It’s Speedy Tuesday and I could just rant and rave about the newly introduced Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon with meteorite dial (introduced here) or I could involve the new and much appraised Rolex Daytona 116500LN with ceramic bezel in this article. Let’s go with the latter, to add a bit of punch.
The Rolex Daytona doesn’t need much introduction, we did an extensive bit of coverage here and the Omega Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon was reviewed ‘in-depth’ in this article. However, both models I discuss here today are BaselWorld 2016 novelties and seem to be in the same price range (CHF 11,800 Swiss Francs for the Daytona, € 13.500 Euro for the Speedmaster). Two watches with in-house developed and manufactured column-wheel chronograph movements, with quite a bit of history. Of course, the Rolex in-house movement for the Daytona is 16 years old in the meanwhile, and the caliber 9300 chronograph movement was introduced in 2011.
Also, the Speedmaster GSotM not only has a ceramic bezel, like the Daytona, also the case is made of ceramic. The regular Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon and Grey Side of the Moon have a ceramic dial as well, but for this new model, Omega used a meteorite dial. Also, the ceramic bezel is actually called Ceragold, as it partly consists of 18ct Sedna gold.
I can’t decide for you which watch to prefer or to buy, but I can run by them one by one and tell you what I think.
Rolex Daytona Reference 116500LN
As written above, just like the Speedmaster, the Daytona needs little introduction. The difference between the Daytona we have here and the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite is that this Rolex is a direct descendant of the very first Daytona reference 6239 while the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon is definitely influenced by the classic hand-wound Moonwatch, but it isn’t a ‘Professional’. You could say that the Daytona reference 116500LN is just as iconic as the current Speedmaster Professional, but is that the case for the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon as well?
This makes the Daytona quite a ‘powerful’ watch, there are no variations or derivatives of the Daytona, there is just one current model and that’s this one. Rolex does make sure that you have a choice though: a black dial with silver rings around the sub dials or a white dial with black rings around the sub dials. Of course, the Daytona is also available in bi-color, white gold, yellow gold, Everrose gold and platinum. But they are all based on the exact same model with the same caliber 4130 movement. The dials on the gold and platinum models have some variation, where as the stainless steel models are either black or white.
From 1988 to 2000, Rolex used a tweaked version of Zenith’s El Primero chronograph movement (Rolex caliber 4030) for their Daytona. It was the first automatic Daytona, everything before 1988 was a hand-wound Valjoux movement. The Daytonas between 1988-2000 are often being referred to as Zenith-Daytonas and can be easily identified by the dial (black rings around the sub dials on the white model versus silver rings). In 2000, Rolex started using their own in-house manufactured chronograph movement caliber 4130, that is still being used today. Of course, Rolex didn’t stop developing their chronograph movement and today’s version has the Parachrom hairspring and performs within -2/+2 seconds per day on average (guaranteed for 5 years).
I never was much of a Rolex Daytona fan to be honest, as I found unscrewing the pushers to use the chronograph a bit of a hassle. I had a Royal Oak Chronograph at some point that also had screw-down pushers. It isn’t very user-friendly in my opinion and I actually do use my chronograph a couple of times per week. But practical stuff aside, the new Rolex Daytona reference 116500LN blew me away during last BaselWorld. Together with the new 39mm Explorer, Rolex did a marvelous job this year on these sports models. The new white Daytona has a dial that looks very similar to the Zenith-Daytona dial with its black rings.
The biggest update however is the Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel with a tachymeter scale engraved in a thin layer of platinum. It makes the watch look a bit more bold and ‘out there’ while it still measures only 40mm in diameter. The updated Daytona has a list price of CHF 11,800 Swiss Francs which is just a few hundred more than the current all-stainless steel Rolex Daytona 116520.
