The Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon pays homage to the original Speedmasters that were used on the Apollo space missions. It’s crafted from a solid block of black zirconium ceramic (ZrO2), and features the Omega Co-Axial 9300 chronograph movement.
The retail price of the watch is $12,000, in part due to the technological complexity of the case construction and its sophisticated well-finished 9300 caliber in-house movement that powers the watch. Since the watch’s launch in 2013, there are five distinct models on offer. Currently, as of August 2016, they can be found in mint condition on the secondary / pre-owned watch market for around $7,500 – $9,000.
During the course of this article we shall explore a brief history of the Speedmaster, review the watch itself (from the on the wrist feel all the way down to its exact dimensions), and finally round out with my final thoughts on the watch.
You can also read more Bespoke Unit watch reviews and articles.
Finally, special thanks goes out to Govberg Watches for allowing me to have this “on the wrist” for a week.
A VERY Abridged History Of the Omega Speedmaster aka “Moon Watch”
The speedmaster was originally introduced in 1957, and was intended as a motorcar racing watch.
However, the watch is now known as the iconic “Moon Watch” due to the fact that the watch was worn by the first men on the moon in 1969. It was selected by NASA in the early 1960’s as it passed all of the testing criteria that were established for space use. The original watches were manual movements, as the automatic movements of many of the new models would not work in a zero gravity environment.
To date there have been over 80 variants of the Omega Speedmaster line featuring different face configurations, complications, and movements including both ETA as well as in-house movements now found in this latest homage.
A nice two-part history of the Speedmaster can be found here on Monochrome Watches.
History Of The Dark Side Of The Moon
This watch really tries to point resonate with the Apollo XIII mission in 1968 when man first came close to seeing the “dark side of the moon” up close and in person. This was the first manned NASA mission that left Earth’s orbit, reached the moon, and returned home safely. Thus, those astronauts were indeed the first men to see the moon in such a way…
The watch itself, officially called the Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch Co-Axial Chronograph Dark Side Of The Moon [its long name is due to the many variants of the Speedmaster line over the years] was originally released back in 2013 and today has five distinct variants:
- Dark Side Of The Moon – original
- Pitch Black – as featured in this article
- Black Black – where the dial and sub dials are all blacked out
- Senda Black – featuring a gold bezel
- Vintage Black – having an off white lume and brown strap
[The “[ZrO2]” seen on the face here is the element symbol for the black ceramic used for the face and case.]
You can see all the latest models directly on the Omega website.
In addition to the “Dark Side” collection of watches, Omega has also introduced both Grey & White Side Of The Moon cases in respective ceramic case colors of grey and white.
Omega Dark Side Of The Moon Review
For this particular review I had the “Pitch Black” version of the watch reference number: 318.104.22.168.01.004
As with all of our watch reviews, I like to provide a vast array of pictures on the wrist and around the watch. In addition to that I also like to give a commentary on how the watch felt, and some technical facts about the watch, movement and other details such as lug width. For more, read on…
“Pitch Black” On The Wrist
The Pitch Black version of the Dark Side Of The Moon features no red lettering on the face, instead being all off-white lume. The strap is in black leather, and the watch features “Super-LumiNova” on the indices and tachometer scale. This really make the lume pop in dark and low light conditions.
Below you can see the watch on the wrist while driving, in such instances you can really see the height of the watch. In the top left picture you can easily see daylight through the transparent caseback crystal. For me this was one of the biggest issues of the watch, that being its sheer depth.
The one saving grace of the watch, however, was its black color which mitigated the 44.25mm case diameter. I have an 8″ wrist so can support a larger watch, but having both larger width and depth is hard to accommodate. Over the week this was less noticeable as I got used to having it on the wrist, so I assume I would only get more comfortable with the watch’s size overtime…
I would class this watch as a purely casual sports watch that is not intended to be worn with a suit, for example. It is, however, a classy piece in all black so could be worn in more situations over some more colorful / gimmicky watches.
Around The Watch & Sizes
The watch face is really well balanced with the two sub-dials; the left sub-dial for seconds and the right sub-dial for the 12 hour chronograph [yes 12 hours!].
In the photos above and below one can really see the design cues from the original Speedmaster, with the faceted case sides with both the satin and high gloss finish. This is something that is extremely hard to do in ceramic. Another nice feature of the watch is the deployment clasp, it’s extremely well made and is an upgrade from the original versions released back in 2013.
You can also clearly see the contrast stitch colors on the leather watch band, with a white stitch on the outside and red on the inside. Furthermore, the the titanium ceramic deployment clasp is a big upgrade from the tang and buckle straps in earlier editions, having a very smooth and solid movement of the locking / releasing of the clasp.
Case Diameter / Width
Officially, the case is 44.25mm thick.
Case Thickness / Depth
I clocked the case depth in at a little over 16mm.
