If you’re a watch enthusiast on social media, over the last week or so you’ve certainly seen cryptic teases from Omega and Swatch about some kind of mystery project. Instagram stories from both brands hinted at a collaboration, which seemed, honestly, kind of strange. Omega is one of the kingpins of luxury watchmaking, second only to Rolex in terms of Swiss brands that are household names associated with the proverbial “nice watch.” Swatch is, how can I put this, something else entirely. Now, I love Swatch, don’t get me wrong. But mass produced plastic watches with quartz movements (or mechanical movements that are literally designed to be thrown away) don’t exactly make for prized family heirlooms, which is kind of Omega’s bread and butter. That said, the Swatch collecting market is hot and unlike any other in the space right now, but that’s another story. Anyway, if it was going to be an actual collaboration, it raised a ton of questions about what it could be, how it would work, and, to be blunt, how Omega could come out of it without looking like they’ve lent their name to a product that diminishes them.
Well, the MoonSwatch is here, and now that the collaboration has been revealed, it falls to the collector and enthusiast communities to decide what this means for the all important brand equity of both parties. Judging from the early response on Instagram and throughout the Watch Internet, it seems like both Omega and Swatch are coming out of this smelling like roses, or maybe moondust. A total of 11 watches make up the MoonSwatch collection, each a colorful representation of a heavenly body within our little corner of the Milky Way, in the familiar lines of a Speedmaster case. The watches are made of Swatch’s still relatively new bioceramic material, first covered here in another space themed release. According to Swatch, this material is two-thirds ceramic, and one-third “bio sourced” plastic. The goal here is a material that has similar scratch resistance properties as ceramic, but with a premium feel that one doesn’t necessarily encounter with traditional plastic. You know, like in a Swatch.
The watches are powered by quartz movements with a familiar three register Speedmaster layout, and are filled with little details linking it to a real Moonwatch. Example: these watches have the collector’s favorite “dot over ninety” tachymeter bezel. You’ll also find a laser engraved “S” at the center of the crystal, just like you’d find a “Ω” on a Speedmaster crystal. You’ve got the lyre lugs, of course, and a familiar 42mm diameter. And they’ve even given the thing a lousy water resistance rating of just 30 meters. That’s dedication.
So, there are eleven of these in total, one for each planet (including Pluto, a clear nod to Gen X and Baby Boomer collectors, who will never let it go) as well as the sun and earth’s moon (but no other moons, yet – lots of possibilities for another run). They’re all designated as “Mission to..” whatever planet they correspond with, so there’s a built in whimsical, sci-fi influenced space travel bent to these as well. Everyone, naturally, will have their favorite colorways. For me, it’s bold or bust. Hard pass on Mercury and the moon (these just look like regular Speedmasters and I think we’ve been to the moon – what’s the point?!). But I could see myself lining up at a crowded Swatch store while still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic for a dark blue Mission to Neptune, or the Alaska Project inspired (and bright red) Mission to Mars. And who among us wouldn’t love to ask the friendly neighborhood Swatch associate if they have Uranus in stock?
Other highlights of the series include the sun, currently responsible for giving life to everything on earth, but in a few billion years, well, let’s just say you’re gonna want to be on a planet on the other side of the asteroid belt if you don’t want to be turned into a smoldering stump. The sun Speedy is bright yellow, an underused color in watchmaking in my opinion, and well suited to the warmer months. Gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are different shades of earthy brown, and the latter has the distinction of having a representation of the planet itself, rings and all, on the dial. That’s what you get for being the jewel of the solar system. I also quite like Mission on Earth, which has a unique name in the series, because we’re already here. The case is a pastel green matched with a blue panda dial, and it looks very sharp.
There’s a lot of novelty here in the co-branding effort between Swatch and Omega. In one sense, it feels like the Swatch Group collaborating with itself, in an effort to build/steal hype just ahead of Watches & Wonders, an event that Swatch Group brands famously do not participate in. That said, there are a lot of watch lovers who have deep emotional ties to both Swatch and Omega, and seeing the names of both brands on the same dial is a legitimately special thing. It’s the kind of collaboration a kid might dream up, before they realize the nuances of large luxury groups, the competitive nature of the entry-level luxury segment Omega finds itself in, and the heavy politics that’s a natural part of the watch industry as a whole. It’s kind of hard to believe this is a real thing for people who deal with this stuff everyday – there are a lot of reasons it just doesn’t even make sense. And yet seeing the watches laid out on the Swatch site, it kind of does.
These MoonSwatches are a lot of fun, and affordably priced at $260. The catch? They will only be available at select Swatch stores, with a limit of two watches per customer. Check the Swatch website here for more information. Swatch
Update: According to the official Swatch instagram account, “the watches are not limited or numbered, they will also be available online at a later date if you’re unable to purchase from a store”.