Small changes to a watch can often require more than a loupe to understand. But sometimes, a brand adds meaningful incremental updates to a watch that nobody saw coming in a way that preserves the spirit of the original and simply improves it, full stop. Such is the case with Omega’s announcement today revolving around the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 Edition.

The original design was released in 2018, marking the 50th anniversary of the mission itself. The inimitable James Stacey went Hands-On with that watch. While he – rightfully – waxed lunar about the Apollo 8 crew and their journey around the Moon some ten times before safely returning home, he also went deep on what was, at the time, a unique aesthetic upgrade over the current generation Dark Side of the Moon family. That meant a semi-skeletonized dial layout with a specific Moon-patterned finishing to the dial surface and a ceramic case at 44.25mm that, at the time, housed the workhorse Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 Edition caliber 1861 movement – the same powered the Moonwatch… at the time.

Everything from the dial finishing to the movement finishing to the case finishing just brought a jolt of energy to the DSOTM series in a way we had not seen yet. Well, it seems Apollo 8 has been on the brand’s mind, as Omega has chosen this watch to make minor but meaningful upgrades both in aesthetics and functionality.

One of the major minor updates is a new movement, the Calibre 3869, which features a laser-ablated moon relief on the blackened main plate and bridges. The new movement presents a new display ethos overall where the front side – the dial side – is inspired by the view of the Moon from Earth, and the back side is the dark side (of the Moon).

Given that the previous iteration housed the caliber 1861, the use of the 3869 also represents a milestone in that the Dark Side of the Moon now beats with a METAS-certified movement. With this upgrade, the watch maintains its previous proportions of 44.25mm in diameter and with a decrease in thickness from 13.8mm to 13mm. The price has increased rather significantly from about Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 Edition which can be attributed to the new movement and high level of finishing.

The other bit of newness is my favorite bit because it’s the first time I have ever heard the phrase “patent pending small-seconds hand.” But that is, in fact, what we have here by way of the fantastically geeky, but no less cool, Saturn V rocket-shaped hand at nine o’clock. I honestly spent most of my time preparing for this story by staring at the macro photo of the hand. There’s just so much depth and detail there that I cannot wait to experience in person.

As Omega explains it, “The powerful 3D structure has been obtained by laser turning, while the colors are achieved with white varnish, ablation, and laser blackening.” And look, if a (very) miniature seconds hand requires patenting, I am all for it.

Say what you will about the size of the DSOTM, and reserve your “I wish this was 42mm” arguments for a moment. I appreciate that Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 Edition has maintained the larger size of this family of watches. The use of ceramic casing is a challenge all its own, but I also feel that the largeness makes these pieces feel that much more special. Also, who knows how small that Saturn V hand would have to be in a smaller case size. Let’s all just appreciate there’s now a Speedmaster with a rocket hand. I’ll be sure to report back on my thoughts once I see this one in real life soon (I hope).