A wristwatch is about as classic as men’s style accessories get — and it’s a device we believe everyone should have in their everyday carry loadout. And while you could get by with a single watch, you’re going to cover a lot more ground style-wise if you have a few — that way you can pair them appropriately with your other gear and apparel on any given day.
Of course, if you’re looking to start a watch collection, you may also be interested in picking up timepieces from recognizable brands. While Rolex is likely the first to come to people’s minds, they’re hardly the only brand worth having a gander at. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that another brand is more historically significant and, therefore, more compulsory when it comes to choosing a wristwatch to add to your collection. In case you haven’t already surmised, that brand is Omega. While we’d never suggest that Omega watches are cheap, what follows is our selection of the brand’s five best affordable watches for new collectors.
A Brief History of Omega
From the Moon to GoldenEye & Beyond
The very first wristwatch, if the stories are to be believed, was created by Abraham Louis-Breguet in 1810. Alternatively, the folks at Patek Phillipe claim that their original wristwatch, which was unveiled to the public in 1868, is the world’s first. Either way you spin it, Omega — founded in 1848 — has been around long enough that they’ve seen the evolution of these devices pretty much from the beginning and have had a hand in making them what they are today.
Omega’s first shop was started by then-23-year-old Louis Brandt in a small Swiss village called La Chaux-de-Fonds. By 1879, Brandt had passed and passed on his business to his two sons, who continued the business — driven by the same passion for precision watchmaking as their father. In 1885, the company had created their very first series-produced watch movement, the ‘Labrador’ — an advent that would serve as the basis for future innovations which, unbeknownst to Brandt’s sons, would change the watchmaking world forever.
In 1894, the brothers released a new movement that would go on to become the company’s namesake, the 19-ligne calibre. This exceedingly-accurate movement set a new standard in the industry, as it was the first movement in which any component could be replaced, without modification, by any watchmaker in the world — simplifying the technology for simpler repairs without sacrificing its functionality in any way. This watch movement also boasted another feature widely used to this day: the ability to wind and change the time via the stem and crown.
Omega continued their meteoric rise through the 1900s — earning them an abundance of accolades and eventually leading to the brand becoming the official timekeeping brand of the Olympic Games, starting in 1932 and continuing to this day. That same year, Omega introduced the world’s first commercially-available diving watch. By the time 1940 rolled around, Omega had been commissioned as the largest supplier of watches for the British armed forces and their allies. In ’47, the brand created one of the world’s first Tourbillon wristwatch movements.
Then, once again, Omega made history in 1965 by becoming the official timepiece of NASA — a partnership that would result in the watchmakers creating every timepiece to ever be worn by astronauts walking on the lunar surface. From there, the accolades, accomplishments, and history-making advents continued. Omega even became the official watch of James Bond, starting with 1995’s GoldenEye. Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, Omega is still heralded as one of the most important and impressive watchmaking brands to this day. And, in case you can’t tell, that’s a trend that’s likely to continue for another century if Omega has anything to do with it.
A Note On Counterfeits
While Omega is perhaps not as immediately recognizable as Rolex — which may be the number one most counterfeited watch brand in the world — there’s still reason to be skeptical when purchasing your first (or even 30th) Omega. In the unlikely event that you are a horological expert, you can probably tell the difference between a real on and an imposter at a glance. However, if you’re not a watch wizard (like 99% of everyone), you’re always going to be better off buying from a reputable source — like an authorized dealer — or having a genuine watch expert take a look at a timepiece before you purchase it. Think of it kind of like buying a car secondhand: you could take the seller’s word for it, but you’re a lot less likely to get ripped off if you do your due diligence at getting it checked out.
Omega De Ville Prestige Dress Watch
Omega makes quite a few purpose-driven watches — ranging from deep-sea diver timepieces all the way up to those that have helped astronauts traverse the surface of the moon. However, not everyone is looking for or needs a hardcore utilitarian timepiece. In fact, sometimes you just need a simple, pared-down, minimalist dress watch to wear to the office or on special occasions. If you fall into that line of thinking, then the Omega De Ville Prestige dress watch is certainly up your alley. Elegant and classic, this watch foregoes all the bells and whistles in favor of straightforward timekeeping and impeccable styling. Of course, it isn’t entirely without handy features, as it’s equipped with a subtle date window at the 3 o’clock position and a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with dual anti-reflective treatments. It’s also equipped with a self-winding automatic movement, a smart silver dial with matte black indices and hands, and a green leather strap.
Movement: Calibre Omega 2500 (Automatic)
Omega Seamaster 300M Diver Watch
Back in 1932, Omega introduced the Marine, the world’s very first commercially-available dive watch. And that means they have nearly a century’s worth of experience crafting some of the best waterborne timepieces around. That legacy is carried on today by their Seamaster lineup, like the 300M diver watch you see before you. With clean design lines and moderately pared-down style points, this watch might be the perfect combination of timelessness and functionality. Its list of features is fairly extensive, but some of the highlights include a blue dial with luminous indices and hands, a date window at the 3 o’clock position, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coatings on both sides, a stainless steel case with a matching link band and crown shield, and a ceramic unidirectional dive timer bezel. Plus, the whole thing is powered by a self-winding automatic movement that’s good for depths of up to 1,000 feet — you know, if you’re a bonafide diver.
