Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Welcome to the latest installation in our Cost of Entry series, where we find the most affordable entry level pieces from some of the leading luxury watch brands. We previously looked at Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual watch, the Panerai Luminor PAM000 Base Logo watch, and the Hublot Classic Fusion Titanium as each brand's respective entry-level model. No less than a giant in the watch world, and with more than a few fans in the aBlogtoWatch community, our series would be incomplete without Omega Watches and, to play within the rules of our Cost of Entry series, a look at the brand's most affordable automatic timepiece available today: the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Chronometer watch. Oh, and we'll also check out the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M, a quartz model coming in as the brand's lowest priced men's watch.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

In recent years, Omega has been upping their game in build quality, movements, design, and yes, as a consequence, sometimes in pricing. This year saw a revamped Seamaster Planet Ocean line featuring several models that boast the new “Master Chronometer” movements, which means passing extensive METAS in-house testing at Omega. The METAS certification was debuted with the reintroduction of the Globemaster in 2015, a revamped version of an old Constellation watch that, for many onlookers, was the gauntlet being thrown at another dressy, fluted-bezel watch with a date window that we won’t single out.

Omega plans to eventually apply the certification to most all its in-house movements. That’s just part of what’s been new at Omega, and although we can’t even get into the near-mythic Speedmaster Moonwatch for this article, I will mention the one-of-a-kind cool-factor that comes with the Seamaster being the “007 watch." Fans of the Omega Seamaster can rejoice that the line represents the most affordable Omega watches, both mechanical and quartz.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles
Omega's most affordable men's watches: Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M (quartz), Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial (mechanical)

For the record, I believe the absolute least expensive Omega watch overall is the ladies’ 24.4mm quartz De Ville Prestige, at around US$2,650. But, according to Google Analytics, the aBlogtoWatch audience is about 90% male (no towel snapping, please) and probably overwhelmingly interested in mechanical watches, so we are tweaking our Cost of Entry definition a little bit. Today, we will be looking briefly at the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M as the entry-level men’s quartz watch at under US$3,000, and then more at the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial as the entry-level men’s mechanical watch at US$4,000-plus.

Fans of the brand will find that Omega's most basic watches offer a lot of what they like - if not everything some perhaps want, of course. We should not be surprised or disappointed that luxury bells and/or whistles cost more, and that entry-level pieces don't have some of the premium features that get horology fans excited. In Omega's case, however, these are not stripped down, compromised, or at all lacking in the technology, quality, style, or history the brand is known for, and we want to look at exactly what they offer.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Someone who wants an Omega on their wrist for more than just the luxury name likely appreciates the history that comes with it. At least for many fans, the Seamaster and Speedmaster lines are the most representative of Omega. The venerable Seamaster line is where our focus is today because that is where we find both the Diver 300M and the Aqua Terra. The Seamaster is the oldest of Omega's current lines, introduced in 1948 - when the brand was already 100 years old. The Aqua Terra stands apart in the Seamaster line that today is otherwise Omega at its sportiest and is mostly populated by serious dive watches. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M watches, on the other hand, are reminiscent of the earlier and more dressy Seamaster watches, but still retain a modern, masculine, and subtly sporty edge - not to mention 150 meters of water resistance.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M quartz watches, ref. 231.10.39.60.06.001 (grey) and 231.10.39.60.02.001 (white)

Pictured above, this particular Aqua Terra 150M model is the most affordable men's watch from Omega. With Omega as Official Olympic Timekeeper of the recently concluded 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, the brand also gifted these particular models to the U.S. Olympic team athletes (who, in addition to their new watches, took home 46 gold medals) - so we felt this article is timely in a couple of ways. With a choice of grey or white dial in a 38.5mm steel case, this Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M runs on the Omega 4564 Swiss quartz precision movement - from Swatch sister company ETA - with a battery life of 25 months.

The full range of Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watches offer a number of sizes and variations, with the materials, finishing, and construction you should expect from Omega. All are 150 meters water-resistant, promising a good level of durability, especially considering what may be seen as a more classic/dressy styling. They can, of course, claim to share the history of the Seamaster line and Omega overall. So the most affordable Omega men's watch offers all of that – in other words, more or less all you should want from an Omega watch except for a biggie: a mechanical movement.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

So, since quartz won't cut it for many watch lovers, they will be looking to the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial as the most affordable mechanical Omega watch for men. At this price point, the simple three-hand Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial watches are available in 41mm and 36.25mm cases, each with lacquered dials and ceramic bezels in blue or black. The photographs here are of the 41mm-wide, 13mm-thick version (and for reference, my wrist is 6.5", or about 17cm).

