Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch Owner Review: The Good, The Bad, The Complicated
by Raman Kalra
Raman Kalra is the founder of The Watch Muse blog and has kindly agreed to share some of his articles with us here on Quill & Pad.
Omega and Swatch and took the watch world by storm in 2022 by releasing a collaboration. It came as a total surprise and quickly became one of the most globally talked about products. The launch of the Omega x Swatch Speedmaster MoonWatch Bioceramic was something never to be expected – a high-end luxury brand lending its name, logo, and one of the most iconic designs ever to be used on a watch retailing at £207/$260.
When I first saw the teaser images, leaks and then the release, I could not have been more excited! It is one of the coolest ideas I have seen in recent years. I was on holiday at the time and fortunate enough to be near a store for release day. However, I did not manage to purchase one at launch like many other disappointed enthusiasts.
Since then I have managed to purchase the Mission to Jupiter model that I bought it from a colleague who managed to get his hands on it. I’ve now had it for a month feel as though I am now ready to share my thoughts about the concept and the watch.
Given the levels of coverage over the last few months, I will only touch on the basics so we can focus more on the other aspects of it. The Omega x Swatch Speedmaster MoonWatch BioCeramic was launched on 24th March 2022 and is based on the Speedmaster Professional design.
The watch was launched in 11 different variations, each representing a different planet as well as the Sun and Moon, known as the ‘Missions’. Swatch is known to be a colorful, playful and fun brand, and in keeping with this, the collaboration has taken one of the most recognized designs and added a touch of ‘Swatch’.
The combination of the two brands and the boldness of the final product caused an infectious intrigue that slowly turned into unbridled hype. Queues were forming days prior to launch outside the select stores that were stocking it.
I think it is an understatement to say the incredible demand was not anticipated. The first guidance of “two per customer” was quickly reduced to one, although this did not help much as many were left empty-handed, as I am sure many of you are aware.
Swatch Group tried to settle the hysteria and mentioned these were not limited and would be available online, although nearly 6 months later we were still waiting. All of this has led to many turning up on secondary markets for ridiculous premiums, and although prices have been slowly dropping as the media coverage has moved on, they are still trading well above retail price.
Why Does the MoonSwatch Exist?
Now that the hype is calming, there has been time to consider why this collaboration even exists, especially as it was so out of the blue. Yes, they are both a part of the Swatch Group, but regardless, Omega’s whole image revolves around luxury and quality. Suddenly making a product with your branding on it, at less than a tenth of the price of your usual models, must be difficult to approve.
There are a lot of theories out there and I will give an honorable mention to “About Effing Time”, which is a podcast featuring Adrian Barker from Bark & Jack that discusses this at length. I have no inside knowledge but here are a few of my thoughts about what led to the MoonSwatch.
First and foremost, this was an attempt at reviving Swatch. Swatch is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world and was arguably the first to generate the product hype we see today. However, interest in Swatch has steadily declined despite some excitement around the Sistem51 launch and a few one-off models here and there. And this has been during arguably the biggest increase in watch interest ever.
This is due to a few things: the increase of people using mobile phones for the time, broader knowledge of the watch market and understanding of the competition (Seiko, Citizen etc.), and consumer purchases being driven by social media influence rather than impulse purchases by passing a Swatch store for example.
But the elephant in the room is the Apple Watch. Apple Watch sales in 2020 amounted to ~$30.6bn compared to the whole Swiss watch market exports of ~$16bn. You can now buy a smartwatch that cannot only tell the time but track your fitness, give you notifications or show you a navigation map, all for a price not much more than a Swatch.
On top of the functionality, Apple has achieved a fashionable product desirable to all, including young people and watch collectors. You have to give some credit to Swatch – they have tried. They have had artist series such as Damien Hurst and limited editions with Hodinkee for example, but this has been to no avail. Nothing has earnt the spotlight despite other brands managing like the G-Shock CasiOak.
Swatch Group revenues have been on a steady decline since 2014, and looking at the top 20 watch brands by sales, Swatch dropped out of that in 2018. They had to look for something to bring the attention and sales back to Swatch. To achieve this they looked internally.
What is the most marketable product they have? The Moonwatch. This was very much a way to give some life to Swatch, avoid potentially paying for external collaborations and keep everything in-house. If this was the reason: mission accomplished!
The next theory is that Omega is the brand that has been struggling. Omega has had a tough time keeping up with Rolex’s momentum. Looking at Google Trends for Rolex watches vs. Omega watches, you can easily see that the general interest for Omega has been lower.
