This Omega Speed­mas­ter Moon­watch has a moon-phase dis­play and a co-ax­ial move­ment. Is this a meet­ing of fea­tures that nat­u­rally be­long to­gether? We sub­ject the new model to our rig­or­ous test.

WatchTime - - Ta­ble of Con­tents - By Jens Koch

| This Omega Speed­mas­ter Moon­watch has a moon-phase dis­play and a co-ax­ial move­ment. Is this a meet­ing of fea­tures that nat­u­rally be­long to­gether? We sub­ject the new model to our rig­or­ous test.

The phrase “co-ax­ial moon-phase” de­scribes the Omega Speed­mas­ter of the 21st cen­tury. It’s a me­chan­i­cal time­piece, but it’s built from high-tech ma­te­ri­als that make it ro­bust, pre­cise and above all im­mune to the ef­fects of mag­netic fields. But it doesn’t have a fu­tur­is­tic, tech­no­log­i­cal ap­pear­ance; in­stead, its color scheme and pho­to­re­al­is­tic moon-phase dis­play give it an al­most myth­i­cal aura.

is Omega Speed­mas­ter com­bines mod­ern Omega tech­nol­ogy with the tra­di­tions of the Moon­watch. e Speed­mas­ter, which de­buted in 1957, was given the “Moon­watch” nick­name in 1969, af­ter it was strapped around the sleeve of an astro­naut’s space­suit for the world’s first walk on the moon. e Speed­mas­ter Pro­fes­sional with acrylic crys­tal has been built in nearly un­al­tered form ever since. Hand-wound Cal­iber 1861 is also based on the orig­i­nal move­ment. A Speed­mas­ter with this cal­iber and a moon-phase dis­play has been avail­able for quite some time, but it’s on its way out and won’t be man­u­fac­tured in the fu­ture. e new model is its suc­ces­sor and hosts more mod­ern in­ner work­ings. ese are based on man­u­fac­ture Cal­iber 9300 with co-ax­ial es­cape­ment, which has al­ways been avail­able in a Speed­mas­ter Moon­watch. Now this tra­di­tion and these tech­nolo­gies come to­gether in a new model, the Moon­watch we tested.

Like all Speed­mas­ters, this ver­sion’s case is asym­met­ri­cal, with built-in push-pieces, crown pro­tec­tion and char­ac­ter­is­tic tachymeter scale. e lat­ter is made of ce­ramic, with cal­i­bra­tions crafted from an es­pe­cially hard amor­phous al­loy called “Liq­uid­metal.” Our test watch looks con­sid­er­ably more el­e­gant than Speed­mas­ters with­out moon-phase dis­plays. is is due to the de­sign of the moon-phase dis­play, the blue dial with sun­burst pat­tern and the blue al­li­ga­tor­leather strap. In this ver­sion, a tool watch has been hand­somely trans­formed into a sportily el­e­gant model that looks good with a busi­ness suit, a sweater or a but­ton-down shirt. Nu­mer­ous color op­tions are avail­able rang­ing from clas­sic black, through bi­color mod­els in brown with a sil­ver dial and green bezel, to a white-gold model with a sil­ver dial and a wine-red bezel. Our per­sonal fa­vorite is the blue ver­sion with a steel case: our test watch.

A closer look re­veals a pho­to­re­al­is­tic im­age of the moon on the lu­nar dis­play. e fidelity to de­tail is so high that you can see the moon’s craters and val­leys. And you won’t find minis­cule raster dots or sim­i­lar im­per­fec­tions, even un­der strong mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. You will, how­ever, dis­cover some­thing far more ex­cit­ing. Omega has hid­den here a fur­ther rem­i­nis­cence from the his­tory of the Moon­watch: a foot­print left in the lu­nar dust by an astro­naut’s boot. Afi­ciona­dos might re­mem­ber this im­age from the fa­mous pho­to­graph taken at the moon land­ing.

From a tech­ni­cal stand­point, Omega has built the moon-phase dis­play so it won’t need man­ual ad­just­ment for 10 years. And when the time comes to re­set it, the task can be read­ily ac­com­plished via the crown. ere­fore, the watch doesn’t need a cor­rec­tion but­ton, which is sel­dom an at­trac­tive fea­ture. If you pull the crown out to its first po­si­tion and then turn it clock­wise, the moon’s phase will ad­vance in sin­gle-day in­cre­ments; turn­ing the crown coun­ter­clock­wise will cause the date dis­play to ad­vance in sin­gle­day in­cre­ments.

e date dis­play and its lit­tle hand rep­re­sent a com­pro­mise. e watch’s ba­sic move­ment sup­ports a date sub­dial at the 6, but this lo­ca­tion on our test watch is al­ready oc­cu­pied by the moon­phase dis­play. So to pre­serve the sym­me­try, a small hand-let­tered date dis­play shares a sub­dial with the con­tin­u­ally run­ning sec­onds at the 9. As far as leg­i­bil­ity is con­cerned, this is not the best so­lu­tion. But for­tu­nately, Omega en­larged the sub­di­als (com­pared to their coun­ter­parts on the chrono­graph with­out moon-phase dis­play) so peo­ple who don’t wear read­ing glasses only need to use a bit of con­cen­tra­tion to read the date. is also gives the dial greater har­mony.

