Let the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing being. Omega’s just announced today that they’re bringing the venerable Caliber 321 back into factory production; the brand’s own version of the Lemania 2310, perhaps better known as the CH 27, in Patek speak.
This is the same movement that powered the earliest of Speedmasters from 1957, until the shuttle cam chronograph movement, the cal. 861 took over the task from the ref. 145.022 onwards. Albeit, the 321 did have a first generation version in the 2915 and 2998 and later a second generation version in the 105.003, 105.012 and 124.012. But the importance of the cal. 321 will forever remain as one of the most robust column wheel chronograph movements ever made, having even powered the watches that went to the moon and back, strapped to the arms of NASA astronauts (105.003, 105.012 and 124.012).
And Omega, fully aware of the very weight of this importance, took to great lengths to ensure a faithful and worthy new generation, 2019 version of the cal. 321.
Under the guise of the project name “Alaska 11”, a team was gathered to amass details of the movement to exact specifications. Their complete effort is said to have taken them two whole years.
Looking to base themselves off a precise specimen, the team sought out Apollo 17 astronaut, Eugene “Gene” Cernan’s Speedmaster ST 105.003, which is now safe at the brand’s museum in Bienne, and performed a tomographic scan of the watch (no mention of what specific tomographic scanning method was used, but think medical MRI that is used to produce sectioned images of a 3D subject).
The cal. 321 within Cernan’s ST 105.003 is what provided the essential blueprint for the new generation announced today. Which makes it, therefore, a very faithful recreation of the original.
Omega says that the 2019 cal. 321 will now go into production at the brand’s Bienne facilities, with all processes involved in the production being performed by a very dedicated Calibre 321 workshop.
Further technical details of the new generation movement are unavailable at this time (as is a clear image), but Omega has confirmed that for movements assembled at the Calibre 321 workshop, the assembly, as well as the watch head and bracelet assembly will be performed by the same watchmaker. And that we, the Speedy addicts, should look forward to more news from here, in the coming months. What new watch will contain this fabled movement? We don’t know yet. Although, apparently, it won’t be THE watch in store to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.