The new Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 – the latest addition to the brand’s popular Dark Side of the Moon series - is the first in the collection to feature a specially decorated, skeletonized movement. As the name suggests, the chronograph commemorates NASA’s historic Apollo 8 mission in 1968.
The Speedmaster’s legacy is inextricably tied to the Moon Landing in 1969, but the chronograph was used by astronauts in various space missions in the lead up to the historic event. Apollo 8, which was launched on December 21, 1968, was the first manned spacecraft to leave the earth’s orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it and return safely. Among other achievements, the crew were the first to see the earth as a whole planet and see the far side (or the dark side) of the moon.
The new timepiece is notable for its skeletonized movement, upon which laser ablation has been employed to decorate both sides of the blackened mainplate and bridges with realistic depictions of the moon’s surface. From the dial side, the effect is executed in a lighter shade and echoes the view of the moon that we see from Earth, while the rear side, visible through a clear sapphire caseback window, is darker, aping the eponymous “dark side” that only astronauts have ever seen.
The watch’s case measures 44.2 mm in diameter and 13.8 mm thick and is made entirely of jet-black zirconium oxide ceramic, placing this Speedy firmly within the Dark Side of the Moon family, while the tachymeter bezel, tricompax dial, and leather strap all feature contrasting highlight elements in yellow. The choice of yellow, a color often associated with speed, for these elements goes back to another Omega watch from 1968, the Speedmaster Racing model.
The yellow features include the dial’s central chronograph hand, which has a varnished finish, the small chronograph hands on the subdials at 3 and 6 o’clock, the word “TACHYMETRE” on the black ceramic bezel, and the tips of the rectangular hour indices. (White varnish is used for the small seconds hand on the 9 o’clock subdial, and white Super-LumiNova coats the hands and indices.)
On the back of the case, you’ll find engraved text indicating the date of the Apollo 8 mission and the famous quotation, “See you on the other side,” spoken by Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell just before the Apollo 8 crew drifted out of range of radio contact on its history-making journey to the dark side of the Moon.
The black-and-yellow motif continues onto the pebbled black leather strap, which features a yellow-rubber middle section glimpsed through a series of micro-perforations made by a special milling tool, and enlivened by yellow contrast stitching on the top side. The openworked movement – dubbed Caliber 1869 - is based on the same historical one that powered the first Speedmaster on the moon in 1969, Omega’s manual-wound Caliber 1861 (itself based on the Lemania 1873). Available in July 2018, it will be priced at $9,750 (AED35,800).