Omega ST 376.0822

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    Default Omega ST 376.0822

    First of all apologies for 'starting at the beginning', I wrote this as a general introduction to the 376.0822 without assuming prior knowledge and although much here is well known I thought I'd use the most pertinent points from disparate sources to try to describe this one more fully. Bear with me, Lemaniacs, and for the non-conversant, I hope you have an enjoyable read...



    The French call them 'les Speed’...

    Omega has produced many limited editions and many variations of the iconic Speedmaster, most of which are fairly indistinguishable one from the other at first glance unless you’re a Speedophile. So what’s so different about this one? It looks like a normal Speedmaster in the traditional ‘moonwatch’ case, but on closer inspection a few immediate differences leap out; Speedmasters don’t usually have a date, let alone a day, yet this has both and unusually it’s a central minute chronograph rather than one that uses only the second hand and subdials. Less obviously, the traditional Speedmaster was a manual wind watch, this is an automatic. It’s not a limited edition, but it had a short life span and consequently only about 1500 were ever made.



    It is powered by the Omega 1045 movement, which is basically a copper-beryllium coated Lemania 5100. The partnership with Lemania dates back to the 1930’s, indeed the cal. 321 and 861 found in the famed 1960s Speedmasters were made by Lemania.
    Omega used the 1045 movement in about half a dozen different watches in the early seventies but all had cases other than the typical moonwatch case. It was only in 1987 that the classic, bombé lugged moonwatch case was uniquely used in conjunction with the 1045 movement, the first time Omega had an automatic in a moonwatch case, the first time the day/date appeared in traditional form in a moonwatch case and it would be the last time that an Omega used a Lemania movement, so a final culmination of a partnership that dated back over fifty years.

    I say ‘culmination’ as the Omega 1045/Lemania 5100 is a bit of gem in its own right I think, conceived by Piaget, Baumgartner and technicians from SSIH, and built at a time when the whole Swiss mechanical industry was blighted by the Japanese quartz revolution, Lemania needed a robust, simple to manufacture, reliable and fully functional chronograph that was above all cheap. Now 'cheap' doesn't necessarily mean 'nasty', in this case a well engineered design solution that used pillar construction, stamped parts and a few plastic bits – doesn’t sound tasty does it? But, it does have what could be described as classic chronograph design features; it’s integrated (i.e. not a modular type), with a vertical clutch, (that gives a crisp let-off), and rotary cam, (a simplified column wheel as opposed to cam levers). Importantly though it features a directly driven chrono min/sec hand, the advantage of the direct drive is as there is no intermediary wheel so it is harder to jolt or stop the hand under 'g' load. The ‘plastic bits’ are actually Delrin™, this was chosen as it self-lubricates, (as it’s a plastic – well, a DuPont acetal polyoxymethylene resin designed for strength, light weight and self-lubrication), and is used for day/date wheels and the day change cam amongst other things, these are areas where wear is low anyway, so Delrin™ was the functional, deliberate material of choice rather than being just a cost-cutting shortcut. (Incidentally, the 7750 uses some plastic too, but again, in a deliberate way, even more incidentally, a lot of the cheap Chinese 7750 fakes use metal parts instead!).



    There is certainly nothing pretty about the Lemania 5100 in normal mode but with a copper alloy plating, (sometimes wrongly described as ‘rose gold’ on the interweb), on the 1045 it looks….well, still crap, but perhaps more acceptable – this is why there is only one watch that has ever used a complete display back for a Lemania 5100, and that was a very heavily spruced up one. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I actually like its unapologetically functional aesthetic, completely in line with its intended aim.


    ('net stock picture)

    The strong suit of the movement though is the central chronograph hands, both chrono second hand and chrono minute hand are driven from the centre pinion, which effectively makes the whole watch your chrono subdial. The Lemania 5100 movement was in many issued watches in the seventies and eighties, the two main reasons cited for this are the readability of the chrono and the robustness of the movement. ‘Readability’ is perhaps a function of visibility plus intuitiveness, so here you have effectively a large stopwatch that reads off a scale we’re used to – the 60min scale. As soon as you see whereabouts the large minute chrono hand is on the dial you instinctively know how far through the hour you are, exactly like reading the normal minute hand of your watch. It literally couldn’t be easier.



