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REVIEW: The Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Co-Axial>>>>>

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Published on 10-06-2010 02:13 PM

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Review of the Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Co-Axial

By: John B. Holbrook, II



Back in 2004, I purchased the classic cream dial Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Model 3551.20.00. It was a watch that I very much enjoyed - the legendary Speedmaster lineage, an impressive self-winding mechanical chronograph movement, and an attractive timepiece. So when Omega offered me the opportunity to review the latest Co-Axial Chronometer version of the Speedmaster Broad Arrow, I jumped at the chance. I was eager to see the improvements Omega had made on one of my favorite model lines in their catalog.

The first change I see from my old Broad Arrow is the increase in diameter of the case - this new Broad Arrow has a stainless steel case (100m water resistant) with both brushed and polished finishes applied, which measures 44mm in diameter. I normally shy away from watches which are too much over 40mm, but didn't find the Broad Arrow unduly large. I think the 21mm black alligator strap goes a long way to help balance out the oversized case, both aesthetically and from a weight perspective.


Attached to the gorgeous black alligator leather strap (well padded for comfort) is a polished two-button, solid stainless steel deployant signed by Omega:


There's a lot of interesting and intricate detail going on with the dial of this Speedmaster Broad Arrow. The black background of the dial has a subtle "Geneva Wave" pattern, with rhodium plated Arabic numeral markers set around the perimeter. In the interior section of the dial you have a traditional and balanced layout of the chronograph subdials - a 30 minute counter at 3 o'clock, a 12 hour counter at 6 o'clock, with a second hand subdial at 9 o'clock. The subdials have a unique honeycomb pattern, adding to the overall visual distinctness. I also love the "Speedmaster" logo done in red just below the 12 o'clock marker, and the legibility enhancing red tips of the central chronograph second hand, and the subdial hands. tucked in between the 4 and 5 o'clock marker, you'll find a very unobtrusive day of the month complication - the match between the black of the date wheel and the dial is admirable.

This is a much improved Broad Arrow dial that's both visual pleasing and provides excellent contrast and legibility. For low-light legibility, the rhodium plated hour and minute hands have Super-LumiNova applied. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating applied to both sides of the crystal. It seems more and more manufacturers are jumping on this bandwagon which I personally don't understand. What's the point of having a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, then applying a coating to it which can be scratched? This a minor quibble of mine in the grand scheme of things - if you're more gentle with your watches than I am mine, it's not likely to be an issue.


Now let's chat about the Omega Caliber 3313 inside the new Speedmaster Broad Arrow - It's essentially the same Frederic Piquet caliber 1185 based movement which was in my previous Broad Arrow (Omega Caliber 3303) with the Co-Axial escapement added. I can't begin to say how excited I am about the execution of the Co-Axial escapement integration on the Omega caliber 3313. The George Daniel's Co-Axial escapement is a fascinating innovation, and Omega has made great strides in their efforts over the past 10 years to integrate the Co-Axial escapement into their new and existing movements. Unlike many instances where Omega has integrated the Co-Axial escapement onto an existing caliber, Omega has chosen to keep the beat speed of the Omega Caliber 3313 at an industry standard 28,800 Beats Per Hour (BPH). In most other cases of Omega calibers which have gone Co-Axial, the beat speed has been dialed back from 28,800 BPH to 25,200 BPH or slower. But in the case of the 3313, the beat speed was maintained at 28,800 BPH, for reasons I'm not entirely clear. The Omega Caliber 3313 is a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement with 37 jewels, and a power reserve of 52 hours. It's designed with horologically preferred column wheel chronograph mechanism, a freely sprung balance, and is a COSC Certified Chronometer. The Omega Caliber 3313 has Omega's top "luxury" level of finish applied including Geneva striping on the Omega signed rotor and bridge work (with nicely beveled edges), as well as perlage applied in the interior, and a heat blued screw which affixes the rotor. Fortunately Omega has added a sapphire observation back which allows the owner to enjoy all the finishing and decoration of this movement - another big improvement to the Broad Arrow.


I decided to run a quick accuracy test on the Speedmaster Broad Arrow using my Orbita Mechanical Watch Tester. The test showed the watch to be running at the edge of COSC parameters for Chronometer qualification at about -4 seconds per day. Keep in mind evaluation watches such as this one lead a pretty rough life, and get shipped all over the country for photo shoots. So it's to Omega's credit that the watch was running anywhere near Chronometer specs. I personally think this Omega Caliber 3313 is the best mechanical movement in their current stable.


The Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Reference 321. has a retail price of $6,700.00 US. When you begin to compare that price point against the other leaders in the mechanical sport chronograph segment (like a certain model named after a race track in Florida) you'll find it to be priced well below it's competitors. For an oversized sport chronograph, this watch has a lot of dress appeal, and you'll find yourself looking for excuses to wear it with any wardrobe choice. I've always considered the Broad Arrow a bit of under appreciated "sleeper" in the Omega catalog, but this new Broad Arrow may just shift the perceptions of many out there. Great job Omega!

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: The Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Co-Axial>>>>>
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