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  1. rbob99

    rbob99 Jul 21, 2013

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    Hello - I am a new member and this is my first post. I have been trying to learn about vintage Speedmasters and have questions about the movement calibers used in various models. My current understanding is that the 321 caliber models are more collectible than the later 861 caliber an 1861 caliber models. I'm sure there are a number of reasons for that. My questions are these: Is the caliber 321 actually a better movement than the 861 and 1861? Is the 861 a better movement than the 1861? Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. Richard
     
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  2. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 21, 2013

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    They're very similar movements, they're all extremely strong and reliable movements and they've all been used in outer space. The Calibre 321 was the first iteration, and is the most sought after, also the fewest number produced. Calibre 321 features a column wheel, more elaborate bridges, and is more complicated to service and maintain. Its no more accurate or reliable, but is more beautiful and in some intangible way more special than the 861/1861.

    So there are plusses and minuses, practically, and for daily wear and ease of maintenance and parts sourcing, 861/1861 is better. For the collector it has to be 321.
     
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  3. rbob99

    rbob99 Jul 21, 2013

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    Thanks so much for your response. That's very helpful.
     
  4. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 21, 2013

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    Is this your first good watch or do you have a few others in rotation?
     
  5. richardew

    richardew Jul 21, 2013

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    Who has had trouble getting parts or service for a c321? I haven't. Omega will service the c321 and it is more expensive and has to be done in Bienne. I get mine done locally and it costs exactly the same to service a c321 as a c861. I haven't had any issues getting parts either: crowns, pushers, crystals, gaskets, mainspring. I wear them regularly. They are all robust movements/watches that have passed the NASA tests. The challenge in collecting/owning c321 speedys is in finding ones that have all or most of the original parts that differ from modern replacements: bezels, hands, dial.
    Here's an c864. It's a chronometer version of the c861
    num 2.jpg

    Here's some shots of the c321:
    7.16.13_23... my 321s....jpg
    7.3.13_80321s take 2.jpg
     
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  6. g-boac

    g-boac Jul 21, 2013

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    dsio provided possibly one of the best summaries on 321/861/1861 that I've seen.

    As richardew pointed out, it's possible to service 321s. And in the most extreme repair cases (or if you simply choose to do so), you can send your watch in to Omega for service or repair. In the case of 321s, it goes directly to Switzerland, rather to one of their regional repair shops.

    The calibre 321 is the rarest because of the Speedmaster's popularity and staying presence - the Speedy has been in production for over 55 years, but the calibre 321 was only used for about the first 11 years of the Speedmaster's career. So it's a simple numbers thing. One reason the calibre 321 may be the most desirable among enthusiasts is because this is the exact calibre that actually was used for the Apollo moonwalks; and before this, the Gemini spacewalks.

    The changes from the calibre 321 to 861 were more for the purposes of manufacturing efficiency and cost reduction, and the difference between the 861 and 1861 is that the parts are all rhodium-plated, rather than being copper-plated or bare metal. The changeover from 321 to 861 was in 1969, and the changeover from 861 to 1861 was in 1996. That's what the leading "1" numeral indicates. Along the way, there were a few minor variants produced, such as the c864 movement, which was a chronometer version of the 861, and the c1863, which is a "display back" version of the c1861. The 1863 simply replaces a couple of non-metallic parts with metal ones that give it a cleaner look, because the movement is installed into a watch case with a transparent caseback (such as those that richardew shows in his photos).


    I hope this helps, and welcome to the forum! Feel welcome to ask additional questions or share what you learn as you go along!
     
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  7. SpikiSpikester

    SpikiSpikester @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 21, 2013

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    I should point out that this is not the case in the UK, as STS service them and have a restoration unit that will do whatever you want/need to them.
     
  8. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 21, 2013

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    In Australia its a bit harder, last time I had any work done it was a several week wait for parts from the UK to arrive. I don't know exactly what the situation for it is but I figure if guys like Mike are starting to stockpile Calibre 321 movements and parts, availability for the future isn't looking all that great. That is assuming Omega don't re-introduce the Calibre 321 at some point in the future.
     
  9. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jul 22, 2013

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    I have. Parts for the Cal. 321 are not as readily available as they are for the Cal. 861/1861. That's a fact. The parts supply for this movement from Omega is very limited, and anything that Omega doesn't still supply, you would have to rely on the open market. The parts you list above, with the exception of the mainspring, are not movement parts. Movement parts are the issue, not case parts.

    It really depends on the specific part that is needed for the movement. For example I have no problem getting a 4th wheel, chronograph runner, mainspring, hour recorder runner (which I replace so often I have 10 in stock here right now) etc. But if you need a hammer spring? Pallet fork? Balance complete? Well those are not going to be easy to find, and if you do find them, you will pay through the nose because the people selling these parts know they are rare, and they charge accordingly.

    If you buy well and the watch is in good condition, only needing a mainspring and general service, then you are fine. But regular service on these is important to maintain the parts inside, and I would avoid buying watches that have movements that need a lot of work, as those will be long to service, and expensive.

