Collecting vintage Omega watches makes for an interesting game for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are countless options out there in a wide range of styles dating back to WWII era pieces and beyond. The best part is - in stark contrast to vintage watches from Rolex or Patek Philippe - you can still find interesting, unique, and wearable vintage offerings from Omega that won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg. Dress watches, chronographs, divers, military-issue watches, and straight-up oddities are all in the Omega archives, and though the watch market can be wrought with fakes, frankens, and watches of generally questionable origins, there's some really cool and interesting watches out there that are very much worth discussing.
Rather than taking you through a vintage Omega history lesson, we’re going to skim through the 'highlight reel' so to speak, covering the key collections that have historically lived in the Omega archives, and prominent, interesting, and otherwise unique or special references from past decades.
Word to the wise here, any vintage Omega out there that looks like it's too good to be true, probably is. Given that these pieces have reasonable value without being out of reach (and the fact that so many references were made over the years), there’s ample motivation for people to cobble watches together from the leftover parts bin, or worse yet, sell entirely fraudulent timepieces. We’ve seen a lot of rough looking, generally questionable watches sporting the Omega logo, so whether you're shopping here or elsewhere we strongly recommend you do thorough homework before making your purchase, and always buy from a trusted and reputable source.
Born in 1952 as a new collection of automatic chronometer-certified dress watches, the Omega Constellation remains in the brand's repertoire to this day. So the story goes, the eight stars above the observatory on the classic Constellation caseback has more significance than you might have guessed: the stars represent the eight precision awards earned by Omega at Kew-Teddington and the Geneva Observatory.
Historical factoid aside, 1952 marked the beginnings of a very long line of dress watches, and one that has seen a fair bit of evolution over the years. From traditional craftsmanship in the '50s, to the then-contemporary barrel/tonneau cases of the '70s, to the absolute excess of the '80s, '90s, and beyond, there has always been a peculiar evolution to the line, but the Omega Constellation hasn’t seen the same dramatic level of enthusiast following as the Speedmaster and Seamaster. Consequently, the Omega Constellation is a great pick as a first vintage watch, or simply as something fun and vintage that you can add to your collection and enjoy wearing without major concern of impacting its long-term value.
At the older and dressier end of the spectrum, references from the '50s and '60s - especially those fitted with the beloved pie-pan dial - are the pieces typically most sought-after by collectors. In particular, the reference 167.005 pie-pan ticks a lot of boxes, measuring a compact 34mm in diameter and 9mm thick. It's a charming design from top to bottom, and its unique dial was such a warm point of Omega history that the brand decided to bring the design back when launching the Omega Globemaster Constellation in 2015.
In the face of the rampant steel sports watch craze, there are so many interesting constellation models out there that landed in the late '60s through the late '70s, so much so that we cannot narrow it down to a single reference. Models equipped with the cal. 751, cal. 752, and cal. 1012 automatic movements are all worth considering, and can be had for a very reasonable bargain - prime condition examples can often be found for just a few thousand dollars.
Hands-down, when people think of vintage Omega watches, the Speedmaster is the first (if not the only) thing that comes to mind, and rightfully so. To many, the Speedy is the Moonwatch, but the Speedmaster first hit the market in 1957 - 12 years prior to it being enlisted for NASA service.
The first Omega Speedmaster reference (CK2915) featured a broad arrow hour hand with a polished steel tachymeter bezel, and was powered by the beloved Caliber 321 manually-wound chronograph movement. This original example was reissued as part of the Omega Trilogy set (also featuring a Railmaster and Seamaster) in 2017; however, the reissued version was powered by a modern movement rather than the original Cal. 321.
Another highly notable vintage Omega Speedmaser reference is the CK2998, which found itself in the hands of NASA. Specifically, Wally Schirra wore this reference during the Mercury 8 flight in 1962, though at the time it was Wally's personal watch and not standard NASA-issued equipment.
Not long after this flight, NASA began searching for a suitably reliable mechanical chronograph for their upcoming missions, and among a small but healthy pack of competitors, the Speedmaster proved to be the only watch capable of surviving the agency's stringent testing protocols; they even beat out Rolex, among others. The reference in question was the 105.003 which was actually replaced by the 145.003 in 1966 - three years prior to the Speedy's venture to the moon. A handful of other references followed that remained fitted with the beloved column wheel chronograph Caliber 321 movement, with the last being the 145.012 whose production came to a halt in 1969.
From there onward, the less complex (and less loved) Caliber 861 became the go-to movement to outfit various references of the Speedmaster. While there have been countless interesting and odd variations of Speedmaster between ‘69 and present, the hardcore collector will always eye Caliber 321 references above all else. Other vintage gems to hit the market include the Speedmaster Alaska Project, the Mark II, and the Lemania-powered Mark 4.5, all of which are still much more affordable than those early vintage Speedmasters with closer connections to adventures in outer space.
Arguably the coolest little factoid about the Speedmaster is its legacy with NASA that still stands to this day. Yes, it went to the moon, but the Omega Speemaster Professional has remained a standard-issue piece of equipment for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. That’s right, with all of the technology on the market today, astronauts are still equipped with a hand-wound mechanical watch, as well as an electronic one.
