Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, (Pre-owned)
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Despite their complexity, mechanical chronographs are relatively plentiful at the moment. Inexpensive movements such as the Chinese-made Sea-Gull ST19 and the higher-grade (and newer) Seiko NE88 mean that manufacturers large and small have been able to get into the chrono game, brining the heat with watches that in some cases retail for under $1,000.
This is all well and good, and we applaud the new horological kids on the block. But if you want a sure thing — something that will never go out of style, something that telegraphs subtle cool, something with significant history behind it, something that just looks badass — you need to spend a bit more money.
You need an Omega Speedmaster Professional.
No Chronograph Watch Has a More Important History
The Speedmaster went to the freakin' moon. Need we say more? This is the modern version of the watch chosen by NASA to accompany its astronauts for decades — in fact, it's still flight-qualified for all manned space missions. There is simply no other chronograph watch imbued with more history and better linked to the destiny of mankind as explorers than the Omega Speedmaster. Full stop.
You're Getting a Wildly Good, In-House Movement
Though the Speedy has housed several different Omega movements, it's currently powered by the manually-wound caliber 1861. This movement is a direct descendant of the famed caliber 861 that powered historical Speedies, though this slightly newer version has 18 jewels and is rhodium-plated. While it's not the caliber that went to the moon (that honor goes to the caliber 321), it's largely the same movement that's been powering the Speedy since 1969 — only now, it's made completely in-house by Omega.
The Speedmaster is Perpetually Available
Yes, there are plenty of attractive (even important) chronographs — the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona among them. But unfortunately, you can't just walk into a Rolex authorized dealer and buy one. With the Speedmaster, the opposite is generally true: there are so many Speedmaster variations, that the difficult part can be choosing which one is right for your wrist. The modern Professional with "hesalite" (plastic) crystal gets our vote, and you can find one at just about any Omega dealer, any day of the week.
You're Actually Getting a Great Value
Is the Speedy cheap? By no means. But think about what you're getting: a lauded in-house movement, a classic design, enormous history, and a beautiful object. (On a beautiful bracelet). There aren't many watches with this sort of cachet for this kind of money — you'd have to spend way more than double for an equivalent from Rolex (realistically, you'd have to spend about 4x as much). So take our advice: if you want one chronograph, save up your hard-earned cash for a Speedy.