Owner’s Review: The Omega Speedmaster, Divided

Warning, this is a biased owner’s ‘review’ of two Speedmasters: one steel with a load of the finest heritage you could ask for, and one BioCeramic done in collaboration with the same folks that made clear plastic watches a thing in the ‘80s. They are very, very different. But, they both say ‘Speedmaster’ on the dial, and by golly that’s good enough for me to compare the two. If you’re looking for a serious review of the MoonSwatch, go check out Zach Weiss’ wonderful production published earlier this year. 

When I heard rumors of an Omega X Swatch Speedmaster collaborating I was equal parts intrigued, curious, and skeptical. I imagine many of you felt the same way. When it was released, I was torn. On one hand, I love the concept of bringing a watch like the Speedmaster to a much broader audience via Swatch and their bio ceramic material. I appreciate the fact that Omega allowed the vaunted Speedmaster name to be used in this way, turning an exclusive luxury item into something very much inclusive while capturing the same spirit we know and love. On the other hand, and I feel a bit daft for even saying this, but, I wasn’t particularly fond of the sub-dial placement. I love the balance achieved in the dial of the Speedy Pro, and it wasn’t able to be preserved in the move to a quartz movement (a move I otherwise take no issue with).

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$400

Owner’s Review: The Omega Speedmaster, Divided

Case
Stainless Steel; BioCeramic
Movement
3861 Co-Axial; Quartz
Dial
Matte Black; White
Lume
Super Luminova
Lens
Hesalite; Acrylic
Strap
Stainless steel; White VELCRO
Water Resistance
50M
Dimensions
42×47.2mm
Thickness
13.2mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/Pull
Warranty
Price
$400

And then there’s the hype. The part of the hobby we all love to hate, but at the same time can’t seem to escape from. The MoonSwatch was a hype machine, and it seemed to touch enthusiasts from across the spectrum and even across genres. From sneakerheads to AFOLs, everyone was looking to get in on this unlikeliest of collabs. I like to think I’m less susceptible to the prevailing FOMO trends with stuff like this, but here I am, the owner of a “Mission to Mars” MoonSwatch. I chalk it up to my desire to support a project and collaboration like this more so than my desire for the object itself. Admittedly, the reality is likely somewhere in between. 

Like many of us, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Speedmaster and its romantic history. I like to think I’d enjoy the watch just as much were it stripped of all the stories and connection to space and NASA, but I’d be lying if I said those things didn’t affect my admiration for the watch at all. They certainly do. I’ve not been shy about my love of the latest Speedmaster Professional, with the 3861 movement, slightly revised case, and that luscious bracelet. I nabbed one nearly immediately after its announcement. This was the Speedmaster I’d been waiting for. The MoonSwatch, on the other hand, was decidedly, well, not. 

I landed on the Mission to Mars colorway of the MoonSwatch because I’m a big fan of the Alaska Project, its history, and the watches that resulted. They are some of the highest character Speedmaster references out there if you ask me, and the Mars MoonSwatch captured a bit of that charm, even if a bit ham-fistedly. The two totalizer hands are the same rocket ship shapes and the white dial with red case is a nice nod to the red container that the Alaska Project ‘heat shield’ case.

What I hadn’t considered when deciding on this particular colorway was the challenge of actually wearing a bright white and red watch, let alone trying to pair it with a different strap. This has relegated the watch to weekend or otherwise low-key wear, which seems to suit it just fine, as a matter of fact. Because of this, I’ve kept the OEM white velcro strap on the watch to get the full effect of the package, all logos in full sight. More on that strap later, but in short this watch brings plenty of levity to the wrist, in stark contrast to the rather serious Speedmaster Professional. But in doing so, it does quite hit the same notes, as you might expect. 

Some of the smallest details are capable of creating a rift. A framed date window on an otherwise impeccable dial, a luge width out of proportion with the case diameter, and sub-dials that don’t quite work… each of these are guilty of derailing my own enthusiasm for otherwise great watches. Silly, I know, but hey, we all have our hang ups. One person’s screw down pusher is another’s date placement. There are exceptions, of course, but I try to stick with things that I know will work for me in the long run. Back to the MoonSwatch, these sub-dials do indeed irk me, in the same way the imbalance of the dial to sub-dial ratio of the Speedmaster Reduced irk me, but the rest of the MoonSwatch is also a bit different, and doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, so it’s one of the few times I can look beyond the super serious issue that is that sub-dial placement. 

Elsewhere on the dial we’re presented with the Speedmaster label and the much more playful MoonSwatch logo, where the S is done in the same style as seen in the SWATCH logo, or even the NASA logo, which is also quite similar. As much as the placement of the sub-dials themselves bugs me, with the totalizers at 2 and 10 o’clock, above the centerline, and the running seconds at 9 o’clock, these two labels I find quite satisfying for some reason.

One detail I find (mildly) interesting is the DON, or dot over ninety. Much has been made of these bezels on forums and watch blogs. The bezel on pre-1970 Speedmasters placed the dot marking 90 on the tachymeter over the 0 of the 90, and are known as DON bezels. Later bezels would place this dot next to the 0 in 90 (DNN bezels). Recent re-releases from Omega have latched on to this, and even the latest Speedmaster Professional formally moves the dot back to its ‘above 90’ position. The MoonSwatch follows suit here, and is almost an acknowledgement of the detail being just a normal feature of a Speedmaster, rather than something kept just for special editions (that ship has sailed, I’d say). I always found the error ‘220’ bezels a bit more interesting personally, but I seem to be alone in that. 

Now, on to one of my favorite topics: velcro straps. I’ve written plenty about these things in recent months, and even reviewed a pair made by Omega, for the Speedmaster. I’m happy to see Omega embracing the stuff, and they’ve gone so far as to make a branded one especially for the MoonSwatch. I’ll cut to the chase here, it’s not as nice as the example I reviewed last year, and I don’t plan to use it on the Speedy Pro, but for the MoonSwatch specifically, it works with the package as a whole. It’s a far cry from the bracelet on this Speedy Pro, which I still hold as one of the best of the past decade.

Unlike the MoonSwatch in Mission to Mars guise, the Speedy Pro can shift between formal and informal with ease, either as is or by way of any variety of strap that catches your fancy. It’s famously versatile. To state the obvious, the MoonSwatch is less so. Not just because of the color of this particular case and dial (that doesn’t help), but also because of the case material and the more limited amount of strap options. That’s not to say the MoonSwatch won’t take any manner of strap, it certainly will, but it’s a far more difficult pairing to match with the formal reaches of the wardrobe. Additionally, the BioCeramic, while undoubtedly cool, feels a bit like regular old plastic in hand. It’s light, and it’s got a dull sheen to it, which again, isn’t exactly versatile when it comes to daily wear. That does make it plenty comfortable at something like a grill out, however. 

And it’s exactly places and events like those grill outs which make the MoonSwatch feel absolutely at home, and bring it into its element. Which is to say, this is a fun watch. It is not as nice a watch as the Speedy Pro, which you already knew, but in the right environment, it is the more fun of the two. It’s also a conversation starter of sorts, judging by the number of comments it received over a holiday weekend around friends and family (who rarely comment on watches). That makes the BioCeramic MoonSwatch and the steel Speedmaster Professional great compliments to one another, unlikely, but great. Like Felix and Oscar, this is an odd couple that work surprisingly well together.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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