For me this was a DEEP 16mm as the watch did not sit too flush on my 8″ wrist [note that’s above average wrist size]. For someone with a smaller wrist this might become a sticking point for the watch’s wearability.
Lug Width For Strap Size
The lug width was 21mm, so would nicely accommodate both 20mm and 21mm straps.
This watch would also look great on a NATO strap, like the one supplied with the Omega Spectre, however it would add additional depth.
The leather band provided had a deep pad to it, as this is in keeping with the watches dimensions. So if selecting additional straps for this, keep in mind that some will be dwarfed by the case size and width, such as light pad lizard strap.
Watch Movement & Case Construction
9300 Omega Co-Axial Movement
This movement was introduced to the world at BaselWorld in 2011.
It is part of Omega’s new commitment to develop in-house calibers, with their co-axial escapement technology.
You can read a great write-up from Robert-Jan Broder when he visited the 9300 movement assembly line / factory back in 2014.
Column Wheel Chronograph
One of the key things to mention about this chronograph is that it uses a traditional, and most watch enthusiasts agree, superior column wheel.
This is opposed to the more modern cam and lever chronograph movements.
The column wheel is harder to produce, but offers superior performance when operating the chronograph function. The other downside outside of cost, is that the column wheel prevents the movements from being overly thin.
Below in the left and right picture, the transparent exhibition caseback gives a wonderful view of what’s happening while the chronograph function is being used.
Ceramic Case, Face, Pushers & Buckle
As much as possible of this watch is constructed from ceramic, the:
- Sub-dials, and even
This is quite a feat of engineering for what is essentially a mass produced watch. The level of finishing on the case is quite extraordinary!
One of the biggest issues I have with my several stainless steel Rolex watches is how they easily pick up scratches [I have even resorted to taking them off while typing], this will not be the situation here as the ceramic is extremely scratch resistant.
[Above: you can see the laser engraved “Dark Side Of The Moon” on the case back]
The making of the ceramic case is quite a process in both upfront tooling investment, and time to make each individual case. Here is the process of how each ceramic watch case is made:
- Case shape is pressed from ceramic powder
- The case is then heated to 1,400C in a kiln, this
- Hardens the case
- Shrinks it to the correct side
- Machined with diamond tip tools [as ceramic case is now extremely hard] to the exact size specifications
- The cases are polished in a bath of alumina granules
- Diamond encrusted sanding paper is used to give a satin polish finish to the case sides
- The watch is then put in a 20,000C plasma furnace
- Finally the watch is laser engraved, both front and back, with the tachometer scale and other text
This YouTube video from Omega showcases this process nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhE-UWQsw1M
Faceted Side & Satin Polish
As mentioned above, one of great things about this watch is its contrast satin and high gloss polishing on the case.
Even though this is a ceramic watch, it really gives the look and feel of a stainless steel watch, and more importantly, a strong aesthetic connection to the original Speedmaster Professionals.
Even the pushers and crown are made from black ceramic.
Ceramic Face & Sub-Dials
Even the watch face and sub-dials are all made from ceramic.
This not only looks great, but keeps the watches high anti-magnetic properties in place too.
Finally, it’s important to note that the watch is rated to 5ATM water resistance, so is not really advised to even go swimming in.
Overall I had a very enjoyable week with the watch on the wrist.
At first I didn’t like the watch’s bulk, but did get used to it over time. The black on black on black also looked great, and it’s quite different from most watches so expect a few questions and complements while wearing this piece.
- Unique ceramic case material & face, that’s well finished paying great homage to parent watch
- Offering superior scratch resistance
- Black color, that won’t rub / fade as is “native” black material
- It’s lightweight
- Great in-house caliber movement, featuring a column wheel chronograph
- Quality full 12 hour chronograph
- Symmetry of the dial is very pleasing
- Exhibition caseback showing off the great movement. You can also see close up movement shots of these movements too: 8500 and 8400
- High strength / glow lume [seen in picture below, even in daylight in certain circumstances!]
- Large case size in both width and depth
- Possibility of case fractures / chips if dropped
- No quick set date
- Rated to only 5ATM waterproof rating
- Price, especially in relation to the original / classic stainless steel Speedmaster Professional which retails for less than half the price
Would I Buy?
Both yes and no.
Firstly, I am currently in the market for a chronograph and at this price point may look to the new Rolex Daytona (although does not have an exhibition case back), or if there were fewer budgetary constraints, look at the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas as that’s more versatile with a depth rating to 15 ATM (as is the Rolex Daytona).
If, however, I wanted to stay within the Omega family, I believe that I would have to go with an original Speedmaster Professional Moon Watch; it’s a fraction of the price and is the basis that this homage watch pays tribute too.
With all that being said, if I did have a collection of several chronographs this would be one I would 100% look to for expanding the collection. The watch is in my opinion unique with the Omega heritage, ceramic case and black color.
Thanks for reading, and please leave any questions you may have in the comments below.
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