The Omega Caliber 321 is a very exciting watch movement to talk about because it was used for the Omega Speedmaster watches that were provided to NASA for its Apollo space missions. The movement was a seriously strong and tough device that was made with a lateral clutch chronograph, and it represented one of the greatest moments in chronograph design. If we could take a vote from all lovers of Omega watches, as to which movement they would love to see have a rebirth, i am fairly confident that many would vote for the rebirth of the Omega Caliber 321.
The movement was robust and elegant, being a favorite of many watch lovers since the 1940’s. Watches bearing that movement are still, to this day, sought after by watch collectors worldwide. So here we are, more than 50 years after the movement was last produced, enjoying the news that the movement will be brought back to life. The original 321 was the first movement ever to be used in an Omega Speedmaster, but the 321 had been used before then in the amazing Omega Seamaster collection. Sure the construction of the movement was legendary, but the Calibre 321 has its place in history because of the Speedmaster ST 105.003.
This watch was tested, qualified, and then supplied to astronaut Ed White for his use during the very first American walk in space. Then the movement was also used in the Speedmaster ST 105.012, which happened to be the first watch ever worn on the moon. To reintroduce this movement properly, must be done with the greatest of exactness. To launch this project, Omega summoned forward its most dedicated, and talented team of horologists to work in secrecy for a period of two years or longer if needed. The group consists of historians, developers, and researchers, along with some of the best craftsmen in the world of watchmaking. The project was protected by the codename Alaska 11.
The first goal of the team was to recreate the movement in its original form with as much accuracy as possible. To insure as much success as they could, the team used the timepiece of Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17, 1972. The timepiece was digitally scanned using tomography, and this watch was the last watch to walk on the moon. The watch was used by Cernan, but then recovered and placed in the Omega Museum, located at Bienne, Switzerland. This perfect Calibre 321 would provide the very best design criteria for the team at Omega to follow. This template gave the team its opportunity to recreate the iconic parts of the 321, and to have them be reborn with respect to the design of the past.
New watch movements are going to be produced from the Omega location in Bienne. It was decided that a new workshop would be created at the HQ site, and that all aspects of production would be done there exclusively. This of course is subject to change and need will dictate, but it seems as if the company is very intent on making something special, with a level of perfection greater than anything the company has done before. I guess they see it as the only way to properly serve the old version of the Omega 321. Watch lovers such as myself will just need to wait and see. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned.