After 50 long years, Omega has just announced the return of its iconic manually-wound Caliber 321 chronograph movement. First introduced by Omega and Lémania in 1946, the Caliber 321 is mostly remembered by its involvement in the early NASA space programs, where it was worn and tested in space, and then later became the movement in the first watch worn on the moon.
Some key attribute to the Caliber 321 movement can be seen in the large slotted screws and in the chronograph minute counter when engaged — it has what is called a jumping minute counter, where for every 60 seconds, the gear for the minute counter will move once. Although a lot of these characteristics may feel antiquated when compared to the modern movements of Omega, the Caliber 321 speaks of past times and gives off an intangible quality that cannot be replicated. Below is an excerpt from Omega when they first broke the news:
Known for its beautifully intricate design, the original Calibre 321 was the first movement ever used in the OMEGA Speedmaster in 1957. It had, in fact, been previously used in some of OMEGA’s other chronographs, namely those in the Seamaster collection. It stands out for its use of a monobloc column-wheel, a feature that is machined from a single piece and which adds technical value. Generally, column-wheel movements require very careful precision in design and build, making them popular with watch collectors.
In addition to its construction, the original Calibre 321 also earned a very notable place in history. It was used in a variety of models including the Speedmaster ST 105.003 (the model first tested and qualified by NASA and worn by astronaut Ed White during the first American spacewalk) and the Speedmaster ST 105.012 (the first watch worn on the moon).
With this announcement, we can hope to see some interesting Speedys for 2019. In other watch news, BAPE introduces the Type 4 BAPEX.