    Clear reading:


    Domed crystal:


    For me it’s interesting to see how various makers have gone about integrating the movements strong display potential to their specific dial design and hand sets, Sinn with its red tipped ‘Lemania’ style hands, Heuer with their orange tips and Omega with their all-white handsets. The chrono minute hand is differentiated in the normal convention with small ‘wings’ near the tip, not as swept as most Lemanias, but in the flatter Omega ‘t’ style.
    As far as the Omega dial design goes, it follows faithfully the Speedmasters cues, which was always an essay in clarity anyway and Omega certainly didn’t drop the ball in this case either – in fact, the slightly larger diameter and the extended scale on the dial spacer give the dial an open and large look accentuated by the narrow, non-encroaching bezel.

    The case of the 376.0822 is slightly thicker than the normal Speedy, and the case seems to have ‘grown’ around the pushers so they are semi-shrouded; this is also another strong point of this particular watch in that all other Speedies have more open pushers. The crystals dome is also slightly more pronounced and it’s all rounded off very nicely with the chunky, brushed steel bracelet with solid end links. More on that later…

    From a personal point of view it has been following the movement that has led me to this watch, so not an Omega-centric choice at all, although the Omegas interpretation and execution is just about as good as you get I reckon.

    Not a hot seller in 1987, as I mentioned, best guesses put it at an 18mth production run, probably halted due to lack of interest in mechanicals at the time, although as SSIH group had split some 6 years previously, did Omega just run out of supplied movements? Either way, the last 200 were converted with gold subdialed dials, bezels and pushers/crowns along with a bi-metal bracelet and sold only on the Italian market, and that was the end of that.

    (cont.)

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    (cont.)


    As to this individual one, I had the original main hands put back on and the day wheel changed to an English one at Swiss Time Services and obviously a service and clean up of the case.
    The only service hands still on the watch are the chrono minute and second hand. These hands are perhaps the closest to the original of all the service hands anyway as they only fall short by about 0.5mm of true length; not something that is glaringly obvious at any rate and sometimes we can’t be too fussy! At some stage I will fit the original second hand though, as its deliberate spidery reach onto the 1/5 second chapter ring is both functional and elegant. The original ‘dinked’ bezel has no accented ‘E’, while the service replacement currently on the watch does.

    The 1450 bracelet has a few links missing but would extend out to a 7 ½ “ wrist, fortunately I have the wrists of a sparrow, so it fits fine, and what a bracelet it is – I’ve always liked the plain brushed steel Rolex bracelet best, out of any manufacturer, as they did it in a very plain way with good construction, and so it is with the 1450 – no shiny centre links, no embellishment, just plain brushed steel constructed in a solid way, apparently much favoured by the Omegaristi – and I can see why. It was used in a few other models of Speedmaster until the early nineties but it had a limited run, rather like the watch itself, and was the first one that had the ‘Speedmaster’ word inscribed on the clasp. Subsequent bracelets by Omega had the plain-end or polished-end centre link, (that looks like a 5 link bracelet), and I have to say I prefer the older, plainer style 1450. The chunky style suits the chunky case. The correct 809 end links are solid, the first time Omega started doing this in earnest. Out of interest, this would have cost you about £500 new in ’87, how times change...

    In the context of the Speedmaster range, it stands out uniquely and features many ‘firsts’ as well as ‘lasts’.
    From a Lemania point of view, the full movement couldn’t be much better presented or used any more efficiently.
    From a chronograph point of view it as to be one of the more interesting automatics to handle and read.

    So, for me just about perfect; great AK-47-esque movement, Speedmaster no nonsense clarity and the centre chrono feature. Tip-top.

