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One of the stars at this year’s Baselworld, the Omega Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 stands out as the first major iteration to the all-black, full ceramic Speedmaster model, since its debut in 2013. The “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 - a tribute to the 1968 mission (whose crew became the first humans to see the dark side of the moon) on its 50th anniversary - distinguishes itself greatly from past models not only in aesthetic design but the movement itself. A well thought out piece, the “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 is an Omega Speedmaster that tells a story and inspires the imagination.
The Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit and served as a real morale booster to people around the world at the end of 1968. The Apollo 8 crew became the first humans to see Earth as a whole, orbit another celestial body, and see the far side of the moon (with their own eyes). The successful mission paved the way for the Apollo 11 moon landing that would follow shortly after, in 1969. The Omega Speedmaster, selected by NASA in 1965 as the official watch for its astronauts (being the only wristwatch to pass all testing for space travel), was of course part of the Apollo 8 mission.
The Moonwatch Chronograph 50 Years On
The “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 is the latest edition to a relatively new line of Omega Speedmaster models, which are constructed predominantly from zirconium dioxide ceramic (a very scratch-resistant material) - including the crown, chronograph pushers, buckle and dial. This latest model maintains the familiar 44.25mm diameter (13.8mm thick) Speedmaster case crafted from a monobloc of brushed and polished black ceramic, however, it also boasts some unique features that really set it apart from its siblings.
It’s All In The Details
Despite its dark-sounding name, this variation of the “Dark Side of the Moon” Speedmaster is actually quite bright. Yellow accents throughout add a touch of colour to the dark mix, including the varnished chronograph hands, hour bar accents, and the Speedmaster and Tachymètre labels. The tachymeter scale, hour bars, central time hands and crown are filled with white Super-LumiNova that provide a visually impressive and legible display in the dark. The colour theme of the wristwatch is completed perfectly by a black leather strap with yellow stitching and micro-perforations revealing a yellow interior rubber.
To commemorate the mission, the dial has been skeletonised to reveal a blackened movement impressively laser-ablated to produce realistic imagery of the lunar surface that represents our view from Earth. This symbolises the shared aspect of the 1968 mission, with the people back on Earth able to experience the event through footage being streamed back in real time. The story continues ‘on the other side’.
The “Moonwatch” Movement
1968 was also the year Omega transitioned the calibre 321 used in the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatches to the new calibre 861 (which replaced the column wheel switching mechanism with a cam and increased the beat rate from 18,000 to 21,600 vibrations per hour). Most Moonwatches from 1968 to present have used variations of this movement, including the modern calibre 1861.
Up until now, Dark Side of the Moon models have typically employed Omega’s 9300 co-axial column wheel, automatic chronograph. The “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 breaks rank and you can tell this immediately by the removal of the date aperture at 6 o’clock, present on previous models, to accommodate a traditional three sub-dial layout. That’s because the “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 is equipped with a specially decorated version of the famous Moonwatch calibre 1861.
Calibre 1869 is a modification of the manual-winding, rhodium-plated calibre that receives a blackened treatment even darker than on the dial side. This shows the far side of the moon’s surface, that only astronauts get to see. The transparent case back also provides a perfect view of the stunning movement, and around the edge the phrase “WE’LL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE” records Jim Lovell’s final words spoken to ground control before Apollo 8 voyaged to the far side of the moon.
Calibre 1869 provides chronograph functions and a power reserve of 48 hours. Also important to note, by swapping out the automatic for the self-winding movement, the profile of the “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 has been reduced by 2.5mm compared to previous models (so it fits quite snug on the wrist).
The Omega Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” Apollo 8 will be available from Winsor Bishop later this year, priced at £X,XXX. While this is not a limited edition, pre-ordering is highly recommended as Omega has conveyed that annual production volumes will be relatively low. Please contact us to discuss options for pre-ordering this model.
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