The OMEGA Speedmaster Mark 2 Rio 2016
30 minutes on the wrist with the official timepiece of Rio 2016.
Rio 2016 is about a couple of years away, yet the official timepiece of the next Olympic Games is already here. It is the OMEGA Speedmaster Mark 2 Rio 2016 and is the special edition of the modern reissue of an icon. It was 1969 when OMEGA debuted the Mark 2, an alternative to the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch that gave life to a whole new chapter of the Speedmaster's saga: Mark 3, Mark 4 and Mark 5 up to the early 90s when they were suddenly phased out.
This year, however, OMEGA has launched the new Mark 2 which, along with the modern reissue of the legendary OMEGA Seamaster 300, at Baselworld, is revealing in my opinion to be the product road map for the brand: new releases that reissue some milestones in the history of the brand but equipped with state-of-the-art techonologies, sometimes avantgarde. OMEGA has reissued, from the Mark “X” saga, just the first one, the 1969 Mark 2, that is one of the most highly sought after by collectors and brings us back to the 70s thanks mainly to its uncommon case design, a successful mixture of a tounneau and a round case.
The brand name Speedmaster is a bit confusing at first sight, it is hard to associate it to OMEGA but a Moonwatch, its case design and lugs, its three counters and hesalite crystal. The original Mark 2 did share with a Moonwatch just the Lemania caliber 861 and the dial layout while introducing a case design that clearly drew inspiration from the early 70s. Its bold personality is not simply due to its barrel-shaped case but rather by some unique features.
The two level dial layout, for example, that features on the inner rehaut a tachy scale printed on a sapphire anular crystal coupled with an aluminum ring covered with SuperLuminova (sandwich like design), “is” the Mark 2. In 1969 as today. The outcome is that at night your wrist becomes a spotlight as not only hands and indexes but the tachy scale too conspire to emit an outstanding lume, thus giving you the sensation of wearing a retro-illuminated dial. It is something quite hard to visualize in photos, but it is unique and adds to the watch's general appeal. Few are, however, the aesthetical variances between the 2014 Mark 2 and the original one: today's three counter design is a bit different and the tachy like ring is thinner, has a new scale with a smaller numbering that best matches the dial's graphic design.
What is certain is that this is the only (mechanical) Speedmaster that will let you track a car's speed during the night session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Regarding its design, however, the Mark 2's strong point is the “triangle” case – (flat) glass – tachy scale that creates a monolithic package with a hard to find aesthetic power. The bracelet with its thick links while flat and true to the original, contrasts with the thick 42,4 x 46,2mm case thus enhancing the case dimension. A timepiece which, I will repeat, is part of the Speedmaster collection, but it's miles away from a Professional.
In the mechanics too, as the original caliber Lemania 861, turned to 1861, that equips the standard Moonwatch, has been replaced by the last generation “hybrid” automatic chrono calibers by OMEGA, the 3330. with the term “hybrid” I mean it is not in-house but an upgrade of a reliable ETA sourced caliber, enriched with a column wheel mechanism, an Si14 balance spring and a Co-Axial escapement. I believe, however, in a short time OMEGA will equip this watch with a manufactured 100% anti magnetic mechanical movement.
Be ready to wear a timepiece that is all but understated, as its finishes are very good and, in spite of its dimensions, is miles away from any three counter chrono out there in the benchmark for you get at first sight is an OMEGA, especially when it comes to the Racing version, else reference 3220.127.116.11.06.001. It is a timepiece I recommend to anybody who has a big wrist, not just for its dimensions but rather for its weight that is relevant even though I was not able to fully wrap it around my wrist by removing some links and then adjust the 9,6mm extendable fold over rack-and-pusher clasp.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Mark 2 Rio 2016 is the first special edition of the Mark 2 just launched. Its three counters are embellished with three rings made of bronze, silver and yellow gold as are the Olympic medals just made and, with their V like displacement resemble, ideally, the five Olympic rings. It abandons the original design a bit as it celebrates an important global event; its case back is customized as well, with the Rio 2016 logo replacing the Speedmaster horse. I would not be surprised (I do hope to be honest) to see OMEGA release new special edition models that resemble the dial design from a Flightmaster or, why not, the Speedmaster Professional Snoopy Award.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Mark 2 Rio 2016 retails for 4800€, 100€ less for the non limited edition version. It is definitely a smart price positioned under the 5000€ threshold, at which you get an iconic, nicely done timepiece featuring a refined movement and nothing else to add, as it is one of those watches that work perfectly with a stainless steel bracelet (or a replacement thick Velcro one). I would certainly go for this one over the black dial's one, reference 318.104.22.168.01.001 for at nearly the same price tag you get a limited edition elegant while sporty timepiece (not super limited, that I think is right under 1000 pieces). The Racing version is the choice of those enthusiasts who are just looking for today's reissue of the original Mark 2.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Omega; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®