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The Complete Buying Guide to Omega Watches

We break down the catalog of the one of the world’s foremost watchmakers, from the Seamaster to the Speedmaster and more.

omega watches
Omega

Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.

First watch on the Moon. A classic James Bond model. Worn on the wrist of JFK and Mikhail Gorbachev at their respective inaugurations and on the wrist of Mao Zedong for 31 years. Elvis Presley wore one while cruising in his purple Cadillac, and today George Clooney wears one while cruising on a Vespa. A paradigm-shifting mechanical movement designed by the 20th Century’s greatest watchmaker. The only brand to truly compete with and sometimes even dominate Rolex. A Babe Ruth-style run as some of the most accurate watches in the world, and the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games over and over. This is Omega, one of the greatest Swiss watch companies of all time.

A Brief History of Omega

Omega has been around under one name or another since 1848, but today’s lineup draws heavily on its classic mid-20th-century designs. Though not quite as slow to evolve as Rolex, the Maison has incrementally developed its watches such that they feel simultaneously historical (though not anachronistic) and modern (though not trendy).

Founded by Louis Brandt as La Generale Watch Co. in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 1848, the firm quickly made a name for itself as an innovator: It developed and debuted the first minute-repeating wristwatch in 1892, a full generation before wristwatches themselves came into vogue following the First World War. Perhaps most significant with respect to horological history writ large was the debut of the “Omega” caliber in 1894, a 19-ligne, crown-set movement whose interchangeable parts meant for easy service.

La Generale Watch Co. became Louis Brandt et Frère-Omega Watch & Co. in 1903 and began signing its dials with the Omega name. In 1917, during the throes of the First World War, the British Royal Flying Corps would officially adopt Omega timepieces, beginning a long relationship with what would become the RAF that lasted for decades. The U.S. Army similarly adopted Omega timepieces in 1918, while the Olympic Games utilized Omega timing equipment for the first time in 1932. The same year, Omega debuted the Marine, commonly accepted as the first dive watch for civilians.

Omega supplied over 100,000 timepieces to British forces during the Second World War, including the 6B/159 and the beloved “Dirty Dozen” W.W.W. Additionally, watches such as the Omega Suveran were used to bolster local wartime economies — in this case, in Sweden. In 1948, Omega launched the Seamaster, a watch that began life as a water-resistant dress watch and quickly morphed into a fully capable dive watch in the form of the Seamaster 300.

1957 saw the release of the first Speedmaster, a watch commonly associated with the space race but whose design was inspired by automotive racing. Following its appearance on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin during the 1969 moonwalk — and its role in saving the crew of Apollo 13 in 1970 — the Speedmaster became a household name, bringing heretofore unknown fame to the Swiss company.

In 1984, Louis Brandt et Frère-Omega Watch & Co. officially changed its name to Omega SA and is today a part of the Swatch Group. It remains the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games and has become a timekeeper of the America’s Cup, the official watch of the James Bond franchise, and one of the most beloved watchmakers in the history of horology.

A Bit About Omega Watch Movements

speedmaster
Henry Phillips

Omega has used both third-party movements — or, to be more precise, calibers based upon third-party movements, which it often modified or decorated — as well as completely in-house calibers. (Indeed, the most famous Speedmaster calibers were essentially Lemania movements.) Regardless of their origins, Omega calibers are often regarded by watchmakers as well-designed, durable, and elegant.

The following are a few of the more notable Omega movements:

Caliber 30T2

Measuring 30mm in diameter, the 30T2 is an evolution of the “30” series that debuted in 1939. This series would see use in the W.W.W. “Dirty Dozen” watches of WWII fame, as well as countless examples of oversized dress watches in the post-war decades. Chronometer-grade versions took home honors in observatory trials in 1946.

Caliber 321

The movement that powered the Moonwatch first appeared in 1946 but is based upon a Lemania caliber, the 2310, which debuted in 1942. A 27mm base caliber, the 2310 is highly regarded even beyond Omega circles, having served as the basis of the Patek Philippe CH27-20, the Vacheron Constantin Calibre 1140, and others. It was replaced in the Speedmaster by the Caliber 861, only to be revived by Omega in 2019.

