Omega: Surprisingly Affordable

Posted by Charles T. on August 19, 2020

Omega watches make some of the most compelling buys on the secondary market. While priced comparably to Rolex at MSRP, you can avoid depreciation and get a significant discount when going the pre-owned route. And with a broad range of offerings from the Moonwatch to limited edition world timers and collaborations with Obris and James Bond, there’s sure to be an Omega out there for you.

In the second installment of our Surprisingly Affordable series, I’ll share some modern Omegas that allow you to get into the brand for cheaper than you might think. We’ll also show you the deals to be had on a few unique models that you’ve probably forgotten about. While this guide won’t cover vintage, I will say that there are plenty of vintage examples to be found in the hundreds of dollars, rather than the thousands.

Check out the Omega Price Guide on WatchCharts to get the latest up-to-date prices on thousands of unique Omega models.

The Look for Less: Seamaster 300M Quartz reference 2541.80.00 ($1,500 – $2,000)

I know what you’re thinking: a quartz watch?! But just hold on a minute and consider this: while we may think of the first “Bond” Seamaster as the chronometer-certified reference 2531.80, the watch that was worn by Pierce Brosnan in 1995’s GoldenEye was actually this quartz reference. And if it’s good enough for Bond…

Furthermore, while the 2531.80 can be found for under $2,000, expect to pay closer to $2,500 or even $3,000 for examples with full kit, in good condition, and with recent service history. On the other hand, the quartz version keeps you solidly under two grand, and just needs a battery change every couple years (Omega claims a 42 month battery life).

These two watches look virtually identical, with a very wearable case width of 41mm and lug width of 20mm. The main difference on the dial is the inclusion of the “chronometer” script for the automatic watch. Both also feature a helium escape valve and the iconic blue wave dial, elements that can still be found 20 years later on the current Seamaster Diver 300M.

Affordable Without Compromise: Speedmaster Moonwatch reference 3570.50.00 ($3,100 – $3,400)

In production between 1996 and 2014, the Omega Speedmaster reference 3570.50.00 is arguably the most traditional Moonwatch model. With a hesalite crystal and manually wound Omega caliber 1861 based on a Lemania 1873, it’s everything that you expect from the most iconic Omega for just a tad over $3,000.

Omega also offered an alternative to this watch with a sapphire crystal rather than hesalite. Dubbed the “Sapphire Sandwich” due to the use of sapphire on both the crystal and exhibition caseback, the reference 3573.50.00 trades for only $200 more than the hesalite version we’re featuring. Not a bad deal if you’re looking for more modern day practicality as opposed to historical accuracy.

Comparatively, the present-day Moonwatch (reference 311.30.42.30.01.005) retails for $5,350 for the hesalite version on a bracelet. The MSRP jumps another $1,000 to $6,350 for the present-day Sapphire Sandwich (reference 311.30.42.30.01.006). Both trade for around $4,000 on the secondary market – though prices for the Sapphire Sandwich appear to be a bit more volatile.

With only minimal changes between this generation and the previous generation Moonwatch, the previous generation watches are no-brainers in terms of value proposition. Plus, they’re readily available with a long production run and a huge community of Speedmaster enthusiasts trading them.

The Goldilocks Complication: Seamaster Aqua Terra Annual Calendar ($3,000 – $4,000)

Quill and Pad describes the annual calendar as the “Goldilocks” complication – more complex than a basic date, but more affordable than a perpetual calendar. In the case of the Omega Aqua Terra Annual Calendar, the price is also just right; where else can you get a mechanical annual calendar for as low as $3,000?

Omega 231.10.43.22.01.002. Image by bigpoppa82 from this sales listing on Watchuseek.

Surprisingly, I rarely see this model come up in conversations about Omega. In fact, Omega themselves seem to have forgotten about it, as the date-only Aqua Terra was redesigned a couple years ago, while the annual calendar models’ designs are still from the previous generation. Two size options are available: 38.5mm and 43mm.

But though it is a rare watch, if you can find one for sale the value is incredible. At retail, expect an MSRP of $8,400. However, you can consistently find examples on the secondary market for around $3,000 to $4,000, or less than 50% of MSRP. In fact, a listing from 3 months ago on Reddit sold with an asking price of $2,650!

The Aqua Terra annual calendar makes for an excellent daily driver with a rare complication that’s actually practical. Sure, you could pay upwards of $20,000 for a steel Rolex Sky-Dweller. Or, for less than 20% of the price, opt for the Omega Aqua Terra annual calendar – definitely not as flashy, but cleaner and equally useful.

Prestige Without the Price Tag: De Ville reference 424.10.37.20.02.001 ($1,000 – $2,500)

In a world where sports watches are obsessed over, everyone knows the Speedmaster and Seamaster. The previous watches we’ve featured all come from such iconic Omega collections. But the De Ville Prestige is a dressier option just might be the best value of them all.

Reference 424.10.37.20.02.001. Photo from Omega

Priced at just $3,850 new, the De Ville Prestige features a classically sized 37mm case that houses the co-axial caliber 2500. While the movement is outdated and based on an ETA 2892, this is a watch that you can literally find priced for under $1,000.

More reasonably, expect to pay closer to $1,500 – especially if you want box and papers. But that’s still an insane buy for an automatic Omega with a five-year warranty. These don’t tend to pop up very often, so you’ll need to exercise a bit of patience to find the right one. WatchCharts can help you stay on the lookout by setting up a price alert!