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Feature: Beginner’s guide to buying Omega watches

From the record-breaking exploits of the Speedmaster Moonwatch to the refined elegance of the Constellation line, Omega's range is far-reaching. But if its huge variety leaves you feeling overwhelmed, fear not. Our essential guide covers this iconic brand’s key collections to help you make an informed decision.


If you lined up every version of the Speedmaster end-to-end, they might well stretch to the dark side of the moon and back. Launched in 1957, this now-legendary chronograph quickly took up permanent residence in the Omega catalogue and has since spawned countless models, including the celebrated Moonwatch, worn by NASA’s astronauts during the famous Apollo 11 moon landings in 1969.

Despite being synonymous with this historic mission, the original 1957 Speedmaster was made for motor-racing fans, hence the bezel’s speed-calculating tachymetric scale. It was actually released alongside the Seamaster 300 and Railmaster models as part of a holy trinity of sporty tool watches.

These first-generation Speedies look a little different to the later models worn by Buzz Aldrin and co, boasting a plain steel bezel and broad-arrow hour hand. Early versions came equipped with a manual-wind 321 Caliber, just like the Moonwatch. The contemporary Speedmaster 57 (pictured above) pays homage to this inaugural Speedmaster, although it’s not exactly the same—they’ve ditched the 30-minute chronograph counter and added a date window.

In the decades since, the Speedmaster has taken myriad forms, including largely forgotten quartz-powered Casio-lookalikes—yes, really—and cushion-cased models with integrated bracelets. Its lunar exploits continue to be trumpeted by the brand in the form of numerous limited-edition anniversary models. And there are also sought-after Snoopy editions, named after the Silver Snoopy Award, a special honour awarded to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements.

These models, with dials bearing Charles Schulz’s cartoon-strip character, have gained cult status.

Omega’s current Speedmaster selection includes the stealthy, all-black ceramic Dark Side of the Moon range and the slightly smaller Speedmaster 38. King of them all, however, is this incredible Canopus (white) gold version, which retails for £51,100.

If you want a Moonwatch like the model worn by Armstrong, Aldrin and co but don’t want to pay silly money for a first-generation vintage piece, take a look at the Speedmaster Moonwatch Caliber 321, a recent model equipped with a re-edition of the legendary movement found in the first Speedmaster models.

Note that this is a manual-wind model, as is the case with all Moonwatch Professional models. If it’s a self-winding Speedmaster you’re seeking, look for dials that don’t feature the word “Professional”.

And if you really want to elicit a what-the-hell response from your friends, try the white-dial Alaska Project model, which comes with a bizarre, doughnut-like, heat-isolating case (don’t worry, you can remove it when you get fed up with all the attention).


The Seamaster burst onto the scene in 1948—Omega’s centenary year—and is the biggest rival to the Rolex Submariner, another legendary dive watch. It features a similar design and functions to the Submariner, including 300 metre water-resistance, a unidirectional bezel and dot hour indices. Like the Submariner, it’s also been used by military units around the world, with many special-issue models modified for the purpose.

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Image courtesy of Bonhams

In fact, on-screen spy James Bond even ditched his Submariner for the Seamaster in 1995 film, Goldeneye, thanks to Omega’s fat cheque book. Throughout the subsequent eight films, Bond can be seen with a Seamaster on his wrist, enhancing its appeal. Omega has gone as far as to release several limited-edition James Bond Seamasters, including this titanium Diver 300m model worn by Daniel Craig in the last Bond offering, No Time to Die.

Prince William is practically inseparable from his 90s-era quartz Omega Seamaster, believed to be gift from his late mother, Princess Diana. However, when he becomes king, he might want to mark the occasion by upgrading to the incredible Diver 300m James Bond 60th anniversary edition in Canopus (white) gold, released in 2022. It features a meteorite dial, a bezel clad in green and yellow diamonds and costs £145,300.

Despite the Seamaster’s impressive dive-watch credentials, many of us admire the range for its looks rather than its functions. If that applies to you, you might prefer one of the versions boasting a wave-pattern dial and exhibition caseback, or a more premium two-tone model in steel and yellow-gold.

There’s also the vintage charm of heritage models such as the re-issued Railmaster—confusingly, also part of the Seamaster family.

