When it comes to luxury watches, the term “value” is entirely subjective. By their very definition, luxury timepieces occupy a premium price point, and since there is a case to be made that all luxury watches are extraneous items (at least on some level), the concept of “value” within the industry really just comes down to the relative value proposition of one high-end superfluous item compared to another. With that in mind, some watches simply offer more for your money than others, and when it comes to the absolute most bang for your buck within the luxury watch industry, it’s hard to think of a model that offers better value for your money than the classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch.
An Unparalleled Legacy
As the official flight-certified timepiece of NASA and the first watch worn on the surface of the moon, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the industry’s true icons, and it easily deserves a seat at the table among the most important watch names in all of horology. Very few timepieces can even come close to offering a legacy that rivals that of the Omega Speedmaster, and regardless of whether or not we actually want to admit it, the history and heritage of a watch does play into our decision regarding whether or not we actually want to spend thousands of dollars to make it part of our everyday lives.
There are some watches with names that are more well-known among members of the general public, but few have actually played a more significant role in the history of the wristwatch than the Omega Speedmaster. For example, nearly everyone has heard of the Rolex President or the Patek Philippe Nautilus, regardless of whether or not they have an interest in watches. While these models are beautifully constructed and worn by countless celebrities all around the globe, neither were tested by NASA (let alone passed its rigorous series of tests), and neither were worn on the surface of the moon.
The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
Having a lovely backstory and a rich heritage is certainly a plus, but in order for a watch to actually be worthwhile, the physical item itself needs to offer levels of finishing, execution, and performance that are in-line with a timepiece that costs thousands of dollars. Given that the Omega Speedmaster is produced by one of the world’s most famous luxury watch manufacturers, it’s almost a given that it would excel in these specific categories. However, it is worth breaking down what you actually get when you purchase the current generation of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch.
The stainless steel case of the Moonwatch is somewhat of a known quantity - which is a good thing in this instance because it is very well executed and has seldom received any compliments since the model first appeared more than half a century ago. Beyond that, the Caliber 3861 movement powering the current-production version is one of Omega’s advanced Co-Axial Master Chronometers, meaning that it offers accurate timekeeping performance along with more than 15,000 gauss of magnetic-resistance. Additionally, the stainless steel bracelet fitted to the current generation of the Moonwatch represents a significant step up from the previous generation, and many people say that this is the best that the classic Omega Speedmaster has ever been.
Attainable and Available
At the time of writing, the classic stainless steel Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch has an official retail price that ranges between $6,000 and $7,200, depending on whether you want a Hesalite or sapphire crystal and the type of strap or bracelet that is fitted to the watch. Simply put, no timepiece that costs thousands of dollars can ever be considered “inexpensive” while still even pretending to remain in touch with reality. However, within the context of iconic mechanical chronographs from blue chip luxury watch manufacturers, a retail price of $6k to $7k really isn’t all that bad. Plus, when it comes to the current-production generation of the classic Speedmaster, you also get quite a lot of watch for your money.
For all intents and purposes, the Speedmaster is Omega’s most famous watch (unless it happens to be a year that a new James Bond movie comes out). With that in mind, the classic stainless steel Speedmaster is by no means Omega’s most expensive model, even among just the watches within the greater Speedmaster collection itself, the original stainless steel Moonwatch is priced near the more affordable side of the spectrum.
Most importantly, the classic Speedmaster is available. Retail pricing is irrelevant if you can’t actually purchase the watch that you want, but you can actually walk into an Omega retailer or boutique and buy the classic stainless steel Moonwatch without having to play any games or join a multi-year waiting list. Additionally, if $6k is a bit more than you want to spend, examples from the previous generation are available at a discount on the secondary market. While these older Speedmaster models lack some of the latest updates and refinements - most notably the Cal. 3861 movement and the new bracelet - they are also fantastic watches, and further bring down the entry price for the classic Omega Moonwatch.
When it comes to alternatives for the Omega Speedmaster, the industry is full of mechanical chronographs, yet the stainless steel Moonwatch operates in somewhat of its own realm of existence that isn’t necessarily tied to its actual price point. For example, the Speedmaster is frequently viewed as an alternative to the Rolex Daytona, despite the fact that it costs less than half the price of a Daytona at a retail level (let alone what it actually takes to secure one on the open market). In terms of just retail pricing, the classic Moonwatch will set you back far closer to what Tudor charges for a Black Bay Chrono. However, while the Tudor is often seen as a less expensive alternative to the Rolex Daytona, the standard Speedmaster is one of Omega’s flagship models.
From just a price point perspective, the Omega Speedmaster is more in-line with models such as the Tag Heuer Monaco or an IWC Pilot’s Chronograph. Even watches such as the Breitling Navitimer or Chronomat have retail prices that are greater than what Omega charges for a Speedmaster, with most sitting somewhere between $8k and $10k. As strange as it may seem, the classic stainless steel Omega Speedmaster is actually positioned more towards the affordable end of the mechanical chronograph spectrum, yet it’s also a watch that frequently exists in collections alongside six-figure Rolex models and mega rare Patek Philippe references.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to truly call any luxury watch a “good deal” when you can get something that will accurately tell you the time for a fraction of the price. However, everything is relative and when you look at things specifically within the context of the luxury watch industry, it’s hard not to agree that the classic Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch offers one of the most complete and compelling overall packages currently available.
*All images courtesy of Omega