What We Know
Today at the European Space Agency Omega announced a new Speedmaster X-33 model, in the mold of the existing Skywalker design. It is called the Marstimer and was unveiled this morning in conjunction with our friends at Fratello to celebrate 10 years of Speedy Tuesday – the popular social media hashtag movement that has since gone on to spur two limited edition Speedmaster models.
The launch today isn’t a Speedy Tuesday model, but rather the culmination of a new partnership between Omega and ESA that results in a watch fit for the exploration of Mars. The watch features a certain red hue on the bezel to make the connection all the more obvious.
In terms of sizing, the case is the same as the existing Skywalker X-33 at 45mm. The case is made from grade-2 titanium and the piece features a titanium bracelet. The bezel, however, is new. It’s done in a red hematite color, an anodized aluminum coloration that is meant to be reminiscent of the dust on Mars. You can also find this color on the upper left pusher, as well as on a distinct gradient (black to red) on the second hand.
Of course, the main design cue of this one, or any X-33, is the ana-digi (that’s analog and digital) display that allows for myriad functionality that we earth-bound explorers (or couch-sitters) will probably never use. But that’s where this watch, the Marstimer, separates itself from the Skywalker. The force may not be as strong with this one, but it’ll work on the red planet – Mars, not Arrakis.
What does that mean? Well, a day on Mars is approximately 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than a day on Earth. This new X-33 accounts for that. According to Omega, the new functionality in this watch was developed under an ESA patented license. They include an MTC function (Mars Time Coordinated) to track the Mars date and time at the prime meridian (and thus allowing for the 39-minute difference in day length). It also features a solar compass which allows the user to find true north on both Earth and Mars. These are in addition to the functions which already exist in the Skywalker.
This means that there’s a new movement under the hood to make the multiple Mars time zone and timekeeping capabilities a visual reality. That would be the new Omega 5622 caliber, a thermo-compensated movement tested and qualified by the ESA. Don’t believe us? Just turn the watch over and read the caseback, which has engraved ESA Tested And Qualified.
Manned trips to Mars are not quite on the table yet, but this piece is available now for $6,400.
What We Think
Well, it’s an X-33 with a red-ish bezel. That was my first thought was upon seeing the watch. And since so much of watch enthusiasm and enjoyment is an aesthetic endeavor, I still kind of feel that way. And that’s mostly because I have no plans to rocket off to Mars any time soon, nor do I have the qualifications to work at ESA or NASA in a control room environment that would necessitate a timepiece capable of tracking Mars time.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think this is a tremendously cool release. Because I very much do. In fact, the ESA involvement in the creation of this idea makes it that much more interesting. If Omega had simply released this piece without any partnership, I think it would feel a bit like a novelty item. Interestingly enough, the first X-33, released in 1998, was known as the “Mars Watch,” and made with the idea of landing on Mars in mind. So this Marstimer isn’t necessarily a new concept, but rather a more specific iteration of the idea.
In fact, what we have is tantamount to an RFP whereby the crew at ESA had a legitimate need and came to the watch company synonymous with space travel to find a solution. It’s no secret that the existing X-33 is the watch of choice for many spacefaring explorers. Its capability is impressive in its own right, with a Mission Elapsed Time function (MET), Phase Elapsed Time (PET) functions, UTC, chronograph, calendar, time and date, and triple alarm functions.
And now, as a result of this new partnership, we get MTC function (Mars Time Coordinated) via the ESA-tested – and brand-new – caliber 5622. This is an update of purpose, and an update that will be put to legitimate use. I can’t help but find that interesting. What’s cooler is that you don’t have to be in space to use this. On the contrary, it would be just as capable in mission control, working on unmanned Mars missions. You have to time that day somehow.
But for every piece of fascination, I can’t help but think that going with the red hematite motif was a bit over the top. Like, real astronauts are going to use this thing and (someday) may wear these on Mars. It seems a bit gimmicky to have a watch with a bezel that matches the colors of that planet’s dust. I’m sure that there are enough people out there who find this design choice neat. It’s just, like, my opinion.
No matter how you slice it, this is yet another step in the story of the Omega Speedmaster, and its connection to space exploration. Let’s all wait and see what adventures are in store for this new Marstimer.
Model: Speedmaster X‑33 Marstimer Chronograph
Reference Number: 3126.96.36.199.01.003
Case Material: Grade-2 titanium
Dial Color: Black
Indexes: White markers
Water Resistance: 30m
Strap/Bracelet: Bracelet and NATO strap
Functions: Analog functions include hours, minutes, and seconds. Digital functions track time zones and date on Earth and Mars. The Mars functions track the Rover’s mission on the Red Planet, while the addition of a solar compass allows the watch to find true north on both Earth and Mars. Included are traditional Skywalker X33 functions: MET (Mission Elapsed Time), PET (Phase Elapsed Time), alarms and perpetual calendar.
Additional Details: Battery life of 24 months
Pricing & Availability
Limited Edition: No