Traveling to space is definitely on a lot of people’s bucket lists. Thanks to all the recent advancements in science and technology, we have entered a chapter where almost anyone can go up to space as long as they have the money and tools. And when it comes to the topic of space exploration, there is no watch brand more trusted than Omega. This established Swiss luxury watch brand is known for creating timepieces designed to cater to astronauts and individuals who would love to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Throughout the age of space exploration, Omega has certainly made its mark through a number of significant events, such as being the official watchmaker for the quadrennial Olympic games and creating official Olympics watches. And of course, who could ever forget that the first watch on the moon was a timepiece from this acclaimed watchmaker? Since then, Omega has gone on to develop a series of wonderful, highly durable timepieces designed just for space, such as the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch”.
In this article, we will be delving into one of Omega’s most historic sub-collections: the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33. The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 watches are crafted specifically to be used in the pursuit of space exploration and traveling through the sphere of heavenly bodies. More commonly known as the Omega X-33, let us take a closer look at the history of this lineup and the current models it offers.
Omega X-33: Your Reliable Travel Buddy to Space
The Omega X-33 was first introduced in 1998, in collaboration with esteemed space agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Over the years, Omega has produced many different, upgraded generations of the Omega X-33, which has continued on to this day.
Like the emblematic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, the Omega X-33 is a series that is both rich in heritage and of the utmost significance in the domain of mankind. Having been used in a number of space missions, the Omega X-33 is notable as a part of the prestigious list of watches that have been to space.
Omega X-33 First Generation
After years of meticulous research and testing by Omega, NASA and ESA, the first-ever official Omega X-33 watch was presented in 1998. Witnessed by accredited NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. TPIC 3990.50.00 was launched at the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas. This watch is considered the first generation of the Omega X-33 collection and was succeeded by newer versions in the following years to come.
This first Omega X-33 timepiece was a watch built to be worn on the planet Mars. Also dubbed the Mars Watch, this Omega Speedmaster piece boasted an all-titanium construction. It showed off a sophisticated hybrid dial, which consisted of both analog and multifunctional digital displays.
This watch had a case diameter of 42.25mm and was equipped with a polished, unidirectional count-up bezel. Since this Omega X-33 watch had a digital layout, it could quickly and easily show its time, date, alarm, and countdown functions. It could also efficiently display the watch’s chronograph features, which came in especially handy when accurately timing specific events like launching a ship.
The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. TPIC 3990.50.00 also had four sizable pushers, which you could use to control its functions. This watch was designed in such a way that even astronauts wearing thick gloves could operate it without any hassle. Capable of withstanding extreme fluctuations in temperatures and gravitational pressures, this Omega X-33 piece was the best option for space travelers in every aspect. It was driven by the brand’s in-house Caliber 1666 quartz movement, which was made exclusively for this Omega X-33 model.
Omega X-33 Second Generation
The second generation of the Omega X-33 was the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 3291.50.00. Released in 2001, this Omega X-33 variant was quite similar to the first model. It had a similar robust appearance, the same functions, and the same in-house quartz movement. It only underwent minor tweaks in terms of its design and the materials used.
The second-generation Omega X-33 came in a similar case size measuring 42.25mm but was crafted from a more durable grade 2 titanium material instead. This particular alloy has a more muted, dull gray sheen, which gives this watch a certain degree of seriousness and gravitas. In addition, the case and bracelet of this Omega X-33 model also boast a sleek and well-brushed finish.
Affixed to the top of the watch case is a matte silver count-up bezel that can now rotate bi-directionally. At the bezel’s 12 o’clock, you can find a luminous pip that is filled with Super-Luminova, which helps keep the watch face illuminated in the dark for better legibility.
Back on May 20, 2020, astronaut Robert Behnken was seen wearing an Omega X-33 piece during the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket ship. This spacecraft was the first crewed mission of Elon Musk’s SpaceX program and it was bound for the International Space Station (ISS). However, contrary to most speculation on the internet, it was actually the second-generation Omega X-33 watch that Behnken sported, and not the latest model (2014).
In a photo posted on July 21, 2020, through Behnken’s Twitter, he can be seen floating inside the ship, amidst the celestial bodies, with his Omega X-33 watch wrapped around his wrist. The fact that even the second-generation Omega X-33 model can survive so well in space, even today, is a testament to the quality and durability the brand has imbued in its X-33 timepieces. Indeed, Behnken is one of a few people who have used this watch in space, along with fellow astronaut Ronald Garan Jr. and Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin.
Omega X-33 Third Generation
In 2014, Omega released the third generation of the Omega X-33 series. With the help of the ESA, the third-generation Omega X-33 is a new and completely improved space watch. It has passed a series of tests and simulations conducted by the ESA. As such, this hardy space watch is so qualified that it is even provided by the agency as official equipment for their own astronauts.
