Swatch Drops the Bioceramic MoonSwatch Collab with Omega

The space chronograph for less.

Perhaps the most surprising launch of the year so far, the Bioceramic MoonSwatch is a collaboration between Swatch and the maker of the Speedmaster Professional.

The MoonSwatch is essentially Moonwatch “lite” – it has all the key details such as lyre lugs and a Velcro strap, but a quartz movement and small price tag.

And the MoonSwatch is next level in terms of range. Whereas the original Moonwatch is mostly black, Swatch offers almost dozen variants of the MoonSwatch, each dedicated to the most significant bodies of the solar system, such as the Sun, Moon, and Mars.

The MoonSwatch “Mission to Mars”, a tribute to the Speedmaster “Alaska Project” but with the entire case in bright red ceramic

Initial thoughts

The MoonSwatch is an exemplary crossover because its encapsulates the specialties of each brand. Combining the quintessential cheerful style of Swatch with Omega’s iconic Moonwatch results in a fun, lighthearted watch that’s very affordable.

But it’s also a shocking product because the two brands are poles apart in terms of positioning and pricing. Put simply, an Omega strap costs more than the average Swatch watch.

Swatch is clearly the winner. It’s an especially shrewd move for the maker of plastic watches, since some of the prestige and historical significance of Omega rubs off onto Swatch.

As for Omega, it’s a purposeful act of brand dilution, no doubt in the hope that it brings the brand to a new audience that will aspire to own the real deal one day. But it’s too early to tell whether that’s a good strategy for a luxury watchmaker – Omega is number three in terms of revenues but reputedly aspires to be number one – but there will surely be Moonwatch owners who frown at the the lookalike.

The “Mission to Pluto”

That said, the MoonSwatch will be an immediate hit, because it feels almost rebellious with its low price and fun colours. In a world where appealing watches are mostly unavailable, the diverse line up is laudable for being accessible and fun.

But it is a certainty that these watches won’t be accessible initially as demand will definitely outstrip supply at the start. And for now, they can only be purchased in selected Swatch boutiques, which is antithetical to the purpose of the product. I hope broader availability eventually becomes the norm, and Swatch’s prowess in mass production should mean that everyone who wants one will be able to have one in the near future.

A photorealistic painting of the associated planetary body is the battery cover on the back

Omega x Swatch

The MoonSwatch is especially notable for the faithful details straight out of the Moonwatch, without which it would just be yet another colourful Swatch.

For starters, the case is 42 mm like the Moonwatch. And it even features a similar profile with a wide bevel along the lugs as well as the steps between the bezel and the case.

And the dials and crystal also have a few subtle details that only Moonwatch fans will notice. Hardcore nerds will also appreciate the reproduction of details like the “dot over 90” tachymeter bezel and also the “secret signature” on the crystal.

“Dot over 90” and a stepped dial, as seen on the “Mission to Uranus”

The crystal is raised and domed, here on the “Mission to Jupiter”

But there are of course differences between the original and the MoonSwatch, as a result of the different movements.

While the Moonwatch has a hand-wind calibre evolved from the Lemania 1873, the Swatch relies on the standard ETA quartz movement found in all Swatch chronographs, explaining the unusual (for a Moonwatch) arrangement of the chronograph registers.

The Moonwatch (left) and the MoonSwatch “Mission to the Sun”

The layout is synonymous with a low-end quartz chronograph, which makes it somewhat less appealing. But that is more that made up for by the colourful dials and cases. The combinations range from the low-key, near-faithful homage to the Moonwatch with the “Mission to the Moon”, to extremely creative versions such as the “Mission to Saturn” where the planet is depicted on the dial.

The “Mission to Saturn”, in an angle where the “S” engraving on the crystal shows


Key facts and price

Omega x Swatch Bioceramic MoonSwatch

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 13.25 mm
Material: Bioceramic
Crystal: Unavailable
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Quartz
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph

Strap: Velcro strap

Limited edition: No, but each customer is limited to two watches
Availability:
Starting March 26 at selected Swatch boutiques
Price: US$260, or 372 Singapore dollars.

For more, visit swatch.com.


 

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Citizen Introduces the Series 8 870 First Anniversary

All-black with a carbon-composite dial.

Not long after Citizen unveiled the Caliber 0200 in early 2021, it followed up with an affordable alternative, the Series 8 870. Resembling its bigger brother with an integrated bracelet, the Series 8 outperforms in its price segment.

And just as Citizen unveils a limited edition Caliber 0200 in shades of grey, it is also taking the covers off the Series 8 870 First Anniversary Limited Edition, which features an all-black case matched with a carbon-composite dial.

Initial thoughts

While the standard 870 has excellent fit and finishing considering the price, it is available with just two dial options – black or silver – that are pretty plain, especially when bold textures or colours are all the rage.

The new 870 caters to current fashions, but still remains low-key in a manner that’s typical of Citizen’s higher-end watches. With its cleaner look, the all-black case is an improvement from the two-tone standard model, while the carbon composite dial adds a degree of interest that is only obvious up close. It’s also an unusual take on the patterned dial, which is typically stamped.

Unlike the standard model, this has a see-through back. The movement has been made a little more interesting with a gilded rotor, which stands out even more than usual as the case is entirely black. In fact, the gilded rotor is the sole bit of colour on the watch, but one that will only be known to the owner.

Arguably the only shortcoming of the new 870 is the lack of a bracelet. The bracelet is an integral part of the standard model and also one of its most appealing features. The new limited edition, on the other hand, is only available on a strap.

