People who were afraid to leave their bunkers for two years want to wear the same watch as the Apollo 11 astronauts

Two Apollo 11 astronauts wore the Omega Speedmaster after riding the Saturn V to the moon. Swatch has recently released a replica “moon watch”. Demand for these watches, and an association with the men who were brave enough to go into space, was overwhelming (Daily Mail). I would love to know how many of those who are donning the Watch of Bravery were cowering in place for two years, wearing an N95 mask while walking in the woods, etc.

Here are the original and copy side-by-side:

If you got some of the $500 billion in fraud from the PPP and other Covid relief programs, you might prefer this $45,300 gold version that is so white it looks like inexpensive stainless steel (so the Justice Department won’t suspect you!):

Which one would I choose if I were going into space? None of the above! Everything in aviation is done with UTC so I’d want a 24-hour hand or a 24-hour digital display of UTC in addition to the 12-hour local time. Torgoen makes a lot of these (quartz movements) and, if you want to spend 30X as much to get the same function, the Rolex Explorer II (except that it will cost you 50X as much and you’ll have to accept a used one because new Rolexes, all million/year that they make, are sold out (at least one to this guy who got caught defrauding PPP)).

16 thoughts on “People who were afraid to leave their bunkers for two years want to wear the same watch as the Apollo 11 astronauts

  1. Swatch has a reputation for being a “disruptive” and “democratizing” brand, pushing the price of high technology and, in this case, haute horology, down to the Masses and this Omega (note that the case is plastic (!) and the movement is quartz) is probably their biggest and brashest example of that.

    I do understand it from a marketing and a long term strategy point of view. I recently visited a local jeweler to have an inexpensive ($60) stainless steel bracelet of mine adjusted. There was nobody there except me! The place has been in business for 25+ years and frankly the owners sounded a little desperate. They have a very nice selection of watches and jewelry, which I remarked on, and said: “I’m surprised you don’t have more people in here” which was maybe a little bit rude. The owner’s wife actually shook her head in agreement and said: “Young people don’t wear watches like they used to. The stars and “influencers” don’t push them like they used to. Everyone wants a new phone.” I hope to buy a Citizen or another of her less-expensive models from her soon.

    The owner sized my bracelet perfectly and when I asked him what the total was he said: “Nothing. You bought the bracelet here. Enjoy it.”

    Another datapoint: The Swiss sold fewer watches than ever before in history last year but made *more money* than ever. That’s because of the stratification of the market. It may be great while everyone is flush with cash from PPP fraud, but unless they start paying attention to the Kidz, they’re gonna be crying in the long term, IMHO.

    So Swatch/Omega got brave and decided to gamble on this new collaboration, giving people access to Speedmaster cachet for a tiny fraction of the price. Note that the distribution is limited! You still have to visit one of the Swatch stores in person (at least right now), but they have successfully created some buzz and built demand at the “affordable” end of the market.

    • Sorry, they’re not “plastic” cases – they’re “Bioceramic.” And Omega/Swatch are offering a whole line of color variations based on our solar system, with all the planets from Mercury to Pluto, plus the Sun and Moon, represented.

      My favorite is: “Mission to Neptune”

      Beavis and Butthead fans will also take note of the “Mission to Uranus”:

      Does anything say: “South Beach in the Summertime” better than this watch? I say not.

    • I am surprised that the Apple Watch does not provide for the functionality that the pilots need. The proliferation of iPads in the cockpit would seem like a natural integration between the UTC Time and Forelight or other app that requires the pilot to tell time.

      @Alex, perhaps you can take a moment to write a review and tag your locally jeweler with the great customer service. That sounds like a nice family business that has “stood the test of time”

    • @JJ: I’m a little surprised that some smartwatch company hasn’t (at least as far as I know) made that mod. yet for their watches. Maybe it’s ignorance on my part, though. I have plenty of that. Lol.

      And thank you for the kind words, but as far as tagging local businesses I’m sorry but I try to keep my precise geographic location a little bit obscure. The main reason is that I am a 2nd Amendment supporter in a state where approximately 90% of the population (from what I can tell) disagrees vehemently with almost all of my political views. I’m a little bit of a “chicken” in that sense, but I’ve been burned (badly) before and the scar still hurts. Because of that I am a little bit reluctant (certainly nowhere near as brave as our host) to disclose my precise geographic location. I live in “Central Massachusetts” though, and this jewelry store is in a town that once was significantly more prosperous but in recent years has become much less so. I don’t know how many more years they’ll be able to weather the decline in median income of the people who live there and used to form be their reliable customer base. I can speculate that a watch costing >$1,000 is out of reach to all but a very tiny handful of people who still live there.

      Full disclosure: my most expensive timepiece is a Citizen Promaster SST, which I purchased for $362 when Citizen had a 50% off sale on their website. It was the only “luxury item” I had purchased for myself in almost 20 years, and I bought it near the middle of the difficult medical treatment I’m undergoing to boost my spirits a little. When I wear that watch I feel a little better. It’s a little bit of a “talisman” in that sense, all placebo effect, total horse***t, but I like it. I changed the strap and replaced it with a blue/orange NATO so I could put the supple leather one in storage. Also the NATO straps have the benefit that if one of the spring bars breaks, the watch won’t fall off your wrist!

    • @Alex: I completely understand your “cover of darkness” and respect that. Thanks for engaging here with your insight. I appreciate it.

      For myself, my favorite watch that I ever bought was from Brooks Brothers, although the watch that I find I wear more, except when the wrist band breaks 2X now.

  2. > Which one would I choose if I were going into space? None of the above! Everything in aviation is done with UTC so I’d want a 24-hour hand or a 24-hour digital display of UTC in addition to the 12-hour local time.

