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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ahhh, it's good to be back. I've been greatly enjoying my near-mint, complete, Second Generation Omega Speedmaster X-33:







A handsome watch that is so functional, yet subtle . . . practical, yet exotic . . . and overall, it's just so very "legitimate".







My backstory: I owned a Gen1 X-33 in the past, but at the time I didn't fully warm up to its less integrated looks. I sold it. But I talked up the watch so much, that a good friend of mine bought one for himself; a Gen2, and every time I saw it I kicked myself that I should have one. The aesthetics of the Gen2 model really clicked with me, but I just admired my friend's watch from afar. Then, recently, this inspiring thread nudged me to act. I missed out on this one a few weeks ago, due to my own sheer inattention. But I ended up being able to purchase that same watch from its buyer. Now, I'm really glad to own this very nice example (serial number 5.9 million), and I'm looking forward to enjoying it!





So -- what do I like about the X-33? This watch has so many attributes, it's difficult to prioritize. And, is there anything to say about the X-33 that hasn't already been said? Maybe not. But still, in no particularly logical order, here I go:


The X-33 is super legible, while being aesthetically appealing. The stark white hands, the matte black outer dial, the curved LCD readout that is intelligently designed and absolutely readable, yet can be shut off for austere cleanliness - wow, this watch tells time with exceptional clarity. And isn't that what a watch has to be all about, first and foremost? Yet, the red-airplane-tipped seconds hand brings a dash of jaunty verve to an otherwise deadly serious watch, and elicits a smile every time I see it. Plus, there is a pleasant three-dimensionality to the dial that is hard to capture in pictures, with the recessed markers, the beveled chapter ring, and the multi-level outer dial. The X-33 is a handsome, visually interesting watch, without being frivolous. It is a functional work of art that is a pleasure to behold.







It is feature-packed, but in a way that makes each feature readily accessible and so easily useful. Everything is straightforward and intuitive. The richness of functionality, the flow of the modes, and the ease of setting each mode, were obviously well thought out.


Its workmanship and quality are impeccable. The way the whole watch is beautifully crafted . . . the contours of the case . . . the intricacy of the dial and precision of the bezel engraving . . . the smooth bezel action, with just the right amount of turning resistance . . . the domed sapphire crystal that looks like it's not even there . . . everything is just top-shelf. All the bezel markings are laser engraved, with incredible precision; versus being printed on, which is how they look in pictures. Very impressive. Even the way the buttons "snap" with precision when they're pressed is unlike any other watch - and evidence of sheer, high-quality, watchmanship. Plus, I got lucky; in that the accuracy of my example is as good as any HEQ I've owned - no noticeable timekeeping variation - and the hands align with the markers perfectly.








The X-33 is probably the world's best travel watch, with easy "fly-by-wire" resetting for time zone changes, a super loud alarm, and a combination of great lume with a fantastic backlight. It just works brilliantly as a real-world traveler's companion and tool.



Lume pic courtesy of gslaskin


The lume on this watch is an appealing creamy vanilla color during the day, which provides a nice visual color contrast against the pure, snow-white hands and the black outer dial. And at night, the lume on this watch absolutely rocks! Very bright, and very long lasting, which is then further enhanced by the X-33's super-bright electroluminescent backlight. Well done, Omega.



Nightlight pic courtesy of Jackhlin




"FLIGHT QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR SPACE MISSIONS". The watch has a super authentic pedigree as a working space watch, and is preferred by astronauts, military aviators, soldiers & marines, and commercial pilots the world over. There is most likely at least one X-33 circling above us on the International Space Station at all times. You can't say that about very many other watches!










The all-Titanium X-33 is super light weight, and therefore extremely comfortable to wear. The X-33 bracelet is about as good as it gets, too, from a quality, clasp, comfort, and appearance standpoint. And the X-33's lustrous, grayish titanium-colored finish has a refined specialness that stands out from a parade of stainless steel watches.