The Seamaster also comes in several chronograph options, and if steel or bi-metal is a little commonplace for you, there’s also ceramic to consider.

No matter what Seamaster model you go for, you’d own a respected icon within Omega’s catalogue and the dive watch genre itself—it’s a win-win.


Unlike Rolex, its long-term rival, Omega has occasionally ripped up the design rule book on certain models and started from scratch. And the collection that has been subjected to this treatment the most is the Constellation.

On the one hand, Omega once considered the Constellation so integral to the company that its entire output of chronometer movements were reserved for the collection. On the other, over the years the brand has had no qualms about ditching a particular aesthetic and introducing a radical new watch badged with the Constellation name.

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Image courtesy of Bonhams

Take, for instance, the original Constellation made in 1952. Its faceted dial came to be known as a “pie-pan dial” due to its resemblance to an upside-down cake-tin, and they were among the most desirable watches of the era.

Elvis Presley owned one while luxurious 18k gold versions—which went under the name Constellation Grand Luxe—were admired by Middle Eastern royalty. At least two Constellation models were known to have been designed by the legendary Gerald Genta.

By the early 1960s, flat dials were favoured over the pie-pan ones and the Constellation lost a little of its distinctive charm. And then came the 1970s and the quartz era, which is when Omega decided that the Constellation and conventional looks should go their separate ways.

The quartz-powered Stardust Constellation broke new ground for the brand with its elongated rectangular case, concealed lugs and an aventurine dial that resembled a starry sky.

Fast forward to the 21st century and although the Constellation is still an integral part of the Omega line-up, it’s had to cede some of the limelight to the Speedmaster and Seamaster. And in terms of prestige, it plays second fiddle to the De Ville (see below), currently the only Omega line to offer a prestigious tourbillon.

It’s now also aesthetically different to any Constellation model from the 1950s to the late 1970s.

The contemporary Constellation’s looks stem from the 1982 Manhattan collection and feature bezels bearing Roman engraved numerals and distinctive “claws” at 3 and 9 o’clock, as well as integrated bracelets.

No one has raised awareness of the Constellation line more than the supermodel Cindy Crawford, who Omega signed up in 1995—their first-ever brand ambassador. And it’s a role she continues to this day, quipping that she’s “been married to Omega longer than to my husband.”

Also part of the contemporary Constellation line is the Globemaster model which, to the delight of many, has revived the pie-pan dial and adds a premium-looking fluted bezel for good measure.

De Ville

The De Ville was first introduced in 1960 as part of the Seamaster collection, becoming its own fully-fledged range in 1967.

At its launch, it garnered considerable attention thanks to its combination of Omega’s already-proven movements and meticulous finish and design. A fine example of refined form, the De Ville was simpler, slimmer and more varied, resulting in an ideal dress watch that was awarded several prestigious design prizes. To this day it still looks every inch the dress watch, albeit in a more conventional way than the distinctive Constellation.

Fast forward to 1994 and Omega really stepped up its game by adding a central tourbillon model to the collection. This was not only a tremendous feat—central tourbillons are very rare and technically challenging—but a statement of purpose from one of the industry’s biggest players. Considering the quartz crisis was in full swing not too long ago in the 70s, the use of a tourbillon as a decorative marvel rather than a functional bit of kit—like it was originally intended—helped reinvigorate interest in Swiss watchmaking and mechanical watches.

In 2020 Omega unveiled the De Ville Central Tourbillon Numbered Edition. This striking timepiece featured a new and improved movement, the in-house calibre 2640. It was the first Omega central tourbillon watch to be Master Chronometer-certified, as well as the first-ever anti-magnetic tourbillon wristwatch.

If grandiose tourbillon pieces are a bit too flashy or pricey for you, fear not, there’s a host of exquisite designs in the De Ville’s current line-up, and they are commonly found on the pre-owned market for as little as $2-3k.

As well as the Tourbillon models, look out for the Tresor, Prestige and Ladymatic lines, many of which follow the original design blueprint of refinement and meticulous finishing, plus Omega’s state-of-the-art technology. One thing’s for sure, with its De Ville collection Omega has found what works and is sticking with it.

