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Clock Gears

OMEGA & THE SPEEDMASTER CK 2998

Speedmaster Roots


The Omega Speedmaster CK 2998 stands as one of the most beloved vintage models, serving as the cornerstone for the modern design language of the Omega Speedmaster. Revered not only for its design codes but also for its historic role as the "first Omega in space" worn by astronaut Walter "Wally" Schirra during the "Sigma 7" mission of the Mercury program, the original CK 2998 has rightfully earned its place as an iconic timepiece.


The journey of the modern Speedmaster began in 1957 with the introduction of the Ref. CK 2915 'Broad Arrow,' marking the initiation of the 12-hour triple register dial layout, Plexiglas crystal, and Omega Broadarrow hands. Central to its significance was the inclusion of the legendary Omega Calibre 321 movement, a collaboration between Omega and Lemania in 1942, upgraded in 1946 for enhanced magnetic field protection and shock resistance.

The evolution continued with the 1959 upgrade to the Ref. CK 2998, introducing Alpha hands, a black aluminum tachymeter scale, and improvements like an O-ring gasket for enhanced water resistance. Subsequent models like the ST 105.003 with baton hands and the asymmetrically-cased ST 105.012 with twisted lugs further enriched the Speedmaster lineage.


While initially not designed for space exploration, the Speedmaster gained NASA's attention. On October 3, 1962, before the official association between NASA and the Omega Speedmaster, astronauts Wally M. Schirra and Leroy G. Cooper independently took their CK 2998s aboard Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7). The CK2998 reference remained in production until 1962, with CK2998-62 being the final variant, solidifying the original Ref. CK2998's status as a sought-after vintage Speedmaster.


Magazine advert of the OMEGA Speedmaster CK2998

A Modern Classic


The 2018 iteration of the Omega Speedmaster CK 2998 pays homage to its rich history while infusing a touch of modernity. A notable departure from the conventional tachymeter, this model features a pulsometer scale on its bezel, a nod to the era when doctors relied on such tools to measure a patient's heartbeats per minute. This inclusion is a deliberate homage by Omega to the original CK 2998, which offered various bezel options, including tachymeter, pulsometer, decimal, or telemeter.


Encasing the pulsometer scale is the reference 311.32.40.30.02.001, a limited edition of 2998 watches. Powering this timepiece is the calibre 1861, a manual-winding chronograph movement based on Lemania 861. It introduces a Delrin chronograph brake and boasts a rhodium-plated finish, a departure from the copper-plated design of the original's 321 calibre.


Design similarities between the original and current CK 2998 include straight lugs, absence of crown guards, simple pump pushers at 2 and 4 o'clock, a 39.7mm case diameter, 19mm lug spacing, "Base 1000" inscription on the bezel, and the iconic alpha-shaped hour and minute hands accompanied by a bold "lollipop" seconds hand, reminiscent of the original CK 2998-2.


Notable Speedmaster movements/references through the years


  • 1957: The Speedmaster was introduced, primarily for racing or sports, as the space program had not yet taken off. The 1957 Speedmaster, using the reference 2915, laid the foundation, with variants featuring a stainless steel bezel and iconic broad arrow hands.

  • 1957 to 1965: Speedmasters adopted the Lemania CH 27 calibre, a column-wheel-controlled, lateral-clutch chronograph movement. The legendary Calibre 321 is derived from this Lemania CH 27 movement.

  • 1959: CK2915-3 debuted with a black aluminum base 1000 bezel and alpha hands. The CK 2998, part of the second generation, featured the new calibre 321 and adorned the wrist of astronaut Walter "Wally" Schirra during the "Sigma 7" mission in space.

  • 1959 to 1962/63: The original Omega Speedmaster CK2998 was in production, later succeeded by reference ST 105.002.

  • 1959 to 1967: Calibre 321 continued to power Speedmasters, including the moon watch from the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

  • 1968: Calibre 861 replaced calibre 321 in mainstream production, increasing the frequency from 2.5 to 3Hz. This frequency remains in use in the current CK 2998.

  • 1996: Calibre 1861 succeeded 861 and is the current movement used in the CK 2998.

  • 2016 to 2020: The contemporary movement features 18 jewels, beats at 3Hz, resides in a 39.7mm polished stainless steel case, and offers a 48-hour power reserve.

  • May 2020 onwards: The new calibre 3861 ushers in the next chapter of Speedmaster movements.

 

Available Now


The OMEGA Speedmaster CK 2998 (reference 311.32.40.30.02.001) is a captivating timepiece with a 39.7 mm stainless steel case. Its distinctive design includes a subtly sand-blasted silvery dial adorned with three black subdials. The "Alpha" hands and a vibrant red seconds hand traverse the minute track, adding a touch of sporty elegance. The driver-style black leather strap, featuring micro-perforations and a white rubber interior, complements the overall aesthetic. Each watch carries a unique Limited Edition number on the caseback, alongside the iconic Seahorse medallion and can now be purchased below:



Angle shot of the OMEGA Speedmaster CK2998 with red hands on a silver dial and grey box set

More information can be found here: OMEGA CK 2998

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