In 1962, Walter Schirra was the first astronaut to wear an Omega chronograph watch in space during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. The company’s watches were also worn during the first spacewalks, but most notably, an Omega Speedmaster Professional was worn when astronauts took their first steps on the moon. It’s since become an iconic timepiece, and now Omega and Swatch have created a more affordable version of the watch.
Space enthusiasts wanting to strap on the same watch worn by the Apollo astronauts they idolize need to be ready to spend a little dough. The Omega Speedmaster Professional is by no means the most expensive watch on the market (you can easily spend close to half a million dollars on a watch that’s barely there) but you can expect to drop well north of $US5,000 ($6,941) on one depending on whether you’re going new or used, and what condition it’s in. As a result, the Speedmaster Professional is not exactly an accessible piece of space memorabilia, but the new Omega × Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch changes that.
It’s not every day you see a respected brand like Omega willing to create an affordable and more accessible alternative to one of its most recognisable pieces, but the company is owned by The Swatch Group, along with other watch brands like Tissot, Hamilton, Rado, and Swatch — who’s made a name for itself over the years with high-quality but also highly affordable timepieces that occasionally still feature true mechanical movements.
But Swatch and Omega didn’t just make one version of their new Omega × Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch collaboration, they’re introducing 11 of them that are each designed with different colours, graphics on the face, and custom hands. Each watch is themed after the celestial objects in our Solar System, including the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and the Moon.
The Mission to the Moon model is the MoonSwatch that most closely resembles the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, but every version was actually created with the exact same dimensions as the original: 42 millimetres in diameter, 13.58 millimetres tall, with 20-millimetre lugs. That being said, the MoonSwatch watches aren’t perfect copies of Omega’s iconic Moonwatch.
The watch’s face features Omega x Swatch co-branding, with Speedmaster and MoonSwatch labels on either side. And unlike the Speedmaster Professional that’s powered by a wind-up mechanical movement, the MoonSwatch uses a battery and electronic quartz movement. The biggest difference between the two is that the MoonSwatch trades a metal case for one made of Swatch’s highly durable and lightweight BioCeramic material which itself is made from a mix of ceramics and plastic derived from the castor plant. It’s not a luxury timepiece exactly, but it sure looks like one.
In lieu of a metal bracelet or leather strap, all of the MoonSwatches include a matching velcro strap which is what the astronauts would have actually used to fit the Omega Speedmaster Professional around the wrists of their bulky spacesuits. (You can’t simply pull up your sleeve to check the time on a spacewalk.) Users can easily swap in another strap of their choosing, but the choice of materials means every MoonSwatch will sell for just $US260 ($361) instead of thousands of dollars. That’s still not as cheap as a basic Casio or Timex. But for anyone who’s drooled over a real Omega Speedmaster Professional, these all look like a really nice and much cheaper alternative.
The Omega × Swatch Speedmaster MoonSwatch will be officially available only at select Swatch stores around the world starting on March 26.