The Omega Speedmaster is the kind of iconic watch that most collectors daydream about. It has its own unique charm, but it comes with a price.
Most models cost at least a few thousands, with collector editions going for five or even six digits. If you’re like me, the bulk of your money goes into food and rent, leaving a much smaller budget for watches.
Fortunately, several other watchmakers offer very similar model for a much more reasonable price. We will explore a few of these watches together, but first, I will present the different characteristics of the Speedmaster to have a good base for comparison.
Domed hesalite w/ anti-reflect
Small seconds, 30 min, 12 hours
The Casio Edifice is one of the first watch that comes up when collectors have a discussion about the best Omega Speedmaster alternative. The reason is quite simple, the Edifice strongly resembles the Omega, but is offered for a much more reasonable price. The Edifice range is filled with tons of variations, with a few models that simulate the Speedmaster.
In my opinion, the best lookalike variation of the Edifice is the EFR-545S. Its three subdials are placed in the same position as the Omega’s. The difference lies in the units measured by each of these subdials. On the Speedmaster, the left subdial counts seconds, the bottom one counts 12 hours and the right one 30 minutes.
On the EFR-545, we find a 12/24 hours subdial, a 1/5th second subdial and a seconds subdial. Another difference is the tachymeter, which only goes up to 400 on the Edifice, whereas it goes up to 500 on the Speedmaster.
The Casio Edifice's quartz movement is powered by their ''tough solar technology'', which can last up to a few months without seeing the sun. Its 100m water resistance will be enough for swimming or snorkeling, but not diving. If you are interested, you can get this model for about 135$.
The Tissot PRC200 is a really good alternative to the Speedmaster. Its black on black dial with three chronograph features reminds us strongly of the Omega.
On this example, the three subdials are (from left to right) 30 minutes counter, 60 seconds and 1/10th seconds. As the Casio Edifice, the PRC200's tachymeter goes up to 400. One pleasant difference on the Tissot is its bright yellow color for the seconds hand and the left and right subdial hands.
At 200m/20 bar resistance, the waterproofing on this watch is much more efficient than the Speedmaster, making the PRC200 a proper diving watch. This is achievable thanks to Tissot's screw down crowns. The swiss watch uses a sapphire glass, so scratching it won't be an issue.
With its 42mm case diameter, the PRC200 is exactly as large as the Omega. Its case is a bit tinner, at 12mm. This can be explained in part by the fact that Tissot's uses a quartz movement on this watch, instead of a mechanical one like the Speedmaster.
The Tissot PRC200 is a very good watch, with some features exceeding the Omega. Unfortunately, its price is a bit high, if you don't get to buy it at a discount. Still, I really think its worth its price, considering you get a swiss-made timepiece with a 2 year Tissot warranty.
The Alpha Moonwatch is basically as close as you can get to the Omega Speedmaster without buying the real thing. The Chinese-made Alpha offers pretty much the same experience as the Speedmaster, without the brand recognition. Both models can be separated by a few differences, most being almost indistinguishable.
While both watches use a mechanical hand-wound mechanism, the Alpha's power reserve is only of 42 hours, compared to the Omega's 48 hours. Another small distinction is that the Alpha Moonwatch has a 20 jewels movement, compared to the Omega's 18 jewels.
The two models have a domed glass, but the Alpha Moonwatch doesn't replicate the Speedmaster as good as it should. In my opinion, the profile view of the Alpha isn't as appealing as the Omega's view. Additionally, the cheaper model predictably uses mineral glass, compared to the real version, which uses an hesalite crystal.
Other aesthetics differences include the back of the case, which is completely in stainless steel for most Speedmasters, but displays the mechanism in the Alpha. The Alpha's case total length is a bit longer than the Omega's, since its lug is a bit oversized. This might be a discouraging fact for people with smaller bone structures.
At 185$, the Alpha Moonwatch is a very good alternative for people who don't care about Omega's heritage and simply want the same aesthetics and most of the features of the real deal. It's no surprise that it made my "5 Chinese watches you MUST own" list!
Bulova is a manufacturer that was in direct competition with Omega. Their Lunar Pilot model was specifically built to withstand the pressure of space travel.
The 97B251 is a modern remaster of the Lunar Pilot model that was famously used as backup by astronaut David Scott, when his NASA provided Speedmaster stopped working during a 1971 mission.
The Bulova comes with a nice-looking black leather band with a unique diamond texture. It also differentiates itself with its super precise 262 khz quartz movement, which is proudly displayed at the bottom subdial.
The 96b251's sapphire dial is flat, instead of adopting the vintage domed look. Unfortunately, the Bulova's diver look isn't backed by the technology, since it only offers 30m water resistance.
With its 45mm case, the 96B251 is one of the most imposing timepiece discussed today. It has a very strong presence on your wrist, but it doesn't seem too attention-seeking, with its black and white design. I recommend this watch if you like large watches with a polyvalent styling that can be dressed down or dressed up.
Seiko watches are bound to have a place on pretty much any ''best of'' list I write. The SSB031 offers the usual Seiko package: beautiful, sophisticated, excellent price.
Seiko's take of the Speedmaster is very similar to the original, with a few added modern touches. The red seconds hand and 3/6/9/12 hour marks add a bit of life in contrast to the neutral color palette of the Omega.
The SSB031's 40mm case diameter will please men with smaller wrists, and the 11mm thickness makes this watch the perfect match for collectors who like subtle timepieces. The flat crystal is made of Hardlex glass, a type of mineral composite.
The Seiko SSB031 is equipped with a quartz movement, so you won't have the satisfaction of winding it, but you will have the reliability and convenience of a good quartz movement. This model is water-resistant up to 100m, so you will be able to use it for snorkeling, but not for diving.
At around 135$, the Seiko SSB031 is my favorite option on this list. It is affordable, and pays great homage to the Speedmaster, without being a total copycat.