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Which do you prefer?

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Discussion Starter #1
Omega, charting the history of their movements on their very informative website http://www.omega.ch/index.php?id=252
had this to say about the cal 861 which as you'll know succeeded the cal 321 that powered the Speedmaster from 1957 to 1968.


Throughout the twenty-six years of production of the 27 CHRO C12, which became the 321, technology continued to evolve apace. The latest technology was applied to the new version of this calibre, the 861: a spiral balance with a higher frequency (21 600 A/h) and a simpler design, particularly for the chronograph mechanism, where the column wheel was replaced by a cam and the steel brake-lever of the second-counter wheel was replaced by a synthetic brake-lever.

It is in fact not just a simplified version of the 321, but an improved one too, produced with the aim of improving performance and streamlining its production in ever-increasing quantities as a result of the continued success of the Speedmaster on the market since its first appearance in 1965 on the wrist of Edward White. The modern 861 is no doubt less beautiful, aethetically-speaking, than the classic 321, but it is more precise, more robust, more reliable and offered better performance at lower cost. Production stood at around 500 000 units. Pink-gold to begin with, then yellow-gold from 1992, then rhodium-plated in 1996. It was re-launched in 1861 and is still manufactured today.



Of the cal 321 which was designed by Albert Piguet, Omega goes on to say

Using a traditional design with a column wheel, its look won over thousands of collectors.

Its robust components, produced with maximum precision, not only offered perfect interchangeability whitout modification, which was highly unusual at the time for such an instrument, they were also appreciated by master watchmakers, who were able to make even more appealing skeleton versions of these calibres.

The facts that this calibre equipped the Speedmaster chosen by NASA for its first manned spaceflight missions and, furthermore, for the first extra-vehicular activity in outer space, including on the Moon, is clear proof of its reliability. More than 40 000 units would be produced.

Source - omegawatches.com

It is interesting to note that in the period between 1946 which was when the cal 321 became available, to 1968, only 40,000 units were produced in 22 years as compared with the 500,000 units of the cal 861 which were manufactured over the 40 years from 1968, a staggering 12.5 times in quantity.

Bienne offers the argument that while less attractive the cal 861 was more reliable, robust, precise, a better performer and more cost-effective to produce and presumably maintain.....? You'll have read in our WOTD archives that Omega does speak of the high cost of producing column wheel mechanisms for chronographs.

Aesthetically, which do you prefer? 321 on the left and 861 on the right. FYI the 861 Family comprises the calibres 863, 1861 and 1863.





Graphics - C Maddox, Pictures - Timeman and I​

I always thought the arched bridge on the 321 resembled a Hydra Cnidaria, that aquatic relative of the Sea Anemone ( http://www.northern.edu/natsource/INVERT1/Hydra1.htm ) and prefer the smoother, more refined appearance of the trapezoid bridge of the 861 and indeed most of its' main elements.

While the 321 as the older brother of the 861 made the headlines, I too believe the 861 was the stronger movement. Much like JFK and Bobby in the Camelot years ;)


What do you think pals?


Y'all be well now :001_smile:




ZIN
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I can provide you with a lot of resources my friend but you'll need to find the time..... ;)

Pun definitely intended :D:D


Be well pal :001_smile:



ZIN
 
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I voted either. They both appeal to me :drool:. One day when my student days are over......

MWW
 

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In terms of appearance the 861 family does it more for me and from the point of view of performance and durability, it surely follows that Omega would make a successive movement better than its' predecessor imho. While I may like to foray occasionally into the world of vintages ( Speedy only it must be said ), I rather set my store by something newer so at least I know it is likely to be more robust and durable.

My 2c


Y'all be well now pals :001_smile:



ZIN
 

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From what I have learned up to this point I would have to say I prefer the c.321.

I like the fact that they stopped making them in 1968. I like the fact that it was the original movement that was qualified by NASA without Omega even knowing about it. I like the fact that we can prove catagorically that c.321s made it to the face of the moon but we cannot say the same about the c.861 even to this day. I also like the non finished utilitarian look of the movement when compared to the later c.861. This was after all what the movement was originally designed for.

The slower vph would be the only issue I have with the relative performances but I think even this adds it's own vintage character and appeal.

Both are wonderful to behold though and I would be happy with an example of either.
 

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Yes you're right about the unfinished utilitarian appearance.

It's probably one of the two main reasons I have not grown to embrace it as much. Don't get me wrong, I do like it but it is not my grail or must-have Speedy. I'd like to have one at some stage though.

Watch out for a new thread coming up on vintage choices pal ;)


Be well now :001_smile:



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To look at, I'd go for the 861 which is what the question asks so that's my vote.

I do think though that the 861 is probably a better and more durable movement.

My 2c
 

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:):)

sort of like Mr Timefinder I really don't know enough to speak
about details, but if the 321 was the movement qualified by NASA, do you think that Omega pushed for an upgrade with the 861 to make a great watch even greater..
another way to ask the question, if NASA had never tried to find a watch to go to outer space, do you think Omega would have evolved and changed the movement to the 861 in 1968?

how much did NASA affect Omegas natural progression of the Speedmaster?

diver88:):)
 

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Howdy Pal

if the 321 was the movement qualified by NASA, do you think that Omega pushed for an upgrade with the 861 to make a great watch even greater..

I think an increase in production levels would have forced Omega to look beyond the 321 - my 2c

another way to ask the question, if NASA had never tried to find a watch to go to outer space, do you think Omega would have evolved and changed the movement to the 861 in 1968?

As above, if the Speedmaster became a big seller irrespective of the space connection, I still think Omega would have developed the movement much as they have done with the 1120 going on to the 2500 and then the 8500

how much did NASA affect Omegas natural progression of the Speedmaster?


Interesting question worthy of a thread on its' own Terry.

I'd say only in stipulating its' original specification for the watch. The rest was down to Omega.

The X-33 though is another matter. With the advent of time computers like the G-Shock and Ironman, Omega would have had to develop something that would rival the others or lose out in the space race. As it is, two of the four watches that are flight-qualified by NASA are Omega Speedmasters :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:


Hope that helps amigo


Be seein' ya pal :001_smile:



ZIN
 
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As Houston said elsewhere, if astronauts are required to time certain activities, NASA would have provided them with standard/authorized/ approved equipment. Therefore some form of evaluation would have taken place. The Speedmaster would imho still have won out and be selected :thumbup1:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well it's still not a scientific sample but it's interesting to note that the 861 is considered more attractive by members who have voted.

A sign of the times perhaps?


Y'all have a nice weekend pals :001_smile:



ZIN
 
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