The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is one of the most culturally iconic watches in the world, mainly because it was on the moon. That achievement, however tired it may be, is still incredible. That being said, the pre-professional CK2998 is a far more desirable watch, with alpha hands, straight lugs, and no crown guards. In 2012, Omega released the Speedmaster First Omega In Space (FOIS) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first time an Omega was in space: the 1962 Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. The FOIS is a ‘numbered edition’, meaning that each watch is numbered, but production is not limited to a set amount.
The case is 39.7mm of stainless steel, featuring straight lugs and a distinct lack of crown guards. This makes the FOIS more elegant than its Moonwatch brethren, although if you’re particularly rough on the watch you might damage the chronograph pushers. The greatest downside of this case is its 19mm lug-to-lug width, making finding good non-bespoke straps a bit of a challenge. I do understand the decision to make the lug width 19mm, though, as any smaller or larger size would throw off the design of the case.
The case back has the Omega seahorse embossed upon it, along with an engraved “Numbered Edition,” the number of the watch, date of the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission (October 3, 1962), and “The First Omega in Space.” I would prefer it to be without the proclamation of being a numbered edition, and rather have it just display the number of the watch.
The original CK2998, and by extension the FOIS, has one of my favorite dial designs of any watch. It is symmetric, legible, and efficient, having everything that a chronograph should have and having nothing that it shouldn’t. While the black does not have great depth, it has a beautiful texture that really comes through with the sapphire crystal. The applied Omega logo at 12’o’clock is a nice touch that’s true to the original CK2998, adding further refinement to the FOIS.
The dial side is, unfortunately, not without its flaws. Those flaws are not, however, with the dial itself. The use of a stainless steel leaf-hand for the running seconds makes sense in the design language. Omega wanted the hands for keeping track of time to be steel, and the chronograph function hands to be the classic white sticks. However, in the realized final product it is not optimal. It breaks up the symmetry of the final product and is illegible in anything less than perfect lighting. I would have preferred Omega to keep all of the subdial hands the same. The other common complaints about the watch are the lack of a dot-over-90 bezel and hesalite crystal, but I think for a modern interpretation the dot-next-to-90 bezel and sapphire crystal is fine.
Omega uses the Lemania based Cal. 1861 in the FOIS. The Cal. 1861 is a cam actuated chronograph, with a ‘clickier’ feel to the pushers than the column wheel Cal. 321 found in the original CK2998. The rhodium-plated Cal. 1861 has 18 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve, runs at 21,600 vph, and is manual-winding. While the Cal. 321 would have been amazing to see in the FOIS, the Cal. 1861 is a robust and fine movement. Not to mention that the project to bring back the Cal. 321 wasn’t even started when the FOIS was released. Watches with superior movements (Zenith El Primero) are available at this price point, which makes Omega’s choice of using cam actuated chronograph movements a little disappointing, but tolerable due to the quality of the overall movement.
I’ve worn my FOIS almost everyday for over 6 months at the time of this review, and while I love the watch it is most definitely not perfect. The leaf-hand on the running seconds breaks up the aesthetic of the watch, and the cam actuated movement detracts from the overall pleasure of stopping and starting the chronograph. In daily wear, the watch overcomes these negatives, and the owner can have the leaf-hand changed by a good watchmaker if they find it truly bothersome.
Retail Price: $5300