The Omega Buying Guide: Models, Prices & Everything Else You Need to Know
Everything you need to know about buying an Omega watch, from models to prices.
October 4, 2022
8 min read
From being the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games to producing the watches worn by James Bond since the Pierce Brosnan era, Omega is easily one of the most famous luxury watch manufacturers in the entire world. Even outside of collector circles, it’s a true household name. But with a vast and extensive catalog spanning hundreds of different models without nearly enough collections to properly contain them, actually purchasing an Omega can feel a bit intimidating. To help cut through the noise and help you find the perfect watch for you, we’re breaking down all essential things you need to know before buying an Omega.
Founded in 1848 and currently headquartered in Biel/Bienne, Omega is a true Swiss company, and all of the watches it produces are genuine “Swiss-Made” timepieces. That means every single Omega watch complies with the legal parameters regarding origin and manufacturing that are required in order to print the words “Swiss Made” on their dials.
First Watch Worn on the Moon
In 1965, the legendary Omega Speedmaster became flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions after it was famously the only watch to survive a brutal series of tests intended to push the timepieces to their absolute limits. A few short years later in 1969, an Omega Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the surface of the Moon, forever cementing Omega’s legacy as the brand worn by astronauts.
Official Timekeeper of the Olympics
In addition to producing some of the most famous luxury wristwatches in the world, Omega is also the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, and if you look at the various timing equipment present at each summer or winter edition of the event, you’ll notice the Omega logo on a significant portion.
James Bond’s Watch
Although James Bond creator Ian Fleming originally wrote that his star character wore a Rolex, Omega has been the official watch of choice for 007 ever since the mid-1990s. A number of different Omega watches have appeared on James Bond’s wrist over the years, but the model most frequently associated with the fictitious spy is the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (some versions from the films have even featured built-in spy gadgets such as grappling hooks and explosive detonators).
While you can’t see this trait from the outside, one of the defining features of many modern Omega watches are their movements that are fitted with coaxial escapements. Without getting too in the weeds with technical details, the coaxial design used by Omega eliminates the escapement’s reliance on lubricants, which results in more consistent timekeeping performance and longer intervals between required servicing.
Despite having a history that dates back well over a hundred years, Omega isn’t afraid of experimenting with new and advanced materials. In addition to the silicon balance springs that make modern Omega watches virtually impervious to magnetic fields, Omega also uses a number of high-tech materials for its watch cases, such as titanium and colored ceramic.
Members of Swatch Group
Although Omega has its own proprietary technologies and even runs its own retail network, the famous Swiss watch manufacturer is also a core member of Swatch Group, who serves as the parent company for a number of other top luxury brands throughout the Swiss watch industry. Omega still gets to have all of its own exclusive materials and in-house movements, but it also benefits from the financial stability that comes from one of the single largest entities in this industry.
Originally launched in 1957 as a chronograph intended for the world of automotive racing, but after an astronaut’s privately purchased Speedmaster made it into space in 1962, the watch was later flight-certified by NASA in 1965, eventually becoming the first watch worn on the moon on July 21, 1969.
Also the first chronograph to relocate its tachymeter scale from the periphery of its dial to its outer bezel — a small but crucial update that would become the standard method for countless other chronograph watches.
Over the years, the Speedmaster has expanded into an entire collection of chronograph watches that can be found in a variety of shapes and forms, powered by everything from traditional manually-wound calibers to advanced thermo-compensated quartz movements with hybrid analog/digital displays.
The “Seamaster” name itself dates back to 1948, and the very first Seamaster diver watch was released in 1957.
Perhaps the most well-known Omega dive watch, The Seamaster Diver 300M, first made an appearance in 1993, and was later worn by Pierce Brosnan as 007. (Daniel Craig also wore a Seamaster Diver in a number of the more recent films, including his final appearance as 007 in No Time To Die).
One of the signature features of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is its manually operated helium escape valve, which sticks out of the side of the case at the 10 o’clock location in the form of a secondary crown.
Launched in 2005 as a deeper diving/more capable version of the brand’s existing dive watch, the Planet Ocean series is technically part of the greater Seamaster collection, and its full name is the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean.