Steel and carbon

While the case is still steel as with the standard model, it receives Duratect DLC treatment. The treatment is for aesthetic purposes – it results in the black finish – while also improving the scratch resistance due to the hardness of the coating.

Case details of the standard Series 8 870

Inside the 870 is the cal. 0950, which runs at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz). It also has an acceptable power reserve of 50 hours. Importantly, the cal. 0950 is thin, which allows for a case only 11.4 mm high, making it one of the thinnest watches in its segment.

Notably, the movement is rated to run within +10/-5 seconds per day, which is not too far away from COSC standards (and credit goes to Citizen for reporting the regulation standard, unlike most brands in this price segment).


Key facts and price

Citizen Series 8 870 First Anniversary Limited Edition
Ref. NA1025-10E

Diameter: 40.8 mm
Height: 11.4 mm
Material: Stainless steel with Duratect DLC coating
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 0950
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Rubber strap

Limited edition: 700 pieces
Availability:
Starting from the third quarter of 2022 at Citizen boutiques and retailers
Price: Unavailable at press time

For more, visit Citizenwatch-global.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Citizen.


 

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Ming Watches Introduces the 17.03 Anniversary Editions

An affordable GMT clad in blue.

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A textured dial and ceramic bezel.

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John-Mikaël Flaux Introduces an Automaton Jumping Hour Inspired by a 12th Century Clock

An elephant bearing a carriage with two dragons.

A member of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI), John-Mikaël Flaux is no stranger to automata and clocks. His most recent creation however, is something smaller and wearable – an automata wristwatch, the Homage to Al-Jazari.

The watch pays tribute to the Elephant Clock, a fascinating and exotic timekeeper conceived by the 12th century inventor and mathematician, Ismail al-Jazari. While not an exact replica of the original – the ancient clock was powered by water and gravity – Mr Flaux’s creation artfully captures the theme of the clock with a jumping half-hour automata and an equivalent 24-hour day night indicator, complemented by miniature painting on the front and back.

Initial Thoughts

The Homage to Al-Jazari is undeniably intriguing, both mechanically and visually.

The watch has a brave design that is striking. The complexity of the dial means legibility isn’t the best, or even decent, but that’s besides the point.

While its key complication, a jumping half-hour mechanism, is not technically complex, the integration of the thematic elements into a cohesive display modelled on the ancient clock means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the Homage to Al-Jazari lives up to its name.

But it is also a missed opportunity. The jumping automata display would have been perfect if paired with a simple chiming function, though that would’ve significantly increased the complexity, due to the requirement of a base movement with a bigger barrel in order to power an audible chiming mechanism.

Priced at CHF 49,000, the Homage to Al-Jazari might appear steeply priced since the base movement is a modified Unitas. However, its value is more than just the base calibre, but rather the inventiveness of the time display, the artisanal nature of the miniature paintings, as well as the hand finishing of the dial components.

30-minute jumps

The dial has much going on, despite it being a time-only watch without even a seconds. The sub-dial at 12 o’clock contains the entirety of the time indication, while the rest of the dial is related to the automata.

A single blued hand indicates the minutes as on a conventional watch. Visible through a small window just under 12 o’clock is a 24-hour disc that indicates the hours.

Additionally, the periphery of the disc is fixed to a ring that indicates the day and night through a series of circular perforations on the dial. This mimics the time display of the Elephant Clock.

Like the clock, the watch has a half-hour jump mechanism. The hour disc jumps forward by half an hour, or 7.5°, every 30 minutes as the minute hand passes through the six or 12 o’clock positions.

Because of its unusual approach to telling the time, the watch is neither initiative nor easy to read, though it is certainly interesting.

Reading the time takes some getting used to

The time display works in tandem with the automata, presented in the form of twin dragons. As time progresses, the dragon on the left slowly travels downward until it is released on the half-hour jump – whereby it jumps upwards to strike the sub-dial, creating the impression that the dragon’s head is advancing the day-night indicator one step forward.

Meanwhile, the dragon on the right is a decorative but functional element – it is actually a spring-loaded detent that holds the hour disc in place, and can observed moving for a split-second during the half-hour jumps.

The bottom half of the watch contains a steel bridge which represents the howdah, or carriage, found on the clock. The bridges reveals the retrograde mechanism driving the dragon automata.

Notably, the steel bridge is finished by hand, with anglage that boasts inward and outward angles at the corners – the roof of the carriage is particularly well done in that respect. Just below the carriage and the dragons is a hand-painted elephant, completing the theme of the Homage.

A closeup of the miniature painting (left) of the elephant and the steel howdah

The rear of the watch has a display back exposing the movement – the AJC-01, which is based on the ETA Unitas 6497/6498 that beats at 2.5 Hz and has a 40-hour power reserve.

Notably, the entire movement is covered by a full bridge that exposes only the balance wheel. This serves as a canvas for a hand-painted reproduction of a painting of the Elephant Clock found in the 12th century Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices penned by Al-Jazari.

The movement with its full plate before painting

The movement plate with a miniature painting of the Elephant Clock


Key facts and price

John-Mikaël Flaux Homage to Al-Jazari

Case diameter: 42 mm
Case height: 13.3 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: Unavailable

Movement: AJC-01
Features: 24-Hours and minutes
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: 10 pieces
Availability:
From Ben & Bros in Switzerland
Price: CHF49,000 before taxes

For more, visit John-mikael-flaux.com.


 

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