The Co-Axial Movements

George Daniels was an orphan in London who, during the 1960s and 70s, worked to fix a friction problem with the standard “lever escapement,” which had regulated mechanical watches for close to three centuries. He fixed the friction problem, thus offering the first significant horological contribution in hundreds of years, which he named the co-axial escapement.

Omega bought the patent in 1999 and has recently built new, high-tech facilities to nurture it — as well as their Master Chronometer program — into the 21st Century. The co-axial mechanism, Omega argues, reduces service intervals (which lowers the price of ownership), and helps maintain accuracy in a wristwatch. When you buy an Omega with a co-axial movement today, you’re getting an advanced mechanism and an important piece of horological history.

Omega Today

Though the co-axial escapement constitutes a serious innovation, one “trend” Omega has followed, however, is today’s obsessive production of limited editions. While we can’t chase down all the LEs for you here (they’re often gone within minutes of release anyways), we encourage you to follow your curiosity about them, should you have any.

As for the core Omega lineup, we have assembled a quick reference guide that’ll help you get familiar with the Omega landscape and point you to specific watches that epitomize the brand’s best offerings. We have elected not to show every single available model in the interest of clarity and brevity, but this guide should serve as a good starting point. And if you’re interested in a bit about the brand’s latest releases, click here.

The Speedmasters

omega speedmaster
Courtesy

Originally designed for motorsports and often cited as the Porsche 911 of watches, the Speedmaster became The Moonwatch when Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in 1969 wearing his trusted reference ST105.012. Today’s Speedmasters come in many styles and sizes, from historically accurate recreations to solid gold diamond-encrusted shiners, to ultra-light carbon technical wonders. Here are four Speedmasters worth knowing about.

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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

Courtesy

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

omegawatches.com
$6,600.00

An essential model, the Moonwatch is a modern take on the original Speedy that adorned Buzz Aldrin’s wrist 50 years ago when he set foot on the moon. Featuring a hand-wound Omega caliber, updated and improved in 2021, it doesn’t get much more iconic or handsome than this. Many purists prefer the versions with Hesalite crystal (rather than sapphire) and solid casebacks (rather than a display window).

  • Size: 42mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Omega Caliber 3861 hand-wound

    Omega Speedmaster '57

    Omega Speedmaster '57

    omegawatches.com
    $312.00

    The Speedmaster Heritage range is full of modern watches based on the variations the collection has seen over its decades of life, many of which now are often manifested as special/limited/anniversary editions. They're typically packed with history and can take multiple forms, including everything from classic models like the Speedmaster '57 and "The First Omega in Space" to the irresistibly funky Mark II.

    • Size: 40.5mm
    • Case Material: Stainless steel
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel
    • Movement: Omega Caliber 9906 hand-wound

      Omega Speedmaster Chronoscope

      Omega Speedmaster Chronoscope

      omegawatches.com
      $8,600.00

      An oversized, 43mm case combines with “snail”-style timing scales to form a Speedy that packs both vintage-inspired, 1940s influence and thoroughly modern technology in the form of the Co-Axial Calibre 9908. Look closely and you’ll realize that the dual-register chronograph includes a running seconds register as well as a combination 60-minute and 12-hour recorder.

      • Size: 43mm
      • Case Material: Stainless steel or bronze gold
      • Bracelet: Leather strap or stainless steel
      • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 9908 automatic

        Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon

        Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon

        omegawatches.com
        $12,100.00

        The modern looks, larger size, ceramic case and high-performance co-axial movement make the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon collection unabashedly of-the-moment. Also, see the various iterations of this concept in other striking colors of ceramic and more edgy designs.

        • Size: 44.25mm
        • Case Material: Black ceramic
        • Bracelet: Leather strap
        • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 9300 automatic

          Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph

          Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X‑33 Chronograph

          omegawatches.com
          $5,900.00

          The Speedmaster Instruments range is nothing like anything else the brand makes. A modern upgrade of the X-33 released in the 1998, the Skywalker X-33 is a perfect example. It was designed with astronauts in mind, and to that end, it features a quartz-powered ana-digi display with multiple time zones, three alarms, a chronograph, countdown functions and more. It may not look like a traditional Speedmaster, but it’s a natural evolution of the Space Age original.

