Speedy Lovers: Hesalite or Sapphire Sandwich?

Here's a snap of my Speedy.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this was a special purchase for me.  It marks the birth of my little guy...but I also have a loose connection being in the aerospace community.  So for me it was an easy decision - hesalite all the way.  There's something about the engraving on the back.  It's very traditional.  And while this is in no way a vintage model or a special release, there's something very nostalgic about having those words inscribed on the back.

My dear friend @Kmb_ALEC  joined club Speedy, and she went with the sapphire.  It's stunning, no doubt!  But, I'm smitten with my hesalite and engraved caseback.

So, Speedy lovers - which do you prefer on your iconic chrono?  Hesalite, or sapphire...and why?

Cheers!

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I picked up the 3861 sapphire sandwich last year. I don't personally see the appeal of the hesalite crystal, but I do like the ability to view the movement. It's certainly not finished at a Lange level, but it's still really nice to look at, and a shame to hide behind a solid caseback.

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I bought the Cal. 1861 Hesalite version. In my opinion it’s the ideal package if you also consider the price. Also the Hesalite dome looks closer to the original Moonwatch, doesn‘t have the distortion like the sapphire one and can be easily polished.

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For me it is clearly the hesalite. I owned a 1861 hesalite and swapped it last year for a 3861 hesalite. During the swap I also evaluated for me if I should switch to the sapphire.

I would love to see the movement but it is not that important for me. What is important for me, is the watch face and this is made for a hesalite. Many watches have a reconstructed case where a flat crystal fits, they are made for sapphire. But if you need a boxed sapphire it means this watch was made for a hesalite and never adopted for sapphire. The distortion of the sapphire at the edge is not very pleasing for the look of the watch face, it is not only the milky ring (that is reduced in the new, but not gone). It also the legibility, you cannot really see the minute track from the side.

For the 1861 comes also another functional factor, the hesalite version has a soft iron cage to protect the movement from magnetic field, the sapphire version lacks this. With the 3861 there is no difference, the movement is completely anti-magnetic.

Image
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I have a 1861 Speedy with the hesalite and love it just the way it is. I think the boxy shape of the sapphire actually changes the look of the watch quite noticeably. It appears more modern and stale, while the dome of the hesalite is more classic and elegant. A big plus of the new sapphire version imo is the applied logo, however. 

But honestly: you can’t go wrong with either. 

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I don't own the Speedmaster but hopefully, I am allowed to share my 2 cents. If I was in the market for a Speedmaster I would definitely go with the hesalite. Not because of the historical reasons but because the hesilite comes with the cool-ass case back which says that the watch is certified for all manned space missions. Will I ever go to space, unlikely, but it doesn't matter the "coolness" factor is off the chart.

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For a 1861, Hesalite 100%.  It's a true workhorse watch that’s flight qualified by NASA and been on numerous official space missions for NASA and Roscosmos over the decades.  This watch is truly a piece of history.

For a 3861, I would (and did) choose the Sapphire sandwich.  

The Sapphire 3861 feels to me like the true modern update to the 105.012 reference Speedmasters that first went to the moon, with the stepped dial, applied logo, teardrop counterweight on the chrono second hand, dot over 90, etc.  It's updated with a new Co-Axial movement and like many modern luxury watches has a Sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback.  Since it's a manual wind, there's no rotor to obscure all the gears and levers in the movement and in my opinion it would be a shame to hide it behind a steel cover.

The Hesalite 3861 unfortunately strikes me as a watch that's pretending that it's still flying for NASA.  The "flight qualified by NASA in 1965 for all manned space missions" on the caseback of the 1861 really bugs me as a bit of hand waving on the part of Omega.  Sadly, I think the only times a 3861 will be in space in any official capacity is on the wrists of billionaires and their cronies.

That said, I get the Hesalite love and am a big fan.  Unlike the Sapphire crystal which is more boxy, it's a curved dome without the dreaded "milky ring" that plays beautifully with the light with its "bubble effect" distortion along the edges.