The curvaceous lugs, and the bold contouring of the solid end links are very impressive. You don't notice these in the typical "straight-on" pictures.







Size. Omega's official specification states that the X-33 is a 42mm watch. Well, by my measurement, the bezel is 40mm in diameter, the crystal is 31mm in diameter, and the watch case itself is about 43-44mm wide when measuring from the 9:00 protrusion across to the 3:00 crown guards. This does not count the crown, which sticks out another 2-2.5mm past the guards. Personally, I think that watches generally "wear" relative to the diameter of their bezel. Because some of its width is made up of the case protrusions that serve as button & crown guards, the X-33 "wears" a fair amount smaller than its dimensions would indicate. And its titanium gray color and all-satin finish tone it down on the wrist, too. From a size and visual prominence standpoint I would equate it to "wearing" similar to an old-style 40mm Rolex sports watch, but less prominently than the new "supercase" Sub-C, even though both of those are spec'd at 40mm. The X-33 fits me very well.







Finally, this watch has that understated, stealthy desirability that I really appreciate. Its look is "technical", versus "luxurious", and certainly not brashly "prestigious." Yet it carries itself with gravitas and significance. Very, very few people are going to notice or call out this watch as something as special or valuable as it is. For example, the "Omega" branding is so subtle as to be essentially unnoticeable. I like that. As such, the X-33 possesses a highly encoded, covert appeal that is singularly rare and oh-so desirable. A secret pleasure to privately savor, it represents an understated excellence that only is discernible by someone who's in-the-know.





The X-33 is not perfect. You actually could argue that it is over-featured. Modes such as mission time, mission alarm, and universal time alarm are of little use to a ground-bound non-astronaut like me, and generate the need for some extra button pushes when scrolling through all the screens to get to the mode you want. Wishes? I wish the X-33 had a higher water resistance rating (mostly for peace of mind, not because I want to dive with it). Wish it had an hourly chime feature. I wish the finish had a super-hard protective coating like Grand Seiko's or Citizen's proprietary "scratchproof" titanium finishes. You could argue that a true "tool" watch ought to have drilled lug holes. It would have been cool if they would have put a little lume pip on the seconds hand -- maybe on the counterbalance section, a'la a Seiko diver. Finally (as long as it's fantasy time), it would be awesome if the watch was solar powered and atomic-synched. Maybe in the next generation -- if that ever comes to pass….

But I'm nitpicking. Criticizing the X-33 for being "over-featured" is a little like disparaging a leopard for having spots, right? Overall -- the "form follows function" design of the X-33 is just so fundamental to the watch, and what makes it so appealing. And it does have that "specialness", that "legitimacy", that "Right Stuff" air about it that is difficult to define, but so enjoyable to possess. A combination of a cool design, thoughtful functionality, high quality materials & finish, and lasting importance.






How do you define a classic? I might suggest a classic is a watch that has an authentic integrity about it . . . that stays relevant . . . stays in demand, stays useful, and stays attractive . . . even as the years pass, and despite having gone out of production for retail customers. The X-33? Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Summary? I believe it's earned a spot as one of the true classics of watchdom.


It's definitely a milestone watch. A benchmark. A classic. And a keeper.


Cheers,


Dave




And before concluding, I need to confess and apologize that my photography skills are nowhere near the top echelon participants on this board: John Wilson, Cicindela, gslaskin, powerband, and many others…. So thank you for bearing with me anyway.

X33 3291 3291.50 32915000 3291.52 32915200 3290 3290.50 32905000 1666
 

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Thank you for the review. I have been in the process of updating my 12 year old Gen.1 by polishing the bezel shown here in the picture and now am waiting while Jay at MotorCity WatchWorks bead blasts the titanium case. I have worn my X-33 more than any other watch by far since owning it, certainly my most favorite Omega.
 

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What a great review.

