It really does make watch writers like me happy to see the unexpected. Just a few years ago, none of us would have imagined that we would see a dual-branded Omega and Swatch timepiece collection that is an homage to the iconic Omega Speedmaster. After our recent period of watch market disruption, change brought about by the pandemic, the rise of hype watches, and, of course, the popularity of collaboration products, this Omega x Swatch Bioceramic MoonSwatch announced today actually makes a lot of sense — and a lot of them will be sold. That said, there are an awful lot of versions to choose from, and it doesn’t appear as though these are a limited edition. So, if you can put up with actually traveling to one of the few Swatch and Omega brand boutiques that are selling these, you are going to be in for a fun wristwatch-wearing experience at Swatch watch prices.
Launching just a week prior to April Fool’s day, some of us had to do a double-take when we saw the crown on these watches with the “O x S” branding, which means “Omega x Swatch.” This is the terminology used today to signify collaboration products, often between unrelated companies, only in this instance, Swatch and Omega are part of the same parent company, The Swatch Group. So, in a sense, this is Swatch doing a collaboration with itself, and I suppose there is some ironic humor to that. Both Swatch and Omega are promoting this product on their websites just a few days prior to the official sales launch, which will be March 26, 2022. It is unclear if the watches will be available at both Omega and Swatch stores, but at this time, the Swatch website claims that only a selection of Swatch boutiques around the world will carry the products, and e-commerce will not be available to start. That makes sense because the barrier to entry for these products isn’t meant to be price but rather difficulty in finding one that is in stock. The game to get one for many people is already on. The hype machine is on at nearly full power.
The Omega x Swatch Bioceramic MoonSwatch will debut as 11 versions which each take on the basic form of a classic Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch case, but in budget form. That is part of the interesting thing here because Omega normally would not want to “cheapen” the luxury nature of its Speedmaster, which right now has a current entry-level price of over $7,000 USD. This Omega x Swatch product has a retail price of less than $300 USD, probably making this the least expensive new Omega-branded timepiece that you can buy.
Omega responds to this sentiment in the form of supportive statements from its CEO, Mr. Raynald Aeschlimann, who comments about this “joint mission” project. In Omega’s words, this is a “playful,” “plucky” way of asserting the timeless appeal of the Speedmaster watch. The lexicon used implies that Omega is entirely OK celebrating the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional in “toy” form, so long as its name is still on the dial to protect its association with the product. Thus, the Swatch Group is taking the lead here, whereas in the past, such a design and value proposition exercise has been done by a third-party company. Take for instance the once high popularity of Ice Watch. The company more or less produced colorful plastic versions of the Rolex Daytona with the Ice Watch name on them. It sold large volumes of the product as a “toy” version of the Daytona but with no material benefit to Rolex. In this case, Omega is collaborating with a sister brand to make sure that the sales and prestige of these products will benefit the group as a whole. So, from a business perspective, that makes sense for the brands and allowed products like the Bioceramic MoonSwatches to become a reality.
The 11 different versions of the Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch both honor Speedmaster collector favorites as well as offer some new looks that have not been available before (such as a Speedmaster with a pink-colored case). For the case material, Swatch uses its relatively new bioceramic material that was debuted on aBlogtoWatch here. Bioceramic is a blend of ceramic and a plastic made of castor bean oil (considered more environmentally sustainable than other plastics). I like the material quite a bit because you can get the bright colors of plastic but in a harder material that offers a better tactile experience. The MoonSwatch cases mimic the form of the Omega Speedmaster Professional and are 42mm-wide and water-resistant to 30 meters.
Case details include the iconic tachymeter scale around the dial as well as minor things such as a “secret” “S” engraved into the plastic crystal. On Omega Speedmaster watches with the acrylic crystal, there is a similar engraving but it is of the Omega brand logo. The straps are similar to those found on certain Omega Speedmaster Professional watches and connect with Velcro, making them sporty and fun. Throughout the watch, we see a combination of both Omega and Swatch branding. The MoonSwatch really wants to be a product that feels as though it came equally from both brands.
Each of the 11 versions of the Omega x Swatch Speedmaster Bioceramic MoonSwatch is inspired by one of the major bodies in our solar system, with a name to match, such as “Mission to Earth,” “Mission to the Moon,” “Mission to Mercury,” “Mission to the Sun,” etc. Each of the watches has the particular product name printed on the back, along with feel-good messaging like, “Reach for the planets,” “Dream Big,” and “Enjoy the Mission.” On the caseback is also a motif of the celestial body the watch is meant to inspire printed on the battery compartment lid. Inside the Swatch is a Swiss Made ETA quartz chronograph movement, which is also produced by the Swatch Group.
Those expecting a budget Speedmaster luxury watch will still probably have to pine for a true Omega. What the MoonSwatch does is present a toy version of the Speedmaster in Swatch watch form. For a lot of people, that is going to be more than enough. Being able to have fun with a variety of colors and themes that would make little sense to Omega (“Mission to Uranus” or “Mission to Jupiter,” for example) is something that Swatch is able to do very well. I fully expect to see these popping up on enthusiast’s wrists for years to come, and it will be interesting to soon hear how this launch experience goes for both Swatch and Omega. Price for the Omega x Swatch Speedmaster Bioceramic MoonSwatch watches is $260 USD each. Learn more at the Swatch watches website.