From time to time, Moonwatch fans (and NASA enthusiasts) have speculated what a Speedmaster made specifically for a mission to Mars might look like. Omega has really invited this speculation onto itself, trading so heavily in the spacefaring history of the Speedmaster. As our thoughts shift increasingly to Mars, it’s only natural to wonder what watch those first visitors to the red planet might have strapped to their wrist. Omega has given us hints as to what that watch might look like with recent additions to the quartz Speedmaster stable like those in the X-33 and Z-33 family, but now they’ve shown us something much more Mars specific with the all new X-33 Marstimer.
To be clear, this new X-33 isn’t associated with any particular Mars mission (if only such a mission existed…) but it has been made in partnership with the European Space Agency, and bears their seal on the caseback. In addition to all of the functionality available on prior versions of the X-33, like Mission Elapsed Time, Phase Elapsed Time, and a suite of alarms along with a perpetual calendar, the Marstimer offers, well, a Mars timer. The big new technical feature of this watch is a so-called MTC function, which Omega tells us tracks Mars’ “sol” date and time at the prime meridian, accounting for the Martian day being 39 minutes longer than an Earth day.
Thinking through any potential mission to Mars in the future, it doesn’t take long to realize the importance of reconciling this fundamental timekeeping difference, so being able to easily jump back and forth from Mars time to a reference time on Earth is essential. The ability to quickly understand these time differences isn’t only important for astronauts, but also for any crews monitoring a potential mission on earth, as well as researchers and scientists working on Mars related projects at this very moment. Unlike the Speedmasters which were certified by NASA for spaceflight in the Apollo era and beyond, it feels like a “Marswatch,” as envisioned by Omega, is more about timekeeping precision and pure functionality than it is about a tool robust enough to survive the trip. In that sense, there’s something quite nerdy about the X-33 that is really appealing.
Aesthetically, the X-33 Marstimer shares much with earlier X-33s, but has its own distinct look. The dial is ana-digi, of course, with hands that record the local time and a series of digital readouts that provide more information depending on what function you happen to be using. Everything is controlled through the crown and a series of pushers on the case flanks – this is a watch that will require you to sit in front of the manual for a bit. The bezel is anodized aluminum and has been executed in a shade of red inspired by Martian dust, which of course is fitting given the purpose of the Marstimer.
One of the peculiar things about the X-33 has always been its case. On paper, it’s quite large, coming in at 45mm across and 14.9mm thick. But if you’ve ever had the chance to try one on, you know that it is perhaps one of the easiest wearing large watches currently in production. That’s thanks to the titanium case construction, and specifically the cavity in the caseback that is meant to amplify the sound of the alarm. The watch has an airy quality to it as a result of its unique shape and design, and particularly when worn on a lightweight strap it’s quite comfortable. The Marstimer has identical case specs as prior versions of the X-33, so we expect it to wear exactly the same as those earlier watches.
The retail price for the X-33 Marstimer is $6,400, and it’s available now through Omega authorized channels. Omega