The week of March 20, we took notice of some cryptic social media chatter out of Swatch and Omega on Instagram: “On March 25, it’s time to change your Swatch,” and “… it’s time to change your Omega.” This had the watch community more than a little confused.
Then came the full-page ads in The New York Times teasing a weekend release and reveal.
Rumors abounded. Enthusiasts began crafting their own mockups. Would it be high quality super clone Omega Speedmaster watches? What would it be called? A SwatchMaster?
Without warning, two days before the stated launch date, news broke on the internet and we finally saw it: A Bioceramic Swatch that was a near carbon copy of a Moonwatch, but in Swatch form. And it was called … The MoonSwatch.
The best UK replica watches wouldn’t be available online. Only in Swatch stores – only in select Swatch stores.
Excitement began to rise. We heard stories of crazed collectors pitching tents in front of Swatch boutiques around the globe. Some of us couldn’t imagine waiting in line for more than 24 hours for a Swatch.
But many, many, many people did. Thousands worldwide. It was, without question, the biggest top super clone watches release in decades.
Lines grew to a point where Swatch had to make an announcement on Instagram. If you were planning on coming to a store, you’d only be allowed to purchase two MoonSwatches. Lines grew longer still.
Crowds – even mobs – began to form, from Tokyo to London. Law enforcement was needed in some locations to calm the masses. Swatch came back again with another message. Apparently the sheer scale of the crowds necessitated a revised assessment: Now, if you planned on coming to buy a MoonSwatch, you could only buy one.
Signs were posted at each location to that effect, reminding those who waited for 18 hours straight that it was all for a single watch.
Some stores, like Singapore, saw a police presence just before the doors to the store opened. London, too. It was like Black Friday in spring, only everyone was a watch enthusiast – or were they?
Because this is 2022, the MoonSwatch brought out the flippers – free-agent entrepreneurs who figured they’d be able to turn around and sell the Swiss made fake watches for an exponential profit. (They figured correctly.)
HODINKEE dispatched photographers to London, Singapore, Miami, Toronto, Las Vegas, and New York. Three continents, one watch. I was on the scene in Times Square and witnessed a line over two blocks long. Nearly 2,000 strong – and there were fewer than 300 super clone watches for sale in stock. The would-be customers had stickers on their hands representing their spot. Some were offered cash for the sticker. It was pandemonium.
It’s now been two months since MoonSwatch took over the known watch universe. Stores are still struggling to get luxury copy watches in stock, and demand is still high. In fact, just this week, rumors began to swirl that – despite earlier rumblings – the watch would not be made available online and instead remain a fixture of in-store shopping … exclusively.
Having only seen the watch in-person briefly at launch, I was particularly excited at the prospect of spending the week with not one, but two models: The Mission to Mars and the Mission to Jupiter (there were 11 in total: Mission to Earth, The Moon, Jupiter, Uranus, The Sun, Mars, Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Mercury, and Venus). But of course, I couldn’t just wear these pieces like I would any other 1:1 super clone watches. I needed to make an experience out of it. I needed to return to where it all began – to Times Square, New York, New York.
Wristed with two MoonSwatches and a microphone in hand, I posted up outside the Swatch boutique ready to question any passersby who stopped or glanced at the briefcase full of them in the display window. My mission was simple, to get an idea of where the hype stands now that the lines are gone. I wanted to know if this was a flash in the pan, or a true watch moment with legs – one that we would remember and look back on the way we talk about the Quartz Crisis.
You’ll be able to see the full breadth of my conversations in the video review, but needless to say the individuals I talked to ran the gamut from MoonSwatch clueless to “could write a book about it.” If I take the median subset of those I spoke to, I can say pretty confidently that the AAA replica watches continues to garner interest and fascination, while maintaining a certain mystique.
I strolled through Times Square with one watch on each wrist and then returned to my own thoughts. Having the super clone watches wholesale changed my entire thinking on the release. I no longer had to wonder what it would be like to wear one – I was spending a week with two.
A Week On The Wrist
What I learned from this watch is that hype can be a very distracting beast. It can blind you from the truth or at least divert your attention away from the realities of what is right in front of you. It goes without saying that a Swatch x Omega Speedmaster collaboration is punchy and shocking enough to drive serious interest at a broad level. The lines proved that.
But what happens when you’re the lucky buyer who was able to walk in, purchase one, take it home, and then own it? What do you really have?