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Obviously water resistant to 300 meters, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial qualifies as a "professional dive watch" and includes a helium escape valve at 10 o'clock. While the helium escape valve will mostly find function as a conversation piece, not all dive watches include them - so it lends to the idea that even Omega's least expensive mechanical watch is not at all a bare-bones product.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Further supporting that notion is the ceramic bezel. Even though the use of ceramic is becoming more common and even approaching "standard" in dive watch bezels these days, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M has featured it since 2012. The ceramic bezel adds notable value, and in combination with the sapphire crystal, it means that the entire front of the watch is essentially scratch-proof forever. Note, also, that the lume extends not only to the hour markers, bezel pip, and tips of the hands, but thin strips on the skeletonized shafts of the hands also glow in the dark - ensuring that your Omega watch will be readable and recognizable in all lighting situations.

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

Cost Of Entry: Omega Watches Feature Articles

While the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial is modern in terms of looks and in the context of Omega's history, the brand's diving pedigree goes back to the 1932 Omega Marine (as David Bredan discusses in our History Of Dive Watches article here). As an answer to the Rolex Submariner, the Omega Seamaster Professional line started in 1957 with the Seamaster 300 that began to resemble what we now think of as a dive watch. Finally, the first Omega Seamaster Diver 300M was introduced in 1994 in a form very much like today's.

  • IanE

    Nice to see Omega covered – thanks!

    I have the Seamaster 300M ceramic in blue. It’s my beater, but has a truly gorgeous, lose-yourself-in-it lacquered blue dial and, luck of the draw I guess, is accurate to better than a second a day! The only drawback for me is that the bracelet doesn’t have micro-adjust (come on Omega!) and my wrists vary quite a bit in size through the day and year – as a result I now wear it mostly on a blue rubber Hirsch Pure (very comfortable, by the way).

    • Permadi Kanapi

      You can buy the adjustable clasp from 300MC separately

  • laup nomis

    Love the look of the AT.
    Not keen in the open hands on the seamaster, otherwise its a decent looking watch. Im usually happy with asymmetry on watches, but I don’t like the prominent placing of the helium valve either.
    The whole 007 thing is off putting too. People are just as likely to assume you’ve bought the watch because you’re a repressed action hero, who would be doing amazing heroic stuff; if only you could get the time off work and mum wasn’t expecting you back before 10pm.
    Love omega, and they are both with reservations, great watches.

    • IanE

      Noone I know has a clue that the Seamaster has anything to do with Bond (or that the Speedmaster has anything to do with the Moon)!

      • ZBT71

        It must be nice living in such a rarefied environment.

        • IanE

          Not rarefied – just normal!

          • ZBT71

            Ah, normal not watch aficionados.

    • Tony NW

      Is that really the kind of watch conversation you have? I have never received, or dished, a dismissive watch comment. I’ve seen some chunky and bold watches, obviously (for those in the know) Nixons, and commented on them in a positive way about the interesting look and “conversation piece” aspect, and it’s always gone over well. If someone is wearing a Swiss Legend or Invicta, I simply don’t comment, and most people seem to have that much sense. Just as you wouldn’t comment on what you’d guess to be a drunk-tattoo.
      I’m wondering if perhaps you need to surround yourself with better people… or become one yourself.

      • laup nomis

        Thank you Tony NW I’ll try to be a better person.
        I’ll also not make any more light hearted jokey comments in case they might offend someone’s sensibilities.

        • Tony NW

          Or at least try to write it to sound light-hearted and jokey rather than cold-hearted and jerky. For example, you could have phrased it as, …

          I personally have worn the watch… well, not the Seamaster, but the Invicta CrapMaster, but still… with a tux and been mistaken for an action hero. Trouble was, the Invicta only gave me the skills to overpay for a $30 watch by a factor of ten, while people assumed it gave me the ability to dodge drinks at super-human speed. What it gave me was the ability to lose my tux-deposit at drink-flying speed.

          To a more humorous end. (And plenty of other ways too.) Pointing at yourself is funny, picking on others tends to seem a bit more mean-spirited.

        • Phil

          Be yourself. Your comment wasn’t offensive.

    • Phil

      I agree on both arguments. The skeleton hands are a big step back from the former sword hands of the 2254. And as a watch guy, if I see someone wearing the current Seamaster, I assume that their decision was influenced by Bond.

  • WINKS

    When reviewing a dive watch, a LUME shot should be considered essential.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      For those with little or no imagination…………

      • laup nomis

        Thanks Raymond, I’ve got no imagination 🙂
        Am I missing the obvious. How come the lume is in the holes of the skeletal hands. Spooky! Or is it a different version.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          For those among us with no imagination……….. ;- )

          • spiceballs

            Nice pix, thx, but you’d have to have pbg imagination to imagine the different lume colors and dials (under low-light) as shown?

