Is this the beginning of big brands listening to what consumers want?
An Opinion from Katlen Schmidt
It’s the first Tuesday of 2020 and imagine my surprise leaving the gym a short time ago to a phone filled with texts and notifications about Omega. My first thought was “not another limited edition”. That’s the joke right…a new Omega limited edition every few weeks? It’s what we have come to expect from the Swiss brand. Now given, many of these watches are incredibly cool regardless of how you feel about the idea of so many “limited” pieces. Boy was I wrong. Imagine the surprise to see not only a new Speedmaster, but THE Speedmaster. The one we all have hoped for since Omega announced they were redoing the 321 caliber. The one we were all disappointed never came last year during the 50th Apollo 11 celebrations. The one that turned into some ridiculously priced for many of us platinum piece out of reach…yea, THAT Speedmaster.
I’m not going to overly get into the details of the 321 caliber here. Honestly, there are so many amazing articles that discuss this legendary movement in such great detail that I know I would not do it justice. And I’ll acknowledge that there are probably many of you who see this as another money grab for the brand and this is probably not the watch for you, and that’s ok. The truth is, this watch symbolizes so much for many in this community. From the space nerds, to the die hard 321 enthusiasts, it’s hard to diminish what Omega has accomplished here. While the intent of this article isn’t to get overly into the details of this new watch, it is important so that you understand why I feel this is a turning point for the industry.
Case: 39.7mm stainless steel case with 19mm lug width, directly inspired by the legendary watch worn by Ed White during his 1965 spacewalk.
Movement: Omega 321 caliber which was NASA qualified for use on all manned space missions. This movement features a manual wound chronograph with 55 hour power reserve.
Crystal: Both Sapphire crystal and sapphire crystal caseback, displaying the beautifully finished 321 movement.
Material: Stainless steel case and bracelet with ceramic bezel and tachymetric index of white enamel.
Price: CHF 13000 Swiss Francs; $14,100 USD
Availability: Full production, early 2020
Giving Us What We Want
I know what you skeptics are going to say, “CHF 13000!”. And yes, it is a much higher price point than the standard Moonwatch. Whether you plan on purchasing one or not though, you have to admit one thing…Omega Did Good! Here’s the thing, we have become so accustomed to big brands completely ignoring us as consumers. Anyone care to recap Basel 2019 or any of the other shows last year? Big Swiss brands either played it safe or introduced things no one asked for. Or in the case of Omega, a dozen limited editions that we grew tired of. But here they are giving us exactly what we want!
I vividly remember last January when Omega announced the reintroduction of the 321 movement production. There was happiness and joy. So many hopes and dreams from the die hard fan boys, enthusiasts, and space nerd. That was all followed by dismay last summer when we found out that it was being put into a platinum piece that was out of reach for so many of us enthusiasts. Omega has taken the opportunity to make things right here. Not only by putting this caliber in stainless steel, but giving us the Ed White case that we had hoped for. Every bit of this case design has been thought out which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the fact that the brand used Eugene Cernan’s Speedmaster to engineer the movement a year ago (that watch being the original Ed White reference 105.003). But let’s face it, I think we are all a bit jaded and expect some sort of change that makes the watch undesirable like a 44mm case or a new hand design, or even overly done fauxtina that takes away from the aesthetic of the watch design…we are used to not getting what we want and I think for many of us, there is a bit of shock.
We are also seeing a new trend from the brand that I don’t think any of us quite expected which is non limited edition pieces. If you’ll remember just last month, Omega introduced the new James Bond watch actually modeled after the watch worn by the infamous Bond character in the upcoming “No Time to Die” film and it wasn’t a limited edition. And this isn’t the first non limited piece. Remember the Ultralight Aqua Terra? A full production of three technologically amazing watches? What’s happening? It’s like we are coming into a new era with Omega and it’s a good one. No more jokes on limited editions to 10,007. No more limited editions for movies that Omega had nothing to do with? Could it be that Omega is turning away from the reputation it has earned over the years?
Personally, I want to say thank you Omega! I won’t hide the fact that I do absolutely love the brand, and they are a heavy part of my collection. But I do believe that not everything they do is right. This is one instance where I am happy to report that things are good. Honestly, this announcement gives me hope that 2020 is going to be a good year in the watch industry. It may be naive of me to say, but I’m going to remain optimistic and cross my fingers that the days of big brands listening to us consumers are finally here!
More information can be found online through the Omega Website here. And be sure to check in with your local stores as they will hopefully be available soon.