    And yes, Omega will still service them, but again you will be paying through the nose for that - I know as I have sent them off to Bienne on behalf of my clients who are willing to write a blank cheque to Omega, and also let Omega do whatever they deem "necessary" to the watch....things that collectors would cringe at and would take away from the originality that collectors (most anyway) demand.

    Technically there is nearly zero advantage to the 321 when compared to the 861 and 1861. The column wheel is a much desired thing with collectors, but the cam switching on the 861 and 1861 works just as well. The 321 has an overcoil on the balance spring, but still uses regulating pins, so it's not free sprung. The only real advantages over an 861/1861 is perhaps an adjustable mass balance, so poising is a bit easier using washers instead of drilling holes in the balance wheel.

    I'm not trying to overstate the issue of parts for the Cal. 321, because I service them often (out of the 11 Speedmasters I have in the shop right now, 7 are Cal. 321's) but to imply there are no issues at all with parts supply is a bit misleading in my view.

    Cheers, Al
     
  10. cicindela

    cicindela Steve @ ΩF Staff Member Jul 22, 2013

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    I would add that Al recently helped be sort out some very difficult to find parts for the the hour wheel assembly on an older 321 / 2998. Some of these parts vary depending on which pre-moon case these go into. Thanks again Al.
     
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  11. Stewart H

    Stewart H Honorary NJ Resident Jul 22, 2013

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    Al. Do you know if this is the same position with the Lemania CH27 C12 or is the 321 an unaltered version?

    I will reveal the reason for asking, later this week.....
     
  12. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jul 22, 2013

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    Not exactly sure what you mean - the CH27 C12 and 321 are the same thing....

    Cheers, Al
     
  13. Stewart H

    Stewart H Honorary NJ Resident Jul 22, 2013

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    I wondered if there were any in-house mods made to the Lemania movement in the same way that everybody seems to "tweek" the 7750 to call it their own, or Rolex de-tuning the el Primero to make the Daytona. It is just that having an incoming CH27 C12, I was wondering if the parts are totally interchangeable.
     
  14. g-boac

    g-boac Jul 22, 2013

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    Hi Stewart,

    Al is correct that there are a lot of similarities between the two calibres, with the 27 CH C12 being the "grandfather" of sorts to the 321. When comparing the 27 CH C12 17p to a 321 (whose "scientific name" is the 27 CH C12 T2 PC AM 17p), the differences between the calibres are as follows:

    [1] basic movement is the same, with a three-register chronograph and start/stop + reset pushers, with 17 jewels (the "17p" designator).
    [2] the 321 (27 CH C12 T2 PC AM 17p) adds the following attributes to the 27 CH C12 17p movement:
    • Non-magnetic balance-hairspring assembly (the "AM" designator)
    • Incabloc shock-protecting device (the "PC" designator)
    • Updated hour recorder mechanism when compared to the 27CH C12 17p, and minute recorder jumper superseded by an adjustable jumper operated from a wire-spring (the "T2" designator)
    More information about the Incabloc shock-protection system can be found here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incabloc
    and directly at the manufacturer's website here:
    http://www.incabloc.ch/incabloc_en.html

    Some parts between these calibres are interchangeable; in fact, even some cal present-day 1861 parts are interchangeable with the cal 321, but there are a number of different parts as well. And as you can imagine, the divergence grows larger as you move generationally down the line from the 27 CH C12 17p toward the calibre 1861.

    The 27 CH C12 17p was introduced in 1942. The 27 CH C12 T1 PC AM 17p was introduced in 1945, and, and the 27 CH C12 T2 PC AM 17p, which we know as the 321, was introduced in 1946. The 861 was introduced in 1968, and the 1861 was introduced in 1996.

    cheers,
    Mark
     
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  15. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jul 23, 2013

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    Okay sorry - I wasn't sure what angle you were coming at the question from. Yes there are some differences and Mark has pointed out, and this is the document that he is using for this information:

    [​IMG]

    It shows the various iterations. The vast majority of parts will be the same, but some specific items might be different. When you get the watch in, post a clear photo of the movement and I can point some things out.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  16. Stewart H

    Stewart H Honorary NJ Resident Jul 23, 2013

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    Thank you both. I guess I know what I will be photographing this weekend.
     
  17. Ru4scuba

    Ru4scuba Feb 6, 2014

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    Dragging this old thread up. I've always wanted a nice cal.321 and this thread was extremely educational!
     
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  18. raincitysteve

    raincitysteve Dec 16, 2014

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    Gotta love the Internet. Just delving into this thread while researching pre-Moon Speedmasters for a possible purchase. I have a '90s-vintage Speedmaster Reduced that I wear alot, among several older Omegas. I've always wanted an older Speedy Pro but was a little intimidated by the prospect of having to service it. In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have been worried. I've got a half-dozen early-'60s-early '70s Omegas that have been easy to service.
     
    Speedmaster Omega.jpeg
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  19. richardew

    richardew Dec 16, 2014

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    Hmm. Still waiting for those photos !!!
     
  20. Stewart H

    Stewart H Honorary NJ Resident Dec 17, 2014

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