February 25, 2016
by David Bredan
One of the top releases that I personally could not wait to go hands-on with at Baselworld 2015 was the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon. I am certainly not alone when I say I am a fan of the original 2013 Dark Side of the Moon (review here), and the somewhat lighter, more contrasty Grey Side of the Moon made for a most welcome alternative. So when this, the White Side – or rather, the Bright Side, perhaps – happened, we wanted to see how it measured up against its more serious-looking elders.
While Swiss luxury watch holdings and brands appear to have been running at full steam to exploit virtually any new trend and market gap there is, we are still not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes white watches… So, is the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon enough to make a difference and show us that iconic designs can look good in eye-wateringly bright, snow white? Let’s see…
…But, before we do that, let me start straight away by pointing out what may have been the only really off-putting element of this 2015 release: its strap. This white alligator leather strap with white stitching is nicely made and amply padded but, most importantly, it also sports a glossy, shiny finish that is very, very feminine-looking indeed. Don’t get me wrong, that is not necessarily a bad thing, as I am sure that this all-white piece with this shiny strap would look amazing on the wrist of a discerning fashionista lady… However, this choice of leather further highlighted one of the two sides of the “WSotM,” which also happens to be the side that makes many prematurely title it as a women’s watch. The reality could not be further from the truth, though, as beyond this imminently feminine look lies the other side of this white watch: a sporty, casual, and yet refined-looking timepiece that can, and in fact does, look great in more informal settings. So let us gloss over the strap choice this one time.
If you are not a fan of (or even outright dislike) white watches, what’s about to come probably won’t suffice to change your mind, but it is certainly worth discussing nevertheless. What helped explain to me how this “snow-white” version makes the Speedmaster look so remarkably different was a chat I had with some designer friends of mine about the issue of choosing the right color for a product. I learned that white is one of, if not the best color to paint a product if you wish to let its shape speak for itself. I would suggest looking at cars that you see around you (preferably in real life, not images): the ones in white display most of the curves, bulges, and indentations, also known as “negative spaces” that have been thoughtfully added to the chassis of the car, making it easier to appreciate the finer details of the design.
The reason for this is that when items are painted white, your eyes can more easily identify minor variations in their three-dimensional shape, as one sees the transitions between brighter and darker, highlighted and shadowed areas. It sounds blatantly obvious, but it is true that you can easily see shadows on a light-colored surface but certainly not as much on darker ones – and without shadows, it’s much more difficult for the eye to see the surface’s finer three-dimensional differences. This explains why those trademark curves on the sides of the Speedmaster – which Omega has managed to execute remarkably beautifully in ceramic – and all other design traits of this iconic watch are so easy to appreciate now with the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon.
To my eyes, while the Dark Side of the Moon exhibits a very powerful design, the differences between the White and Dark models in terms of wrist presence are more than considerable. The black one is as cool, high-tech and mean-looking as Darth Vader’s helmet, while the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon is perhaps even bolder, but in a funky and much less serious way. Whether or not all watches around the $10,000 mark should be serious is, of course, down to personal preference.
Don’t let the not-so-serious whiteness make you miss some important points, though. When it comes to assessing the aesthetic qualities of the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon (or any other non-metallic-cased watch, for that matter), it must be noted that it is very difficult to convey the glossy depth, and hence the quality look of the ceramic case. The problem is that it tends to look more like plastic than anything else when captured with digital photography. So, while I feel confident in saying that if you have personally seen and held a white plastic watch of any kind, and then handled this one, you can immediately tell the imminently obvious differences and superiority of ceramic when it comes to aesthetics, feel, and quality. Also, because ceramic is extremely difficult to scratch and its color does not fade over time (ever), the durability and long-term quality properties of a ceramic watch are incomparable to their plastic cased counterparts – unless you drop it, when it does shatter.
With that, we have established that white ceramic actually looks and feels high-quality, but does all that effort make the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon the go-to “Speedy” for anyone looking to pick up their first Speedmaster? Probably not, but chances are it was not designed to be that – I feel safe in saying that all-white watches, for obvious fashion-related reasons, are scarcely purchased as one’s only watch, anyway.
So, along with the announcement of an all-black one and a few others, Omega took the Speedmaster and exposed it to this all-white treatment that includes a white ceramic case, dial, pushers, crown, and buckle, even. This bright-looking addition seems to be a sensible extension to the “Side Of The Moon” collection, plus it also allows Omega to take a slice out of the not-so-competitive market segment of all-white high-end watches, by providing a considerable alternative for those who enjoy white watches and want to match that passion of theirs with an iconic design.
Underneath this white avalanche, you still find Omega’s 9300 Co-Axial caliber, a fantastic-looking, massive movement with two barrels, 60 hours of power reserve, a silicon balance spring and a chronograph function (as illustrated in the image one above) with hours and minutes displayed on the same sub-dial. So, while making a fashion statement by getting the white one, you can also enjoy a terrific caliber – although we are looking forward to seeing Omega update it to their Master Co-Axial standards (explained here).
In essence, the Omega Speedmaster White Side Of The Moon will probably not change your mind if you don’t enjoy wearing white watches – but it remains one of the most desirable contenders in a small market segment for those who do. Price is 10,800 Swiss francs or around US$10,900. omegawatches.com