  • Skootertrash

    Love this series of articles!! Can’t wait for the IWC write up!

  • The cost of entry is even lower than represented here since I discovered you can pick up a brand new 41mm Seamaster 300 for about $2800 from half a dozen places online. I was pretty surprised myself, and now that I know, someone is going to have to take my credit card away for safekeeping.

  • BNABOD

    If only the Seamaster hands could be changed. They just ruin the watch imho.
    Anyone w photoshop skills could try some new hands please 🙂

    • vmarks

      What about the broad arrow hands used on the planet ocean or aqua terra?

  • Greg Dutton

    Although Omega’s prices have shot up to absurd levels in recent years, the SMPc remains a great value with a street price around $2700.

    If you like it you should buy it soon; the SMPc is an older model, and Omega is sure to jack up the price and the size of the next one.

  • Marius

    To be honest, I wouldn’t buy neither of these watches. Spending almost $2,800 on the quartz Aqua Terra wouldn’t make much sense since for a very similar price you could buy a Grand Seiko quartz — a watch with a much, much better fit & finish and the great 9F caliber, probably the best high-end quartz caliber in the world.

    On the other hand, the Seamaster 300 is a watch that I always liked, but the $4,400 retail price is simply to much given today`s market realities. The ceramic bezel is not a big deal anymore; even $500 Kickstarter watches have them. The movement is Co-Axial, but it’s the low-cost, less attractive version. Personally, I would buy this watch new only if I could get a serious discount from the AD. Otherwise, I would go pre-owned or grey market because the asking price is simply unjustified these days.

    Also, the comparison with the Rolex Oyster and the IWC diver doesn’t make much sense since Rolex is much more prestigious than Omega in the eyes of the average person, whereas IWC is a higher-end, lower production brand, that has better cases and dials.

  • Larry Holmack

    If I was going to buy an Omega, it would be the 44 mm Seamaster Co-Axial Chronograph, blue dial and bezel. You can’t pay me to wear a watch with a black dial and bezel, nor could you ever get me to pay the crazy price for the Aqua Terra with a quartz movement!!

  • word-merchant

    A great series of articles, so please keep them coming.

    What strikes me is how none of these watches in this series quite hits the mark – you’ve got to climb the range to get something really deserving of your wrist space. For instance, this Omega has insufficient heft to it, a truly ugly strap, a weird bezel, and looks is way too old fashioned without being vintage.

    All these watches are designed and built very carefully, to allow those who’ve spent more on an example of the brand to very clearly understand why, but those who didn’t to at least get the name on their wrist. That’s quite a lot of skill.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Do i have a licence to kill if i strap one of these on. ?

    • Chaz

      A licence to watch George Clooney movies

  • SuperStrapper

    I still just want the speedsonic lobster chronograph and bracelet.

  • DanW94

    Nicely done Zen. I enjoy this series. I see from the comments a few people did what I did after seeing the MSRP. Checking on-line to see exactly what price you could pick this up for, turns out a hefty 35% or so discount. If I was looking for a diver in and around this range, I’d go with Tag’s AquaRacer.

  • Permadi Kanapi

    The true alternative of Submariner.
    Same 300m water resistant, COSC movement, ceramic bezel and half the price.

    • Chaz

      And yet…given a choice…if offered one for free…

      • Permadi Kanapi

        Of course most people will take the Sub for free, including me (only later to sell it).
        I don’t like flat crystal and Mercedes hand.

    • Joe0000

      I think you meant the Tudor Black Bay with the in-house MT5601 at less than half the street price -actually closer to one third- of the Sub.

      • Permadi Kanapi

        Well if we are talking about street price, you can also get seamaster at $2800.
        The new BB is very nice. 70 hours power reserve. Retro design. COSC movement. Yes it is also can be considered as true alternative of Submariner.
        (Although without ceramic bezel).
        Don’t get me wrong I am not Omega fanboy, so the more alternatives are better for all of us.

  • James Dimauro

    Cost of entry. Another great addition to ABTW. It shows that you have a great beat on what your readers want.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Not everyone lives hand to mouth.

      • James Dimauro

        True, but I’m sure many people also find this article interesting. Should they not cater for all demographics of watch lovers?

      • IanE

        But we (nearly) all have beaters – and, for those that don’t, slumming can be fun!

  • cg

    I would consider another Speedmaster as opposed to Seamaster…. Something about quartz for 2K plus that is wrong.