Now obviously they have a very loyal set of customers (just look at Fratellowatches and how they invented the movement of ‘), but for the masses, Omega has been lagging. To keep up, they have tried to take the brand more upmarket, improved movement technology, and leaned into some of their heritage models.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit Omega hard, and two of their largest marketing partnerships were postponed – the Olympics and James Bond (credit to About Effing Time highlighting this). This dampened sales for models that would usually be getting coverage as special editions, and they rely on this push every four years.
To bring some focus back to the brand, Omega did the unthinkable. Not just a new model, but something outrageous and marketing genius. Give consumers a chance to own the Speedmaster design at an affordable price, in the hope that they fall in love and aspire for a ‘real’ one. At the same time, they launched it just before Watches & Wonders 2022, detracting some of the attention away from other manufacturers’ launches.
One final bonus, they went against the snobbery of modern Rolex by providing (or trying to) some inclusivity (ironic!). Now, I have no idea whether this worked for others, but it has given me the chance to try the watch dimensions in my daily routine and I love it more than I thought I would.
Anecdotally, looking at Moonwatches on Chrono24, I am starting to see several with high views “over the last 48 hours”, which was not the case pre-MoonSwatch. So there is a case from Omega’s side for why this collaboration was necessary.
Will Swatch Group ever tell us what was behind the biggest watch release of 2022? No. But it is fun trying to come up with theories! Now though, it is time to focus on the product and whether or not it is something worth buying.
MoonSwatch Owner Review
I will start the review by saying this is firmly a Swatch. Please do not buy a MoonSwatch and expect an Omega. I think that the cross-branding led to some confusion about what the product objectively is.
You would be forgiven for thinking this as the branding across the watch and the box will not let you forget that Omega has signed off on it.
Truth is… I like it! Omega went all in. If they didn’t, the whole concept would lack the charm it currently has and we would not all be this excited.
When presented with the box you have an appropriately themed outer sleeve. The sleeve color matches the watch and it has some facts about the specific planet/astronomical body the model is based on.
It is a distinct look, and in my opinion the best part of the packaging – it makes it easily recognizable and is the first step at making the whole product feel like a collector’s piece.
Removing the sleeve, you are met with a black box that has a crown printed on the side featuring the “Ω x S” in the middle.
The look of this logo is sharp and if these collaborations between Omega and Swatch were to continue, I’d like to see this used more.
The box opens up as an exhibition box, presenting the watch nicely in the middle, and inside there is paperwork showing all the models in the range. I have to be honest and say the black inner box quality is not great.
The opening flaps feel flimsy and the ‘cushion’ (if it can be called that) is just a piece of cardboard. Not something I would want to use consistently to store the watch.
Overall, the packaging is appealing and does a good job! It creates lust when you see the bright colors on display in the Swatch stores. I presume they couldn’t ask for more.
Watch & Case
One of the best parts about this whole collaboration has to be the case. Not because of the material, but because Omega leaned heavily into the MoonSwatch and allowed for the case to fully resemble that of the current Speedmaster Professional. This was an intelligent move. Ultimately, it allows consumers to experience a Moonwatch without having to spend $7k (prices were just hiked again…).
Why is this great? It allows those who are aiming to own a Moonwatch to get an early taste and generate a desire to own one. It allows those who are not currently in a position to afford a Moonwatch to be able to experience the timeless design and fantasize about what the watch stands for.
It also allows those who are building a collection and were unsure of the Moonwatch to understand whether or not it could be a watch for them.
Whichever category you fall under, my belief is it is working.
By following the exact case of the Speedmaster Professional you are getting a 42mm diameter watch. This might sound large, but the sizing includes the asymmetrical right side of the case, so in reality, it does wear well.
They didn’t stop there. You are also getting the famous twisted lugs, the dot-over-90 on the bezel, and even an etched “S” into the center of the crystal, mimicking the “Ω” found on the Moonwatch. These are cool details and highlight that, despite this watch aiming to please the mass market, Omega did not forget devoted Speedmaster fans during development.
The caseback, however, is where it differs from the Omega. You don’t get the traditional “First Watch Worn on the Moon”. Rather you have the Swatch logo in the middle, with some text around the edge, as well as which model you have and some extra details like the ETA shield.
The noticeable characteristic is a relatively clear image of the planet/sun/moon on the battery cover. This is a design decision that needs to be commended. Well done to whoever came up with this at Swatch because it is an extremely clever way of making the battery cover, a potentially boring necessity, into something compelling.
