Six years ago, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon “Apollo 8”, a distinctive take on the Speedmaster Moonwatch featuring a Moon surface-patterned movement and dial. Basically an amalgamation of the all-ceramic Dark Side of the Moon (DSOTM) with the Moonwatch, the model has now undergone a significant mechanical upgrades with a new METAS-certified calibre, while preserving essentially the same design.
The original Apollo 8 was noteworthy for challenging the traditional concept of the Speedmaster Moonwatch. While it had the same movement and dimensions, the materials, styling, and finishing were entirely different. Visually, it was a major departure from the familiar Moonwatch.
The latest version sticks to the same aesthetic, so it doesn’t bring much novelty in terms of appearance, save for a rocket-shaped seconds hand. But it does have an upgraded movement, essentially the next-generation Moonwatch movement finished in the Apollo 8 style.
As is often the case with Omega, incremental improvements to existing models are a means to explore new concepts or technologies, which in the case of the original Apollo 8 would have been the textured lunar-surface finishing. This new model would have been more significant if a more developed or advanced version of the texturing had been applied, setting it apart more obviously from its predecessor.
Priced at US$14,300, the upgraded Apollo 8 falls sits at the middle of the price range for the ceramic Dark Side of the Moon models. The premium over the original model can be rationalised with the new METAS-certified movement, the absence of major design changes makes it less compelling for someone who already owns a ceramic Speedmaster.
A mechanically-upgraded Apollo 8
This release represents the second incarnation of the Apollo 8 that was launched in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1968 lunar mission. Notable at launch its partially open-worked dial, the model was the first Moonwatch to be decorated with the Moon – the movement base plate and bridges featured a textured relief finish replicating the lunar surface.
The original was equipped with the hand-wound cal. 1869, a variant of the cal. 1861—the longstanding Lemania movement that was standard in the Moonwatch for decades before it was reworked and upgraded to create the cal. 3861 in 2021.
The updated Apollo 8 undergoes the same mechanical upgrade, coupled with subtle alterations to its dial and case. The watch now sports the cal. 3869 that is derived from the cal. 3861.
Like most of Omega’s premium movements, the cal. 3869 is METAS certified, earning it the Master Chronometer label. The certification also means it boasts resistance to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 Gauss.
Whilst the new Apollo 8 retains the black and yellow colour scheme of its predecessor, several details have been refined.
The base plate visible through the open dial is laser engraved with a relief texture that replicates the Moon’s dark side. But now the screws and pins visible on the front have been reduced, some have been camouflaged with a black coating, giving the dial a more cohesive appearance.
The most obvious design change is the rocket-shaped hand for the running seconds at nine. Laser turned from titanium, the hand is a miniature model of Saturn V, NASA’s famed heavy-lift launch vehicle. According to Omega, creating the seconds hand is a multi-step process that requires “varnishing, ablation, and laser blackening”.
The upgraded Apollo 8 retains the black ceramic case in the trademark Moonwatch form, which measures an unchanged 44.5 mm in diameter. However, it is now thinner at 13 mm, a reduction of 0.8 mm over its predecessor, thanks in part to the new movement.
Key facts and price
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon “Apollo 8 Edition”
Diameter: 44.25 mm
Height: 13 mm
Material: Black ceramic
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Cal. 3869
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, Co-Axial escapement, chronograph and resistant to magnetism of up to 15,000 Gauss
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours
Strap: Rubber strap with folding clasp
Limited edition: No
Availability: At Omega boutiques and authorised retailers
For more, visit Omegawatches.com.
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