  • Casey Wai

    I believe the entry model for omega automatic is the deville series and not the seamaster series.

  • TrevorXM

    As has been commented on below a few times, the Seamaster Diver is a pricey watch for $4400 retail, but a good value and strong buy at $2860 at an on-line discount place. I really like the classic sea monster on the case back. It’s a cool watch.

  • hank huang110
    • laup nomis

      You can buy some Cotton Clothes at hank huang110’s website. Nothing to do with WATCHES though…

  • commentator bob

    It’s too bad they dropped the GMT version of the 300m, especially since it did not have the goofy helium valve appendage.

    Swatch Group: How come the Tissot Seastar gets a better integrated helium valve than the Omega Seamaster line?

  • Marco Sampuel

    Excellent article Zen. Since the debut of the Master Chronometer the other Omega’s movements aren’t just that buyable. Anyway I hope to read more of this “Cost of entry” series in the near future.

  • georgemcintosh

    .

  • Lawrence

    Nice article, however those prices are way above the ‘street prices’

    • Jim Beam

      I’d love to hear more about that. For the 300m model, this article quotes $4,400. What do you think is a more reasonable “street price” that I can expect to pay?

      • Lawrence

        For the 300m.. Today 2645 New. Grey Market of course.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Very good piece Mr. Love.
    However, personally, I think it short-sighted to not give quartz models their due.
    There are more and more excellent examples of 1st quality quartz models coming available.

  • Jonas Rehnström

    As an alternative I am la little sad that you did not mention the Breitling Colt automatic as an entrylevel or Superocean as an alternative dive watch. Neither did you mention Oris Aquis date… 🙁

    • ZL

      All very good suggestions. Had to leave some for the comments, right?! (Actually did want to mention the Colt initially, but had to cut back to try to keep it all manageable.)

      • Jonas Rehnström

        It’s ok as long as you do a “Cost Of Entry: Breitling Watches”. 🙂

        • ZL

          Breitling fan, eh? I think we can safely say that is among the top priorities for future installations 🙂

          • Jonas Rehnström

            Breitling is the brand that got me into watches, but I own an Oris….

          • Joe0000

            Tudor!

  • funNactive

    The Omega is great (as well as the other options listed) for an entry Swiss automatic.

  • edwin

    I know that the Seamaster 300 is a polarizing watch and that is certainly demonstrated in the comments to this article. I am one of the group that really likes this watch for a lot of reasons, including the bezel, caseback and skeleton hands. I own an older version with the wave pattern in the dial. Although I didn’t buy it because of its association with James Bond, that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I like it. Another great article by ABlogtoWatch. Thank you.

  • egznyc

    Omega is a great brand I’d love to own, but the automatic Seamaster described here is just not a pretty watch IMO. Why? Mostly the butt-ugly hands, which look really cheap and chintzy. I am not opposed to skeletonized hands but I just dislike how they did it here. The Aqua Terra is a great looking versatile watch, sporty and refined, but I’d go with the automatic version. Or maybe a speedy …

  • Ah Shumaker

    You could have also noted that Prince William wears a Seamaster 300. Since it was a gift from his mother, he will likely wear it forever.

    • Ariel Adams

      A valid point indeed.

  • Lum

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a watch as polarizing in my life as the Seamaster Professional/Diver 300m. You get one group of people that own them and find the fit to be the best they’ve ever had on a watch, the accuracy perfect to within +2/-2 over a decade long period, they love the weight to it and fit/finish plus really love it’s unique styling like bracelet, wave pattern dial, caseback and hands. These people often owned the Seamaster as a first luxury watch and will often keep them even after the years go on and they come to own Pateks, Rolex’s, other Omega’s like the Speedmaster etc.

    Then you get the entire opposite camp, of people who say it’s worthless ETA trash, who disregard anything that isn’t a Submariner as awful, who hate the bracelet design and say it looks like jewelry, who hate the skeleton hands, who hate that it isn’t black but blue instead, who gate the helium valve, who hate the scalloped bezel, who hate that there’s a quartz version of the same watch, who hate that it has any association whatsoever to James Bond and assume everyone who owns one knows nothing about watches and is just a Bond fan etc.

    I’ve never seen this kind of reaction to a watch ever before and this has been going on for a good 15 years or so now with the Seamaster.

    I personally love the Seamaster – when I bought mine for £900 odd about 3 years ago (the original 90’s version) I mainly got it at the time as I wanted a first “nice” watch and the only divers I could find that I actually liked the look of were the Seamaster, Aqua Terra, date-less Submariner or Royal Oak. Of all those, with a budget of £1500 the Seamaster was all I could afford.