The watch case is produced using BioCeramic, which Swatch claims to be a third bio-sourced plastic and two-thirds ceramic. What this all means I am not sure because they don’t go into further detail. It is a rather confusing name as ceramic is man-made and bio-sourced plastic is still plastic, but bio suggests natural.
Breaking news…you are left with a material that feels and looks like plastic.
It is lightweight, able to hold the edges of the watch well, and is most likely easy to work with when it comes to colour. The color is a big draw to the watches, not only because it allows you to find the colour for your style, but it is the first time seeing this design more daringly. Maybe Omega is testing the waters for consumer demand for bright-colored Speedmasters, but this is where Swatch was allowed to add its flair.
There are negatives with BioCermaic though. For a watch that retails at £207/$260, it does feel rather flimsy. I understand that using anything else would have driven the price up further or would have been just extremely difficult to color, but in that case, this watch should be cheaper when just considering the material. It does not feel like it will last particularly long unless you take exceptional care of your watches.
If you are looking for your first watch or something that will be a sturdy daily wear, this is not it.
Much like the case design, the dial has been kept as faithfully as possible to the Moonwatch. I say as faithfully as possible because changing the movement from the Omega Co-Axial to the Swatch ETA quartz has meant that the subdials had to be rearranged. With this, the “Speedmaster” and “MoonSwatch” text is below the two upper subdials and does a good job of balancing the dial.
One noticeable detail is that the Omega branding holds a more prominent position under the 12 o’clock position as compared to Swatch.
As I mentioned above, don’t let this fool you, it is a Swatch.
To keep in line with the Moonwatch, there are 1/3 second indices on the dial despite the fact it is quartz and unusable. If you care about accurate timing (probably not the case if you are using a MoonSwatch to time something), the top right subdial shows 1/10 second when using the chronograph function.
The hour indices are small rectangles filled with lume and at 12 o’clock there are the classic two dots. Moving inwards from the indices, there is an inner black ring, although this is not present in all the variations. This reflects where the dial is stepped on the Moonwatch and here it does a good job as a substitution. It does add some extra business to the dial and I don’t mind it.
I think I am lucky that I have the Mission to Jupiter as the subdials match the rest of the dial, but in my opinion, this outer ring does not work as well in those ‘Missions’ with coloured subdials. The subdials are pressed into the dial and maintain the same look as the original.
It has been noted in other reviews I have seen that the minute subdial for the chronograph only has indices every 5 minutes, but this is not something that bothers me. The reality is I don’t use the chronograph function much.
Finally, the hands are beautifully accurate. The only difference comes in colour, with the Mission to Jupiter having vibrant orange chronograph hands, which is a wonderful nod to the Ultraman Edition Moonwatch. The color is a great match for the khaki-colored Jupiter and is extremely visible. I like the look of the main chronograph hand, and having it highlighted to me every time I look at the watch makes me happy.
There is lume in the hour and minute hands although it is weak so don’t expect much. Despite how good the hands look, unfortunately, they don’t line up with the seconds indices. A small complaint but I guess to be expected at this price point. Where this does annoy me slightly is the main chronograph hand does not perfectly line up with 12 o’clock, and given the hand doesn’t move most of the time, it is noticeable.
The strap has left me torn. The first impression of the strap when the watch is in the box is positive. It is a Velcro NATOstrap that has a similar look to the equivalent offered by Omega. The branding on either side of the dial is a good addition, as well as the “MoonSwatch” on the bottom side of your wrist.
Much like everything else, it is a faithful recreation and I do find it attractive. It fits with the theme of the watch and there is a part of you that does daydream about the Moonwatch being a tool for space. The colors are tailored to each of the ‘Missions’ and finish off the overall mood of the watch.
However, when you take the watch out of the box, you notice the low quality of the strap. It is extremely stiff when new and therefore, very uncomfortable. It does not have a soft fabric feel. I looked for NATO replacements within the first 10 minutes of owning the watch. I did end up sticking it out with the original strap (thanks to the Velcro look and branding) and it has become more comfortable as it softens.
Just be prepared to be underwhelmed at the start. If this strap is not your thing, fortunately, the lug width is 20mm which opens the door to many replaceable straps on offer.
What Is It Like To Wear?
The first aspect of the watch you notice is how lightweight it is. Before even putting it on the wrist, you realize how tricky it is to get on. I have now learned what works best for me, but the combination of the BioCeramic case and the stiff strap does make it a challenge. When speaking about how the watch wears on the wrist, I will be speaking as of now with the strap broken in.
