The Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch
 

The Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch

5 min read
Richard Brown

Brands

Omega

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Industry News Reviews

Richard Brown

Brands

Omega

Categories

Industry News Reviews

A stroke of genius or cashing in on a classic?

Not since the release of the Harry Potter novels have we seen crowds line up outside a shop with such determination to get a product. However, these recent queues were outside a watch shop. Was this obsessive behaviour connected to a new Rolex or Omega? Almost. The watch that drove many to distraction was the radical MoonSwatch, a collaboration between siblings Omega and Swatch. Just in case you have been living on the Dark Side of the Moon and missed the hype, the MoonSwatch is a £207, superficially identical, copy of the revered Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch; now co-branded, with a few design changes to shave off a not insubstantial £5503.

Omega Swatch MoonSwatch

The Swatch X Omega MoonSwatch Collection - Image credit Swatch 

 
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£12.00
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£24.00
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Gone is the steel case and the Hesalite crystal. Gone is the beautiful Calibre 3861. Sounds depressing but the reality is that these have been replaced with something arguably just as exciting.

The MoonSwatch looks like a Speedy and even has Omega and Speedmaster written on it. The 42mm case is Bioceramic, a sci-fi hybrid material worthy of NASA which is one third responsibly sourced plastic and two-thirds ceramic. The result is an incredibly light watch that weighs only 29g. The hands and the tachymeter scale are white, with hour, minute and chronograph markers coated with Super-LumiNova. The whole package comes on a NASA style Velcro strap. However, unlike the original Speedmaster, you can own a MoonSwatch in eleven colours, each one named after a different planet in our solar system. For ease of celestial navigation, an image of your chosen planet appears on the battery hatch which covers the ETA V8 quartz movement.

Which brings us nicely back to our title question - is the MoonSwatch a stroke of genius or is the Swatch Group cashing in on a classic and thereby weakening its pedigree?

The watch has certainly polarised enthusiasts. On one hand, there is the argument that this is a wonderful creation which pays worthy homage to the greatest tool watch of all time. It brings it into the realms of total affordability and even makes it trendy again. Let's face facts, the thronging masses outside global Swatch boutiques clearly illustrated that there was a massive demand for the watch, perhaps even bigger than Swatch/Omega expected.

Swatch Omega MoonSwatch Jupoter

The Swatch X Omega MoonSwatch Jupiter - Image credit Swatch.

But for every Ying, there is a Yang, and the flipside argument seems to stem from owners of genuine Speedmasters feeling like their hard-earned £5000+ Moonwatch, and their desire to own a piece of history which traversed the Sea of Tranquillity, has been belittled by the issue of this cheap plastic upstart. Its creation has triggered loyalty to the classic watch almost to the point of protectionism.

The truth is I don't think you will ever get some of the owners and reviewers to see eye to eye - so far apart is their stance - but it does make us speculate why Omega would produce such a watch and what events in the current market spawned the project?

Omega Speedmaster

 

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer - Image credit Omega.

From a business perspective, the MoonSwatch makes a lot of sense. Of course, there were risks but many of the best commercial decisions come with risks. Over the last two years, Rolex has taken a chunk out of Omega's market share. It does make you wonder where all these people are buying new Rolex's however having seen the proliferation of dealers on our regular visits to Hong Kong, we can take an educated guess. Rolex ended 2021 with a 29% share of the Swiss watch market and recorded £6.3 billion of sales by the end of the year. Consequently, at some point, there must have been a meeting of the Omega board questioning how they could claw some of this back. The biggest weapon in the Swatch arsenal is that they cover a multitude of brands from the relatively cheap to the very high end. This is a valuable tool and when you begin to factor this in you can see how a hybrid of brand names makes sense. The price point has also been very carefully selected. At £207 in the UK, it opens the watch up to a huge market covering a very diverse demographic. It brings in the aspirational buyer who simply cannot afford a Speedmaster, the younger buyer who wants a high-end brand name and it appeals to the more affluent buyer who can simply spend £207 on a whim.

The PR “buzz" (no pun intended) most certainly exceeded Omega's expectations and would have immediately been seen as proof that the gamble paid off and all strata of buyers had been successfully targeted. The hype and sales were strategically helped by the timely Watches and Wonders show and the lacklustre releases from big brands like Rolex and IWC. The fact that there was nothing to get excited about from Rolex left lots of room for the MoonSwatch to grab the headlines and sales.

Swatch X Omega MoonSwatch

Swatch X Omega MoonSwatch Neptune, Mars and Earth - Image credit Swatch.

Now that hundreds of MoonSwatches are orbiting the planet has the hype and expectation been reflected in the final product? Well, that's still open to debate. I think if you can appreciate early on that this is not a luxury watch then your expectations will be realistic. The watch only weighs 9g more than a Casio F-91W and we all know how light that is. Many bloggers and videographers have commented that it feels cheap, but I suspect that is because they have handled Speedmasters and were not prepared for how light the new watch was. Equally, buyers must understand that they are not buying an Omega in the truest sense of the word. This is a Swatch. It's built like a Swatch, and it feels like a Swatch; it just happens to have Omega and Speedmaster written on it. But then again it is only £207, and it does justifiably say Omega on it, so does that make it an Omega? Answers on a postcard...

At the end of the day, you will eventually have to ask yourself a question. All things considered, do you want to own a MoonSwatch or not? As a proud Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch owner, I can say two things with certainty. Yes, I am excited by the product, and I will buy a MoonSwatch, but it will not be the Mission to the Moon. This model is, in my opinion, a step too far. With its black dial, it looks too much like a real Speedmaster and is the only model I do not think Omega/Swatch should have made. Saying that it will probably be the best seller! The other colours look much more interesting and reflect a product which can easily stand on its own two feet. I am currently very tempted by the Mission to Neptune.

One thing we can certainly all agree on is that it is wonderful to have the world's media focusing on the watch market and bringing attention to a subject matter we love. It has been too long since a watch broke the internet and fostered such conversation so for that, we thank the Swatch Group. We are going to feature some MoonSwatches in the WatchGecko magazine as soon as possible and do some hands-on reviews. In the meantime, plan your mission carefully and reach for the stars.

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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