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Beautifully….flawed: A review of the Speedmaster Professional Limited Edition Tokyo 2020 Panda

  1. Longbow

    Longbow Dec 22, 2019

    First up I need to provide a little context for what will follow, to avoid the review appearing to be an Omega-bashing exercise….which is definitely not my intention here.

    It’s an odd sort of thing; conventional Omega practice seems to be to announce, then deliver, late, one commemorative limited edition Speedmaster after another, preferably missing as many event-related deadlines as possible along the way. So it’s something of a mystery to me as to why the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Speedmasters appeared before the sporting spectacle they should commemorate…is it even possible, linguistically, to commemorate something before it happens; perhaps it should be to celebrate, or not…words, they are so troublesome at times. I for one was certainly hopeful that Omega would issue something utterly magnificent to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and for one brief moment mistook the black and white dial of a newly announced Speedmaster as being “It” and I liked “It”, a lot. Well, right up to the moment when I discovered that it would be released in the Japanese market only (huh???) and actually had nothing to do with space men, rockets or celestial bodies, unless you have a thing for the super-fit athletic form that is. Odd timing for a launch and a frustratingly out-of-reach location.

    The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE Speedmaster in stainless steel on the other hand must have been in the planning for, well, 50 years probably and therefore had a real chance of actually being delivered at the right time; not too early and perhaps even between the mission’s start and it’s end dates in July or hey, even in August in time for my birthday. When I was offered the chance to attend the SpeedyTuesday event in Frankfurt to experience this iconic piece live and pre-general shipping I of course accepted and duly experienced a wonderful event and an interesting, if strangely controversial watch. As we now know, the Apollo 11 50th in steel generated quite a stir here on OF, for some debatable design features, but above all in terms of pricing and future value speculation. As a collector rather than speculator I was more interested in the design and, unfortunately, it left a rather contradictory impression being both great and disappointing in equal measures.

    I was missing something; something that has now been resolved.

    I guess most of you know about this particular Speedmaster by now and indeed some of you already own, or have owned one. So there is little point in me discussing its specification or how/when it came into being, you can research that for yourselves if you feel so inclined. Perhaps a good starting point would be here though:-

    If you had never seen a Panda dial Speedmaster before you would very probably fall for this one at first sight. It is a very beautiful execution of the Speedmaster Pro, but of course you are on OmegaForums so you almost certainly know about the Apollo 11 35th Anniversary Limited Edition and comparisons are thus unavoidable; unless you happen to be the author writing the review in which case the comparison can be skipped over as if the Apollo 35th never existed. I will simply review the watch on its various strengths and weaknesses.

    OK let’s start with a quick unboxing (for those that want the Christmas day feeling), look at the not so good and try to end on a positive note.

    Image a.JPG image b.JPG Image c.JPG image d.JPG Image e.JPG image f.JPG image g.JPG image h.JPG image j.JPG

    OK, now that we have that nonsense behind us let’s get down to business.

    Generally speaking, this Speedmaster is about aesthetics rather than functionality.
    Image 1Tokyo Panda.jpg

    A quick comparison with a regular black dial Speedmaster Pro tells you that the Tokyo Panda was never going to help any astronauts navigate the infinite darkness beyond our upper atmosphere.

    Image 2 Tokyo Panda vs Black dial.jpg

    Firstly, those rhodium-plated hands have a habit of randomly disappearing and re-appearing according to wrist angle and lighting conditions; the sub-dials in particular looking as though Omega forgot to install the pointers....only for them to “pop” when inclined to do so.

    If you flip the head over there is an impressively deep and perfectly embossed/etched (whatever) Olympics wreath and logo, which, if ever strapped to a space suite, would surely shred it in seconds, seeing Major Tom’s EVA ending with him whizzing off into the firmament like a punctured party balloon.

    Image 3 Tokyo Panda Moltke crater.jpg

    It might not be as wide as the Moltke crater but it’s probably deeper…and razor sharp, which has some unfortunate consequences for one’s own birthday space suite and when coupled with the not inconsiderable weight (more on that later) brings a whole new meaning to corporate branding.
    Image 4 Tokyo Panda Branding.jpg

    So am I being over-sensitive or is this just a simple matter of loosening the too tightly adjusted bracelet a little? Ah, finally Omega delivers the Speedmaster with a micro-adjustable clasp so that task will be a doddle to effect, right? Ah, No!
    Image 5 Tokyo Panda Clasp.jpg

    This looks a bit parsimonious

    Image 6 Tokyo Panda micro adjust range.jpg

    I know we are all supposed to be more environmentally aware and go sparingly with earth’s resources, but the material saved here isn’t going to bring a smile to the faces of any Scandinavian kids any time soon, so let’s do this properly. Yes, I modded my LE Speedmaster already.

    Image 7 Tokyo Panda new clasp.jpg

    This is what I call an extension clasp. My Tokyo Panda now possesses the clasp that it should have had from day one.

    Image 8 Tokyo Panda new clasp extended.jpg

    Image 9 Tokyo Panda clasp triggers short.jpg
    Image 10 Tokyo Panda clasp triggers long.jpg

    So now that the clasp has a useful adjustable range is it more comfortable to wear? Yes, but not quite on the same level as a Hesalite Speedy with a 1450 bracelet. Which I guess is down to the total weight. So what does it weight? Dunno; well not exactly, since I had the bracelet shortened, twice, once for the usual reason, then a second time to ditch the as-built micro-adjustment clasp for the one above that is actually useful. In its current configuration mine weighs in at 166g; 52g more than my Hesalite Speedmaster Pro from 1990. If I were to use all of the (three) links that were removed then you could add another 12g.

