Established in 1848, Omega is one of the oldest watchmakers from Switzerland. But nearly 175 years later, the brand is still setting standards in mechanical precision and horological innovation, serving as the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games. While this, and the association with James Bond all add up to the watchmaker’s extraordinary credentials, there is one story that is inextricably entwined with Omega’s history and brand image. That is the enduring tale of the Speedmaster chronograph that was strapped onto the wrist of Buzz Aldrin when he stepped out on the lunar surface from Apollo 11 in 1969. Although the rugged chronograph was first designed for timing motorsports, the Speedmaster mechanical chronograph was the only watch that passed NASA’s extreme qualification tests in 1965. It was subsequently officially certified for all manned space missions and Extravehicular Activity (EVA), etching its place in history as the Moonwatch.
With its latest release, Omega is pushing further into the cosmos. As its name suggests, the Speedmaster X-33 Marstimer tracks times and time zones on the red planet as accurately as it does on Earth. Made in association with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Speedmaster X-33 Marstimer has an MTC function that tracks Mars’ sol date and time at the prime meridian: allowing for the planet’s days that are 2.7 per cent longer than days on Earth. The watch also features an innovative solar compass, to find the true north on Earth and Mars. Cased in grade 2 titanium, the 45mm chronograph watch is powered by Omega’s high-precision, thermo‑compensated, multi‑functional quartz caliber 5622.
The matte black dial provides a distinct backdrop for the multiple analogue and digital readings, while the oxalic anodized aluminium bezel ring is presented in red hematite, reminiscent of Mars’ characteristic dust. As if blending the bezel and the dial, the seconds hand features a red hematite gradient transitioning from black to red.
The solid caseback has the celebrated Speedmaster name and the signature Omega Seahorse logo in the centre, with the words ‘ESA tested and qualified’ engraved beneath it, denoting its official Marc watch status.
Since the watch is part of Omega’s X-33 line, which was first introduced in 1998, and was certified by NASA for use by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, the new Marstimer also gets all the functions seen in the 2014 Speedmaster Skywalker X-33, such as Mission Elapsed Time, Phase Elapsed Time, alarms and perpetual calendar.
The watch comes attached to a titanium bracelet, with an additional NATO cloth strap included in the case along with a spring bar tool for a quick change. To hold the watch and the accessories, Omega offers a special roll, which has a nod to the Red Planet on its inner lining, a reproduction of Hebes Chasma, a steep-sided canyon on the surface of Mars.
“Anyone interested in space, or even science fiction, is obsessed with Mars. It has generated so much curiosity, so many incredible stories. We have even created a name for its imaginary inhabitants. It’s so close yet so far. We long to walk across its surface,” said Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega’s president and CEO. “To be here on Earth and able to track its movements gives the term ‘timepiece’ a whole new meaning.”
Although a manned mission to Mars is probably still a decade away, the Omega Speedmaster X-33 Marstimer is available for purchase now and retails for $6,400.