          • Size: 45mm
          • Case Material: Titanium
          • Bracelet: Titanium bracelet
          • Movement: Omega Calibre 5169 quartz

            Note: We’ve chosen to only highlight some of the seemingly limitless number of Speedmasters out there. To see the entire collection, click here.

            The Seamasters

            Omega-Seamaster-Section-gear-patrol

            This is a confusing line within the brand because Omega produced what were essentially splash-proof dress watches under this monicker for decades. At the same time, the Seamaster line has included Omega’s most robust, high-tech dive watches. That confusion isn’t entirely gone today from the lineup, but the waterproofness has been upped significantly across the line. Here are today’s essential Seamasters that you’ll want to know about.

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            Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

            Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

            omegawatches.com
            $5,600.00

            Made truly famous when Pierce Brosnan’s costume designer decided James Bond should wear what the British Royal Navy was sporting during the 1990s, we saw 007 drop his Rolex Sub in favor of a quartz Seamaster 300. (Daniel Craig strapped on a mechanical 300M more recently.) The Omega Seamaster 300M has maintained its looks and specifications over a slow evolution for a few decades, making it one of Omega’s most consistent models. The threaded helium escape valve at 10 o’clock gives the watch a quirky asymmetry, while the wave dial begs to be viewed under a loupe. There are many variations to choose from, including chronographs, precious metal versions, and more.

            • Size: 42mm
            • Case Material: Stainless steel
            • Bracelet: Rubber
            • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8800 automatic

              Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

              Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

              omegawatches.com
              $6,400.00

              Slightly larger than the 300M, twice as water-resistant, and offered in a bevy of variations that include a carbon-cased version, a GMT version, a chronograph, and more, the Planet Ocean is Omega’s most serious dive watch collection. Orange has been a popular color, but given the multiplicity of options, there are few looks you can’t find within the Planet Ocean lineup.

              • Size: 43.5mm
              • Case Material: Stainless steel
              • Bracelet: Nylon NATO
              • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8900 automatic

                Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M Ultra Deep

                Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 6000M Ultra Deep

                omegawatches.com
                $12,900.00

                Though technically in the Planet Ocean collection, the Ultra Deep deserves special mention. Rated (and tested!) to 6,000m (that's six actual kilometers), it's surely the most water-resistant watch on the market. You can get a version in titanium (as shown) based on Omega’s 2019 record-breaking prototype or one with a slightly more traditional look in the brand's own steel alloy called “O-Megasteel,” which is available in several variants.

                • Size: 45.5mm
                • Case Material: Titanium
                • Bracelet: Nylon NATO
                • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8912 automatic

                  Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M

                  Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M

                  omegawatches.com
                  $219.00

                  The Aqua Terra lineup speaks to that aforementioned confusion between dress watch and sport watch that’s inherent to vintage Seamasters, but this duality is also the strength of the modern version. Sporty and rugged, for sure, but elegant and professional enough to pair well with a business suit on the daily, this could be your only watch. (And 2022’s more colorful versions only added to the line’s appeal.

                  • Size: 38mm or 41mm
                  • Case Material: Stainless steel
                  • Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet
                  • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8800 automatic (38mm) or Calibre 8900 (41mm)

                    Omega Seamaster 300

                    Omega Seamaster 300

                    omegawatches.com
                    $6,400.00

                    Just like the Speedmaster, the Seamaster has its Heritage range. Not to be confused with the more modern-feeling Diver 300M, the Diver 300 harkens back to Omega's early dive watches. In 2017, Omega, to much acclaim, released the 1957 Trilogy, which included the Seamaster 300, the Railmaster, and an original-looking Speedmaster. The success of that Trilogy has seen Omega releasing these models individually ever since, and they’re often hard to come by due to their popularity.

                    • Size: 41mm
                    • Case Material: Stainless steel
                    • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                    • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8912 automatic

                      Omega Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph

                      Omega Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph

                      omegawatches.com
                      $9,600.00

                      What is this thing? Well, it’s a tribute to the original Bullhead Chronograph, which was a typically weird-looking 1970s design. Love it or hate it, it took the Seamaster in a new direction, and provides an alternative to the standard round-cased watches.

