Extraordinary Movement In Watchmaking History: Omega 321

As early as the beginning of the year, OMEGA announced that it would reproduce the 321 movement. Until July, the brand launches the Speedmaster Moonwatch equipped with the new 321 movement to celebrate the 50th anniversary of human moon landing. So why does the 321 movement receive so much attention and praise, and where is it extraordinary?

Omega 321 chronograph movement

Omega 321 movement: delicate and powerful

   The 321 is a very robust and elegant chronograph movement. It is exquisite because the diameter and thickness of the 321 movement are only 27 mm and 6.74 mm, respectively. In comparison, the widely used Valjoux 7750 movement has a diameter of 30 mm and a thickness of 7.9 mm; the 50-year-old ElPrimero movement has a diameter of 30 mm and a thickness of 7.55 mm.

Omega 321 Movement: A Brief History

   Like many achievements in the watchmaking industry, the movement 321 is also the result of cooperation. The two parties are Omega and Lémania. The 321 movement was born from the movement development code-named CH27C12 (also known as Lémania2310), and has been adopted by many watchmaking brands including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. Excellent quality and superb craftsmanship Self-evident. Omega officially launched the 321 movement in 1946, but unfortunately, production was terminated in 1968.

1957 Omega Speedmaster chronograph with caliber 321

   From 1957 to 1965, Calibre 321 was famous for driving Omega Speedmaster watches. From 1965 to 1968, this movement was used in Speedmaster professional watches, and later replaced by the Omega 861 movement. In addition, the 321 movement also powers other Omega chronographs.

Omega 321 movement: specifications

   Omega 321 is a hand-wound chronograph movement with 17 stones, a frequency of 2.5 Hz (18,000 times / hour), a 44-hour power reserve, and 60-second, 30-minute, and 12-hour chronograph functions. As mentioned earlier, the 321 is a compact and elegant movement. Rugged construction that can withstand years of wear and tear.

   This movement uses a column wheel instead of a cam to activate the chronograph function. Compared to cams, the manufacture of the column wheel is more complicated, and the operation is smoother, so the performance is higher. Generally speaking, the column wheel is also more visually appealing.

   The 321 movement uses a horizontal clutch device to connect the timing system to the coupling gear, thereby switching the start and stop of the function.

Omega 321 movement fine-tuning

   The screws on the movement are strong and heavy, but the grooves are thin, which is reminiscent of most Omega antique watches from the 1950s to the 1970s. Unfortunately, some watch maintenance personnel did not take proper protection measures, which made the screw heads of some 321 movements look awkward.

   Strong and heavy screws, well-made bridge and plywood make the assembled movement robust enough. The true beauty of an antique chronograph movement like the 321 lies in its ability to adjust. The Omega 321 movement can be fine-tuned precisely to ensure precise operation and optimize timing performance.

   In addition, the Omega 321 movement is also equipped with a winding spring and an Incabloc balance shock absorber.

Partially assembled Omega 321 movement

Omega 321 movement: conclusion

   At first glance, the Omega 321 movement is no different from many contemporary chronograph movements: most of them are designed with a column wheel structure and are equipped with similar elements. However, when we compare the nuances, we find the unique charm of the Omega 321 movement.

   Indeed, the Omega 321 movement is so popular and inseparable from the current hot antique chronograph market, but don’t ignore the moving part of the movement itself. Even before the price of antique Speedmaster watches soared, watchmakers and collectors had a crush on the Omega 321 movement. I believe that even if this trend is no longer in the future, the Omega 321 still deserves the name of an extraordinary chronograph movement.

Omega 321 movement

Year of production: 1946 to 1968
Winding: manual
Vibration frequency: 2.5 Hz (18,000 times / hour)
Diameter: 27 mm
Thickness: 6.74 mm
Gems: 17
Power: 44 hours
Function: central hours and minutes, small seconds, 60 seconds, 30 minutes, and 12 o’clock