    As I wore it more and more everyday for 3 years I fell more and more in love with it – It went from being at first a watch I liked quite a lot (but wished I had the money to have bought one of the other choices) to a watch I love in practically every way. The dial and caseback are beautiful with loads of charm to them, the fit and comfort of the bracelet is the best I’ve ever experienced in a watch (on a 6.5 inch wrist) and I’ve never once felt the need for micro adjustment. The thinness is amazing for a 300m diver – at 11.5mm, I never realised just how thin it was until I looked at other dive watches and noticed almost all other ones are in the 12-15 range.

    It’s holding perfect time pretty much at +2 and I took it into an Omega service center personally and spoke to the technician – he opened the watch in front of me and said it looks as though the case hadn’t been opened in about 10 years, yet it didn’t even need a service. The rotors and stuff were moving smoothly and it was holding time well – he said he’d never seen one come in with such good mechanical condition considering it’s age and lack of service so told me it didn’t even need one, but it was still something I should consider since it was working fine but services should be carried out anyway at intervals to prevent issues that – may- occur from lack of routine maintenance. Pretty much like regular dentist appointments or car check ups.

    Even though the watch has a heavily modified ETA in it, it’s been proven countless times now that the Omega cal.1120 is pretty much near enough on-par with the Rolex cal.3135 for day to day use and accuracy. The only area the Rolex may be better is a slightly better power reserve and more shock absorption from the rotors. If you’re playing sports with a lot of shock based wrist movement like golf or shooting a gun etc the 3135 Rolex is a bit more likely to stay on-time and regulated than a 1120 Omega. The 3135 also winds itself a bit easier so if you sit around a lot and rarely move (like an older person in a care home or bed bound) it will build up a power reserve easier.

    For typical day to day wear in an office or on a normal young persons wrist (<50 odd) you will see no difference.

    The Seamaster (preferably 90s version here, 2531.80.00) is still a hugely undervalued watch in my opinion as of 2016. I've seen fashion quartz watches and extremely low end off the shelf ETA Tag Heuer's selling for anything from 40%-100% more than the Seamaster does. It's completely illogical as to why – the build quality, fit, movement, accuracy and even brand recognition on these other watches isn't as high yet they cost substantially more. I think the automatic Seamaster should be in the high £1000's or low £2000's by now (with the modern ones in the high £2000's) but it's still sitting in the low £1000 range and can even be had on eBay sometimes for about £800-£900. It's an absolute steal for what it is considering the only things the new ones have over it are a ceramic bezel, applied markers, AR-coating, screw-down links and a lowish end 2500 Co-axial movement which isn't even on the level of the 8500 or 9300, but is essentially a minor 1120 upgrade.

    The "Bond" Seamaster was also likely the watch to have saved Omega in the 90's from going under as a company due to falling sales and the quartz-crisis. Nobody mentions this but it's a historically important watch in my eyes. It's the only watch that I know of the best released pretty much as a direct competitor to the Rolex Submariner – it was even called the "Rolex killer" at one point around its release because it offered almost everything a sub did (and only skimping a little in certain quality or movement areas) yet at a real world affordable price for the average Joe, costing something like 3x less than a Rolex.

    There's been other watches that look like a Rolex but very few if any -Affordable- luxury ones to make something the general public want en-mass and do it will a high level of quality, finish and reliability too. It also marked a first as the partnership between Bond and Omega started too, which helped drive sales to an enormous level.

    When I was at the Omega service center, they had a lot of framed pictures on the wall of various watches from their history – about 15 of the Speedmaster, 6 or 7 of the constellation, 4 or so of the Seamaster (the Bond model) and I think one of a Railmaster. There was a gigantic thousand odd page book on the table with a full history of the Speedmaster.

    It's clear that if you want -The- Omega and can only have one that it's the Speedy you should be aiming for (I'll have mine own by March) but it's just insulting in many ways to completely act as if the other models are worthless, they all form strong parts of the company history and have their own eras in time. Constellation's seem to have fallen long out of favour, and Railmaster's have a niche cult following these days. But I think the 'lowly' Seamaster has earned it's place amongst the company greats. Even if you don't like it, at least acknowledge it – as without this watch it's unlikely we'd have the Planet Ocean, Aqua Terra, numerous special editions or even continued success of the Speedmaster. Without the Bond Seamaster there's no guarantee we'd still even have an Omega.

    For that alone I think it's worth the small price of admission to own a great, reliable, daily beater diver that 20 years on has stood the test of time and looks almost virtually unchanged in design.

    It's a modern classic in the making.