I would be first in line if Omega ever brought a 3861 "Mullet" to market with a Hesalite crystal and Sapphire exhibition caseback.  😜

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fritz15

I have a 1861 Speedy with the hesalite and love it just the way it is. I think the boxy shape of the sapphire actually changes the look of the watch quite noticeably. It appears more modern and stale, while the dome of the hesalite is more classic and elegant. A big plus of the new sapphire version imo is the applied logo, however. 

But honestly: you can’t go wrong with either. 

Couldn't agree more!

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s0ckpupp3t

For a 1861, Hesalite 100%.  It's a true workhorse watch that’s flight qualified by NASA and been on numerous official space missions for NASA and Roscosmos over the decades.  This watch is truly a piece of history.

For a 3861, I would (and did) choose the Sapphire sandwich.  

The Sapphire 3861 feels to me like the true modern update to the 105.012 reference Speedmasters that first went to the moon, with the stepped dial, applied logo, teardrop counterweight on the chrono second hand, dot over 90, etc.  It's updated with a new Co-Axial movement and like many modern luxury watches has a Sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback.  Since it's a manual wind, there's no rotor to obscure all the gears and levers in the movement and in my opinion it would be a shame to hide it behind a steel cover.

The Hesalite 3861 unfortunately strikes me as a watch that's pretending that it's still flying for NASA.  The "flight qualified by NASA in 1965 for all manned space missions" on the caseback of the 1861 really bugs me as a bit of hand waving on the part of Omega.  Sadly, I think the only times a 3861 will be in space in any official capacity is on the wrists of billionaires and their cronies.

That said, I get the Hesalite love and am a big fan.  Unlike the Sapphire crystal which is more boxy, it's a curved dome without the dreaded "milky ring" that plays beautifully with the light with its "bubble effect" distortion along the edges.

I would be first in line if Omega ever brought a 3861 "Mullet" to market with a Hesalite crystal and Sapphire exhibition caseback.  😜

Agreed on all fronts!  Really great points...

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Pascal

For me it is clearly the hesalite. I owned a 1861 hesalite and swapped it last year for a 3861 hesalite. During the swap I also evaluated for me if I should switch to the sapphire.

I would love to see the movement but it is not that important for me. What is important for me, is the watch face and this is made for a hesalite. Many watches have a reconstructed case where a flat crystal fits, they are made for sapphire. But if you need a boxed sapphire it means this watch was made for a hesalite and never adopted for sapphire. The distortion of the sapphire at the edge is not very pleasing for the look of the watch face, it is not only the milky ring (that is reduced in the new, but not gone). It also the legibility, you cannot really see the minute track from the side.

For the 1861 comes also another functional factor, the hesalite version has a soft iron cage to protect the movement from magnetic field, the sapphire version lacks this. With the 3861 there is no difference, the movement is completely anti-magnetic.

Image

Whoa, I didn't know about the soft iron cage.  Learn something new every day!  Thank you for sharing.

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s0ckpupp3t

For a 1861, Hesalite 100%.  It's a true workhorse watch that’s flight qualified by NASA and been on numerous official space missions for NASA and Roscosmos over the decades.  This watch is truly a piece of history.

For a 3861, I would (and did) choose the Sapphire sandwich.  

The Sapphire 3861 feels to me like the true modern update to the 105.012 reference Speedmasters that first went to the moon, with the stepped dial, applied logo, teardrop counterweight on the chrono second hand, dot over 90, etc.  It's updated with a new Co-Axial movement and like many modern luxury watches has a Sapphire crystal and exhibition caseback.  Since it's a manual wind, there's no rotor to obscure all the gears and levers in the movement and in my opinion it would be a shame to hide it behind a steel cover.

The Hesalite 3861 unfortunately strikes me as a watch that's pretending that it's still flying for NASA.  The "flight qualified by NASA in 1965 for all manned space missions" on the caseback of the 1861 really bugs me as a bit of hand waving on the part of Omega.  Sadly, I think the only times a 3861 will be in space in any official capacity is on the wrists of billionaires and their cronies.

That said, I get the Hesalite love and am a big fan.  Unlike the Sapphire crystal which is more boxy, it's a curved dome without the dreaded "milky ring" that plays beautifully with the light with its "bubble effect" distortion along the edges.

