I’ve been looking forward to give the new Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black (reference 318.104.22.168.01.006) a test drive. Omega sent us this Vintage Black variation on the original Dark Side of the Moon model last month to do our review and take it into our own photo studio.
In this article I already shortly discussed this Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black model, along with the other new variations. However, without really wearing it and see how it performs it is difficult to say upfront whether a watch appeals to me. It is one of the reasons that we do not publish many ‘press releases’ with stock photos here on Fratello Watches. We really want to know how a watch will wear and look in the flesh and performs during daily activities. And share this with you, of course.
So without further ado, let’s have a go with this ceramic Speedmaster Vintage Black!
Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black Review
You are probably already aware of the specifications of the Dark Side of the Moon models, they are not very different for this Speedmaster Vintage Black edition. An in-house caliber 9300 chronograph movement with the famous George Daniels Co-Axial escapement invention, two register dial lay-out with a date at 6 o’clock and of course a 44.25mm case made of one ceramic block. The dial is also ceramic, of course.
That is the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black in a nutshell, but we want to know how it compares to the original Dark Side of the Moon of course, and perhaps to some other brands that are on the market with similar appearance and use of materials and colors.
The most important aspect that makes this Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black different from the other variations is that Omega used their own “Vintage” Super-LumiNova for the dial, date disc and hands. This faux patina, as collectors tend to call it, gives the effect of a vintage dial or vintage watch and together with the use of brown indexes and hands it looks quite stunning. Where an old hand-wound Moonwatch would need +20 years to discolor (if this happens at all, depending on the production year due to the used paint and dial supplier), Omega did an “instant” vintage watch with this Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black.
You can debate how “real” this is, but you can also ask yourself whether it needs to be real anyway, as this watch surely isn’t addressed to vintage watch collectors. It looks great though, as I wore it I received a lot of comments on this timepiece and the comments on our Instagram feed (@fratellowatches) were nice as well.
The central hands on the black dial are also blackened but due to the “Vintage” Super-LumiNova they give enough contrast with the matte black dial. As written above, the small hands on the two sub dials have this brown finish and look very nice with the luminous material used. The date aperture at 6 o’clock is topic of discussion some times when discussing caliber 9300 Speedmaster watches but I think it gives a nice balance to the two register lay-out and the majority of consumers buying a modern watch wants to have a date function on their timepiece.
On the one hand Omega seems to use their production process regarding ceramic cases and produce more variations on the Dark Side of the Moon theme but on the other hand they also do seem to listen to the market (well, I am not sure about the White Side of the Moon variation with all due respect). There are now 4 variations of the original Dark Side of the Moon model, so 5 in total. With this new Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black, Omega also introduces the new ceramic folding clasp. Ceramic and titanium I have to add, as the long ends of the clasp needs to ‘move’ of course in order to open and close (click).
Michael wrote this before in his Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon review, but I will repeat it again: this new ceramic/titanium folding clasp will be delivered with the regular Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon and Grey Side of the Moon from November on.
Also, the ceramic bezel has a “Vintage” Super-LumiNova tachymeter scale and has this matte brush finish where the original Dark Side of the Moon model had a polished finish.
We have written quite a bit on this in-house manufactured movement with silicon hair spring, so there is little that I can additionally tell you about. It keeps perfect time and operating the column-wheel chronograph movement feels like silk. If you want to read more about this movement, make sure to check-out our article on visiting the assembly line of the 9300 movements.
I’ve made this comment before, but I do not fancy a sapphire caseback on all of the watches out there with a mechanical movement. Some times I just feel it is nicer to have a neat engraving or bas-relief logo than to look at a movement that is not that special. A chronograph movement is already different of course, as you can witness some of the action when pushing the buttons of the watch.
However, this in-house caliber 9300 is different from looking at a rather common off-the-shelf chronograph movement of course. Omega did a very nice job in industrializing the production process of manufacturing the caliber 8xxx and 930x movements. Great movements in terms of specifications but also visually very pleasing for the eyes. There is a bit much text engraved on the movement, but at least it gives you some useful information. The domed sapphire crystal on the caseback is something I love and makes me prefer the caliber 9300 Speedmaster series over a caliber 9300 Seamaster Planet Ocean for example, as the Speedmaster case isn’t perceived as thick as the PO.
The leather strap on the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black has this worn look to stress the vintage appeal a bit I guess. Although Omega made the right pick with regards to the color and rugged finish, in my opinion the padding of the strap near the lugs is a bit too much. You can see this a bit on the picture above, where you look at the pushers and crown of the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black.
However, the strap does feel very comfortable and doesn’t need any break-in period. The folding clasp is something that was called for by a lot of fans, but personally I am more a buckle kinda guy. A lot of the folding buckles wear a bit too thick on the inside of your wrist. This singe folding buckle is fine though, but I wouldn’t have mind to have a ceramic buckle instead. It is a personal preference and I guess I am in the minority with this anyway.
The Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black is an awesome watch without a doubt. People who admire the aesthetics of the original Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ but rather prefer some modern features (sapphire, large diameter, date window, self-winding movement) will love it for sure. I believe that is also the target audience of this watch although some hard-core Speedmaster Professional collectors might want to add it to their collection for the sake of having an every-day timepiece and keep their plastic crystals safe. I am playing with similar thoughts but think I’d prefer the original Dark Side of the Moon instead as I love the brightness of that watch a bit better than the faux patina on this particular model.
If you particularly looking for modern ceramic watches with vintage appeal, you also might want to have a look at some of the Officine Panerai models out there that use this faux-patina on the dial or some of the IWC Top Gun Miramar series. Although I feel that this vintage theme has the tendency to become a bit too sought-after with some of these watches out there, Omega did a nice job on the Speedmaster Vintage Black.
That said, the new line-up of ceramic Speedmaster watches is meant to have a couple of choices I guess so everyone can pick a watch that suits his preferences best and still enjoy the caliber 9300 movement, Moonwatch aesthetics and ceramic case and dial.
The Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Vintage Black has a €10.600 Euro list price (including VAT). That is a lot of money but you will get a state-of-the-art chronograph in ceramic. The caliber 9300 movement shouldn’t be the decisive factor when buying a Speedmaster, but it is an awesome piece of engineering nevertheless. I’d pick it over many other (in-house) chronograph movements on the market. If you do fancy the movement and can live with the stainless steel case, you are lucky, as those watches are identical except for the case and dial material and have a friendlier price tag (€6900 Euro), of course.
More information on the dedicated Omega Speedmaster website.