Ten Years Of The Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon
We are now in the final stretch of 2022, but instead of looking back on this year’s Speedmaster releases, which we already covered last month, I thought it would be nice to see what kind of milestones we’re having in 2023. One of them is the 10th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon.
The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon was quite a game changer, and not just for Omega fans. Suddenly, all my Rolex-wearing friends were eyeballing the other brand from Bienne. This Speedmaster not only featured a full-ceramic case but also a ceramic dial. The watch was, dimension-wise and movement-wise, the same as the 44.25mm Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph Chronometer that Omega released in 2011.
The full-ceramic “Dark Side of the Moon” — referring to the Apollo 8 mission where mankind saw the other (dark) side of the Moon for the first time — was an instant hit. And with a retail price far above the standard stainless steel Speedmaster Professional at the time (refs. 3570.50 and 3188.8.131.52.01.005), Omega was suddenly playing in another league. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon wasn’t easy to get at first, as it is now. This Speedmaster also spoke to an audience outside the Moonwatch-enthusiast crowd.
Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon
Up until the 2013 introduction of the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, Omega had been researching how to create a black Speedmaster. During our meeting with Omega back in 2013, then-Head of Product Jean-Claude Monachon told us that the team had tried all sorts of solutions, including PVD and DLC, but never got a result that met their standards. When Omega started to use ceramics, it was the brand’s gateway into finally developing an all-black Speedmaster watch. But, as I mentioned, not only the 44.25mm case was made of ceramic. Indeed, the bezel and dial were also made of ZrO2, or zirconium dioxide, a type of ceramic. Omega used the same in-house-developed caliber 9300 column-wheel chronograph movement as in the 2011 steel Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph.
The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon (ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.003) debuted at CHF 10,000 (excluding VAT) in 2013. Today, it’s still in the Omega catalog with a price of €11,400 / CHF 10,800. The euro is now weaker than in 2013; I remember that the price back then was below €10,000. Nevertheless, the price hasn’t increased much in the past decade. Looking at the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon today, I think it has stood the test of time.
Other Sides of the Moon
One year later, based on the success of the black Dark Side of the Moon, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon. This time, the watch featured a grey ceramic case and, quite interestingly, a platinum (Pt950) dial. This model is also still in Omega’s current catalog for a retail price of €12,000. Yes, that’s only €600 more for a dial made of solid platinum. Both the Dark Side and the Grey Side of the Moon were doing incredibly well in sales in 2014. And whereas the first releases came with a pin buckle, these models later became available with a folding clasp.
Omega saw the success of the 2013 and 2014 ceramic Speedmaster models and released more variations in 2015. That’s when we saw the Dark Side of the Moon Vintage, Sedna Black, Pitch Black, and Black Black editions (see image above). And if those were not enough, Omega also introduced a White Side of the Moon. The Dark Side of the Moon became a subcollection of the Speedmaster family, and it still is today.
If Omega had left it at the 2013 Dark Side of the Moon and 2014 Grey Side of the Moon, I believe those watches would have been highly regarded over time. Unfortunately, the introduction of a plethora of Dark Side spinoff references made those first two watches a bit less special to me. That is a pity because even the second model was a brilliant move by Omega at the time. Other models followed as well, such as a Dark Side of the Moon with a meteorite dial and models with diamond-studded bezels. In 2017, we even saw Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon limited edition of 99 pieces for the Porsche Club of America.
Apollo 8 made the Dark Side great again
Then, in 2018, after it had become a bit silent on the Dark Side of the Moon, Omega made a brilliant move. That year, the brand introduced the Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8. This model was based on the 2013 edition but featured a skeletonized dial and a laser-decorated movement. The bridges on the front and back of the movement received a laser ablation treatment, mimicking the surface of the Moon.
The legendary Lemania-based caliber 1861 was used as a basis for this new Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 and became caliber 1869. With a Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon housing a hand-wound movement and three registers, the Speedmaster crowd went wild. Strong rumors circulated that this watch was being discontinued, but that was not the case. Omega simply could not keep up with the demand. Afterward, Omega released a Team Alinghi edition with red accents and a carbon fiber pattern on the dial and movement.
Today, Omega has 14 references on its website in the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon subcollection. Some differ because they can be had with a buckle or folding clasp, and others can be had with a diamond-set bezel. In 2023, the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Will we see the discontinuation of some of the references while the core collection (Dark Side, Grey Side, White Side, and Apollo 8) remain in the catalog? Unlike many Speedmaster models, these watches are not Master Chronometers, so it’s not unreasonable to expect an update at some point. An overview of all Speedmaster models we’ve covered can be found on our Speedmaster Reference page, including these Dark Side models.
The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon is still high on my wish list, and I would have difficulty choosing between the 2013 OG model and the 2018 Apollo 8 edition. As a Moonwatch collector and enthusiast, I still see these models as great variations within the Speedmaster family.
What are your thoughts on the Dark Side of the Moon collection? Let us know in the comments below.