Swellboy on… Omega’s sensational new bejewelled Speedmasters

A first look at the watchmaker’s trio of subtly embellished timepieces is enough to render Nick Foulkes – momentarily – speechless

Platinum moonphase Speedmasters with baguette numerals in ruby, emerald and diamond
Platinum moonphase Speedmasters with baguette numerals in ruby, emerald and diamond

Among the bounty served up by Baselworld 2018 was what I can only call a special cuvée of Omega Speedmasters (the moonphase version, as distinct from the purist Moonwatch worn by Buzz Aldrin on his lunar perambulation) shown to me by CEO Raynald Aeschlimann.

The Omega Speedmaster’s sandblasted platinum dials
The Omega Speedmaster’s sandblasted platinum dials

I had already visited the Omega stand once and had had the big news of the year, the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster, explained to me in such comprehensive detail that I felt I could inform Raynald of a few of the more recondite details of his own brand.

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However, before I could embark on a proper disquisition concerning this year’s minimalist 1940s-style reissue, Raynald had the good sense to shut me up in the nicest possible way, by opening a casket containing three platinum moonphase Speedmasters with baguette numerals: one diamond, one emerald, one ruby. They were gorgeous and they were heavy – but with sandblasted platinum dials they looked, dare I say it, discreet. At a glance it could pass for one of those new alloys that watch companies are always testing these days and unless you are in possession of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) training you would have to get pretty close before you noticed the precious stones – in other words they are for the enjoyment of no one else but the wearer, and being a selfish brute I have to say that was fine by me.

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Alas, horological and journalistic deadlines do not always coincide and thus my article about the return of the discreetly gem-set gentleman’s watch had already appeared by the time I was shown this trio, of which the ruby model is, in my opinion, the best. The bezel colour is reminiscent of the model that was presented to President Nixon and Spiro Agnew, while the baguette rubies went very well with the 1950s Van Cleef & Arpels cufflinks, a 40th birthday present from my wife that I happened to be wearing.

Had these watches been released last year to coincide with what was the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster, it would have stolen too much attention from the Moonwatch proper. All I can say is that I cannot wait to see what Aeschlimann has planned for next year. If this is the sort of watch made in a non-anniversary year, what will Omega do in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing?

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