You have exactly what was advertised: An Omega Speedmaster but Swatchified. Instead of a metal case, the case is made from Swatch’s Bioceramic – a material crafted from a mixture of plastic and ceramic. It has a matte-like, rough, grainy texture to it and it is almost impossibly light. I’m not talking titanium light, but plastic light – like the difference between a steel fork and, well, a plastic fork.
I went into my experience with a clean conscience, but even I have to say I was a bit disappointed by the feel of this fake watches shop site. While $260 is not expensive, horologically speaking, it’s also no small sum. Knowing what brands like Seiko can do at a similar price point, I was frankly left wanting more by way of the quality of the case.
It gives off a very “3D-printed” vibe – as if this is how a watch prototype would normally be made, only, this is the final product. That being said, these same factors can actually be spun into a positive. I believe this is exactly what both brands were going for.
Here’s what I mean. Creating an inexpensive, Swatch version of a Moonwatch has potential to be a dangerous game for a brand like Omega. If you can get the same design DNA for under $300, why would you ever shell out upwards of $6k for the real thing?
In order to keep the two models separate, there needs to be a clear delineation of perceived quality. Nobody is going to buy the MoonSwatch and say to themselves “This is all I need.”
Instead, the MoonSwatch represents a perfect companion to the real thing. MoonSwatch and Moonwatch coexist harmoniously. For new watch buyers, the Swatch can be the gateway to future online Omega Speedmaster super clone watches purchase. For current Speedy owners, it can be a fantastic addition to the collection. In a word, it’s fun.
I spent time with only two of the models, as I mentioned previously. The Mission to Mars was something of a cult hit at launch. Its red case, and capsule shaped hands had people waxing horological about the Speedmaster Alaska project. Everyone wanted this watch.
Nobody really spoke much about the Mission to Jupiter, the sand-colored variant I also had a chance to wear over the course of the week. But I was definitely taken more by the Jupiter – which surprised me. Something about its muted colorway as opposed to the flashier Mars made it a more enjoyable experience. I even saw shades of the famed Ultraman Speedmaster in its design, by way of the orange accents.
Outside of the obvious differences between the two variants – dial color, handset, and strap – the rest of the offering is effectively the same across the entire MoonSwatch range.
What we have is a 42mm diameter case that has been designed and printed in Bioceramic to look identical to an Omega Speedmaster. Everything from the crown guards to the lyre lugs to the “beveling” is all encoded into this case. It wears size-wise like a Speedy, as well. The only (rather significant) difference is in the weight. When you put on a MoonSwatch, you almost forget you’re wearing a watch at all – it’s that light.
Where the Speedmaster is manual-winding by way of the modern 3861 caliber, the MoonSwatch is quartz-powered which is another way of keeping things both light (emotionally speaking) and inexpensive. If you turn over any MoonSwatch, you’ll notice the battery cover is designed in the likeness of the particular celestial body specific to the replica watches store. This movement means that the chronograph function does not feature a sweeping seconds hand but rather a ticking one. And when the timing information is displayed it is done after the chronograph is stopped. Resetting the chrono results in a fun display where all the hands twirl around and return to their original 12 o’clock positions.
Dial details across the MoonSwatch line are also different from a classic Speedy. For one thing, the co-branding is printed directly on the dial (and on the strap). And the orientation of the text is different from what you would find on a normal Speedmaster.
The wearing experience is pure, unadulterated joy. This is the least-serious watch I have been exposed to in some time (and I’m the guy who wrote all of those Space Jam articles). The design DNA of the Speedmaster is no longer confined to NASA-loving space geeks. This is now a design for the masses.
Passersby noticed this super clone watches for men on my wrist as I walked. It generated excitement when I showed it to those I interviewed in Times Square. I was almost proud to reveal it to them – like I had some kind of treasure on my wrist. I imagine this is what it feels like to wear a Tiffany Nautilus or any Richard Mille. Oh, except this one costs $260, remember? This is nuts, and I love it.
My week with the MoonSwatch was less about the watch and more about my own meditations on the moment. If Swatch continues to relegate these pieces to brick-and-mortar stores, potential buyers will continue to line up outside – though not necessarily by the thousands.
What this release has taught me is that watches still have magic – the ability to drum up excitement the way Apple can with a new iPhone. MoonSwatch represents a new day in the ongoing history of horology. But the question remains what that new day means. Is the MoonSwatch good for watches, or is it bad for Swiss movements fake watches? We’ll take it a step further and say: It’s great for watches.