Omega’s Speedmaster is a classic. It was the watch that was worn to the moon by the Apollo Astronauts, and its design was years ahead of its time. Its large (for the time) 42mm case means it still finds favour with watch collectors today. This rich heritage keeps prices in the used market high, but there are alternatives for those who cannot stretch to the price of a Moonwatch. The Omega Speedmaster Reduced was created in the 1990s and offers the look of the full-size Speedie but with a 38mm case size and a self-winding movement.
A Week on the Wrist – Omega Speedmaster Reduced
The Speedmaster Reduced reference 3510.50 costs less than half the price of a “full size” hand-wound Speedmaster Moonwatch but – at least from a distance – looks much the same. Closer inspection reveals some differences: the case is smaller at 38mm, the bracelet has been reduced to 19mm and has polished mid-links, and the sub-dials are further apart and the running seconds hand and elapsed minutes counter have switched places. The Speedmaster Reduced also has numbers on the dial, whereas the Moonwatch does not. Look from the side and the most obvious difference becomes apparent: the movement is a “piggy-back chronograph” which means that the pushers and crown are out of line with one another.
What is a Piggyback Chronograph?
The Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has a hand-wound Lemania based chronograph movement. The Speedmaster Reduced has an automatic movement, which is based on the ETA 2890-A2. Omega’s version is branded as the calibre 3220. As the base is only a “three hand” movement, to add a stopwatch feature, Omega added on a Dubois-Dépraz 2020 chronograph module on top. As a result, the watch has 42 jewels. It effectively is two separate movements stacked on top of one another. Amongst the benefits of this arrangement are that it is cheaper and slimmer than a dedicated chronograph such as the ETA 7750. The disadvantage is that such an arrangement is expensive – some say impossible – to service. Many watch enthusiasts believe a piggyback chronograph is unreliable. Often, when it comes to service time, the chronograph element is simply removed and replaced : and that can be costly!
- It looks very much like the classic Moonwatch but at a more affordable price
- An automatic movement is handy compared to a manual winding watch
- The 38mm size fits under a shirt sleeve well
What We Didn’t Like about the Omega Speedmaster Reduced
- The acrylic crystal looks cool, but scratches easily
- The piggyback chronograph makes the pushers and crown look off from the side
- The caseback is a “pop off” type, so the watch has no water resistance whatsoever
Overall Thoughts on the Omega Speedmaster Reduced
Overall, we liked the look of this watch, but could not get past the misaligned chrono pushers. The size is actually not as much of a barrier as we expected, it wears very comfortably. The lack of a date function made it incompatible with an office job and it ended up spending more time in its box than on the wrist.
Buy an Omega Speedmaster Reduced 3510.50
You don’t have to worry about fake Omega Speedmaster Reduced watches, as this model was not as popular as the classic Moonwatch. Replica Omega watches use off-the-shelf movements so are obviously different even to the untrained eye. It simply is not worth the while for fraudsters to copy this watch. However, because of the potentially fragile movement, a service history is a must. There are plenty of examples of this watch on the market so you can comfortably wait for the right watch at the right price.
Beware the bracelet length – many used examples only fit wrists of 7 inches in diameter or smaller, and extra links are expensive. Expect to pay upwards of £1000 for a good one – mine was £950 and I sold it on for only a little less. Watch out for the import fees, as a lot of these watches come from Japan – as well as VAT there will be an admin fee charged by the carrier.
Omega no longer makes this automatic Speedmaster model. The best place to shop for a used Omega Speedmaster Reduced is on eBay – pick a seller with a lot of feedback and do not be afraid to ask for more photos or details. If you can’t afford the real thing, check out the Alpha Speedmaster Homage which, at less than £150, is a great buy – with the same hand-winding chronograph movement as the popular Seagull 1963.