Now Available: 1996 Racing Speedmaster Reduced Launched by Michael Schumacher
On the tail end of the 1980s, Omega decided it was about time to put a diminutive variation of their flag bearer, the Speedmaster Professional, into the market. This is the story of the Speedmaster Reduced.
Introduced in 1988, the Speedmaster Reduced ST 175.0032 was a 39mm twisted-lug steel case timepiece. Omega fit the watch with what they designated to be the automatic Caliber 1140. Essentially, Omega’s own assembly of an ETA 2890-2 with a Dubois-Dépraz 2020 chronograph module mounted to the dial-side and was gold plated.
The movement was updated with the 1141 in 1996 using again the ETA 2890-2 and Dubois-Dépraz 2020 but this time the movement assembly was rhodium plated. Again in 1997, the movement was updated to the 1143 which used the newer ETA 2892-A2 with the 2020. The last update made to the Speedmaster Reduced movement was with the calibre 3220 in 2000, again with the ETA 2892-A2 and 2020, although updates this time are said to be mostly cosmetic.
The Speedmaster Reduced from a distance, with its black dial and familiar case silhouette can — and often is — mistaken for its larger sibling, the Speedmaster Professional aka, the Moonwatch. But closer inspection of the Speedmaster will highlight some hallmarks that differentiate it.
Most obvious is the vast amount of space from the central pinion to the sub dials at 9 and 3 o’clock. The dial of the watch also reads “Automatic,” where you would otherwise have “Professional”.
And, of course, if you’ve handled enough Speedmasters, you would be able to tell on first contact that this is a significantly smaller case. Turning the watch to its crown-side, you’ll also notice that the crown and the chronograph pushers don’t line up. This asymmetry is the cause of the stacked movement construction.
Further deviations include the fact that on the Speedmaster Professional the tri-compax layout is as such: 30-minute totalizer at 3, 12-hour totalizer at 6 and running seconds at 9. On the Reduced, the layout is as follows: running seconds at 3, 12-hour totalizer at 6 and 30-minute totalizer at 9.
Buyer beware. Enough shoddy dealers out on the internet have often listed the Speedmaster Reduced for sale, marked as Moonwatch. This is just outright dishonest. The Speedmaster Reduced is a variation within the Speedmaster family, as is the Moonwatch — the Speedmaster Professional — a variation within the Speedmaster family. However, a Speedmaster Reduced is not a Moonwatch Speedmaster, and a Moonwatch Speedmaster has never been a Speedmaster Reduced. Conveniently calling a Speedmaster Reduced a Moonwatch is nothing more than dishonest.
But that’s not to say that we ought to with the Speedmaster Reduced off. Because within the Speedmaster family, it has its own place. Along with the updates to the movement in the late1990s, Omega also made adjustments to the watch’s dial layout. The Speedmaster Reduced even went the route of colourful dials in the same vein as the racing dials on its older sibling.
1996 Racing Speedmaster Reduced Launched by Michael Schumacher
One such noteworthy instance within the realm of the Speedmaster Reduced is the 1996 Racing, which was launched by the one and only Michael Schumacher. The watch is considered such an important landmark in the Speedmaster lineage, that on the occasion of the watch’s 60th anniversary, of the many revered refences that Omega listed in the official timeline, this was the only Speedmaster Reduced.
In the brand’s own words speaking of the watch, it says, “This striking model is notable for its ‘younger aesthetics’ and was produced in both red and yellow versions. The piece was launched by racing legend Michael Schumacher who had become a new Omega ambassador in 1996.”
It goes on, “as well as featuring a racing-style minute track, the watch had a rubber presentation box that resembled the tyres of F1 cars and featured Schumacher’s signature in white.”
The association with Michael Schumacher was appropriate because let’s not forget that the Speedmaster was conceived in 1957 as a chronograph for race car pilots. On top of Michael himself, his younger brother Ralf Schumacher and even Michael Andretti were friends of the brand in this time.
When launched, Omega and Michael chose the karting track in Kerpen, Germany, for the official announcement. The very same track where Michael developed his skills as a young driver.
But let’s put aside the association with one of motor racing’s biggest names for a second. Looking at the dial of the 1996 Racing we can see that Omega had made an effort here to create a better balance with the positioning of the sub dials at 9 and 3 o’clock. That in itself just adds so much more appeal to the watch. Add to this, the striking “Ferrari” red, the racing seconds track and those broad hour and minute hands filled with a generous amount of Super-LumiNova. All in all, a compelling watch for any collector looking for quirky pieces from the Speedmaster’s timeline. Best of all, as these are incredibly under the radar at the moment, prices are soft like cotton candy.
In a hallowed index created by with information compiled by the collaborative efforts of Marco Richon, Jean-Michel Malavieille and the one and only, Chuck Maddox back in 2005, the 1996 Racing watch is listed as the case number ST 175.0032.R00; PIC 3810.61 for the red dial and ST 175.0032.J00; PIC 3810.12 for the yellow dial. These references came on a double ridged leather strap, speculatively produced by Schedoni, the same guys who produced anything leather for Scuderia within that time and continue to produce leather interior for Ferrari’s civilian cars (among many other super car producers.
The alternate reference for the red dial was 375.0032.R00; PIC 3510.61 and the yellow dial was 375.0032.J00; PIC 3510.12, these came on steel bracelets. The watch wasn’t made as a limited edition, hence they are not numbered. Production, however, ceased in 1999.