Omega Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite 3126.96.36.199.99.01
The Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite is a totally different watch than the Rolex Daytona, at least at first sight. A full ceramic case, Ceragold bezel, meteorite dial and let’s not forget the fact it is on a leather strap instead of a bracelet. However, the iconic Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ is clearly visible within this Grey Side of the Moon model. The a-symmetric case with lyre lugs, crown guards and tachymeter bezel make you recognize it as a ‘Speedmaster’ from 10 meters distance (depending on your sight). The regular Speedmaster Professional in its most basic version, with Hesalite (plexi) crystal retails for approximately 4300 Euro. Besides some De Ville Prestige models, you could say that the Moonwatch is therefore one of the most affordable Omega watches in the catalog. However, it is also a model that is perhaps far away from the modern 2010s Omega watches with their Co-Axial in-house developed movements, use of ceramics, anti-magnetism and METAS certification.
In 2013, Omega introduced us to the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon with in-house manufacture caliber 9300 movement. A year later, they treated us with a Grey Side of the Moon (due to the color of the case) with a platinum dial. All ceramic versions of the ‘Speedmaster 9300’ that was introduced in 2011 (we did a review here and here). Last year, in 2015, Omega came with a few more variations of the Dark Side of the Moon (we covered all of them here). A bit too much, according to some Speedmaster enthusiasts. But for most watch consumers, it was actually good as there was suddenly more to choose from.
Now, Omega came up with another version of the Grey Side of the Moon, one with a meteorite dial and a Ceragold (ceramic and 18ct Sedna gold) bezel. This 44.25mm diameter Speedmaster wears a bit bigger than the usual 42mm Moonwatch, but in the end it is very comfortable due to the shape of the case.
In 2009, Omega had another Speedmaster with a meteorite dial, the Speedmaster Professional Apollo-Soyuz limited edition (click here). The dial of the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite is also from the Gibeon meteorite that fell in Namibia in prehistoric times. The pattern is beautiful and unique on each dial. At first I was amazed that this watch is ‘only’ around 1000 Euro more expensive than the Dark Side of the Moon Sedna that Omega showed us last year, while the Speedmaster Professional Apollo-Soyuz from 2009 had an approx. 3000 Euro price difference with the regular Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’. But I forgot that the dial in the Dark Side of the Moon Sedna isn’t a regular dial as well of course, but a ceramic dial. In any case, the mark-up for the meteorite dial compared to the “DSotM Sedna” is very attractive.
Daytona versus Speedmaster
Comparing these two watches is a bit strange to be honest, at least to me. First, what I see around me is that these watches are bought for different reasons. The Daytona is still a watch people buy because of the name and fame, without having a notion of how technically advanced it is. With the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon (or the ceramic models in general), it is almost the other way around. People love the specifications of the watch and of course they like the shape and style, derived from the Speedmaster (Professional). But this is a bit generalizing of course as there surely are people who love the Rolex Daytona for all its history, specs and built quality as there are also ‘Speedmaster purists’ that will add one of the Dark/Grey Sides to their collection. With these new versions of the Daytona and Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon, it won’t be much different I guess.
On top of that, a lot of people also seem to buy a Rolex (Daytona) as an investment or at least with the idea that their watch will not depreciate over time. It is nice to know that your watch will not depreciate or being offered new for 20% off-list on the market, but keep in mind that Rolex is one of the very few brands that has this effect. For me, that can’t be the reason to let a watch go that you feel is more attractive. Buy what you like best, is my motto, but buy smart. You don’t want to lose 40% of the value of your watch when closing the door of the authorized dealer. I call that the ‘Alfa Romeo’-feeling, but I guess that car brand is not available/popular everywhere in the world, but you probably catch my drift anyway.
Having that said, Omega has been reducing their points-of-sale quite aggressively and focussing on their own boutiques which surely did good for the brand’s image and decreasing the discount %s by limiting availability to the grey market. Another trend we’ve seen over the past months, perhaps years, is the increase in interest in Speedmaster watches. Not only the interest in the vintage Speedmaster increased tremendously, also the new ceramic models are very successful. Rumor is that the Dark Side of the Moon has been a very important model for Omega regarding their recent annual turn-overs.
