Vintage Omega Watches: RJ’s Top 10 Classics From Yesteryear
Just recently, I wrote why I love Omega watches so much. I received many wonderful responses, including a lot of questions about vintage Omega watches. This led me to the idea of creating an overview of the 10 vintage Omega watches I like best.
It is not easy, to come up with an overview of just 10 vintage Omega watches that are my absolute favorites. It sounds easy and I could just mention 10 Speedmaster references, but we’ve published an overview of my favorite Speedmasters before. And, not many people are aware, but I also collect Constellations and have a weak spot for some other (vintage) Omega watches as well. So I tried to come up with a nicely balanced overview of 10 vintage Omega watches I truly like (or own, or want to own).
Top 10 Vintage Omega Watches
The watches in this list of 10 vintage Omega watches perhaps do not always compute, as you will find a mix of dress watches and sports watches. But what can I say? I love both and have a soft spot for the Constellation and Centenary watches. And that soft spot extends beyond the more obvious choices, such as the 1950s and 1960s pie-pan Constellations. I also adore the Manhattan and even later variations.
Additionally, I included my favorite vintage Speedmaster references. And you might be surprised to find I didn’t put in a CK2915 or CK2998 on this list, but I just so happen to like the third and later generations of Speedmasters a bit better. Then, there are a number of diver’s watches included as well. Although I own a few vintage Seamaster watches, including a beautiful Seamaster Calendar from the 1950s with a date aperture at 6 o’clock, here I decided to go with the proper diver’s models.
Omega Constellation Grand Luxe 2930
The Constellation Grand Luxe is one of the most beautiful watches I’ve ever seen. I realize this is very personal, but I love these case shapes, the beautiful gold pie-pan dials, and the brick-style bracelet. The 35mm case of the Constellation Grand Luxe reference 2930 is made of 18ct gold. It has a very comfortable brick-style bracelet, which is also made of 18ct gold. These Constellation Grand Luxe 2930 watches were in production between 1956 and 1959 and use Omega caliber 505 (some seem to use the 501).
Often, these watches have been redialed or had small dial restorations.
These were copper-colored movements and were all chronometer certified. The version shown here is made of 18ct pink gold and was auctioned in 2019 for CHF 9,375. Even with the auction house’s premium added, it is still very palatable. You will find many similar-looking Constellation Grand Luxe and Luxe models, showing only small differences. The main thing you need to worry about, besides the technical condition, is the dial. Often, these watches have been redialed or had small dial restorations. That should be reflected in the price. That said, to me, the vintage Omega Constellation Grand Luxe 2930 is still very much a hidden gem.
Omega Speedmaster Professional 105.012
The first watch worn on the Moon by Buzz Aldrin was a Speedmaster Professional reference 105.012. So, it can’t be absent from this list. The 105.012 and 145.012 used to be the last generations of Speedmaster to have a caliber 321 movement. That changed in 2019 when Omega introduced its caliber 321 again. The 105.012 and 145.012 are the next big thing I believe when it comes to Speedmasters, as the previous “straight-lug” models have become incredibly costly.
…the “Professional” wording was first used in 1964.
The 105.012 was the first Speedmaster to have the “Professional” wording, which it received due to the new case shape, protecting the crown and pushers. It has nothing to do with NASA qualifying the Speedmaster for official use in space and for EVA, as the “Professional” wording was first used in 1964. I love the 105.012 with double bevel case back, used until 1966/1967 on the -65 references. The very last reference, 105.012-66 has no double bevel anymore on the case back and is the same as the 145.012 case back.
Omega Constellation Megaquartz 2400 196.0013
Having a vintage Omega Speedmaster 125 in my private collection, I know a bit how this watch feels and wears, with its chunky bracelet. For me, the main driver for getting this watch at some point isn’t the clunky 1970s case or bracelet though, but the incredibly accurate movement and the aventurine dial. I am a sucker for aventurine dials and had serious hopes that Omega would bring it back by fitting it to the Constellation Globemaster.
