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Personal Insights - First Omega In Space (FOIS) (Ref 311.

  1. aesguerra

    aesguerra Feb 12, 2017

    Please note that my own humble observations of this particular Omega are just that - I don't claim to be an expert, and what I view as a positive may be someone else's negative. I highly encourage the reader to seek out the opinions that other members here have posted so that you have as much information as possible.

    For those on the fence on getting the FOIS, I hope this helps in nudging you pick one direction or the other. And by all means, please message me with any questions you may have.


    After five days of wearing the First Omega In Space, I elected to put together a small little review for the watch. This is not the traditional type of review where one can obtain case thickness, the weight of the watch, etc - there certainly are no shortages of such articles out there on the web. Instead, this serves more as a source of the personal insights of a current owner.

    Despite some negatives that have been posted here, let's make one thing perfectly clear - I LOVE THIS WATCH. Unlike the Speedmaster 3366.51 that I traded in for the FOIS (for which a couple of the reasons are listed here), this Schirra-inspired Speedy is definitely a keeper, even if there's a thing or two that I didn't entirely latch onto.

    And now, to those little particular things about the First Omega In Space that I noticed over the last week. Some are well documented in various reviews (and should be viewed as just another opinion that's been thrown into the mix) while others have not (in which case I hope it answers a few questions that the reviews out there haven't covered).

    For Smaller Wrists
    Before we get into how the FOIS looks on the wrist, let’s get one crucial fact out of the way. I’m 5’ 8”, 153 lbs soaking wet, and have those Small-Cause-I’m-Asian wrists that top out at a whopping 6.5 inches. Now I’ve owned the Speedmaster Professional, and while I was happy with how it appeared on my tiny wrists, I’ll readily admit that it was a touch large to my eye (although gladly justified by the watch’s proud history). Not being a fan of the oversized watch market, 42mm is about as large as I’m willing to go with any timepiece.

    Like A Glove... for me anyways! ;)

    Blessed be the FOIS! Minus those crown guards and tiny bit of extra lug to lug length, the thing looks perfectly far more proportioned on my skinny wrist than the Speedy Pro. It’s almost silly when you consider we’re talking only about 2.3mm, but that little bit taken off the watch as it sits on my wrist seems to make all the difference in the world. It was this fact that was the top reason why I swapped out my 3366.51 for the FOIS.

    Vintage Sometimes Has A Price
    The second reason why I liked the FOIS was the 2998’s Alpha hands – they really lend that great vintage look that screams “Early Speedmaster!” However, I quickly found that vintage comes at a cost – the occasional issue of not being able to instantly tell time.

    Low Light Legibility - YMMV based on angle.

    Because the Alpha hands are metal, they will reflect any source of light that hits them. It’s great when they reflect the light off of a bright wall or the sky (where they’ll actually be BRIGHTER than the white chronograph hand), but in the case of reflecting a dark colored surface or a shadow, they tend to start blending in with the black dial. The worse time is twilight or equivalent, where they will be just enough light to render the Superluminova useless, but not enough for the Alpha hands to be clearly visible.

    The same can be said to be true of the leaf-style seconds hand. In fact, I’d say it gets worse - with no Superluminova coating, that little guy at times flat out disappears.

    This is NOT a criticism, mind you. I did my homework when considering the FOIS, so I was well in the know that I’d have to play the wrist-angling game at certain times to tell the time. Four days after I first put it on, it's become pretty automatic. But it is something worth noting as a heads-up for those not in the know.

    The Lesser Known Space Pedigree
    The third reason for my love of the FOIS is it’s history. It is common knowledge that the first Speedmasters officially endorsed by NASA went into space starting in 1965 (ref ST105.003 if you’re interested) and the current models continue to be the only watch that space-faring organization will acknowledge as being EVA-approved.

    Oh yeah. There’s also that little tidbit about the Speedmaster as being the FIRST watch worn out on the moon (Aldrin’s ST105.012 on Apollo 11, if you wanted to know). Why Omega considers that such a big deal is beyond me. :p (totally kidding, folks! )

    The Watch That The Was The Inspiration. Some sources cite this was the very watch Schirra wore on Sigma 7, which is telling as to how well it survived that trip - This particular photo was taken just prior to the later Gemini 6A.

