While Swatch Group’s withdrawal from Baselworld 2019 didn’t spell the doom of the eponymous tradeshow, the conspicuous absence of their 18-brand portfolio — including key exhibitors such as Breguet and Blancpain — proved impossible to ignore given already diminished attendance figures. Group CEO Nick Hayek remains adamant about parting ways with MCH (the company that owns and organises Baselworld) and based on new initiatives like “Time to Move”, it looks as if a warm and fuzzy reconciliation won’t be happening any time soon.

Instead, the group chose to host their own product presentation this May, dubbed (somewhat impishly) “Time to Move”. Key retailers and members of the press were invited to Zurich, where the group’s 6 most prestigious brands — Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz and, of course, OMEGA — unveiled new timepieces for 2019. Every manufacture brought their A-game for the inaugural “Swatchworld” presentation — shoutout to Blancpain for bringing back the Air Command Chronograph — though 2019 has been an especially significant year for OMEGA. Swatch Group’s crown jewel celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, in addition to the 50th birthday of the Speedmaster Professional. So naturally, that meant a landslide of new novelties that will be making their way to retailers later this July — here are our favourites.

Seamaster 300 in malachite

OMEGA stans will recall the release of a solid gold Seamaster 300 several years back. At the time, it was the most decadent iteration of the brand’s iconic 1957 divewatch and has since amassed quite the following amongst high-value customers (it’s frequently spotted on none other than CEO Raynald Aeschlimann). For fans of that model’s unrepentant extravagance, the newest variation — prominently featuring a dial cut from South African malachite — is guaranteed to deepen the obsession. A natural stone dial provides wearers with plenty of tactile interest every time they glance (read: stare, mouth agape) at their wrist; and OMEGA have wisely chosen to coordinate this multihued facade with burnished gold indexes.

Interestingly, the malachite dial medium has in fact had a clarifying effect upon the rest of this Seamaster: there’s no date window, alphanumeric appliques are kept to a minimum, and the previous 18K bracelet has been substituted in favour of a more on-theme leather strap. A luxurious option for collectors who know that most contemporary “dive watches” only see action near the kitchen sink.

The Seamaster 300 in malachite will be available for HK$216,900. To learn more, visit OMEGA online.

Speedmaster Apollo XI "50th Anniversary" Limited Edition

You’d be forgiven for thinking there are more variations on the Speedy than there are planets in our solar system, but if you had to snap up just one of these iconic chronographs, our money’s on the Apollo XI “50th Anniversary”. As the name suggests, this limited edition pays tribute to the moonwatch worn during mankind’s first steps on the lunar surface, and honestly, that’s the least interesting thing about it. This is the second Speedy to feature the new calibre 3861: based on and intended to succeed OMEGA’s historic 1861 chronograph movement.

METAS-certified and resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss, the calibre 3861 embodies OMEGA’s commitment to precision and reliability under a variety of real-world conditions. Material innovation, a cornerstone of the brand’s reputation, is also on full display: the extremely subtle two-tone execution consists of an 18K “moonshine” gold bezel combined with stainless steel casing. Moonshine gold, a proprietary alloy optimised for long-term colour stability, is also a recurring motif on the dial: it’s used for the indexes, period-accurate OMEGA logo and all of the hands except for the central seconds. Admittedly more ornamental than the core Speedmaster offering, this is a balanced option for collectors who want a light coat of commemorative paint to accompany their tool watch.

The Speedmaster Apollo XI “50th Anniversary” will be available in a limited run of 6,969 pieces for HK$78,800. To learn more, visit OMEGA online

Seamaster Diver 300M in ceramic and titanium

The new Seamaster 300M in blacked-out ceramic and titanium, squarely takes aim — whether OMEGA cares to admit it or not — at parties interested in a certain Yachtmaster 42. Positioning aside, the physical parallels are pretty self-evident: there’s the ceramic bezel; stealthy colour scheme; easy legibility; and emphasis on robust movement engineering. It’d be very easy to relegate the newest Seamaster 300M to “Submariner lite” territory, but that feels like a disservice — especially in light of the former’s pricepoint and construction.

The monochrome scheme is a solid fit for the Seamaster 300M’s redesign; and many of the dial elements that were initially dismissed as missteps — here’s looking at you “positive relief” — work really well thanks to enough contrast in colour and texture. Like many of OMEGA’s Time to Move novelties, this particular Seamaster 300M is powered by a movement which has attained METAS certification and is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss.

The Seamaster Diver 300M in titanium will be available for HK$66,400. To learn more, visit OMEGA online.

Speedmaster Moonphase in platinum-gold

There’s a certain romance attached to the kind of Speedy which is “no-nonsense” and “well worn”, but when OMEGA chooses to try its hand at luxury, the brand proves it can party with the best of them — albeit in its own egalitarian way. For the brand’s distinctive take on a subtle flex, it’d be hard to do much better than the Speedmaster Moonphase in platinum-gold. The proprietary material, treated with an alternating brushed and polished finish, is used throughout the case, dial, and buckle.

The tachymetre and moonphase discs are decorated using OMEGA’s decay-resistant Liquidmetal; and the indexes (themselves made of white gold) are mounted in a series of diamond-tipped fittings. At just shy of HK$450,000 this is easily one of the priciest new releases to come out of Time to Move, but still possesses fantastic value thanks to a deluge of precious raw materials and an uncharacteristically ornamental movement.

The Speedmaster Moonphase in platinum-gold will be available for HK$442,800. To learn more, visit OMEGA online

Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer

If you needed further proof that OMEGA was a brand that takes customer feedback seriously, look no further than the new Aqua Terra Worldtimer. The model was originally released in 2017 as an 87-piece limited edition, and while it was a successful technical exercise, proved to be a little unpalatable for much of the brand’s clientele. Fast forward to this May, and the Aqua Terra Worldtimer has been relaunched as a regular production model — in steel or Sedna gold.

Rules of engagement are fairly unchanged: wearers display the time in international cities by pulling the crown out at various positions; and 24-hour time is indicated via a hesalite crystal surrounding the central part of the dial. Classic styling and ease-of-use combine to make this an obvious recommendation for frequent flyers, though it’s notable that no improvements in power efficiency have been made since the original Worldtimer’s debut two years ago.

The Seamaster Aqua GMT Terra Worldtimer will be available for HK$72,600. To learn more, visit OMEGA online

Randy Lai
Watches Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.