Last Tuesday (of course), Omega presented its latest Speedmaster model, the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8. As an updated version of an existing model, the watch felt highly familiar at first sight. Presented in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission that first observed the other side of our satellite (and also the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon…), this DSOTM Apollo 8 was characterized by its lunar texture on both sides and its bold black and yellow colour scheme. With the new model, it seems that not much has changed, apart from a seconds hand shaped like Saturn V and an updated movement. But is it really that simple? Let’s dive into the details.
- New movement – calibre 3869, based on the calibre 3861 with Co-Axial escapement, silicon hairspring and Master Chronometer certification
- Slightly reshaped case, still at 44.25mm in diameter, but 0.8mm thinner
- New bezel without SLN but with tachymeter scale in enamel
- Better-defined lunar surface front and back
- Saturn V small seconds hand, made with a patent-pending laser turning technology
- Rubber strap with folding clasp
When the words “Dark Side of the Moon” are mentioned, it might refer to three things… First, and obviously, the far side of the Moon that is never visible from the Earth. Second, one of the most important studio albums ever recorded (1973 – Pink Floyd). Last but certainly not least for today’s subject, it refers to a collection of Speedmaster watches by Omega. Coming back to our satellite, the far or dark side of the Moon was first observed in 1968 by crewmembers of Apollo 8 – with Jim Lovell, also the commander of the infamous Apollo 13 mission, pronouncing the words “We’ll see you on the other side” before travelling behind the Moon and losing radio contact with the Earth. Omega’s release of an Apollo 8-themed watch within its Dark Side of the Moon collection made a lot of sense.
As a reminder, the Speedmaster DSOTM collection was first launched in 2013 and consists primarily of black-toned watches (with some grey and white models, too). For several years, Omega wanted to offer a black-cased Speedmaster, but DLC or PVD coatings were not an option. Ceramic was chosen instead for its resistance to scratches and lightness. Before the launch of the Apollo 8 watch, all DSOTM were automatic (calibre 9300) and slightly oversized at 44.25mm. The Apollo 8 watch retained the same diameter and black ceramic case but came with a hand-wound movement built around the architecture of the all-time classic calibre 1861 found in the Moonwatch.
An updated ceramic case
For 2024, Omega updates this watch, one of the last models in the collection not to be equipped with a Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, together with the 321-equipped watches (but these are not meant to change). This could have been the only update made by Omega. And if you look very briefly at the new Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, it seems like the only update. Yet, a closer inspection reveals multiple incremental updates. In fact, not only is the movement new, but most of the parts of the habillage have been revised, too. Case, dial, bezel, strap… Despite looking very familiar, none of these parts is identical to the initial Apollo 8 watch.
Let’s start with the case. As you might imagine, this new Speedy DSOTM retains the collection’s black ceramic construction and its large 44.25mm diameter. However, looking closely at the case, you’ll see that the shape has been revised. In the same vein as the new Moonwatch of 2021, the case has been remodelled to get closer to the look of the reference 105.012 – the first Speedmaster to feature an asymmetrical case and lyre-shaped lugs. Of course, we’re talking about minimal changes, but the profile is slightly different, specifically the tip of the lugs. Another difference is the thickness, which now sits at 13mm, while the previous generation was 13.80mm. The length of the case is measured at 50mm, which remains pretty compact considering the diameter of the watch.
Other changes have been made to the case, specifically, the bezel, which used to have a white tachymeter scale in Super-LumiNova and a yellow ‘tachymeter’ mention. The polished black ceramic surface of the bezel is now home to a fully white, non-luminous scale made from Grand Feu enamel. In the same vein, the Omega logo on the crown, which used to be luminous, is now made of white enamel. What doesn’t change is the use of a box-shaped sapphire crystal to protect the dial. The caseback, which is also made of black Zr02 ceramic with a sapphire crystal, has been slightly revised (polished now vs brushed before) and features new engravings related to the movement and the commemoration of the Apollo 8 mission (including Jim Lovell’s famous words). The case remains classic for a Speedmaster, with brushed flanks and a polished bevel running on the side. And the water-resistance hasn’t changed and is still rated at 50m – a classic for the collection.
A slightly revised dial with a rocket!