I wouldn't have thought there was anything left to write about the X-33. But your post managed to highlight a large number of fresh insights from the perspective of a true connoisseur - Bravo. It got me so excited about the watch again, that I think I am going to switch over to my X-33 for the rest of the day.


I have owned two Gen II X-33s, and for me this is the best watch is the world. It is comfortable and super functional. The 80dB alarm and the incredible light that stays on as long as you are working the functions of the watch, make this the best working watch in my opinion. It is the only watch which I have been able to set the alarm in the dark. For someone that travels internationally a lot, no other watch really compares in terms of its functionality. The X-33 handles the 1/2 hour time zone differences easily and you can adjust the time without hacking. It is always easily legible no matter where you are.

I sold my last X-33 and tried to replace it with a Casio WVA-320J. That Casio is an outstanding piece in its own right, with the addition of solar/atomic technology - The best time keeping technology currently available. I would argue that the WVA-320J is the best $200 watch made. The problem with that watch is mainly, like most watches, the alarm is not loud enough. It didn't wake me up one heavily jet-lagged day in India, and I ended up being a few minutes late for an early morning meeting. That event prompted me to re-buy another X-33. (But I still use my WVA as my weekend beater.)

The X-33 is simply an outstanding, unparalleled piece of timekeeping engineering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the kind words, guys.

I was just thinking last night about how few X-33's have probably been built. I don't think anyone really knows, but I'd bet it's a very small number - not just based on how infrequently they come onto the market, but also a couple other factors. First off, my Gen2 X-33 has a 5.9 million serial number, as does the Gen2 of my friend. The "usual" lore about linking Omega serial numbers to their year of production does not apply to the X-33: according to the common web references, a 5.9 million Omega serial would indicate 1999 production. (Google will yield several such sites, here is just one: Serial Number guide ) Yet the Gen2 was not even introduced until 2002, and lived in the active retail lineup for only a couple years. Meanwhile, my previously owned X-33 Gen1 was a 5.6 million serial, which would indicate 1998 production, but because it did not have any box or papers, I have no idea when it was actually produced or sold.

End result? I would speculate, even though I have no real basis to do so, that Omega made up (and serialized) a large number of cases in the 1998-99 timeframe, and has worked through that initial supply of stock for the entire lifespan of the X-33 -- which as we know isn't over yet, due to the ongoing squadron purchase program and the continued supply of X-33's to International Space Station astronauts (well documented and frequently updated on the "
News From Space" page of the ISS section of Omega's website).

Any other thoughts on this topic, or existing research anyone else can cite? Anyone here used the "
From the Archives" service of Omega for an X-33?


An interesting corollary - it is a commonly accepted estimate that Rolex produced a grand total of less than 25,000 OysterQuartz watches over that line's almost-25-year span of retail availability. It is also commonly accepted lore that probably two-thirds of those watches were produced and serialized in the first two years of Oysterquartz availability (the 1977-79 timeframe). Meanwhile, Rolex probably made 25,000 conventional DateJusts per month during the same time! The OysterQuartz and the X-33 have a couple similarities to each other in that 1) they are modernized quartz-powered updates of classic "signature" models that defined each respective brand -- each quite unlike anything else the respective brands are known for, 2) both were relatively unsuccessful market flops when they were first introduced, and 3) now both are finding their niche amongst enthusiast collectors -- not just for their outright rarity, but because each offers unique, practical, utility that the more mainstream offerings from each respective brand do not provide.

Just for fun, here's a couple ISS pictures that are only a couple weeks old, as posted on Omega's "News From Space" section referenced above:





All the best,

Dave
 

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That is a great review Dave!
I would like, and I am guessing others are too, to make a small survey; to find out, as much as we can, about the Serial Numbers issue batch fromour favourite X-33s!
What do you all lad's think of it?
Mine for example is a Gen 1 with Serial Number 56063xxx.
 

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My 1st Gen is 56449xxx. And I'm counting the days till it's back.
 
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