Omega’s signature chronograph, the Speedmaster, has been around for nearly 75 years and has been produced in countless variations, from the original 1950s “broad arrow” version to the iconic Moon Watch worn by NASA’s Apollo astronauts to the imminently collectible Silver Snoopy. The Dark Side of the Moon, a special edition first launched in 2013 with a black ceramic case, holds a special place in the hearts of contemporary collectors for both its looks and its ties to spacefaring history. The latest addition, the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, builds on the aesthetic tradition of this series while revealing impressive advances in finishing technology.
The new Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 is dedicated to the 1968 mission during which NASA astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr., and William Anders became the first humans to orbit the moon. As the first mission to leave low earth orbit, it was a major milestone in manned space flight and a crucial step towards the moon landing of 1969. Among several legacies of the Apollo 8 mission, the crew became the first humans to see the so-called “dark side of the moon” (the side that faces away from Earth) and witness the Earth rise, resulting in the famous photo taken by Anders. Like all Apollo astronauts, the crew were equipped with Omega Speedmaster chronographs, which served as an important measurement instrument and — on at least one occasion — a vital fail-safe.
A follow-up to the first Speedmaster model dedicated to Apollo 8 (released in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the mission) the new Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon is powered by the Calibre 3869 Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, which has been laser-engraved with a detailed likeness of the lunar surface for the first time. The dial side features a recreation of the lunar surface seen from Earth, while the bridges (visible through the sapphire case back) feature the dark side first seen by the crew of Apollo 8. Complementing this likeness is the phrase “WE’LL SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE” engraved around the case back, which were the final words spoken to ground control by Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell before Apollo 8 went out of radio contact during its orbit to the far side of the moon.
Other standout details include a central chronograph seconds hand in varnished yellow (a pop of colour also found on the watch’s perforated black rubber strap) and, whimsically, a small-seconds hand at 9 o’clock crafted from Grade 5 Titanium in the shape of NASA’s Saturn V rocket. Creating such an impressive level of detail here and on the surface of the movement itself required advanced fabrication techniques including laser turning, laser ablation, and laser blackening. These represent, if not a giant leap for mankind, a major step forward for Omega’s finishing capabilities, and a new milestone of sophistication for the Speedmaster family.