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What is An Omega FOIS?

Before the Moonwatch, there was the the First Omega In Space

In watch collecting circles, it is not uncommon to hear nicknames being thrown around when discussing important models. And one such moniker you may have come across is the Omega FOIS; also known as the First Omega in Space.

It All Began with Astronaut Wally Schirra

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their historic lunar steps on 20th July, 1969. For Omega enthusiasts, this space mission is inextricably linked to the first time the Speedmaster made its way to the moon; strapped to Aldrin’s wrist as he took his moon walk, and paving the way for the legendary Omega “Moonwatch” series of watches.

However, this was not the first time an Omega watch journeyed to space. On 3rd October, 1962, astronaut Wally Schirra wore his own personal Omega Speedmaster ref. 2998 during the Mercury Sigma 7 mission, making it the very first Omega in space. It wasn’t until three years later, in 1965, that NASA officially qualified Omega Speedmaster chronographs for spaceflight.

The Omega FOIS Tribute Watches

Similar to the Speedmaster Moonwatches that pay tribute to the first watch on the moon, Omega has a collection of Speedmaster FOIS models to honour the vintage reference CK 2998 that later became the first Omega in space. The first tribute FOIS watch made its debut in 2012 and more models have since followed.

One such iteration is the limited edition Omega Speedmaster ref. 311., introduced in 2018. This vintage-inspired Speedy sports a 39.7 mm stainless steel case – slightly smaller than its Moonwatch sibling – and a stylish Panda-style dial thanks to the black counters sitting on a sandblasted silvery background. The black minute track and varnished red chronograph hand offer great design touches that emphasise the retro vibe of the sporty watch.

On the other hand, the choice of a robust black ceramic bezel is a contemporary one, as is the use of modern sapphire crystal. Interestingly, rather than a tachymeter scale, this Speedy CK 2998 edition comes with a unique white enamel pulsometer scale engraved on the bezel, which is used to measure heart rate – useful for athletes, drivers and astronauts alike.

The Speedmaster ref. 311. runs on the same beloved Caliber 1861 manual-wound movement that has powered so many iconic Speedmaster Professional watches. Protecting the movement is a steel caseback embossed with the original, iconic Seahorse medallion and an engraving of the watch’s specific limited edition number, of which there were only 2,998 pieces made. A perforated black leather strap with contrast stitching completes the look of this distinctive, handsome Omega Speedmaster.

Either as a vintage taste of Omega history or as a smart limited edition investment purchase, the 311. is a fitting tribute to the ‘First Omega in Space’ and a smart addition to any watch fan’s collection.

Words by Celine Simon

Available to buy here at Tempo & Time, click here for further info.

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