Two chronographs robed in black and powered by in-house movements — the Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon and Breitling Chronomat GMT Blacksteel go head to head in this comparative test. Black cases are all the rage. So are in-house chronograph movements. Omega and Breitling combine both in two new watches that here go head to head: the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, from Omega, and Breitling’s Chronomat GMT Blacksteel. The Breitling Chronomat was introduced in the 1940s, but the watch’s styling has been continually updated. The Chronomat GMT Blacksteel has a martial look to it: the gigantic, dark, matte-finished, 47-mm case is more than 18 mm thick; the screwed push-pieces and the rotating bezel, with its four applied cursors, look extremely sturdy. The watch weighs a hefty 209 grams. When you wear the Blacksteel, you almost feel as though you belong to a special-ops task force. The steel of the case is called “black,” but it really looks more like dark anthracite. The DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating is relatively scratch-resistant, but it is thin, and harsh treatment can leave silver-colored scratches on it.
The Omega Speedmaster has an illustrious and often-told history: unveiled in 1957, it was chosen for NASA’s manned spaceflight program in the 1960s. The high point of the watch’s space career came in 1969, when Buzz Aldrin wore this model over the sleeve of his spacesuit while strolling across the lunar surface. This new rendition of the Speedmaster is more elegant than other versions thanks to its black case and dial, both made of zirconium dioxide ceramic. The white-gold hands and the applied white-gold indexes, which are coated with Super-LumiNova, look more luxurious than the white hands and applied luminous indexes on other Speedmasters. The black bezel and its tachymeter scale don’t contrast very strongly with the black case. Chrome nitride, which forms an uncommonly hard and very adherent coating, is used for the silver-gray lettering that’s inset along the ceramic bezel.
This article first appeared in the June 2014 issue of WatchTime.