I would be first in line if Omega ever brought a 3861 "Mullet" to market with a Hesalite crystal and Sapphire exhibition caseback.  😜

I have to correct you here a bit, the 1861 was never officially tested or qualified for anything by anyone. The 861 was tested by Omega with NASA standards and then qualified by NASA in the late 70s. However the 1861 and the 861 are very similar, except of one jewel.

The 321 was the only one that was tested and qualified by NASA.

So 1861 and 3861 are not qualified equally plus neither the 861, the 1861 nor the 3861 have seen the moon. So they are no moonwatches if you see that strict. But the 3861 has the chance to see it in a few years ;)

For me they are all moonwatches and the new engraving just corrects the incorrect one of the 1861.

https://www.fratellowatches.com/new-omega-speedmaster-moonwatch-still-a-moonwatch/

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Pascal

I have to correct you here a bit, the 1861 was never officially tested or qualified for anything by anyone. The 861 was tested by Omega with NASA standards and then qualified by NASA in the late 70s. However the 1861 and the 861 are very similar, except of one jewel.

The 321 was the only one that was tested and qualified by NASA.

So 1861 and 3861 are not qualified equally plus neither the 861, the 1861 nor the 3861 have seen the moon. So they are no moonwatches if you see that strict. But the 3861 has the chance to see it in a few years ;)

For me they are all moonwatches and the new engraving just corrects the incorrect one of the 1861.

https://www.fratellowatches.com/new-omega-speedmaster-moonwatch-still-a-moonwatch/

Hello fellow Speedy nerd 🍻 (although my depth of knowledge may not be as deep as yours 😊)! 

Agree that the 1861 was not qualified by NASA per se but my understanding is that NASA didn't feel a need for a re-test because of one minor change of the metal brake to a delrin one.

I think the 861 was officially requalified by NASA in 1978 for the shuttle missions. Perhaps the testing was done by Omega to NASA specifications but NASA did requalify (instead of Omega just declaring that it's good enough).

In any event the 1861 has been strapped on the spacesuits of both NASA and Roscosmos astronauts on EVAs as part of their standard kit.

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Hesalite all day long and twice on Sunday. The sapphire sandwich would never have been approved by NASA as it can shatter and damage the sensitive gear on the lunar module.

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s0ckpupp3t

Hello fellow Speedy nerd 🍻 (although my depth of knowledge may not be as deep as yours 😊)! 

Agree that the 1861 was not qualified by NASA per se but my understanding is that NASA didn't feel a need for a re-test because of one minor change of the metal brake to a delrin one.

I think the 861 was officially requalified by NASA in 1978 for the shuttle missions. Perhaps the testing was done by Omega to NASA specifications but NASA did requalify (instead of Omega just declaring that it's good enough).

In any event the 1861 has been strapped on the spacesuits of both NASA and Roscosmos astronauts on EVAs as part of their standard kit.

My knowledge is only as good as RJ teaches us in his articles. Fratello is really the Speemaster authority :)

I would assume that the 3861 will be used as well, as the 1861 is not any longer in production. However the real astronauts watch is now more the X-33, which is tested and certified by ESA.

And as you said one of the pioneers of private space missions has worn a 3861, so it was even with it's young age in space multiple times. So more to come^^

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I had an Omega AD tell me the Hesalite version of the 1861 outsold the sapphire by 5 to 1. The most common reason being it was the closest to the original moonwatch. He said in the new version the 3861 though the sapphire sandwich was outselling the hesalite. His thought was perhaps the purists we’re sticking with their older models. I don’t own a speedy but I would probably buy the hesalite version. 

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anonymouswatchguy

I had an Omega AD tell me the Hesalite version of the 1861 outsold the sapphire by 5 to 1. The most common reason being it was the closest to the original moonwatch. He said in the new version the 3861 though the sapphire sandwich was outselling the hesalite. His thought was perhaps the purists we’re sticking with their older models. I don’t own a speedy but I would probably buy the hesalite version. 

Thanks for that data point.  Sounds about right to me based on what I’ve read on the various Omega forums.

The 3861 with the Co-Axial movement is different enough from the original Moonwatch that folks don’t feel as bound to seek the “authenticity” of the Hesalite and better appreciate the trappings of a modern luxury watch found in the Sapphire Sandwich.