The revisions to the dial of this updated Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 are similar to the case. At first, it looks identical, but in fact, multiple details have been revised – again, we’re talking about minimal revisions. First, the texture of the dial is more detailed than before. The lunar surface is still obtained thanks to a laser ablating process, but it has a higher resolution than before and more precision in the definition of the craters and reliefs. Also, the lower section of this texture is slightly darker than before, again due to the evolution in the laser ablating process on the brass base. The raised element around the dial, which includes the racing-like seconds track and the applied darkened hour markers, is identical with a fine snailed texture.
If we continue with the finest details, you’ll notice some small updates on the hands. The minutes and the yellow varnished central seconds are now bent at their tip (to accommodate the slightly slender case and the thinner sapphire crystal). Due to the updated movement, the textured base plate is also different. For instance, the screws are less visible now and partially hidden behind the hour markers – something that is more a consequence of the architecture of the movement than anything else. Also, the luminous hour markers have been faceted to match the curvature of the hands. The Omega and Speedmaster logos are picked out in white and yellow lacquer, respectively. Yellow accents are still found next to the hour markers and on the chronograph counters. No changes here.
One of the main talking points in the new Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is the small seconds… First, you’ll see that the recess beneath the counter is deeper and more open than before. This gives more space and presence to the highly discussed seconds hand, shaped like a Saturn V rocket. Made from grade 5 titanium, its 3D shape has been obtained by laser turning, while the colours are achieved with white varnish, ablation, and laser blackening. It even has the USA logo at its bottom… but you’ll need a loupe to see it. Regardless of what you think about this feature (gimmicky or cool), the level of detail and execution is impressive.
A Master chronometer movement
The caseback, with the engraved quote “We’ll see you on the other side”, features another important mention: Co-Axial Master Chronometer. This might be the main update of this new DSOTM Apollo 8 watch. Indeed, the calibre 1869 of the previous generation, itself based on the classic calibre 1861, has been replaced by the more modern calibre 3869, itself based on the calibre 3861. It comes with the same upgrades as the 2021 Moonwatch while retaining the classic hand-wound and cam-actuated architecture of this movement. This 26-jewel movement (18 in the past) now features a Co-Axial escapement and a silicon hairspring. As such, it complies with the Master Chronometer standard and the 15,000-gauss magnetic resistance required by METAS. The frequency remains at 3Hz and the power reserve has been improved slightly from 48h to now 50h. Its precision, defined by Omega, will be within the 0/+5 seconds/day range.
Just like the dial side of the movement (with its texture depicting the visible side of the Moon), the back of the movement is decorated with a lunar texture depicting the dark side of the Moon. Some visual changes have been made alongside the mechanical evolution. Once again, the laser-ablated texture is more pronounced than before, and all the mentions (number of jewels, name of the movement, etc.) are now done in positive relief. To match the dark look of the movement, the balance has been dark grey-gold coated.
New strap, better comfort
The last update to the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is the strap. Still measuring 21mm at the lugs and 18mm at the buckle, it is now entirely made of rubber, while the top layer was leather in the previous version. This black and yellow perforated strap is now closed by a folding clasp rather than an ardillon buckle, which is made of ceramized titanium with a ceramic closing mechanism.
On the wrist, despite its large dimensions, this watch is comfortable and well-balanced – the 99-gram weight definitely helps here, compensating for the slightly oversized case.
All in all, with this Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, and despite the multiple changes done to the case, dial, movement and strap, we can’t really talk about a new watch but more of an update to keep the watch in line with the rest of the collection – incremental changes to make it more precise, more resistant, more technically advanced… Typical Omega, slightly over-engineered but with incredible built quality and mechanical precision.
Regarding the looks, this Apollo 8, like the older version, is a polarizing watch. It will have its fans and detractors. So did the previous model. There are certainly some debatable elements, but keep in mind that the Speedmaster collection is wide and includes various classic and historically relevant watches – the Moonwatch being the best example. This watch, like most of the Apollo-themed watches, is made for the fans and features many references to the Moon exploration. Yes, some details, like the Saturn V hand, won’t speak to all. Just like the animated back of the Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary… It tells a story.
Availability & Price
The updated Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 Co-Axial Master Chronometer (reference 310.92.44.50.01.001) is released as part of the permanent collection and is now available. Before being discontinued, the previous version was priced at EUR 11,800. This new edition retails for EUR 15,700.
For more details, please visit omegawatches.com.