There has been a lot of nonsense written about these watches and their movements…
I’ve been told by them that this is too difficult with a pie-pan dial and its facets. Anyway, the Constellation Megaquartz 2400 reference 196.0013 is high on my list ever since one of the guys here in the office building brought one with him to show it to me. It uses Omega caliber 1510, which is a megaquartz (2.4Mhz frequency) movement that has incredible accuracy. There has been a lot of nonsense written about these watches and their movements, but luckily a few collectors have set up this www.omegamegaquartz.com website that deals with that. Prices vary wildly, but the last ones I noticed got sold are around the €2,500–€3,000 mark. But I’ve also seen them offered for quite a lot more money.
Omega Speedmaster 105.003
The 105.003 was used by Ed White during his Gemini IV mission. Before that, NASA astronauts Slayton and Schirra had been using the CK2998 that they privately bought. Ed White even wore two of them on Gemini IV, one on each wrist on long Velcro straps to fit the spacesuit. It is this watch that Omega re-issued in 2020, making it available in only very small quantities due to the new caliber 321 and the fact that these watches are hand-built by just one watchmaker each.
…qualified by NASA…
The original reference 105.003 is the third generation of Speedmasters and the watch that was actually qualified by NASA to be used in space starting 1965. Although it was succeeded by the 105.012 and 145.012, Omega sent approximately 30 of them to NASA for use. The last man on the moon, Gene Cernan, wore a 105.003 during Apollo 17. An original and nice vintage Omega Speedmaster 105.003 becomes more difficult to find these days, and often the cheaper ones aren’t the watches that will meet your expectations when it comes to condition. Be prepared to empty your wallet for one of these.
Omega Constellation Manhattan
Some of you might not think of this watch as a vintage Omega, but I’d say 1982 is vintage by now. Just don’t tell my wife. The Manhattan was the first “new style” Constellation and redefined this collection. Today’s Constellation collection, except for the Globemaster, is based on this 1982 Manhattan design. The very first Manhattan models were available as quartz (chronometer-certified). In 1984, Omega added an automatic version. Besides the movement, the case diameter was also different. The quartz caliber 1422 models were 32.5mm and the automatic caliber 1111 Constellation watches measured 36mm in diameter.
For a steel and bi-color model, the prices start at around €700 for a nice Constellation Manhattan.
You might be surprised how well the 32.5mm version wears though, even on bigger wrists. Besides the typical tonneau case shape, claws on the crystal, and applied Roman numerals on the dial, the bracelet helped define this watch’s very particular aesthetic. It is an integrated bracelet with a folding clasp and a quiet classic. This watch was available in steel, gold and stainless steel, and full gold. For a steel and bi-color model, the prices start at around €700 for a nice Constellation Manhattan. The full gold versions are substantially more expensive and more difficult to get.
Omega Seamaster Ploprof 600M 166.077
I’ve been a longtime fan of the Omega Ploprof and added a modern one to my collection in 2019. The original Ploprof is still something I would love to add at some point as well. Omega’s Seamaster PloProf 166.077 was introduced in 1971 and there are basically four different variations (or “Marks”) out there. Inside, you will find the Omega caliber 1002, a relatively commonly used movement by Omega at the time. Unfortunately, these watches have been tampered with a lot, in the best case by Omega themselves.
Expect to pay around €7,500 for a nice one…
Many of these watches had movement swaps, dial swaps, etc. These vintage Omega watches were tool watches, so they encountered quite a bit of wear and tear. Don’t be sad if you find a nice one that has one of the service dials or has a swapped movement (over 60% seems to have a replaced movement, according to the guys of www.omegaploprof.com who did research with the help of the Omega Archives team), but just make sure you are aware of what you’re buying. Expect to pay around €7,500 for a nice one, and a bit north of that when the condition is very good.