As Omega’s most professionally oriented line of dive watches, all Planet Ocean models have a minimum of 600 meters of water resistance (2x the depth rating of the standard Seamaster Diver), and some versions like the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep are rated to 6,000 meters.
Just like the Seamaster Diver, most Planet Ocean models feature helium escape valves sticking out of the 10 o’clock side of the case. In addition to being home to standard three-handed dive watches, the Planet Ocean lineup includes both chronographs and GMT models, along with multiple different case material options, such as stainless steel, solid gold, titanium, and ceramic.
Also part of the greater Seamaster collection, theOmega Aqua Terra was launched in 2002 as a more refined option without the purpose-built appearance of a professional dive watch.
While most people refer to it simply as the Aqua Terra, this sub-collection’s full name is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M.
“Aqua Terra” quite literally means water and land, and unlike many other models in the Seamaster collection, Aqua Terra watches don’t have rotating timing bezels. They still offer 150 meters of water resistance (half the depth rating of the standard Seamaster Diver), which is more than enough to stand up to whatever aquatic activities you might encounter, including light recreational scuba diving.
Created to be a collection of go-anywhere, do-anything watches with refined styling and enough durability for life’s adventures, the Aqua Terra can be found in a number of different case sizes, configurations, and materials
As one of Omega’s most versatile lines of watches, the Aqua Terra lineup has been fitted with a variety of different complications over the years, and you’ll even find GMT and Worldtimers models, alongside others crafted entirely from solid gold and set with diamonds.
First introduced in 1952 as the brand’s flagship lineup of chronometer wristwatches. Over the years, the Constellation collection has always placed an emphasis on superior accuracy and refined designs, even embracing quartz movements to enable thinner cases and even tighter accuracy standards.
Today, most Constellation watches are based on the core design of the Constellation Manhattan model that first debuted during the 1980s. But the more traditional aesthetic of the original lives on in the Constellation Globemaster range, which draws its inspiration from the very first Omega Constellation models, with fluted bezels and sloped “pie pan” dials.
These watches feature an observatory emblem on their casebacks, commemorating numerous triumphs in chronometer competitions between 1933-1952. The eight stars represent the two chronometer records and six first-place awards that Omega earned during this time, and this iconic caseback medallion has become emblematic of the entire Omega Constellation collection.
While the “De Ville” name originally first appeared in the 1960s as a refined line of watches that was part of the greater Seamaster lineup, the Omega De Ville became its own separate collection in 1967 and now occupies the role of Omega’s dedicated range of dress watches.
Just like the rest of Omega’s collections, the De Ville lineup is further divided into a number of other sub-collections, such as the Hour Vison, Trésor, Prestige, and Ladymatic ranges of watches. Despite aesthetic and functional differences, all De Ville watches are united by their refined and elegant designs.
Regardless of the fact that the collection consists exclusively of dress watches, De Ville models exist in a number of different metal options ranging from stainless steel to solid platinum, and also be fitted with a variety of different features, including date displays, power reserve indicators, and even annual calendar complications.
Should You Buy A New Or Vintage Omega?
One of the biggest differences between modern and vintage Omega watches is the materials used in their construction. While vintage Omega watches feature acrylic crystals and bezel inserts made from either aluminum or acrylic, most modern Omega watches feature scratch-resistant sapphire crystals and bezel inserts made from ultra-hard ceramic. Similarly, while most vintage Omega models are crafted from either stainless steel or traditional 18k gold, modern Omega watches can feature high-tech materials such as titanium or colored ceramic, along with Omega’s various proprietary gold alloys, such as Sedna Gold, Moonshine Gold, Bronze Gold, and Canopus Gold.
Another big difference is the internal movements used to power them. Vintage Omega watches frequently use third-party movement designs that rely on the underlying technology of the traditional Swiss lever escapement. On the other hand, most of Omega’s modern mechanical watches are now powered by the brand’s own in-house movements with coaxial escapements, offering a design that’s less reliant on lubrication than the traditional Swiss lever escapement. Also, an increasing number of modern Omega movements are entirely resistant to the disruptive effects of magnetic fields and can withstand forces in excess of 15,0000 gauss (casual!). While all of this modern movement technology isn’t necessarily something that you can see or touch, it’ll arguably offer the most noticeable difference when it comes to the overall performance of the watch.