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Historical Horology: Non-mechanical Speedmasters from Omega

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When it comes to Omega, many folks instantly think of one model – the Speedmaster. This is a fair leap to make, given how iconic the watch has become. Variations have come and gone, but the one you’re likely picturing in your mind right now is a mechanical chronograph with a black dial. A lot of that is fueled from what we see today, as well as the vintage models that are currently popular. In the 1970’s, however, Omega was by no means immune to the quartz crisis.

They were certainly in a state where they need to adapt their wares to meet where demand was heading, so that’s what they did. In the mid-70s, they released a Speedmaster series called the Speedsonic (interestingly enough, they also carried Seamaster casebacks due to their WR rating), powered by a 300Hz tuning-fork movement (ala what Bulova was doing).

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A few years down the line, and we start seeing quartz-powered watches with digital displays popping up under the Speedmaster name. These 1977 models were only produced for a year, and are generally not run across too often (in fact, if you did come across one, I’d venture to guess you think it was some cheap knockoff, given it’s styling).

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There were other models in the intervening years, but the digital look has persisted, even to this day with the X-33 watch (and it’s successor, the Z-33). This certainly doesn’t look like something you’d find at the drugstore, but it also doesn’t look quite like the Speedmaster you’d think of.  While they may not appeal to the Speedmaster purist, there can be a certain charm to them.  And who knows, with this bit of information, you may run across a bargain one day at the flea market!

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If you want to read up some more on this particular topic, check out the excellent article from Worn & Wound (which is also where the images for this post came from).

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