Would I buy a new Daytona?
Since a couple of years, I am quite relaxed when it comes to buying or collecting watches. I used to be restless and flipping Rolex and Omega watches, but that disappeared when said goodbye to certain models and bought some ‘evergreens’. I also realized that I had as much – or some times even more – pleasure in owning a few relatively cheaper watches instead of a very expensive piece. I can enjoy my Seikos worth a few hundred Euros as much as my Royal Oak 15202 for example, and I kid you not. It is about the love for watches, not about money or status, in my belief.
The Daytona is what you could call a status object for many people out there, which made me hesitant to buy one in the past. These days, I don’t care much about what other people think about my watches to be honest, as long as I do enjoy them. “Everyone has a Daytona” might be true, but it is a very nice and well-engineered timepiece. I have an enormous respect for Rolex and the Daytona is an icon no doubt. I wrote earlier that I am not much of a Daytona guy, or fan, but the new reference 116500LN is a piece that I like very much. Its appearance with the Cerachrom black bezel and the black rings around the sub dials make it a very attractive watch.
Yes, I can see myself buying one in the future, but I expect that the entire process of waiting-lists and craziness that we used to have with the previous stainless steel Daytonas up till a few years ago will repeat itself. At the time I am ready to buy one and able to get one, I assume we’ve seen two annual price increases while waiting and saving-up.
Oh yeah, I would go “white dial” for sure.
Would I buy a Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite?
It is probably no secret for our regular readers that I collect Speedmaster watches (tadaa!). It is actually the watch that started it for me and that I find nice and interesting to collect. It is the reason that there is a Speedy Tuesday basically, something I started in May 2012. However, till now I only bought Speedmaster Professional watches or direct derived models from the Speedmaster Professional. The only odd one in my collection is a Speedmaster 125, but I just thought it would be fun to have one.
Will that make me an easy or a hard target for the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite? I do consider myself a purist concerning watches and especially for the Speedmaster. The fact that I don’t own a vintage Speedmaster reference CK2998 or CK2915 yet is more of a budget issue than something else.
Many times I’ve been starting to save up for a Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon or was at the point to actually purchase one, but every time another (Speedmaster) watch came in between that I needed to have. Most of the time limited editions or limited by production, so that it was a ‘once in a life time’ opportunity. Does it mean I don’t like the Dark or Grey Side of the Moon enough? Not at all. To be honest and despite the €10.000 Euro of a regular Dark Side of the Moon, I think it is one of the nicest modern watches one can be these days with a lot of bang for the buck. Perhaps even more so than a Daytona, if we can forget about resell value for a moment.
The Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite was one of my favorite pieces from Omega at this year’s BaselWorld. I love the meteorite dial a lot and I am actually a fan of the Ceragold bezel. When I am feeling purist, I can go ‘Moonwatch’ any day of the week, but for an everyday watch I feel that any of the Dark or Grey Side of the Moon models are great. The Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite is something I see as a ‘special version’ of the regular Dark Side collection. From last year’s collection, I much preferred the Dark Side of the Moon Sedna edition.
Would I buy one? If money wasn’t an object I definitely would, but that is not the case unfortunately. Would I prefer it over a Daytona? That’s a tough call. To be honest with you, I think I still would go for the ‘original’ Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon as it was introduced in 2013 and leave both the Daytona and Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite for what they are. For now.
In the end, it is about personal preferences and not about the quality or specifications, both the Daytona and the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon are awesome watches without a doubt. Both watches – even though looks can be deceiving – are modern watches with quite a bit of ‘technology’ on-board. I think the Speedmaster has an advantage when it comes to specifications and innovation, where the Daytona has an advantage being a real icon and having one of the best bracelets I’ve ever worn. Perhaps it will take a bit more guts to buy a 13.500 Euro Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite, I applaud those who will and I am sure you will not regret it at all.