The Cult of the OMEGA Speedmaster – Baselworld Edition
As OMEGA introduces its newest Moon watches at Baselworld, it’s a good reason the celebrate the iconic Speedmaster.
At Baselworld 2018, there have been many discussions about how, thanks to social media, customers have become communities. A photo of watch that won’t be launched for months will be subject to instant praise, criticism or comment as soon as the picture hits Instagram.
Perhaps the most amazing watch-related online phenomenon is #SpeedyTuesday — a weekly celebration in which proud owners of Omega Speedmasters post pictures of their moon watches to social media.
Why do they do it? To connect with other Speedmaster collectors and celebrate the cult of Speedmaster.
So how come there are no #DaytonaDimanches? Why doesn’t #MonacoMonday have the same traction?
We wager that the reason the Speedy inspires such passion is because it’s been to the moon!
The newest edition, the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, launched at Baselworld 2018, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission — the first space flight to orbit the moon.
While it’s not the first Dark Side of the Moon model, this version feels special because it looks so different.
At Baselworld, we met with Omega’s Vice President of Product & Customer Service Jean-Claude Monachon to explore the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8. Everything on the watch is carefully observed, even the movement. And the dial has been skeletonized to show off the decorated inner workings. The bridges and main plate have been textured, using laser ablation to etch the bridges and main plate so that it looks like the cratered surface of the moon.
According to Monachon other lunar parallels include its two unique sides. The dial-side is represented in a lighter shade of ebony, while the back is blacker than black. On the caseback you’ll find the inscription ‘WE'LL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE’ these words were spoken by [Apollo 8 Command Module Pilot] Jim Lovell to mission control right before the Apollo 8 command module orbited out of contact around the backside of the moon. At the time these words were uttered, human eyes had never seen the dark side of the moon.
The Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is crafted from black zirconium oxide ceramic. For contrast this brand has chosen a classic yellow color coding first used by Omega on a Speedmaster in 1968.
Another tip of the hat to the Speedmaster’s history with space exploration, the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 houses the famous 1861 Moonwatch calibre – or, says Monachon “the movement that has actually been to the moon!”
Of course, there are many kinds of Moon watches. Which brings us back to the origins of Speedy Tuesday.
The meme got started when Robert-Jan Broer of Fratello Watches posted a picture of one of his Speedmasters on Facebook using the hashtag SpeedyTuesday. On May 29th 2012, the blog published its first Speedy Tuesday Story. In the true spirit of community, these weekly posts have no affiliation with Omega. It’s just a thing that took off. The hashtag has since jumped on social platforms and the #speedytuesday hashtag has been used over 100,000 times on Instagram.
Omega itself paid tribute to the online movement in 2017 with a special edition “Speedy Tuesday” Speedmaster. The timepiece was based on the 1978 Alaska III, which was originally produced for NASA, who needed a watch that was anti-reflective and easy-to-read in space. The “Speedy Tuesday” honors this classic design with a reverse panda display but updated with a brushed stainless-steel case and radial subdials.
On The Pulse
If you like the look of a classic panda dial, consider Omega’s newest take on the Speedmaster CK2998. This limited to 2998 pieces edition is also a bit of a rarity for the Speedmaster line in that it features a pulsometer (a tachymeter that calculates blood pressure) on its ceramic bezel.
According to Monachon, the updated CK2998, which will hit the market in July, reflects innovation in ceramic technology. It will also come with two straps: a striped NATO and a perforated blue leather. “They are meant to feel comfortable.”
While the CK2998 Omega is not reinventing the Speedmaster, it is showing the community that it is listening. As fans who follow #SpeedyTuesday learn more about vintage models, the more they want to see the brand revisit classic stories while keeping an eye to modern tastes in size and the utilization of the most up-to-date mechanisms.
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)