The Omega X-33 Speedmaster - a high-spec quartz watch with both digital and analog displays packed with far more features than the standard Speedy - was launched in 1998 as an upgraded piece of kit for NASA. It was initially dubbed the "Mars Watch" and these timepieces were immediately added to the standard-issue kit for anyone heading to space, alongside their classic Speedmaster Pro. The reason for this is purely functional. It allowed its wearers to run a long-duration mission timer, set loud alarms to help with sleep cycles (sunrise and sunset can prove challenging in space), track both home time and time at mission control in Houston, and time other miscellaneous events and activities in their day-to-day routine.
Not for lack of history, the Omega Speedmaster X-33 remains a massive bargain on the secondary market, even when it comes to examples that have been to space. We've seen a few of these NASA-issued pieces trading hands for prices that are absolutely shocking to consider. Of course, many purist watch collectors balk at the idea of anything that doesn't use a mechanical caliber, but the story behind these watches (not only that they’re built basically to military-level specification) far outweighs the fact that their power source is a replaceable battery.
Due to the brand's incredibly long history and remarkably diverse portfolio, the value of Omega watches can range drastically, with certain models selling for exponentially more than others - even concerning watches from a similar era. Additionally, since by their very definition, vintage Omega watches are older timepieces that are no longer in production, the only information regarding vintage Omega watch prices are those on the secondary market.
Lastly, it is also worth noting that although original retail pricing information can be found for many vintage Omega watches, it is hardly relevant to their actual present-day value. Even accounting for inflation, vintage Omega watch retail prices are hardly representative of the values that these watches actually trade hands for on the open market. Certain watches that originally retailed for just a few hundred dollars are today worth tens of thousands of dollars, and that is not even accounting for those examples that have an interesting history or exceptional provenance behind them.
When it comes to the price of vintage luxury watches, there will always be outliers - those rare models whose value far exceeds those of virtually all others from the brand's archives. However, for a fair number of manufacturers, you can expect somewhat of a finite range in prices for their watches.
When it comes to the price range for vintage Omega watches, there really is no concise range of values that can be applied to all models. Some vintage Omega watches are only worth a few hundred dollars, while others can sell for over a million; it really just comes down to the specific timepiece in question.
As we mentioned at the start of this page, there are some odd ducks in the Omega archives, but we couldn't close out this page without calling three particular examples.
The Seamaster is a legend in its own right, brought to modern fame by the James Bond franchise in the ‘90s (part of why we don't really call it out as a noteworthy vintage Omega, though fantastic vintage examples certainly exist). That being said, in the world of vintage Omega dive watches, it just doesn't get more odd and interesting than the Ploprof.
This monster hit the market in 1970, effectively the brand’s answer to the Rolex Sea-Dweller that launched 3 years prior. The Ploprof was then capable of surviving pressures up to 600m below the surface (the modern version can handle 1,200m), and featured a distinct locking mechanism for both its crown and its bezel. A unique latch/lock system secured its crown in place, while a large red button at the top right of its case served as a spring loaded release mechanism for its timing bezel. Unlike other bezels of the era, there was effectively no way you could accidentally change the setting on a Ploprof bezel.
Using a UFO-shaped case and boasting more crowns and pushers than you can shake a stick at, the Omega Flightmaster is one odd duck that collectors either love or hate. Part of its appeal is the volume of complications packed into a single watch. This piece is a GMT chronograph with an internal timing bezel to boot; the crown at 10 controls its 12-h GMT hand, the crown at 8 controls the bezel, and the crown and pushers of the right hand side of the case take care of the functions as any other mechanical chronograph would.
Earlier versions would run the Caliber 910, whose 9 o'clock sub-dial would indicate a 24h scale or day/night indication for its GMT hand. The later references deleted this in favor of a running seconds display. Those with smaller wrists be warned, the Flightmaster is cool, but it’s definitely a tank. Launched in 1969, it was a massive watch for its day, measuring 43mm in diameter (not counting the crowns, 15mm thick, and 52mm from hooded lug to hooded lug. Its mass was 139 grams. If you want to take things to an absolute 'statement watch' level, then there are a very small number of solid gold examples out there too - but be warned, these models rank among the heaviest watches you are likely to ever find.
1969 and 1970 was a strange time for Omega watch design, as the Bullhead also landed around this time. Unlike the Ploprof and the Flightmaster, which seemed to have clear practical applications, the Bullhead was just a random dose of weirdness that (like its counterparts) is a bit of an acquired taste. Named in accordance with its pusher configuration that leads the case to look like the face of a bull with horns, the original bullhead had a very 'wrist mounted stopwatch' vibe, that was intended to increase its practicality in the sphere of timing amateur sporting events.
Effectively, it runs a simple two-register chronograph movement that has been rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise from what would be a conventional position, with an additional crown at the 6 o'clock position to somewhat balance out its design. This additional crown controls its internal rotating timing bezel, of near identical design to that of the Flightmaster. However, unlike the Flightmaster, the Bullhead was reissued by Omega in 2013, and remains as part of the brand's current collection.