There are a few watches in the world that need next to no introduction, and the Moonwatch is one of them. You'll likely know the story of the Omega Speedmaster in broad terms – originally created for racing drivers in the middle of the 20th century, it helped usher in the chronograph complication from a curio and the realm of technicians and engineers to becoming something everyday wearers wanted on the wrist.
But the Speedmaster's rise to ubiquity came largely due to a longstanding partnership with NASA. In probably the best endorsement ever for a watchmaker, its astronauts wore Speedmasters on the Apollo 11 mission that reached the moon, as well as several exploratory missions around the time of the Space Race, and thus the 'Moonwatch' name, and its implicit association with exploration and starry-eyed wonder, was born.
The Omega Speedmaster is a household name, and while the similar 'First Omega in Space' version is also incredibly popular, the Moonwatch in particular has captured the hearts and minds of watch wearers all around the world for decades.
It's a truly iconic watch, with a sumptuous in-house movement, subtle variations that make both new and old references incredibly collectable and enduring. It's the kind of watch a seasoned watch collector could lust after as the 20th in their stable, and also a collection in itself – something timeless and versatile enough that it could easily be someone's only 'proper' watch and serve pretty much any purpose.
It's a true horological curio for less than the price of a Speedmaster's clasp
It does, however, come with a significant price tag. For an entry-level Moonwatch, you're looking at around £5,000 – which, while by the standards of the world's most iconic mechanical watches isn't an enormous outlay, is nonetheless not cheap, either.
That's where Swatch comes in. The ubiquitous Swiss brand entered the market in 1983, when the watch world was in the throes of the quartz crisis, with the aim of making quartz-powered watches made from plastic, without the perceived stuffiness of high horology and with the kind of price tag a kid could afford with a few months' worth of pocket money. It duly conquered that particular market, wearing its fun and upbeat identity proudly on its sleeve, selling hundreds of millions of watches across a huge range of styles around the world in the decades since, and helping to create Swatch Group, a conglomerate that owns the Swatch brand as well as Longines, Hamilton, Tissot and – you guessed it – Omega, to name a few.
The Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch
A partnership between these two watchmakers, therefore, seems incongruous even despite their shared ownership. But what unites them both is their cult status – and, truth be told, it's actually not difficult to imagine a Moonwatch owner wearing a Swatch to a party, or someone who lives in a Swatch for the 9-5 breaking out their dad's old Speedy for a special occasion.
That partnership has come in the form of – aptly – the MoonSwatch. And the resultant line of watches, whatever you think of them, demonstrably carries both brands in its DNA. The dial is classic Speedy: a 42mm case with its three subdials, baton hands and Speedmaster logo at 12 o'clock (the Swatch logo is just underneath). But the breadth of playful colourways is pure Swatch.
One is inspired by the Moon, but each of the others is mapped out to a different destination in the Solar System, with a funky caseback – to which the Speedmaster is no stranger, considering the cheeky, cartoonish 'reach for the stars' caseback to its iconic Snoopy edition – for each.
You can go to Jupiter with the sandy beige 'Mission to Jupiter' version, to the Sun with the fiery yellow 'Mission to the Sun', Venus with the pink, and much more besides. The quartz movement is encased in lightweight Bioceramic material – a combination of recycled plastic and castor seed extract, apparently – and set off with an eye-catching velcro strap.
So what of the price? Well, somewhat unbelievably, a watch that's already breaking the internet, and that's based on one of the most iconic mechanical watches in the world, can be yours for – wait for it – £207. A true horological curio for less than the price of a Speedmaster's clasp, destined to be a collector's item, and while it might not have the truly iconic quality of its more illustrious parent, that starry-eyed wonder is there in spades.
Available at selected Swatch boutiques; swatch.com