The Omega Speedmaster “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary” Moonwatch with reference number 310.20.42.50.01.001 comes on a new bracelet inspired by the vintage Speedmaster 1039 bracelet with flat links.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary” (Photo: Omega)
The highly sought after 1039 stretch bracelet is no longer available and has become extremely expensive on the second-hand market, and the ones in acceptable condition are very rare. The special flat links give it a a unique and special Speedmaster look.
Vintage Omega ad: Speedmaster Professional with flat links bracelet (lower picture)
You would expect the new bracelet for the anniversary Speedmaster can easily be mounted on any other Speedmaster Professional, like many other vintage bracelets. However, Omega has come up with a new construction of mounting the end links: The bottom of the new Omega Speedmaster case is slightly different. The side flaps of the bracelet end links, which prevent the end link from moving up and down, have been replaced by a central lip which sits in an extra recess milled into the case.
Comparision: New central interlock (left) vs. old interlock with side flaps (right)
Comparison of end links: New central interlock (upper end link) vs. old interlock with side flaps (lower end link, here 575)
So the question arises: Will the new bracelet even fit on another Omega Speedmaster?
We asked ourselves: are there any differences between the modern Speedmaster models (such as the SpeedyTuesday watches) and vintage Speedmaster models (such as those with reference numbers 145.012 and 145.022)? Does this lip prevent the bracelet from being attached to watches other than the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary?
Jordy van Kouwen, whom I met at a great #SpeedyTuesday event in Biel, and I asked ourselves the same question. The result is a very interesting investigation, we did together, which we don’t want to keep to ourselves.
Let start with some specs of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary bracelet:
The bracelet has, as already mentioned, classic flat links and tapers from 20 mm to 15 mm. The links are 5.5 mm long and are about 2 mm thick. This makes it the thinnest Omega Speedmaster bracelet with solid links, even thinner, for example, than the vintage 1175 bracelet.
Bracelet of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
The end links are solid and consist of two parts connected by two very small screws. It’s unusually elaborate, but the assumption is that the bracelet will later be used for other watches and that the end links were prepared accordingly, so that parts of them could then be moved over and produced in larger quantities. We will see…
End link consisting of two parts connected by two very small screws (Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
It’s very comfortable to wear and despite its massive links it is not heavy. It looks extremely high quality. The bracelet can be adjusted in length by removable links, which are secured by small screws on both sides. Due to the short links, an optimal length can be found for almost every wrist size. The clasp is quite small at 17.5 mm x 27.5 mm (without latch).
Removable links of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
Unfortunately this clasp still has no simple fine adjustment, which is offered by many other manufacturers today. Especially in summer, when our wrist circumference is always fluctuating a bit due to heat, this would be a good thing. There is a single micro-adjustment in the clasp for this purpose, but it can only be adjusted with a spring bar tool.
Clasp of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
The bracelet is intended only for this special edition of the Moonwatch. Ordering at an Omega retailer or boutique could prove difficult, as they are not allowed to sell bracelets for your watch that don’t match up in the Omega system. These bracelets are generally only ordered if you own a watch of this type. However, if you don’t mention which watch you want to put this bracelet on, you should be ok. The current price for the complete bracelet including the folding clasp and end links is 680 Euros / 710 US$ (as of August 2020).
If you want to order the bracelet, here are the official reference numbers:
020STZ011626 – Complete bracelet including folding clasp and end links, consisting of
Good luck 🙂
Okay, let’s now turn to the real question: Does the bracelet also fit “normal” Speedmaster models?
Thanks to its highly polished surface, the Anniversary Speedmaster bracelet fits perfectly with the shiny surfaces and chronograph pushers of the Omega “SpeedyTuesday Ultraman” (ST2), the regular current Moonwatch and other Speedmaster 42mm models with a similar finish. We have therefore passed the first test on this modern, very up-to-date “Ultraman” Speedmaster.
Omega “SpeedyTuesday Ultraman” (ST2), delivered without bracelet, but with Nato- and leatherstrap (Photo:Omega)
Mounting the solid end links on the modern Speedmaster Pro watch case has proven to be quite simple, without any modification. Normal 20mm/1.8mm spring bars can be used for this (20mm length, 1.8mm diameter). Omega uses 20mmx1.8 mm for their metal bracelets as well. Thinner 1.6mm or 1.5 diameter spring bars of course also work, but are not necessary.
Comment: Springbar length should be measured fully compressed including the ends/pins.
The above described lip on the bracelet link sits on the case edge, which is not a problem at all.
End link resting on the case back (Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
It does mean the end links set a bit lower between the lugs than with the 50th Speedmaster. The holes in the lugs are also probably positioned slightly different. It still looks very good, although of course not 100% perfect, but still safe and consistent with the flat end link look of the original 1039 . If you can live with the formentioned differences, you can easly mount this great bracelet onto your watch.