    You need to find a recent example of a Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute. Scott Carpenter (1962!) went around Earth twice while wearing one of these, which he specifically asked Breitling to create with a 24 hour dial. And they did it, just for him! This one was made in 2011. I don’t know whether Breitling still makes them. Not cheap.–id23178404.htm

    I’ll do a little research and see if I can find a more affordable watch…AOPA should know but I want to ask a few people on my own.

  3. Finally, that Daily Mail article is a little bit misleading: The amazing thing about this new watch is that Swatch/Omega were able to keep it a secret – totally embargoed! – right up until the moment they announced it! The Daily Mail says:

    “The frenzied shopping has been sparked by the release of the budget MoonSwatch – a **long-awaited collaboration** between Swatch and Omega…The **highly-anticipated timepiece** went on sale this morning with a price tag of £207 but is already on eBay for more than £3,000.”
    Well, some people might have “anticipated” it – in the sense of fantasizing about it – but the actual roll-out and announcement was such a closely kept secret that it took a lot of people who deal in watches as a total surprise. Like Marc Frankel from Long Island Watch (which also designs and assembles its own line of watches in the USA) – who had some hilarious commentary with TGV from The Urban Gentry at the link below. Now, Frankel is just one guy but he’s pretty well informed from what I can tell. [Aside: Marc is not just a watch dealer, he was educated as a Mechanical Engineer at the Cooper Union in Manhattan.]

    “What impresses me the most about this whole thing, is that nobody knew anything until two or three days ago? They were actually able to keep a lid on this? Not that it’s…this isn’t the iPhone, right, this isn’t in “everyday news” – but as far as our “Watch Universe” with all your “big Bloggers” – I won’t mention their names; the factory that’s making these cases…they had to make all of these things…and NOBODY knew this was coming? … There was no leak? … It’s like: “WOW! That was actually really good, that was a nice gag order.”

    Beginning here, this was a nice back and forth. And TGV “gets” it and he likes the idea:

    OK that’s enough from me for the rest of the weekend….

  4. Thank you for the link to the Torgoen website. The watches are beautiful and I’m afraid I will end up owning n+1. It says they are pilots creating watches for pilots, but those watches use GMT, not the correct term UTC. helpfully informs us that the abbreviation UTC for Coordinated Universal Time is meaningless and was chosen in bureaucratic fashion to not offend the French or the English.

  5. Only post on the current front page that mentions masks. Making progress there “Dr” Phil! We are proud of you, and maybe just maybe Florida won’t kick you out.

    Maybe the Fox News/right wing podcasts/conservative Facebook influence is waning.

    • @Mike, you are right. I think “Dr. Phil” should devote all his time and energy on topics such as the collapsing and failing of our public schools, inner cities, run away deficits, ballooning debt, over spending, poor infrastructure, et. al.

      Oh wait, those are topic that should be on the front page of every major news organization and the #1 priority at the White House.

      Unless you live in a gated community, America is becoming a 3rd world county.

    • Florida Realtor of the Year award for 2022 may go to someone in Philadelphia. From

      Philadelphia will reinstate indoor mask mandates Monday, April 18, as its Covid-19 cases quickly rise, the city’s Public Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced Monday.

      The city is the first major US metropolitan area to bring back masking requirements after a slew of cities and states dropped restrictions as cases began trending downward in January.
      The city will move to its second level of Covid-19 restrictions, which requires Philadelphians to wear masks in all indoor public places, including schools, businesses, restaurants and government buildings.
      “Starting today, I’m asking all businesses and institutions in Philadelphia to dig up those old masks-required signs and start hanging them in your windows,” Bettigole said in a news conference.

      [Note that requiring schoolchildren to wear masks is against state law (passed by legislature, not merely a governor’s order) here in Florida.]

    • is even more fun…

      As of Monday, Columbia is requiring that students wear non-cloth masks in classrooms, according to a student-run news site. The mask mandate, which will remain in place through the remainder of the spring semester, applies to all students, but not to professors, for whom masks are optional.

      (Science dictates that 18-year-olds must be masked against the hazards of COVID-19, but the 80-year-old tenured faculty need not wear masks.)

    • “(Science dictates that 18-year-olds must be masked against the hazards of COVID-19, but the 80-year-old tenured faculty need not wear masks.)

      I checked the faculty page of Columbia’s electrical engineering program and most of them look middle age or younger. That said, professors have PhD from prestigious universities and lead valuable research projects whereas students are prole class who often gather in large numbers and spread germs so its best if they wear masks.

  6. Much cheaper than a Rolex Explorer II:

    Citizen Promaster Skyhawk A-T

    A little “busy,” but there’s a lot of function in this watch including UTC on its own dial and a functional slide rule built into the bezel. Radio-synced to atomic clocks. And as long as you get some light on it every few days, you never have to wind it or replace a battery.

    “The Blue Angels are the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron renowned for their precision and grace showcased in each of their flight maneuvers. This precision and grace is exhibited in the CITIZEN Promaster Blue Angels Skyhawk A-T with precise atomic timekeeping in 43 cities. Other features include a chronograph, perpetual calendar, dual time, alarms, countdown timer, digital backlight and UTC display, power reserve and pilot’s rotating slide rule bezel. This model appears in a stainless steel case, indigo blue italian leather strap with yellow contrast stitching, yellow accented dark blue dial and bezel with the Blue Angel’s insignia replicated on the caseback. Featuring our Eco-Drive technology – powered by light, any light. Never needs a battery. Caliber number U680.”

    Non-Blue Angels versions available. $520 and up. Titanium version $716, lightweight and a subtly different “glow” to the metal.

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