Buyer's guide

Buyer’s Guide: Which Omega Speedmaster To Buy?

Looking to buy an Omega Speedmaster. It sounds so simple. If only it were the case. In this guide, we’ll be having a look at a few Omega Speedmasters that you can buy today at your local Omega Boutique or AD. We are not looking at Vintage Speedmasters at all here. At the time of this writing one finds 117 – One hundred [and] seventeen – different Speedmaster models in the official Omega catalogue. Over time I’ve received a lot of questions from people looking to get a Moonwatch. I figured it is perhaps easiest to just plot my usual feedback down in an article for everyone to read along. Again, we’re not looking at vintage pieces here. If you’re looking to pick up your own brand new Speedmaster, and write your own history with it  then read along!

Top Three Suggestions:

The Moonwatch (311.

Buy on bracelet, wear on strap..

This model is the most ‘true’ Moonwatch in the catalogue today, if that matters to you. It is a watch that looked good yesterday, looks good today, and will look just as good tomorrow. A timeless classic powered by the ever-faithful Calibre 1861. I would suggest buying it on the metal bracelet and not on the leather strap. A strap can be bought easily afterwards (for example from our shop).

One question I often receive relates to the Hesalite ‘plexi’ crystal. It is true that the hesalite will require a polish now and then if you don’t like a few marks on the watch. You can of course also simply never polish it, and it’ll be just fine. But as we’ve demonstrated here, if you want to keep it looking pristine and give it a quick polish then it is really not difficult or costly whatsoever. A positive to the hesalite, is that you see finger prints much less than on sapphire and it has a warmer look and feel. Hesalite has that ‘vintage charm’ which I can’t quite explain, but it has it. The Hesalite also has an Omega logo laser etched in the middle, always fun for macro photography. Practical is also if ever you break the hesalite, it is considerably cheaper to have it replaced than if you’d have to replace the sapphire crystal (see next model below).

For a detailed macro look at this particular watch, have a look at our Macromeister post.

Note: This reference number replaced the 3750.50.00 which is essentially the same watch in a different presentation box.

The Moonwatch With Sapphire Crystal 311.


Essentially the Moonwatch, but with a sapphire crystal & caseback, nicknamed the Sapphire Sandwich. Gone is the hesalite and the solid caseback. If you love the moonwatch, but hate hesalite, then this is the watch for you.

It is powered by Calibre 1863 and not the 1861. The essential difference between the calibres used in the hesalite & sapphire version, is the level of finishing. Meaning that the 1863 is a bit more ‘luxurious’ to look at with more finishing because it is intended to be used in watches with a see-through back. The 1861 has little to no finishing and uses a less good-looking Delrin (plastic) brake. It was introduced in the seventies to reduce friction on the wheels. That is however replaced by a metal brake for the 1863, not because it IS better, but because it LOOKS better. Below a side by side comparison of both. You can see the extra finishing on the 1863 such as circular graining, geneva stripesGeneva Striping Geneva Striping is a decorative technique used in the finishing of mechanical watch movements, it's also known as "Côtes de Genève". It is a type of linear graining that involves making small, parallel lines on the surface of  movement components, such as the main plate using a specialized tool. [Learn More] and polished edges.

One visual detail that I’d like to mention, and it is purely a personal taste sort of thing, is the ‘milky ring’. When you look at the sapphire crystal on this watch, you will see that the sapphire creates a white ‘milky’ ring all along the border of the dial. Some people dislike this, others don’t see it and other’s like it. All I can suggest is to go and check it out, preferably side by side with the hesalite model. Another invisible difference between this and the hesalite model, is that this version weighs a bit more, you are essentially carrying two sapphire crystals with you which the hesalite version doesn’t have.

Note: This reference number replaced the 3753.50.00, same watch though.

First Omega in Space (FOIS) 311.

A slightly different look & a good option if you have smaller wrists and don’t feel like grabbing a Speedy Reduced. The looks are quite a bit different, but not too different from the standard moonwatch. It has a sapphire crystal, it has silver leafy hands (no white batton hands), it also loses the lug guards for a more slender look and finally the subdials have a more vintage & defined look. Overall it wears quite a bit smaller. The applied Omega logo is also a nice detail. The FOIS does not have the typical twisted lugs that you find on a Moonwatch, rather it has straight lugs. The chrono hand is of a simpler design, not featuring the diamond tip you’d find on the traditional Moonwatch chrono hand. The crownCrown The knob on the outside of the watch that you typically use to either wind the mainspring or set the time [Learn More] is smaller than on the Moonwatch, this is surely done to balance out as this model has no crown guards. Finally, the case back is different, as it does not commemorate the moonlanding, but Wally Schirra’s space mission.

Picture courtesy Omega

Overall, this feels a bit more classic (dressy?) over the slightly more sporty Moonwatch. As noted, it is also a bit smaller than the standard Moonwatch. It measures in at just 39.7mm. That’s a great size and if 42mm is just not for you, this may be the one for you. Note that the size difference is simply due to the lack of missing lug guards. Dial size should be the same as on a standard Moonwatch.

FOIS (L) vs Hesalite Speedy (R)

Note: The FOIS is a numbered edition.

Additional Comments

These three are my basic recommendations when asked about which ‘new’ speedmaster to get. There are as noted another 114 speedmaster models in the Omega catalogue today that may be worth a look. These three however, would be a good starting point for your research when hunting for your (first) Speedmaster.



    1. “Hesalite & Chill” hah, sounds great to me. I didn’t forget them, just kept it to the top three recommendations I keep giving when someone asks about getting their speedmaster (new). It usually boils down to those three, to hesalite or not to hesalite and then if size is an issue I like the FOIS a lot

  1. My first Speedmaster is “The Moonwatch”. It was given to me as a present to commemorate my graduation. On the next day I met a good friend that had the same fortune of getting the Sapphire sandwich as a commemorative present. At that time I was envios because of the backcase. Now I’m rather happy to own the “original” moonwatch instead 😀 One of the few (if not the only time) I prefer a closed caseback

    1. I had much the same experience. Having just bought it, I ran into the sapphire sandwich at the airport and had ample time to wristcheck it 🙂 That flight home was consumed by doubt on whether or not I should have grabbed the see-through back.. That doubt lasted quite a bit, but I can now safely say I’m perfectly happy with the choice made. I’m personally not a fan of the milky ring issue on the sapphire version, and I really enjoy the charm of the hesalite. I wouldn’t mind that vintage speedy with the hesalite front and sapphire caseback though… 😉

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