    But not a lot of people know of Wally Schirra’s personal Omega CK2998 that adorned his wrist when he was blasted into orbit aboard Mercury-Atlas 8 / Sigma 7, a full two years before NASA even began to test wristwatches for eventual use by astronauts. He didn’t make a huge deal about it at the time - like others before him, he simply wanted to use something to back up his spacecraft's timer, and he just happened to have an Omega CK2998 that he had bought on his own dime. Not only did it survive the trip, but it survived well enough to where it he continued to keep the track of time with it for decades afterwards.

    So in essence, that makes Schirra’s CK2998 the granddaddy of all the space faring Speedmasters that have gone into orbit and to the moon. It's that slightly obscure yet poignant bit of history that I simply love, and the FOIS honors it!

    Lack Of Hesalite
    Admittedly, I was initially not thrilled one bit about the use of sapphire crystal as opposed to the hesalite one that was on the original 2998’s. Much of that stemmed from my experience with the Moon watch, where I grew to love the warmth that it cast on the dial.

    Then I saw how the dial looked under the sapphire… and that disdain quickly vanished!


    A black varnish dial looks dramatically different when viewed under the two respective crystals. The dial on my old 3366.51 looked more brown than it did black (although this could very well have been the result of the liberal use of gold on its dial contributing to the visual effect), but this is not the case on the FOIS – the black dial looks BLACK under the sapphire, and the contrast is so strong that the dial seems to really just out at the gazer! The only other time I felt that a dial had such a strong visual presence was when I once handled a DSOTM - I kind of consider the FOIS it's smaller little cousin due to this similarity.

    Of course, it doesn’t replace the love I have for hesalite (which in my opinion totally belongs on anything calling itself a Moon Watch); it’s a different kind of love for a different kind of watch. And trust me when I say that the first time I bump my FOIS into something hard enough to leave a mark on the more-durable-but-you-can’t-polish-out-that-mark sapphire, I may find myself singing a different tune. But for now, I'm enjoying the sapphire and the advantages it brings.

    Strange Inconsistencies
    The one and only criticism that I will level at the FOIS is the use of two different hands for the sub dials. Obviously, it wasn’t enough of an issue to stop me from picking it up for myself., but it’s strong enough to where I will eventually address it.

    Schirra’s personal CK2998 had white for the sub dials (note - there is always a chance that he may have owned an earlier-2998 and somewhere down the road the associated leaf style hands swapped out; still, his 2998 that currently sits in an Omega museum in Switzerland has straight ones), so it has always been a bit of an enigma for many as to why Omega used BOTH leaf (for the seconds) and straight sticks (for choronograph functions) on the FOIS. Some theories abound on the web, but no one can say for sure why this was done. All I know is that it definitely is weird for to see two different hand styles present on the same dial.

    The Stray Leaf Amongst Sticks. Schirra's actually CK2298 is on the left, the FOIS is on the right.

    And as mentioned in the previous section, the metallic leaf hand has the propensity to disappear when the lighting is just right while the white batons will only disappear in the total absence of light. This will occasionally put you in moment where you are looking at hands on only two of the three sub dials.

    I imagine there’s a big crowd of FOIS fans who don’t mind the different hands. Unfortunately, I’m on the opposite side of the fence. I see myself one day having that metal leaf hand swapped out for a white straight hand so that it matches it's two other brothers… likely some seven hundred and twenty six days from now, when the warranty expires.

    And that's it. Again, I hope this helps anyone trying to decide if the First Omega In Space is for them.
    Eve, EauTerre, Risto and 33 others like this.
  2. Rocket Man

    Rocket Man Feb 14, 2017

    Nice review, thanks for posting.