Movement: Calibre Omega 2500 (Automatic)
Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronograph Watch
Though the best-known Omega Speedmaster watch is definitely the Moonwatch, there are plenty of other variations dedicated to serving different purposes. The one you see here is one such watch, styled and outfitted specifically for automotive racing. Done up in black, gray, and with yellow highlighting, this chronograph boasts an automatic movement, a trio of handy sub-dials (including a stopwatch for lap timing), a tachymeter bezel for all your on-the-fly speed and distance calculations, and a durable stainless steel case mated to a rubber strap designed to mimic tire tread patterns. If you’re fond of hitting the tarmac at high speeds or you need a suitable timepiece to match your favorite classic car, you can never really go wrong with this racing-oriented Omega Speedmaster chronograph watch.
Movement: Calibre Omega 3330 (Automatic)
Omega Seamaster Railmaster Watch
The original Railmaster watch came out way back in 1957 and was made specifically for railway workers and anyone working near magnetic fields, benefitting from anti-magnetic housing to keep it accurate. This modern edition pays homage to that impressive original while getting some fairly noteworthy upgrades — both in regards to its internal mechanisms and its external styling. For starters, it boasts a “blue jean” dial and matching real denim and top-grain leather NATO strap (a nod to the durable working man’s material often worn in railway settings). It’s also equipped with light gray SuperLuminova luminous indices and hands. The star of the show, especially if you do actually work around magnetic fields, is the brand’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8806 movement that powers the timepiece — a mechanism that makes it resistant to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss. Even if you don’t need the magnetic protection, this is still a superb watch with spot-on Americana styling.
Movement: Calibre Omega 8806 (Automatic)
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional
Omega’s Speedmaster lineup might be their most historically significant selection of watch models — and a huge part of the credit for its legendary stature is owed to one specific variant: the Moonwatch. As the name implies, this is the watch that made history by going to the moon way back when Apollo 11 first landed on the lunar surface back in 1969. And it has been a staple of both NASA astronauts, having been equipped on astronauts for all six lunar missions, and Omega’s consumer offerings ever since. While there are a number of different variations — ranging from basic dressed-down versions to an ultra-opulent 18k gold limited edition option — this particular edition, the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, is as close to the original as it gets. It’s equipped with a stainless steel case and link band, a tachymeter bezel, a Hesalite crystal (the same polymethyl methacrylate material used in the original), and timeless styling.
Movement: Calibre Omega 1861 (Automatic)
Omega Specialties Olympic Official Timekeeper
From James Bond to NASA, Omega has an impressive history of being the official watch brand of some of our favorite endeavors — ranging (perhaps obviously) from movie franchises to government agencies and more. But there’s another particularly impressive organization/event Omega has been representing for nearly an entire century that you might not know about: the Olympic Games. Since the Los Angeles Games in 1932, Omega has logged a whopping 27 different Olympics — meaning they’ve designed and built the official stopwatches for every sporting event in these competitions. And they’ve crafted watches to celebrate that connection, including this eye-catching, Olympic Rings-inspired offering. Besides its bright green detailing, this timepiece features an automatic movement, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with dual anti-reflective coatings, a steel case with a perforated leather strap, and more. Plus, it’s a limited edition — only 2,032 will ever be made — so you’ll want to scoop one up quickly if you’re interested in owning one of these historically-significant Olympic watches.
Movement: Calibre Omega 8800 (Automatic)
Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Chronograph Watch
Even if you ignore the heavy-handed Star Wars reference, Omega’s Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 chronograph watch is still one of the most enticing affordable timekeepers from the lauded Swiss brand. While Omega’s pedigree is certainly enough to earn this watch a spot amongst some of the best, it gets a massive boost thanks to the fact that it boasts a quartz movement that was developed and tested by the European Space Agency (ESA). Crafted specifically for aeronautical and astronomical use, it’s also built from solid titanium (both the case and band), has an anti-reflective scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, is equipped with an LCD display, and features a number of other handy functions — ranging from a bi-directional timer bezel to a built-in perpetual calendar. For anyone who dreams of blasting off into space, this watch certainly won’t let you down.
Movement: Calibre Omega 5691 (Quartz)
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Diver Watch
If Omega’s Seamaster dive watch lineup is one of history’s best dive watches, then the Planet Ocean off-shoot is the culmination of all that history into a series of select, superb timepieces. This particular one, while at the top of the price range for our guide here, is actually the most affordable of them — clocking in at $5,900 (which, honestly, is fairly inexpensive for a timepiece of this caliber). Apart from functioning as a physical representation of Omega’s maritime legacy, this handsome watch is equipped with a stainless steel case and matching band, an anti-reflective scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal, a unidirectional rotating dive timer bezel, a self-winding automatic movement, and — perhaps most importantly and impressively — a depth tolerance of a whopping 600 meters (2,000 feet). If you want a dive watch that looks as good as it functions, you definitely can’t go wrong with any of the 11 Planet Ocean options Omega currently offers.
Movement: Calibre Omega 8500 (Automatic)
The 5 Best Affordable Rolex Watches For New Collectors
If there’s any watchmaking brand more instantly recognizable and compulsory for collectors, it’s Rolex. If you’re looking to add one to your own wardrobe, you can start with any of the five most affordable Rolex watches around.