The OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch is one of those watches that owes a lot to the world of straps because Omega has always offered the possibility to configure your own watch. The craze of vintage bracelets for the Moonwatch was born with the "re-discovery" of this chronograph which only for a few years seems to be recognized by collectors and enthusiasts.
If we think about the history of this watch it is rather strange that even today, it is possible to buy a chronograph as one Speedmaster ref. 105.012, the "reference of the Moon", with just over € 10 thousand while chronographs such as a 6263/6265, similar references for historical period, which do not have great historical or technical value, are worth over € 70 / 100milan. For me, it makes no sense to still find pearls of this importance at such low figures.
But let's get to the topic of this article. The success of vintage bracelets for Moonwatch arises from the fact that substantially the case of this chronograph has remained unchanged since 1964, when we first saw the helix lugs.
Although I am very happy with my Speedmaster, I immediately had the need to change the original bracelet due to a "structural limit". The obstacle that I find on my model (ref. 3572.50) is the bracelet (ref. 1499/842) which lengthens the L4L (lug to lug) by about 2mm and has only two micro-adjustments in the clasp. These "defects" never allow you to find the right fit for me. Fortunately it is not a 1998/840 or / 849, the bracelet that has accompanied the Moonwatch for several years, which with its 20-18-20 also made a sinuous and comfortable case like that Moon a heavy and uncomfortable block of steel, at least for my wrist.
Although I have always used leather straps or born on the Moon, it seemed a shame not to wear my Speedmaster with a bracelet. Being, by the way, one of the sports chronographs with the largest range of steel bracelets ever produced! Also because more and more "third" companies are offering interesting products to overcome the problem that until the other day we had with the Moonwatch bracelet.
I write "other yesterday" because the latest reference of Moonwatch (2021) has made a big leap forward in terms of construction. Especially the bracelet, which traces the history of the Moonwatch very well, offering a vintage aesthetic, with a modern bracelet feeling. The new bracelet is in fact a modern interpretation of the famous and rare 1116/575, a bracelet that accompanied the Moon for about 5 years (from 1968 to about 1972). This bracelet marks a big change in the world of Speedmaster bracelets. In fact, it is the first bracelet with no longer elastic links, marking a radical change from the famous FlatLink, the first bracelet for Speedmasters.
Il FlatLink it was produced in many variations, with various references that differentiated either only for the ends (for the various boxes to which it had to lodge) or for the number of elastic links, or even for the closure with different shapes. What has never changed, however, is its design: three-link bracelet, flat, thin, shiny on the sides and central satin link. A trademark for Omega and that we still see on the “Vintage” lines such as the new Ed White with 321 or the Seamaster 300.
The name of the bracelet derives from the flat and thin shape of the links which makes the bracelet comfortable, elegant and unobtrusive on the wrist. Today it is possible to buy this type of bracelet from some companies that are making it a cult for many enthusiasts, including myself. Forstner offers the public a real reissue, with elastic links and full ends.
Both in version all brushed or with shiny mesh on the sides. The other reality is Uncle Seiko, one of the leading manufacturers in the production, or rather 'reproduction', of bracelets for Seiko Vintage and now, for about a year or so, it has ventured into the Omega world.
Their flat link is somewhere in between with solid non-stretch links and hollow ends. A fair compromise if you are looking for a solution that costs about 1/30 of what a real FlatLink costs today.
Another classic are the JB Champion, faithfully reproduced by Forstner. They have never been officially commissioned by Omega, but they were a classic of the 60s and 70s space missions and have accompanied the Moon for many years.
Going forward over the years, one of the most interesting and beautiful bracelets to combine with the Moon is the 1171. Omega has in fact made this bracelet for many years, and it is by far one of the best choices ever. To date, buying an original bracelet of these requires almost € 1000, but companies like UncleSeiko offer the possibility of combining this type of bracelet at about a tenth of the price. In my opinion it is the best choice in terms of aesthetics, comfort and robustness. The links are thin and comfortable, oval in shape and I appreciate this bracelet more than the 1450, the “president”. Although rarer and more famous, I find the 1450 sweaters too 'round' (being of a crescent shape).
A few months ago, Uncle Seiko presented the brand new 1479, a bracelet that faithfully reproduces the 1479/812. This bracelet accompanied our beloved Moonwatch for about 7 years, from 1989 to 1996. It is for many one of the most beautiful bracelets and I believe it is so. This Uncle Seiko reproduction is much better crafted than all previous products, with solid ends and a very interesting mesh construction. As on all Uncle Seiko bracelets, I believe that the sheet metal closure allows you to have 100% the same comfort and aesthetics of vintage bracelets but makes everything a bit cheap.
Considering the average cost of these bracelets, we can overlook it since generally an original Omega bracelet costs from € 800 upwards and is still a bracelet - not contemporary - with our reference (different instead if you have a vintage reference, in that case I recommend spending a little more to complete the configuration).
A last bracelet, very rare and little seen is the model Holzer. Uncle Seiko also offers us this model, reproducing a kind of Jubilee for Moonwatch. This bracelet was produced for about 20 years (between the 60s and 80s) only for the South American market and makes the overall style of the Moonwatch very exotic, making it different from anything Omega has ever proposed on the Speedmaster.
I hope that with this guide you have a more general idea of the history of Omega bracelets and how companies like Fostner or Uncle Seiko can offer an affordable, fun solution that takes up the history of the Omega Speedmaster's bracelets in the past.