Planet Ocean

Until the Planet Ocean family was introduced in 2005, Omega was looking a little monochromatic and in need of a dose of fun—the kind of fun it seemed to have back when it released eye-catching sport models like the brick-sized Ploprof and the quirky Soccer watch.

The launch of the Planet Ocean brought back the more diverse colour palette of the 1970s while taking inspiration from the vintage Seamaster models of the 1950s and 1960s, when dive watches were gaining popularity.

Looks aside, it was also a serious bit of kit, with a helium escape valve and a water-resistance of 600 metres—double that of a Rolex Submariner. Besides the hulking Ploprof, it was also Omega’s biggest dive model, with the largest cases almost 46mm.

To rub Rolex’s face in it further, Daniel Craig wears one in his Bond film debut Casino Royale in which he is asked by Vesper Lynd if he’s wearing a Rolex. “Omega”, he replies, to which Lynd responds with, “Beautiful”.

As brand endorsements go, it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the kneecaps, but it did wonders for the Planet Ocean’s popularity.

Right now, Omega offers the Planet Ocean in three case sizes and four materials—ceramic, steel, titanium and, more rarely, Sedna gold, its own version of rose gold.

Since this is Omega’s most extreme dive watch collection, there’s even an Ultra Deep version, its 6,000 metre water resistance soundly beating the 3,900 metres offered by Rolex’s Deepsea Sea-Dweller.

Complication-wise, the Planet Ocean family offers more than mere time-and-date models. Omega has masterfully incorporated GMTs and chronograph functions into these robust and highly water-resistant watches, and the designs and colour combinations are spot-on. Here is a particularly vibrant example.

Aqua Terra

Another off-shoot of the Seamaster family, the Aqua Terra blurs the line between smart and sporty and is home to some cutting-edge innovations that have yet to migrate to other Omega lines. But we’ll get to that later.

Firstly, you can forget the “Aqua” in the title; it’s definitely more “Terra”. Despite its respectable 150-metre water resistance this is not the watch you want to be wearing when exploring ship wrecks. The Aqua Terra is very much in the same vein as a Rolex Oyster Perpetual or Datejust—a sleek, timeless watch that’s equally at home paired with a T-shirt or suit—though definitely not a wetsuit.

A relative newcomer, it’s been in the Omega collection since 2002 and has already seen several generations, albeit with no radical aesthetic changes.

While earlier models included chronographs and annual calendars, the collection has now been stripped back to simple time-and-date models, with an exception made for the current GMT Worldtimer, available in steel, titanium or gold.

The Worldtimer is no entry-level watch, however the most expensive member of the Aqua Terra family by some margin is the Ultra Light titanium model introduced in 2019.

The result of a collaboration between Omega and golfer Rory Mcllroy, it’s about as light as a slice of bread thanks to the movement also being mostly titanium, a first for Omega. It’s also got a more ergonomic, symmetrical case shape owing to a telescopic crown that’s practically invisible when neatly stowed away within the case.

For £50,400 you would normally expect a watch to be made from platinum or gold rather than titanium, but that doesn’t stop Richard Mille charging astronomical prices. It’s a timepiece that shows Omega still has an innovative trick or two up its sleeve, even after all these years.

Other things to know

If you’re considering buying an Omega, you might be curious as to what the words “Co-Axial” mean on the dial. After all, these words are glaringly absent from other luxury watches. The Co-Axial escapement has been used in Omega’s mechanical watches since 1999 after the company bought the patent from the watchmaker George Daniels, its English inventor.

Daniels, who died in 2011, found a way to reduce the friction problems of the standard Swiss lever escapement, thus eliminating the need to lubricate certain components. Theoretically at least, this means you won’t need to get your Omega Co-Axial serviced as much as other watches during the course of its lifetime.

With the exception of the quartz models in the Tresor collection and the Speedmaster 38, all current Omega watches are also Master Chronometers—yet more words you’ll find printed on your dial. A standard chronometer is simply a watch that has gained a timing certificate after being tested for precision and reliability by the third-party Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC).

However, to achieve Master Chronometer certification a watch is subjected to additional, more stringent tests by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).

That Omega equips almost all its mechanical watches with these highly accurate in-house movements—deviating by no more than 5 seconds a day—gives the brand some valuable bragging rights.

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