Fitted “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Moonwatch” bracelet to SpeedyTuesday “Ultraman” (Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
Interim conclusion: The “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Moonwatch” bracelet can be fitted to current Speedmaster Professional models without modification.
But does it work just as easily with vintage Speedmaster watches?
Unfortunately no. With vintage Speedmaster Professional models, it (unfortunately) turns out differently. A test with references 145.012 and 145.022 showed that the bracelet end links cannot be mounted at all. The holes in the lugs are a slightly offset and cannot be reached with the spring bars. Even with thinner 19mm/1.5mm spring bars, which have more play, the problem still accours. Therefore the bracelet does not fit on vintage Speedmaster Professional cases without modifying the end links. A pity.
But can this be fixed? There are various posts on the Omega Forums of members who seem to have succeeded in attaching this bracelet to their 145.012, 145.022 etc. Does this occasionally happen by chance due to tolerances on the old models or worn-out holes? Or do you need to modify the end links? And if so, what?
I have tried to pose this question in several places. Interestingly enough, you never get an answer when you ask them. Or there will be an evasive answer, so they keep a low profile. So it seems to be a real secret for whatever reason? So let’s try to unraffle this mystery:
The lug holes of the old cases are slightly higher. This means that the lip of the new bracelet end links prevents the spring bars from aligning properly with the lugholes .
The simplest answer would be to completely remove the lip. That certainly works and was certainly done in one or more cases. But this is not a good idea, because then the actual purpose of the interlock is gone. So it is better to keep the lip and just reduce the thickness. This way the end link sits higher between the lugs and and the springbar will align better with the lugsholes.
This could kill two birds with one stone, namely making the end links suitable for vintage cases, but at the same time compensating for the slightly higher end links on current Speedmaster cases as described above. That sounds all the more appealing.
A preliminary measurement with calipers gives a lip thickness of just under 1.6mm.
Thickness of end link lip (Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
If the lip is now brought down to 2/3 of that, it should fit. The lip would also be stable enough. A residual thickness of around 1.0mm should fit perfectly.
Every single bracelet end link (Ref. 020STZ011630) costs 70 Euros (as of August 2020). It’s probably expensive for Omega to produce because of the complex multi-part construction with the small screws. So we did not want to make too many attempts.
Nevertheless, Jordy did a quick test for us by hand with a Dremel and file. It wasn’t very nice looking, but target-oriented. Before we could work on the bracelet lugs professionally, we needed “proof of the concept” with a prototype.
First prototype (Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
The test result was promising: the end links sat indeed higher due to the thinner lip, and could be mounted more easily on modern cases with the regular Omega springbars (20×1.8mm). So it should also be suitable for old cases.
Bracelet link sitting better (higher) on the çase edge after modification
(Photo: Jordy van Kouwen)
With this knowledge, we had the end links professionally modified. After a new set of end links were dismantled and the areas to be machined were marked, the end links were sent in for the eroding process. Eroding is a machining process in which electrically conductive materials, stainless steel end links in our case, are removed by electrical discharge, or, electro-erosion or spark erosion, to be more specific. The machining tool does not touch the workpiece at any time. This is ideal for parts with complicated contours, as in the case of the crescent-shaped lip of our end links or when the component to be machined is too small to be clamped down securely, as in the case of the rather small end links.
Electrode fitted to do the electro-erosion, end link on top only to check the contour
After a couple of days we received the end links with a thin lip! Very clean work!
Modified end links with a thinner lip after eroding process
After putting together the end links (as previously mentioned, the end link is comprised of two parts) nothing stood in the way of the final test on an Omega Speedmaster 145.022-69 ST:
Eroded end link after putting together again
It fits wonderfully with the 19mm/1.5mm and 19mm/1.8mm spring bars I got from the boutique. The spring bars snap in easily and perfectly. The bracelet fits perfectly. So we know what to do to mount the bracelet on vintage Speedmaster Pros.
Wristshot of a Speedmaster 145.022 with the new bracelet
Conclusion: To perfectly attach the “Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Moonwatch” bracelet to all Speedmaster Professional models, the thickness of the “lip” of the bracelet end links must be reduced to around 1mm. If you don’t mind the end links sitting lower between the lugs, it also fits (only) modern Speedmasters without any modifications.
Speedmaster 145.022 with the new flat links bracelet
Mission accomplished. Mystery solved.
We love the look of the bracelet and are happy now with the modified end links.
But in our opinion, Omega should offer the bracelet and the appropriate end links for all Speedmaster models. The quality of the bracelet is really fantastic and the bracelet looks extremely good on every Speedmaster. The bracelets are already in production and could be used. The only task for Omega to do would be to supply the correct end links. That could not be a difficult and expensive task.
There is a market for this. Numerous companies such as Forstner or Uncle Seiko have recognized this already and have jumped on the bandwagon and supply similar looking bracelets. At a much cheaper price, of course, but the quality is of course also different. So there is enough room for a original Omega bracelet, even at a higher price point.