The 39 mm Calibre 321 "Speedmaster" sports chronograph (Ref. CK 2915) was introduced in 1957, with sales and marketing started the following year. It was billed as a "new type of chronograph, with a tachometer[sic] and production meter, designed for research, industry, and sport." The Speedmaster (Ref. CK 2998) grew to 40 mm in 1959, with the arrow-shaped hands replaced by dauphine hands. The model was revised in 1962 with new reference number (ST 105.002), bezel metrics, including tachymeter, pulsometer, telemeter, telemile and decimal. Beginning in 1963 (Ref. ST 105.012), the case was enlarged to 42 mm, with an asymmetrical design to protect the pushers and crown and twisted lugs. After this reference was used in space, a new Speedmaster "Professional" (Ref. 145.012) was introduced in 1966.
The Speedmaster was changed dramatically in 1968 (Ref. 145.022) with the addition of a new movement, the Omega/Lemania Calibre 861. An entirely new "Mark II" Speedmaster was launched in 1969, but the classic remained in production. The first automatic Speedmaster appeared in 1971, the Mark III, which broadened the case design options further. A diver's chronograph was added for 1972, and a chronometer followed in 1973. Another new case style and a new automatic movement came in late 1973 with the Mark IV.
Electronic movements joined the Speedmaster ranks in 1973 with the introduction of the tuning fork electric Omega Chronometer Speedsonic F 300 HZ. The first quartz Speedmaster came in 1977, the Omega Speedmaster Quartz, complete with a digital display.
As mechanical watches regained popularity in the late 1980's, Omega began reinvigorating the Speedmaster family with transparent case backs and a more-decorated movement. Next up was the German-market Mark V in 1984, followed by the Speedmaster Professional Moonphase in 1985 and "Holy Grail" Speedmaster 376.0822 in 1987. The 1988 introduction of the smaller Speedmaster Reduced opened new markets, with a modular automatic chronograph but classic good looks. The 1990 non-chronograph Speedmaster Classic series was a mistake, but a perpetual calendar pointed to better times in the 1991 Omega Speedmaster Perpetual.
In the late 1990's, nearly all Speedmaster calibres were refreshed with better decoration and finer construction. This began in 1996 with Cal. 1861/1863/1866 and Cal. 1141/1151/1152 and lasted through the introduction of Cal. 3220 in 2000. Another important introduction in that timeframe was the Speedmaster X-33, a multi-function digital/analog model.
The "Speedmaster" series is now a major pillar of the Omega brand. Various special editions are regularly issued.
- Main article: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
In 1965, NASA selected the Speedmaster as their official astronaut watch, and the company began selling a Speedmaster Professional model inspired by this in the following year. Astronauts Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom and John Young wore Omega Speedmasters on the first Gemini manned mission later that year, and Ed White completed a space walk with a Speedmaster on his wrist that year as well. On July 21, 1969, Buzz Aldrin wore a Speedmaster Professional on the moon, making this the first and only wristwatch worn on another celestial body. The Speedmaster was also instrumental in the failed Apollo 13 mission, with Jack Swigert using his chronograph to time course-correction engine burns.
Many subsequent Omega Speedmaster models have been produced which resemble this original "Moonwatch". Enthusiasts tend to differentiate between Speedmaster models based on the level of resemblance to that original Speedmaster.
In 1969, Omega introduced the Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II, indicating that this was a successor to the original Speedmaster Professional. This model used a decidedly different tonneau case. A Mark III line appeared in 1971 with three different cases reminiscent of the Flightmaster and Seamaster and the new 2-register Cal. 1040 central-rotor automatic movement. The Mark III was not originally marked "Professional", but it gained this name after 1973. The Speedmaster Professional Mark IV appeared in 1973 with a new case style and Cal. 1040. This case was shared with a 3-register non-Professional automatic Speedmaster using the new Cal. 1045. In 1984, Omega introduced another non-Professional Speedmaster Mark V with another new case and the 3-register Cal. 1045.
Speedmaster Automatic and Reduced
It was not until the 1971 introduction of the Speedmaster Mark III that Omega released an automatic Speedmaster watch. These continued intermittently over the next decade, with the mantle taken up by the Speedmaster Reduced series in 1988. In the following decades, a number of automatic Speedmaster watches, both reduced and regular-sized, have been issued.
- Omega Speedmaster Professional: The legendary "Moon Watch" with manual winding
- Omega Speedmaster 50th Anniversary: Jubilee model from 2007
- Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow: With arrow-shaped hour hand
- Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Rattrapante: With double chronograph complication
- Omega Speedmaster "Legend": To honor Michael Schumacher
- Omega Speedmaster 5-Counter Chronograph - With 5 totalisers in the shape of the Olympic rings
- Omega Speedmaster GMT "Solar Impulse"