When you first develop an interest in luxury watches, the diversity of established brands, historic manufacturers, and independent watchmakers can seem overwhelming. Most of us only come across a fraction of what the market has to offer from advertisements or social connections. For many novice collectors, the entry point into the world of watches is a popular model from one of the industry giants.
Whether or not that timepiece is really their dream watch is another matter. Is the brand too ubiquitous and not individual enough? Does the watch align with their personality? Is their true dream watch just beyond their budget? You’ve probably had similar thoughts yourself at some point, and may have even questioned whether another timepiece might suit you better than the one you have. This new series of articles will introduce some surprising alternatives to the industry’s most popular models. Who knows, you may even be inspired to look outside of the box when buying your next watch.
Alternatives to the Iconic Omega Speedmaster
In this installment, we’re looking at alternatives to the iconic Omega Speedmaster. The Omega Speedmaster Professional is a truly legendary timepiece. You could certainly argue that there are few true alternatives to the first watch to land on the Moon. Nevertheless, we have chosen three options that could be considered suitable alternatives to the world’s most famous chronograph. One thing to keep in mind is that the Speedmaster wasn’t initially developed as a chronograph fit for space travel. The Omega Speedmaster, introduced in 1957, was designed as a sports chronograph that could keep track of lap times during races; this is reflected in early marketing campaigns. Considering the diversity among chronograph watches, we have taken the liberty to look at chronographs that are iconic in their own right, regardless of whether they were developed for racing as well. Without further ado, here are our three alternatives to the Omega Speedmaster:
1. IWC Pilot’s Chronograph
The first alternative we’ve selected is the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph. This watch has become an icon in its own right, and it certainly gives the Speedmaster a run for its money when it comes to highly legible chronographs. When you buy a chronograph watch, it’s important that you can read all the necessary info in the blink of an eye – that’s where both these watches excel. Although they are completely different in terms of looks, both the Omega and the IWC have a contemporary feel to them and score high on functionality.
The Pilot’s Chronograph has been a constant in the IWC collection ever since its introduction in 1994. Over the years, IWC has made small adjustments to the watch, but the overall look and feel remain untouched. No matter what watch generation you come across, when you see a Pilot’s Chronograph, it is unmistakable. The current Pilot’s Chronograph, ref. 3777, was introduced in 2016. The biggest change from the original generation is an increase in size. This watch measures 43 mm in diameter, making it slightly bigger than the 42-mm Speedmaster Professional. Furthermore, IWC has modernized the overall look. Compared to previous generations, this Pilot’s Chronograph feels like a modern-day watch that honors the legacy of the IWC collection.
If you are looking for an iconic chronograph that is not a Speedmaster, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph is a very good choice. The watch boasts distinctive vintage-inspired elements that characterize the entire IWC Pilot’s Watch collection. At 6,000 EUR (approx. 6,500 USD), the IWC Pilot’s Watch is slightly more expensive than the current Speedmaster Professional. If you aren’t keen on spending that much money, there are a lot of great pre-owned options out there.
2.Tudor Heritage Chrono
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years, you may have noticed that Tudor has been making quite a name for itself recently. Their success started back in 2009 with the introduction of the Tudor Grantour Chronograph. Not long after, Tudor introduced the Tudor Heritage Chrono in black and gray. A blue version followed three years later in 2013. The Heritage Chrono got its 1970s racing aesthetic from an early 70s model with the reference 7169, also known as the Tudor “Monte-Carlo.” One of the major differences between the current Heritage Chrono and its predecessor is the movement. The vintage 7169 is equipped with a manually-wound Valjoux 234 movement, while the current Heritage Chrono uses a self-winding mechanical movement, the Calibre 2892 (based on an ETA 2892), with an additional mechanism for the chronograph function.
The 42-mm Heritage Chrono comes in three different configurations, each of which has its own racing-inspired charm. The first version has a gray dial, black subdials, and gray bezel combined with orange accents. The second flips the colors with a black dial and gray subdials, bezel and accents remaining the same. The third version really stands out with its opaline dial, bright blue subdials, and blue bezel with contrasting orange accents. The Heritage Chrono is available with a steel bracelet, but if you want to complete the look, go for the matching fabric strap instead.
No matter which of the three Tudor Heritage Chrono models you choose, you will get the same 1970s-inspired racing feel. The strap brings the Heritage Chrono closer to what the Speedmaster was designed for initially: a sports chronograph for keeping time during races. To be honest, the Tudor is a lot more present on the wrist due to its use of bright accents. That said, if the Speedmaster is a bit too boring for you, the Tudor Heritage Chrono may be a more appealing and slightly cheaper alternative at 4,270 EUR (approx. 4,650 USD) on a steel bracelet.
3. TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 17
The third and final Omega Speedmaster alternative is from another brand that has made a name for itself with racing chronographs. TAG Heuer has released some of the most iconic racing chronographs on the market with their Monaco and Carrera series. The brand is synonymous with racing, so it should come as no surprise that the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 17 is our third possible alternative to the Omega Speedmaster.
Jack Heuer created the Carrera back in 1963 in honor of the famous Carrera Panamericana. This race through the Mexican countryside was known for being particularly dangerous, and Heuer wanted to create a watch in the spirit of the event for professional drivers. Although it was developed as a serious sports watch, the original Carrera was also a perfectly functional everyday watch. This versatility still characterizes the Carrera line to this day.
The 41-mm Carrera Calibre 17 is part of a large collection of Carrera watches. This particular model pays tribute to the first-ever Carrera developed by Jack Heuer in 1963. Thus, it shares many of its characteristics with the original timepiece. The watch is powered by the TAG Heuer Calibre 17 movement, which is based on the ETA 2894. There are two different configurations to choose from. The first comes with a silver dial, blue subdials, and contrasting red accents, and the second comes with a gray dial, white subdials, and contrasting red accents. Both of the watches ooze pure racing style and are great modern reinterpretations of the classic TAG Heuer.
While the Omega Speedmaster has gone on to become the famous Moonwatch, the TAG Heuer Carrera is still known as an iconic motorsport chronograph. If you want a watch with an incredible story and the looks of a true sports chronograph, and have 5,150 EUR (approx. 5,600 USD) to spare, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 17 may be the watch for you.
There you have it, three alternatives to the iconic Omega Speedmaster. Each of these watches has its own unique story to tell, but they are all well respected timekeepers. If nothing else, this just proves that there are many great sports chronographs out there for anyone who wants to call one their own.