Omega Speedmaster model was its bezel with a tachymeter scale. In fact, the Speedmaster was the very first chronograph to move the tachymeter scale from the dial to the bezel.
The earliest editions of the Omega Speedmaster CK 2915 had steel bezels engraved with the tachymeter scales. However, Omega started furnishing later editions of the Speedmaster CK 2915 (known as ref. CK 2915-3, circa 1959) with black aluminum bezel inserts with white tachymeter scales for better legibility. Then Omega made the black bezel with white tachymeter an official design element of the Speedmaster with the subsequent reference CK 2998 in 1959.
Another important design trait of the first Omega Speedmaster was the “broad arrow” hands on the dial, named so for the large arrow-tipped hour hand and the thickness of both the hour and minute hands. Omega eventually phased out the broad arrow hands, switching to Alpha style hands on the subsequent reference CK 2998 and then straight baton hands on the following reference ST 105.003 in 1963.
The first Speedmaster housed a black dial with three subdials, positioned at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Furthermore, the dial had radium for luminescence and Hesalite glass on top for protection.
Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow 1957
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Speedmaster in 2007, Omega released a collection of commemorative watches including the Speedmaster Broad Arrow 1957. This particular reference, the Speedmaster Broad Arrow 1957 Chronograph ref. 3126.96.36.199.13.001, is a luxurious two-tone model combining stainless steel and 18k red gold. The 42mm steel case is equipped with red gold pushers and a red gold winding crown, along with a red gold bezel with a brown bezel insert furnished with the customary tachymeter scale.
Matching the brown tone of the bezel is the rich chocolate dial with applied baton hour markers in red gold and red gold chapter rings surrounding the trio of registers. There’s also a date window at six. As its name implies, the Speedmaster Broad Arrow 1957 features the iconic broad arrow hands at center similar to the first Speedy, accompanied by the “1957” label in red just under the applied Omega logo at 12 o’clock. Carrying on the warm tones of the watch is the brown alligator strap, fitted with a stainless steel foldover clasp featuring Omega’s logo in red gold.
Unlike the maiden model, this modern Speedmaster features scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protecting the dial as well as a sapphire crystal on the caseback for a view of Omega’s automatic Caliber 3313. The movement is equipped with the Co-Axial escapement for greater reliability and accuracy and supplies the watch with 52 hours of power reserve.
Omega Speedmaster ’57
Released in 2013, the Omega Speedmaster ’57 is yet another tip of the hat to the first Omega Speedmaster model reinterpreted to suit modern tastes and expectations. This particular reference, the Omega Speedmaster ’57 3188.8.131.52.01.002, also combines 18k red gold and stainless steel but with even more red gold details.
Similar to the very first Speedmaster, the Omega Speedmaster ’57 includes a tachymeter-engraved metal bezel, but in precious 18k red gold rather than steel. That bezel sits on top of a 41.5mm stainless steel case, punctuated with a winding crown and two chronograph pushers in red gold. Another hint at early Speedmaster examples is the traditional black color of the dial and the use of Alpha style hands; however, rather than the three subdial-layout ubiquitous to the Speedmaster, the Speedmaster ’57 has only two registers at 3 and 9 o’clock. The subdial at 3 o’clock combines the 12-hour and 60-minute chronograph recorder, freeing up plenty of space for the date window at 6 o’clock. Topping the dial is scratch-resistant sapphire crystal,
The luxuriousness of this Omega Speedmaster ’57 reference is emphasized by the two-tone bracelet with red gold center links flanked by stainless steel links. Flip the watch around, and you’ll see the self-winding Omega Co-Axial Caliber 9300 movement through the sapphire crystal caseback. Caliber 9300–the first of Omega’s exclusive Co-Axial calibers to incorporate a chronograph function– offers a 60-hour power reserve.
Despite the creative liberties Omega takes when designing modern Speedys–whether using different materials, varying dial layouts, or updated movements–there’s no denying the historical link to the fundamental blueprint of the very first Omega Speedmaster from 1957. One of the most famous high-end Swiss-made chronographs in existence, the appeal of the Omega Speedmaster has endured for the last six decades and will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future.