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Against the MoonSwatch
It's an abomination.
If there is a single reason this newsletter exists, it’s because on March 22 word leaked that the Swatch Group had grabbed hold of Omega, their fairest daughter, and, shotgun at her back, forced her into a haystack with the stable boy.
The result was the “MoonSwatch,” a plastic Happy Meal toy imitation of the Speedmaster Professional.
The watch that landed on the moon. The watch that timed the rocket bursts that brought Apollo XIII home. The watch with a real-world pedigree that makes Bond’s Submariner (and Seamaster) look like movie props. This was the watch they decided to make into a disposable marketing gimmick—in 11 glorious American Girl Doll colorways.
It was wrong on every level. And worse, no one, anywhere in the watch world, had anything bad to say about it. It was GENIUS, they said. AMAZING. What a COUP.
It was bullshit. Every word of it. I don’t know if they were being craven, or cynical, or what, but the industry press barked and clapped for this abomination like seals who’d found a kilo of blow in their sardines.
It made us furious. The MoonSwatch is bad for everyone who loves watches.
It’s bad for Omega
The MoonSwatch itself is a piece of trash: one of Swatch’s lower-tier quartz movements wrapped in plastic with a nonsense name—“bioceramic”—designed to evoke both environmentalism and technology in status-addled Zoomers.
The second hand doesn’t line up with the markers. The plastic velcro strap would feel cheap on something you won from a carney at the fair. Go to the moon? This timepiece can’t go through the shower.
If you’re Omega, this should give you the horrors; like seeing a deepfake of yourself go viral on TikTok. It’s debasing your marquee creation, stripping it of every quality and capability that gives it cachet, and devaluing a product people save for years to buy into.
It’s not that Omega don’t respect Omega owners, companies don’t work like that. It’s that they don’t love themselves.
It was good business for Swatch, of course. They sold out, and look set to keep selling out for a few months, before the novelty wears off. I hope Omega’s cut is worth it, because it’s the price of their soul.
While we’re at it—all that flipping on eBay, where MoonSwatches were doing up to 10x retail because of artificially scarce retail supply? Omega didn’t see a nickel of that.
But for all those kids who want one, the supposed next generation of big spenders being groomed for the real deal? OmegaxSwatch have taught them a valuable lesson: AD’s are here to choke off supply in order to feed a white-hot secondary market where you don’t have a prayer of seeing value for money.
That’s the one thing everyone hates about Rolex. And now watch-collecting newbies can get a piece of the same feeling, courtesy of Omega. Yay. Omega finally found a way to catch up to Rolex. Sort of.
The MoonSwatch: All the aggravation and gray market BS of a Rolex Daytona, but in plastic!
It will create zero (0) new Omega customers
A couple of people have said the MoonSwatch is “democratizing” watch collecting. I don’t know what that is supposed to mean, unless it’s that democracy always cheapens its object by handing it over to a crowd large enough to not care about what happens to it.
I think what they mean is that lots of people are involved, and that is supposed to be a good thing. Okay, so let’s talk about those snaking lines at Swatch “boutiques.”
Don’t delude yourself. Those kids were there for the novelty, priced just high enough to make it interesting and colored just bright enough to capture their Instagram attention spans—which are so short that a real Speedmaster would struggle to time them.
This isn’t going to capture a new generation of watch fans—those people on line don’t give a shit about craftsmanship, the balance of form and function, the precision of purpose which makes horology an obsession for some people.
If they did, they’d probably want to know why the dial is marked to capture fifths of a second with a hand that only moves in one-second increments. And they’d probably want to know why it turned their wrist blue, too. “Hey grandpa—is a watch supposed to do that?”
To the extent that they will want another watch, they’ll be waiting for the next sugar-high novelty from Swatch, not saving up for a real Moonwatch. “Value” for these people means an NFT of a cartoon monkey, not a George Daniel coaxial escapement.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, some TikTok weirdo is going to go up to a guy wearing an actual Speedmaster he worked hard to buy and ask him where he got his MoonSwatch, and doesn’t he think Mission to Uranus (tee hee) is the coolest color?
You know what that guy will do? Not homicide. Hopefully. Instead, he’ll die a little inside.
And then he’ll flip the Speedy Pro for a Tudor Black Bay just to salvage some self respect. MARKETING GENIUS!
It’s bad for the watch press
Alright, it probably isn’t. But it should be.
It made us go bone-throwing mental to read fawning coverage of something that was—just as a piece of watchmaking—an obvious piece of ordure. But most people who read watch websites tend to, you know, fast forward through the story to get to the close up shots and vital statistics.
Let’s be honest, it’s usually bad writing anyway.
That the industry press is relentlessly positive, to the point of obvious deference, is just part of the deal. It’s a simple truth that anyone who wants to make a living writing about watches relies on the big brands to give them access to review samples.
That’s just how it works: No hands-on means no original pictures, no week on the wrist reviews, no onanistic unboxing videos, no clicks—and no bucks. In a time of peace, that’s fine, and it’s understandably preferable to constantly trying to hawk your own line of nato straps.
But when something as nakedly bad as the MoonSwatch comes out and no one—not one soul—on any major watch website has a bad word to say? COME ON.
Somewhere in Geneva there is an Omega design director having a nervous breakdown over what has been done to his prize asset. He’s probably zip tied and duct-taped in a closet. But what sort of “journalism” wouldn’t even try to find the guy at Omega who would talk about what must have been one of the most contentious product decisions in the company’s history? Imagine if the business press had run nothing but fawning stories about New Coke in 1985.
It’s just not credible for a supposed “journalism” sector to accept a product like the MoonSwatch without —forget criticism—even skepticism. Look: We’re not going to tell you that you shouldn’t read the watch press. We all love the pretty pictures. But you should understand that it is a machine with no functional independence. If Swatch puts out a bioceramic Breguet in the shape of a cow pie, then boy-genius Teddy Baldassarre will be there to cut a 17-minute video review explaining its whimsical heritage, Napoleon’s frustrations with stepping in manure, and the intriguing direction it suggests for the storied brand.
And look: No offense to Teddy and Hodinkee and all the rest. Everyone’s got a mortgage to pay. And I sincerely believe that everyone in this space loves watches. Otherwise, what’s the point? You can make more money in de-fi and crypto newsletters.
The point is that it’s not possible for these people to both love watches and love the MoonSwatch. They’re swallowing hard and doing what Big Watch demands of them, because they have to.
But we don’t have to. We can say it, so at least it’s written somewhere: This MoonSwatch gaff is bullshit.
If you want periodical watch talk that’s real and not motivated by anything except loving watches. Sign up. We’ll get around to do more soon.
UPDATE: So it turns out that fake MoonSwatches are now coming on to the market and the forums are full of warnings about these “cheap immitations.”
Laugh? I nearly shat.
The MoonSwatch is already an inferior quartz movement in a plastic case with a cheap plastic strap. It is hard to figure out where, in this configuration, there is room for the imitators to undercut SwatchxOmega on performance specs, all that can really be said about them is that they… what, aren’t authentic fake Speedmasters?
It’s as if Versace put out a line of “approved” nylon knock-offs of their silk shirts and tried to get precious about others who did the exact same thing: The only real leg to stand on here is who owns the branding being used, not the quality of the product itself.
And this is the original sin of the MoonSwatch — it takes a product, the core value and appeal of which is what it can do, and reduces it to a look and a label. And when that’s all you have, anybody can do that.