With the watch on the wrist, my first surprise was how much better it fit than I expected. I have tried on a regular Moonwatch before, but it felt on the large side. Maybe this is because the bracelet gives the watch more heft. On the other hand, the MoonSwatch felt great and has made me want to go take another look at the Moonwatch! Moving on from size, you also appreciate the design.
I have previously found the Speedmaster design very good, but it never wowed me. With time to now see it on my wrist daily, I can fully understand its allure. The sharpness of all the straight lines, the text font, the hands – it works and my love for the Speedmaster has grown massively.
Next is the Velcro strap. I have not owned one before but the ability to get the strap size perfect for my wrist is something I usually struggle with. I use the quick extension on the Rolex Milgauss multiple times through the day depending on the heat and my Tudor sits slightly too tight. But with this Velcro strap I was able to put it on and find the exact size for me. It then just fades into the background given the weight and you don’t notice the watch until you look at it. Wearing it has been a pleasant surprise and for what it is, I have no complaints.
How Would I Improve It?
No watch is perfect. The MoonSwatch has many areas that could be better depending on your mindset. For the price, the case quality could feel better. This does feel like a cheaper Swatch. I own 3 Swatches now and the cheapest aluminum one I have (I believe it cost $100) is more sturdy.
I understand that with the Omega branding it had to cost slightly more, and when seeing the attention to detail you also start to realize why it needed to be a £207 watch, but does it feel its worth? No. Even if the RRP was £175, I think physiologically the price starting with a “1” would improve things.
Another alternative would be to make the watch in aluminum/stainless steel and charge slightly higher. Having said that, if this were the case, you are leaving the traditional Swatch price range and it would alienate some consumers. You read stories of how fragile the watch is, and by either reducing the price or changing the BioCeramic, you combat this.
Secondly, the strap could be improved. Yes, I have worn mine in and it has become better, but if they couldn’t enhance the comfort of this strap for the price, they should have just gone with a Nato. Nato straps are also somewhat synonymous with the Moonwatch and I don’t think anyone would have cared. It would make the first impressions and ownership experience more positive while removing a lot of the negative comments out there.
Finally, the availability. This one confuses me. It is essentially a quartz plastic watch, machine-made with a printed dial.
The fact that they cannot get stock out to the people who want this watch most is baffling. This would require a whole conspiracy theory section on why this is the case, but how can a company as big as Swatch not make this happen?
It has got to the point that the MoonSwatch is becoming an eye-roll and those that were excited are now becoming frustrated. This was, and still is, me. I want to give Swatch my money for more ‘Missions’, but I can’t.
Omega potentially wanted to oppose the snobbery of Rolex, but all they have ended up doing is mimicking it. Queues outside the shop, ridiculous grey market prices and ultimately, those who want one, struggle to get one. This needs to be addressed and the longer it goes on, the sourer the whole collaboration becomes.
Thankfully, there are new stores being added to the list of where they are available and secondary market prices are coming down, so let’s hope this is resolved.
The MoonSwatch is an extremely unique product. Never before in watches have two household names at opposing ends of the spectrum come together like this. The excitement and anticipation certainly demonstrated that. You are combining one of the most iconic designs in watch history with the fun and color of Swatch, making an extremely desirable end product.
I still can’t believe it exists and I am grateful that it does.
Is the MoonSwatch perfect? No, of course not. Do not buy this watch if it will be your only watch. It does, however, get so many more things right than I could have imagined. The details show Omega took some care in this project. They wanted to give enthusiasts something they could be excited about, rather than it just being a half-hearted copy.
It is the first product I have come across in a long time that feels like a collector’s item.
Usually, I am content with owning just one of something – I am not running out to buy every CasiOak color – but with this, it is different. It is just cool and having the chance to own a Speedmaster in red or khaki or baby blue is such an exciting proposition. They are definitely worth buying if you get the chance, even if it’s just so you can appreciate the design.
The world is fully aware of the MoonSwatch and is now discussing the Speedmaster more than it has in a long time.
This collaboration might go down as one of the best marketing strategies ever!
For more information, please visit www.swatch.com/en-us/bioceramic-moonswatch.html
Quick facts: Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch
Dimensions: 42 mm x 13.5 mm
Case Material: BioCeramic
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Price (retail): $260 (good luck!)
You can read more articles by Raman Kalra at www.thewatchmuse.com.
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