Omega Speedmaster BA145.022-69
I will promise you that this is the most expensive vintage Omega watch in this overview, but I want to have it in here regardless. Although the prices went up crazily in recent years, I think it is an important watch for a number of reasons. It is the first Omega Speedmaster Professional in gold. And then there’s the history of this watch. It was gifted to the then US President and Vice President, as well as all active Apollo astronauts at the time. The watch was technically identical to the steel Moonwatch, but with a gold case, dial and bracelet. The gold dial has these beautiful onyx hour markers and black hands that give a wonderful contrast to the dial.
The gold bezel has this famous burgundy inlay, resulting in a unique look. Only 1,014 pieces were made of this watch, between 1969 and 1973. The ones that were gifted to astronauts and officials had a special and personal engraving; the ones that were offered on the market had the “First Watch Worn on the Moon” engraving instead. The interesting thing about these watches is that today, these BA145.022-69 watches can look so different from one another. It is almost like they age a bit differently, despite being the same watches. Inside is the caliber 861 movement, which was used in the other Moonwatches as well. Prices heavily depend on the condition of the BA145.022-69, but are very often north of $50,000.
Omega Seamaster 300 165.024
Omega’s Seamaster 300 game is strong today and it was — as you can see — strong in the past as well. This is a vintage Omega Seamaster 300 reference 165.024 and it ticks many boxes for me when it comes to vintage Seamaster watches. Although I love the very first CK2913 Seamaster 300, this 300 165.024 has a bit more body, and therefore would suit me better.
It has a 41,5mm case diameter and inside we’ll find Omega’s caliber 552 movement. I have a number of watches with this movement, and I’m always amazed how easily it runs (it starts ticking as soon as I pick up the watch), Better still, it keeps great time, even now! This Seamaster 300 165.024 dates back to 1967 and is the version without a date. It is also the reference used for the RAF in the 1960s. These watches do not come cheap, but still miles away from a 1960s Submariner. Expect to pay around €9,000 for a nice one.
Omega Seamaster Baby Ploprof 166.0250
This Seamaster 120M reference 166.0250 is often also referred to as Baby Ploprof. I don’t entirely get why it received this name, aside from being a smaller watch with less water resistance than the Ploprof 600M. This 166.0250 has a diameter of 40mm, and a water resistance of 120 meters, as the dial indicates. What it does have in common with the Ploprof, is the bulky case, the shark bracelet, and the shape and colors of the hands. I’m attracted by this divers watch mainly because of the case shape.
…this vintage Omega diver was the first to have a sapphire crystal fitted.
It boasts super clean edges and large brushed surfaces. Inside is the caliber 1010, which is an automatic movement with 17 jewels. This reference is from the early 1970s, just like the 166.077. Also, it’s said that this vintage Omega diver was the first to have a sapphire crystal fitted. Prices depend on the condition of course but expect to pay around €3,500 for one on a steel shark bracelet.
Omega Centenary 2500
In the same year as the Seamaster was introduced (1948), Omega also introduced its Centenary model. It was Omega’s first chronometer-certified watch with a self-winding movement. This is reference 2500 and has a case diameter of 35.5mm. It is basically the predecessor of the Constellation, which was introduced in 1952. You can say that the Centenary paved the way for the Constellation collection. Inside is Omega’s caliber 30.10 — a bumper automatic.
I love these vintage Omega Centenary models because they are so classically styled…
Omega produced 4,000 of the Centenary reference 2500 watches (and about 2,000 of that other Centenary reference, 2499). You don’t come across these Centenary watches often but expect to pay around €3,000 for a nice and original 18ct model in good condition. I love these vintage Omega Centenary models because they are so classically styled, even more so than the later Constellation models in my opinion. A perfect vintage dress watch on a leather strap.
So let us know what you made of this list. I’d love to hear about your favorite vintage Omega watches in the comments below.