The Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch is without question a great release that’s offered a breath of fresh air to the traditional, at times stuffy world of watches. The collaboration between Swatch and Omega has caused quite a stir over the past few weeks and it’s still the talk of the town. While outfitting a Swatch with the iconic Omega Speedmaster design is a great idea, the current market prices for the MoonSwatch are anything but fair. We are, after all, talking about a quartz watch made of plastic – sorry, BIOCERAMIC. Though the Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch is likely to be a so-called “limited run,” I’m pretty sure that every watch lover who wants a MoonSwatch will be able to get their hands on one eventually. But while you wait, I want to show you three great alternatives to the MoonSwatch. Each of these watches is a stainless steel chronograph with its own unique history and design – there’s even a real Moonwatch in there. Best part? All of these watches are currently available for less than $1,000!
Alternative No. 1: A Lesser-Known Moonwatch
Most watch enthusiasts know that the legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional was the first watch on the Moon, but did you know that there is another, lesser-known “Moonwatch” out there? I’m talking about the Bulova Lunar Pilot. On August 2, 1971, this timepiece made its mark in space on the wrist of David Scott. After his second walk on the Moon, the astronaut noticed that the glass on his Omega Speedmaster Professional had come loose. So, for his third spacewalk during the Apollo 15 mission, Scott donned his own personal watch that he had brought on board: a Bulova chronograph. The Bulova Lunar Pilot is a near-exact replica of this watch, but with updated technology. At first glance, the timepiece looks remarkably similar to the historic Omega Speedmaster Professional, particularly the case shape and dial. However, at 45 mm in diameter, the Bulova is much larger than both the Omega Speedmaster and the MoonSwatch. It is equipped with a high-performance quartz caliber with a frequency of 262 kHz, making it an extremely accurate timekeeper. Like the Speedmaster and the MoonSwatch, the Lunar Pilot is water resistant to 50 m (5 bar, 164 ft), but it comes with a sapphire crystal. The Bulova logo is engraved on the case back, as is the mission, date, and coordinates of David Scott’s spacewalk. In contrast to the Omega Speedmaster, the Bulova chronograph was never owned by NASA, it was just the astronaut’s personal timepiece. Scott held on to his Bulova chronograph until 2015, at which point he decided to put it up for auction. The watch sold for around $1.7 million. You, on the other hand, can call this piece of otherworldly history your own for around $600.
Alternative No. 2: A Genuine Racing Chronograph
The release of the Omega X Swatch MoonSwatch made it abundantly clear that the Omega Speedmaster has earned its fame primarily as a space watch, but the model actually has roots in racing. The Omega Speedmaster was originally designed for race car drivers, not astronauts. The same is true for the Tissot PRS 516 ref. T100.417.37.201.00. This quartz chronograph is completely black, and both its dial and carbon bezel immediately bring the racetrack to mind. The bright blue accents on the second hand and push-pieces provide a perfect visual highlight that underscores the watch’s sporty nature and shakes up the overall design. The stainless steel case has a black PVD coating.
Measuring 42 mm across, the chronograph is on par with the MoonSwatch in terms of size. However, the Tissot PRS 516 not only offers you a sapphire crystal, but also an improved water resistance of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) and a practical date function. These traits make the Tissot racing chronograph a perfect watch for everyday wear. I also really like the watch’s rubber strap with a metal clasp. It looks great and is actually quite rare at this price point. The steel case back is the only part of this watch that leaves a little to be desired – it’s not PVD-coated like the rest of the case. I personally would have preferred it if the entire watch were black, but that’s a pretty minor drawback and not even noticeable when it’s on the wrist. The Tissot PRS 516 is a genuine racing chronograph with a great, fresh design for less than $600.
Alternative No. 3: The Chronograph All-Rounder
The final watch I’d like to introduce is the most expensive of the three at just under $1,000, but it offers a lot of bang for your buck. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind GMT is a bonafide pilot’s chronograph. As such, it has a completely different character than the MoonSwatch. In comparison to the sleek Swatch, this quartz chronograph seems rather bulky. At 46 mm, it really only suits those with larger wrists; however, it is the perfect timepiece for the adventure seekers out there. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind GMT is equipped with a whole host of functions (which explains its generous size). The watch is made entirely of stainless steel and boasts a chronograph with a date function as well as a GMT function, allowing you to keep track of a second time zone. The most unique feature this watch has to offer, however, is the drift angle calculator, which is made possible by a scale around the dial’s edge. While few of us will ever actually use such a function, it is a rarity in the watch world and something you won’t find on many other models. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind GMT is a truly unique timepiece that is visually appealing despite its oversized dimensions. A water resistance of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) and a sapphire crystal round out the overall package. You also get to choose between a blue or black dial and a steel bracelet or rubber strap. The Hamilton Aviation X-Wind GMT is the perfect quartz chronograph for larger wrists and for those who love a good field watch.