    We have the same size wrists and I agree that the slightly smaller case of the FOIS makes a big difference - the standard speedy takes up a lot of real estate on the wrist.
  3. ras47

    ras47 Apr 12, 2017

    Those 2mm or 3mm are crucial to overall watch appearance. Folks will say, "Yeah, but it's only a couple millimeters." But it makes a huge difference. The change from my Seamaster 42mm PO to my Rolex GMT2 at 40mm is night and day.
    Edited Nov 30, 2018
    neilp likes this.
  4. rominvicta

    rominvicta May 8, 2017

    Great insights here. Thanks aesguerra! I never took measure of my wrists and you made me do so. I took size just above wrist bone and to my surprise with some room left size is exactly like yours 6.5 inches. I have watches as big as 47 and they never looked over the acceptable size. But what you wrote surely made me observant over that matter.
    And also undoubtedly put FOIS in my short list. Though i would first get speedy 60th (deposit made for the set) and then will consider getting FOIS as well.
    Athey69 likes this.
  5. Ssunnylee24

    Ssunnylee24 May 29, 2017

    Nice review.
    Love mine!
  6. frazierspa

    frazierspa Nov 19, 2017

    Spot on review, aes! Incredibly insightful. On my short-list! Thanks!
  7. stevec14

    stevec14 Dec 29, 2017

    Great review. I love mine and actually like the different hands to separate the time/chrono functions. A very versatile watch that looks great on strap, bracelet or nato....
  8. Yoshi.N

    Yoshi.N Jan 6, 2018

    Excellent review thank you. I'm getting ready to get one, also my first Omega. Some questions.

    Is 3700 new from an AD a decent price?
    From other reviews it sounds like the second hand can be easily changed, does Omega make a Hesalite crystal in the FOIS dimensions if I wanted to swap it out later?
    Is the lug dimension a issue for straps? Im very fond of the Hirsch Medici.

    *These questions are for any FOIS owners, thank you!
    Edited Jan 7, 2018
  9. Moadib

    Moadib Jan 7, 2018

    Nice review, thanks for taking the time to write that up - I think it will help a lot of people.

    I REALLY looked at the FOIS, basically for the reasons you describe - just that touch smaller which might help with how it sits and looks on a slimmer wrist (having spent decades bikes I have skinny cyclist wrists!). The things which most concerned me were the two you mentioned - sapphire rather than hesalite, and the legibility of the hands - and your review really helps with those.

    In the end I bought a Pro, but still love the look of the FOIS.
  10. rhj

    rhj Jan 7, 2018

    Thanks for this personal and well done writing!
  11. padders

    padders Jan 7, 2018

    Not quite the same thing here though as the difference in diameters is purely down to the pusher protectors. The bezel and dial diameter is the same with the Pro and FOIS so they actually wear pretty similar in my experience. In fact the FOIS/CK2998/60th Anni/Ed White case can feel deeper and bulkier than the Pro as the lack of guards give it a more slab sided form and feel.
    Edited Jan 7, 2018
  12. imagwai

    imagwai Jan 7, 2018

    If this is US$, then I think it's pretty decent for an AD.


    I don't believe so - certainly I've never heard of anybody doing this with a FOIS

    Not really. Omega sell a few options, plus there are plenty of places you can have one custom made. And although not as common as 20mm, there are some ready-made 19mm options out there too.
    Yoshi.N likes this.
  13. omegaswisst

    omegaswisst Jan 7, 2018

    With regards to the hesalite crystal @photo500 watchmaker in Perth Australia has managed to fit one into the FOIS case and maintain waterproof rating.
    Edited Jan 7, 2018
  14. Moadib

    Moadib Jan 7, 2018

    Agree on that. Given the 'size difference' of the FOIS I expected the Pro to look too big on me, and was pleasantly surprised when first tried - looked absolutely perfect.
  15. Maganator

    Maganator Jan 7, 2018

    Is my mind playing tricks on me or was there not a thread on here where someone had modded their FOIS with a broad arrow dial and changed the hands as well?
  16. imagwai

    imagwai Jan 7, 2018

  17. teojjsg

    teojjsg Mar 5, 2018

    Anyone has an estimate on how many pcs are produced for this pc?
  18. haqq777

    haqq777 Sep 22, 2018

    Great question. I am interested in knowing the answer to this as well, if anyone knows.
  19. imagwai

    imagwai Sep 22, 2018

    Numbers just over 10,000 have recently been seen.
  20. midcentury

    midcentury Oct 3, 2018

    I can confirm having tried on a FOIS at the my local OB numbered somewhere between 10,000 and 10,100. The roll call thread also has one close to that range, I believe. The person helping me at Omega also said they were still making them, for what it's worth... although you can never be 100% sure either way when it comes to questions like that.