    More reading and links to the original 'Grail' meister, Chuck Maddox -

    http://chronomaddox.com/c1045_in_detail.html
    http://forums.watchuseek.com/f20/sho...ter-38953.html
    http://www.tz-uk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=192733

    And a clutch of Lemanias, L5100 EZM1, L5012 SAAF Lemania and the Omega 1045 376.0822:



    ...but more on these as a triumvate later...
    Last edited by andy_s; 18-10-2011 at 18:46. Reason: (fixing links)

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    Well, there's no doubt about it. If you're going to have a Speedy (or "les Speed"... love that!) then this is certainly the one. In my view, its the one to have, not because its called "the grail", far from it... but because this Speedmaster is both more perfect and less like the average Speedy at the same time (if that makes sense).

    -flugzeit

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    Well done Andy, in both getting such a rare beast, and also in writing it up so well.
    Nice triumvirate at the end too.

    "The Grail" certainly is one of the Lemania watches to have.

    It makes me wonder what the perfect Lemania collection would look like, but perhaps that's another post.

    In the mean time, congratulations. Yours is definitely one of the best I have seen out there. It is such a shame when they have certain service parts ruining them, like dials and rehauts. There is one one Chrono24 at the moment with a Mark V dial on, it looks terrible.

    Good job

    Dave
    If it's Lemania-powered, I'm interested. Tool Chrono - interested. Dive Chrono - interested. Interesting - interested

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    Exquisite review of a stunning Speedmaster variant and a really charming example at the same time.

    May you were it in good health, Andy.

    X

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    Great review, Andy - and a superb collection of Lemania-powered watches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flugzeit View Post
    In my view, its the one to have, not because its called "the grail", far from it... but because this Speedmaster is both more perfect and less like the average Speedy at the same time
    -flugzeit
    That's all I needed to write really!

    Dave - I've no idea what the perfect Lemania collection would be; where to stop is the problem!
    Personally at this stage I don't think there will be any more until next year, but I'm certainly interested in a Commando II or NATO with full lume hand set (even though it makes the hour subdial hand look 'odd man out'), a 156/12, a 2222 issue monopusher, a Silberstein and a Lorenz chrono-diver, but then you have the inevitable distractions of Zenith, UG and a few more issue watches and other oddities like the ZRC Etanche Grands Fonds I fancy so who knows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flugzeit View Post
    Well, there's no doubt about it. If you're going to have a Speedy (or "les Speed"... love that!) then this is certainly the one. In my view, its the one to have, not because its called "the grail", far from it... but because this Speedmaster is both more perfect and less like the average Speedy at the same time (if that makes sense).

    -flugzeit
    +1. I hope that you wear this watch in good health!

    Menno

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    what a fantastic review - thanks for sharing. Not only did it cover the individual watch (which always is interesting) but the background info was a very interesting read to me.

    one question: Why are the service parts not matching the original measures? because they are made for the other Speedmaster variation?

    /Lars
    Last edited by longbear; 18-10-2011 at 20:30. Reason: missing word

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    Quote Originally Posted by longbear View Post
    one question: Why are the service parts not matching the original measures? because they are made for the other Speedmaster variation?

    /Lars
    That's about it Lars, the hand set for this one was unique while the other half a dozen variations shared the same hand set - I believe. I presume that for servicing they (Omega) used the more communal hands to save holding a replacement stock for what was a pretty small run item.
    As Dave says, many of them had their dials replaced with service dials that never quite worked as well, indeed, some of them do look terrible.

    Here's how my watch looked before changing the main hands, as you can see, there's a big difference in breadth and reach, especially when it's pointed out:



    I think Pascal had a two year hunt for the original dial on his!


    Edit - I've just had a quick look -
    Here's some of the range - if you look, it seems as if they've used Mk IV main hands and Mk V chrono min/sec hands for service parts, unless Gary/Al' or other Omega types know differently?

    IV:


    V:
    Last edited by andy_s; 18-10-2011 at 19:18.

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