The phenomenal partnership between Omega and the ESA resulted in these third-generation X-33 models having a brand-new, super durable construction. This allows the watches to withstand a series of significant space take-off-related problems. For instance, the third-generation X-33 is now able to withstand 7 G’s of acceleration, varying ranges of extreme temperature conditions, vibrations from a spaceship’s launch, and even high radiation.
In terms of its appearance, the third-generation Omega X-33 now has a larger case size, measuring 45mm. It also shows off a brand-new ceramic bezel insert that is highly scratch-resistant. Finally, this model is now powered by a well-crafted in-house thermocompensated quartz movement.
The newer, updated versions of the Omega X-33 are widely available in the market today. There are two models in the third generation of the Omega X-33. We will be taking a close look at both of them in the following section of this article.
Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Models
1. Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001
Although this model is slightly larger than its predecessors, you will immediately recognize this as an Omega X-33 piece, thanks to its recognizable design and distinctive, muted gray look.Case and Bracelet
The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.001 utilizes a 45mm case constructed from grade 2 titanium. This case is on the thicker end, with a height of around 14.89mm. However, since its titanium material weighs about 45% lighter than stainless steel, the watch still has a very lightweight build that wears comfortably on your wrist. It weighs just 110 grams, which is perfect for astronauts who need to avoid being weighed down while in space.
This Omega X-33 piece also comes with a three-link bracelet, which is crafted from a combination of grade 2 and grade 5 titanium. Due to the properties of grade 2 titanium, the entire watch comes in a dull, muted gray hue. It is given a smooth, brushed finish to prevent any visual distortions or light reflections, which is especially important during space explorations.Dial and Bezel
The eye-catching dial of this Omega X-33 model showcases a lovely hybrid display. On the rim of the watch, you can find a black ring, which is filled with white hour indices that are coated with Super-LumiNova. This ring surrounds a black LCD display, which showcases the time, date, timer, and chronograph functions. This LCD screen can also show different space-relevant functions, such as mission elapsed time (MET) and phase elapsed time (PET).
The dial is also furnished with a pair of thick Super-LumiNova sword hands, along with a bright red seconds hand that adds to the vibrancy of the watch face. Protecting the dial is a layer of luxurious sapphire crystal. This crystal is enclosed within a bi-directional rotating count-up bezel made from durable ceramic material.Movement
This Omega X-33 piece runs on an in-house Omega Caliber 5619. This is a thermocompensated quartz movement that provides superb accuracy even when undergoing extreme fluctuations in temperature. It is sealed shut behind a solid titanium caseback.
As a space watch, the Omega X-33 only has a depth rating of 30 meters. This is a little disappointing, as you can take this watch up to stellar heights, but not on deep underwater depths. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure — this watch was designed to be used in space and not for water-based activities.Price
The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 3220.127.116.11.01.001 retails at $5,900 USD.
2. Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 318.104.22.168.03.001
The second model available in the Omega X-33 range today is the Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse Limited Edition. This limited-edition watch was made in celebration of the Solar Impulse project, a project supported by Omega which aimed to create an aeroplane that could fly around the world powered solely by solar energy. Although this Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse watch has the same features as the other Omega X-33 model, it stands out with its cool, distinct colors and more laidback, casual vibe.Case
The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Ref. 322.214.171.124.03.001 comes in a stunning blue and green ensemble and shows off a more playful side of the serious Omega X-33 collection. It is packed in a grade 2 titanium case with a relatively large diameter of 45mm. This is paired with a vibrant, colorful NATO strap with blue and neon green tones. On the whole, this watch wears incredibly lightly on your wrist, weighing just 76 grams.Dial and Bezel
The gorgeous dial of this watch is composed of a blue outer ring that is outlined in green, giving the watch face a more vibrant and dynamic look. On this blue ring, you can find Super-LumiNova-coated hour indices and a subtle minute track. This dial also encompasses a black LCD display, with Super-LumiNova sword hands and a neon green seconds hand.
The functions of this watch can be operated using the four hefty pushers located on either side of the watch. Furthermore, affixed to the top of the watch case is a bi-directional count-up bezel that is crafted from grade 2 titanium and blue ceramic.Movement
Because of its name, you might mistake this watch for a solar-powered one. In reality, however, it is still run by the brand’s in-house Caliber 5619 quartz movement. Like the previous model, this timepiece also offers a mediocre depth rating of 30 meters. This allows it to survive any accidental splashes of water or rain.Price
With only 1,924 pieces available worldwide, this limited edition Omega X-33 watch is priced at $5,900 USD.
Omega will always be the watch brand to beat when it comes to watches fit for space exploration. The rich history of astronauts and cosmonauts who have used Omega watches beyond the Earth’s atmosphere is already a statement in and of itself. With hardy and durable space-ready watches like the Omega X-33 and the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, Omega will forever be an inextricable part of mankind’s illustrious space endeavors.
Photo Credits: Omega Watches and users @SpaceX and @AstroBehnken on Twitter. Featured image courtesy of Omega Watches.
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