    If you did your homework you will know that this Speedy has a Sapphire crystal; great for scratch resistance, not so great if you are averse to seeing milky rings around the dial. Fortunately this isn’t noticeable with a white dial but the shape of the sapphire isn’t as satisfying as Hesalite in my opinion.

    Image 11 Tokyo Panda Crystal.jpg
    Image 12 Hesalite Speedy Crystal.jpg

    Back to the dial. How’s the lume? Not much sunshine in December so it’s off to the lab to find some suitable light sources…

    Image 13 Laser Zap.jpg

    Image 13b Laser Zap.jpg

    Image 14 Laser Zap.jpg

    Oops, maybe not that one. Perhaps these…
    Image 15 UV Zap.jpg
    Image 16 UV Zap.jpg

    Image 17 Blue Lume.jpg

    Blue? The lume is white and glows green.
    Image 17a Green Lume.jpg

    Forget the lume, the opaline-silvery dial is killer, as in it’s killing me trying to capture its beauty with an iPhone camera and no photographic skills.

    Image 17b.jpg
    Image 17c.jpg
    Image 18 Tokyo Panda dial.jpg
    Image 19 Tokyo Panda dial.jpg
    Image 20 Tokyo Panda dial.jpg
    Image 20a Tokyo Panda dial.jpg
    Image 21 Tokyo Panda dial.jpg
    I think that is a positive enough note to end on

    Kore wa totemo utsukushīdesu
  2. simonsays

    simonsays Dec 22, 2019

    A very attractive watch. I think a couple of these Tokyo Speedmasters are the best Ltd editions I have seen for a while. There seems little interest though in the collectors community. Is the Ltd edition dead? Will ST3 fail to sell out? Or will this be another sleeper that everyone is looking for in a few years time.
    Longbow likes this.
  3. KeithS

    KeithS Dec 23, 2019

    I really enjoy your write-ups and the accompanying photography—they’re much better than the fluff pieces that fill a lot of watch blogs. I really like the dial on this watch, but the marks that the caseback left on your wrist gives new meaning to the saying Schönheit muss leiden.
    pseikotick and Longbow like this.
  4. WatchCor

    WatchCor Dec 23, 2019

    Thanks @Longbow for posting this. Wonderful writing style you have. I chuckled out loud several times. Funny, well written and analytical. Well played sir.
    Virgil Grissom and Longbow like this.
  5. base615

    base615 Dec 23, 2019

    I’ve never seen a case back cut someone’s arm. Hectic. I wouldn’t be happy about that.
    Longbow likes this.
  6. timestamp

    timestamp Dec 23, 2019

  7. ewand

    ewand Dec 23, 2019

    Well done, sir. What are you talking about, no photography skills? Those pics looks great!
    gostang9 and Longbow like this.
  8. Chye

    Chye Dec 23, 2019

    Fantastic review! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it though your wrist 'branding' got me worried for a while.

    Longbow likes this.
  9. Dr. Green

    Dr. Green Dec 24, 2019

    What a fantastic review!
    Love this watch although it is very hard to read the time properly.
    Longbow likes this.
  10. Longbow

    Longbow Dec 26, 2019

    Finally a shot that picks up the grainy texture of the dial
    and one that makes the subdial hands vanish
    It's a fascinating dial.
  11. Tet

    Tet I prefer Dilmah do try it Dec 26, 2019

    Brilliant review, nice to read such an honest opinion where it's really easy to skip past the negatives on such a shiny new object.

    Great photos too, thanks for posting.
    Longbow likes this.
  12. STANDY

    STANDY schizophrenic pizza orderer and watch collector Dec 26, 2019

  13. Longbow

    Longbow Dec 26, 2019

    Edited Jan 18, 2020
  14. cholack

    cholack Jan 18, 2020

    Great write up. Thank you
    Longbow likes this.
  15. Nathan1967

    Nathan1967 Jan 18, 2020

    Great write up! Thanks for taking the pain on behalf of the community, very brave.;)

    ......loved the “ Speedy’s Coming” reference too!

    All the best

    Longbow likes this.
  16. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 18, 2020

    I've been asked more than once if another case back will fit these watches, as people are finding the case backs very uncomfortable...
    Longbow and STANDY like this.
  17. dx009

    dx009 Jan 18, 2020

    The last few pictures are good. That dial is nice...
    Longbow likes this.
  18. EricCsN

    EricCsN Feb 1, 2020

    you have the oratorical skills placed among the best writers in the watch magazine business - original, enchanting, imaginative, seducing the readers wants and desires.
    Longbow likes this.
  19. jhross98

    jhross98 Feb 1, 2020

    Longbow likes this.
  20. scapa

    scapa Feb 2, 2020

    Great review, thanks. Makes me want to buy half a watch (the front, natch), at least. Don't Omega run these design ideas through a focus group or even in-house testing panel (employees with a bit of time on their hands) for these editions? Or is it unnecessary for an LE that'll sell through no matter what?

    That caseback reminds me of Marvel's Venom, and looks about as friendly to a wrist.

    Longbow likes this.