                      • Size: 43mm
                      • Case Material: Stainless steel
                      • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                      • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 3113 automatic

                        Omega Seamaster Ploprof

                        Omega Seamaster Ploprof

                        omegawatches.com
                        $13,800.00

                        It never ceases to amaze us watch fans that the Ploprof is still in production. It’s massive at 55mm, incredibly cumbersome, and, if nothing else, a stellar example of how much less gadgetry is needed to accomplish super-deep waterproofness today. For some, however, this can-opener-esque behemoth is pure beauty. And note that it’s currently only available in titanium and that you’ll have to contact a boutique to find one.

                        • Size: 55mm
                        • Case Material: Titanium
                        • Bracelet: Titanium Mesh
                        • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8500 automatic

                          Note: We’ve chosen to only highlight some of the Seamaster line. To see the entire collection, click here.

                          The Constellations

                          Omega-Constellation-Section-gear-patrol

                          This is where Omega slots in the majority of its dressier watches today, most with a vintage reference to the 1940s and 50s models such as those that include a so-called “pie-pan” dial. You can also find women’s diamond-encrusted models among the Constellations. We’ve selected some essential models below.

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                          Omega Constellation Globemaster

                          Omega Constellation Globemaster

                          omegawatches.com
                          $7,100.00

                          With its classic 1950s styling in a more modern dress watch size, the Globemaster is decidedly not a sport watch; it’s a handsome dress watch that’ll pair perfectly with your hand-stitched brogues. The Globemaster is distinguished by its fluted bezel and its dial recalls the popular "pie-pan" styles of vintage models. It comes in steel, precious metals and even a complicated (for Omega) but very cool Annual Calendar version.

                          • Size: 39mm
                          • Case Material: Stainless steel
                          • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                          • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8900 automatic

                            Omega Constellation

                            Omega Constellation

                            omegawatches.com
                            $6,700.00

                            The Constellation collection watches named simply "Constellation" have a quirky style that leaves them mostly overlooked by watch fans and probably appealing more to general consumers who want a "fancy" watch. They sport a decidedly swanky vibe and come in myriad variations in different sizes, with steel and precious metals, quartz and automatic on offer.

                            • Size: 41mm
                            • Case Material: Stainless steel
                            • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                            • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8900 automatic

                              Note: To see the entire Constellation collection, click here.

                              The De Villes

                              Omega-DeVille-Section-gear-patrol

                              The name De Ville adorned the dials of many vintage Omegas through the 50s and 60s, suggesting a decidedly American spirit. Today’s De Villes are the fanciest and most complicated Omegas available, with many models going beyond the dress watch category into haute horlogerie proper. If you’re into vintage dress style and don’t mind high prices, this selection should whet your appetite. You can even get an Omega tourbillon, if you want!

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                              Omega De Ville Hour Vision

                              Omega De Ville Hour Vision

                              omegawatches.com
                              $7,700.00

                              The Hour Vision line has an Art-Deco flair, and some models (such as this one) have a sapphire caseback that affords a rare view of the co-axial movement. Simple and well-balanced, its mesmerizing blue dial makes for an excellent everyday accessory or a special accent for more formal occasions. What’s more, it’s also available in an annual calendar version.

                              • Size: 41mm
                              • Case Material: Stainless steel
                              • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                              • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8900 automatic

                                Omega De Ville Trésor

                                Omega De Ville Trésor

                                omegawatches.com
                                $17,700.00

                                The Trésor sub-line offers sleeker cases, precious metals, and diamonds and generally consists of watches best matched to black ties and evening gowns. They’re worth considering if you’re searching for something to wear while tossing back Dom Perignon and caviar on New Year’s.

                                • Size: 40mm
                                • Case Material: Yellow gold
                                • Bracelet: Leather Strap
                                • Movement: Omega Co-Axial Calibre 8929 automatic

                                  Note: We’ve chosen to only highlight some of the De Ville line. To see the entire collection, click here.

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