An in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­ture move­ment made from ul­tra­mod­ern ma­te­ri­als pow­ers the watch’s moon-phase dis­play.

e sub­dial on the other side, at the 3, serves the chrono­graph. Here, too, we find two hands: one that can tally up to 12 elapsed hours; the other that can count up to 60 elapsed min­utes. is al­lows the wearer to read the elapsed time just as on an or­di­nary clock face. How­ever, con­ven­tional chrono­graphs with coun­ters for 30 elapsed min­utes can more ac­cu­rately mea­sure min­utes in in­ter­vals up to 30 min­utes in du­ra­tion, and such sub­di­als are also quicker to read. On the other hand, the chrono­graph on our test watch can also be used to keep track of the time in a sec­ond time zone.

e crown can be op­er­ated eas­ily. And the chrono­graph’s but­tons don’t re­quire ex­ces­sive force, al­though some col­umn-wheel chrono­graphs can be op­er­ated with even less pres­sure.

Some chrono­graph move­ments also re­veal more of their in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms. Omega has in­stalled a large cam­bered win­dow of sap­phire in the case­back, adorned the ro­tor and bridges with a very hand­some spi­ral pat­tern, and beveled and pol­ished the edges of the flat parts. But the bridges cover nearly ev­ery­thing, al­though three aper­tures in­vite horo­log­i­cal voyeurs to ad­mire the col­umn wheel.

Omega’s move­ment is ro­bust, pre­cise and well pro­tected against mag­netic fields.

Omega re­lies on a mod­ern ver­ti­cal cou­pling. A clas­si­cal hor­i­zon­tal cou­pling would re­veal more of the mech­a­nism, but this ver­ti­cal cou­pling is more func­tional be­cause it in­stantly halts the elapsed-sec­onds hand and af­ter­ward al­lows the hand to re­sume its mo­tion with­out any shud­der. e ef­fi­cient ro­tor winds the main­springs in both its di­rec­tions of ro­ta­tion. And two se­ri­ally switched bar­rels store enough en­ergy for 60 hours of au­ton­o­mous run­ning, while uni­formly dis­pens­ing their store of power.

Func­tion­al­ity con­tin­ues in the bal­ance sys­tem. In­stead of giv­ing the bal­ance a typ­i­cal mo­tion­lessly af­fixed cock, Omega opts for a more sta­ble bridge. e bal­ance can be finely ad­justed via an in­dex-free sys­tem by turn­ing four weight screws along the rim of the bal­ance, so it can be reg­u­lated more finely. is also al­lows the bal­ance spring to “breathe” freely through­out its en­tire length. For aes­thet­ics’ sake, the bal­ance is given a black chrome coat­ing, which har­mo­nizes with the black­ened screws used else­where in the move­ment.

e co-ax­ial es­cape­ment ranks among the best that can be found in to­day’s watches. Omega is the only man­u­fac­turer that uses this sys­tem. e es­cape­ment in Cal­iber 9904 works on three func­tional lev­els. Un­like the Swiss lever es­cape­ment, which is stan­dard, the co-ax­ial es­cape­ment sep­a­rates the func­tions of in­hibit­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing, thus pre­vent­ing un­de­sir­able glid­ing fric­tion on the pal­let jew­els. is re­sults in less en­ergy loss and bet­ter re­ten­tion of lu­bri­cant oil. e es­cape­ment is lu­bri­cated with a fine film of oil.

e sil­i­con hair­spring, which is re­sis­tant to shocks and nearly un­af­fected by mag­netic fields, fur­ther con­trib­utes to the move­ment’s ac­cu­rate time­keep­ing. To­gether with other an­ti­mag­netic parts, it as­sures that even the strong­est mag­netic fields can­not in­ter­fere with the ac­cu­racy of the watch. is is an enor­mous ad­van­tage for the wearer be­cause a mag­ne­tized move­ment is fre­quently the cause of se­vere in­ac­cu­ra­cies in a watch’s rate.

e Speed­mas­ter Moon­watch Co-ax­ial Mas­ter Chronome­ter Moon­phase is also the first watch in the Speed­mas­ter line that isn’t only tested and cer­ti­fied as a chronome­ter by COSC, but also cer­ti­fied by Switzer­land’s Fed­eral In­sti­tute for Metrol­ogy (METAS). METAS not only tests the move­ment’s ac­cu­racy and af­ter­ward the pre­ci­sion of the en­tire watch, but also ver­i­fies many other fac­tors such as power re­serve, wa­ter tight­ness and above all the re­sis­tance to mag­netic fields up to an in­ten­sity of 15,000 gauss.

Omega achieves 15 times greater pro­tec­tion against mag­netic fields than a soft iron in­ner case can pro­vide. And un­like the con­ven­tional so­lu­tion, the move­ment can be viewed through a win­dow in the case­back. is is one ex­am­ple of a use­ful in­no­va­tion that ben­e­fits ev­ery buyer.

is brings us to the price, which is of­ten the least pleas­ing at­tribute of our tested watches. is Omega Speed­mas­ter Moon­watch costs $10,600. Con­sid­er­ing the qual­ity and va­ri­ety of func­tions, the price rep­re­sents a good, but not great, price-per­for­mance ra­tio. But this ver­sion costs $2,000 more than Omega’s Moon­watch Co-ax­ial Chrono­graph, which seems a bit steep for the moon-phase dis­play and METAS cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

e Moon­watch Co-ax­ial Moon­phase is the Moon­watch of the new mil­len­nium. Its in­te­rior con­tains the most mod­ern move­ment. And its ex­te­rior presents a re­al­is­tic lu­nar dis­play, in­clud­ing an astro­naut’s foot­print, thus bring­ing the moon closer to Earth than ever be­fore.

The first foot­print on the moon can be seen in the de­pic­tion of the lu­nar sur­face on the moon-phase dis­play.

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