Seven of the Best Affordable Omega Speedmaster Alternatives

by   |  in Style Tips

Few watches make you feel like an intergalactic superhero the way an Omega Speedmaster can.

While few of us will be heading into space any time soon, the chronograph still belongs in every basic watch collection. 

The Speedy’s design, with its recognizable black dial and tachymetre scale, is the gold standard. Chronographs that take their cue from this iconic timepiece are some of the best out there.

There are several reasons why you might want an alternative to the classic Omega Speedmaster, however: cost, size, and / or movement preference to name a few.

So in today’s new post, we’ve rounded up seven of our (mostly affordable) favorites, answering to the most frequent reasons.

Five of the seven are homages that successfully honor the basic design of the Speedmaster, each with a distinctive offering. Two are competitor alternatives, legends in their own right.

STILL HOLDING OUT FOR AN ACTUAL SPEEDY? CHECK EBAY FIRST

eBay just rolled out its own authentication service: Authenticity Guarantee. Now you can buy that incredible Omega Speedmaster and feel confident it’s the real deal.

“Just Show Me the Omega Speedmaster Alternatives!”

Want to save the Speedy rundown for later and dive straight into the alternatives? Here you go:

Seiko SSB031 Chronograph
$186.00

This watch is the quintessential Speedmaster homage, successfully rebuilding the iconic design with less extravagant materials resulting in an affordable, high-quality timepiece.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT
Bulova Men's Lunar Pilot Chronograph
$563.84

This watch is arguably a Speedy competitor at a much lower price-point and is the closest to the Speedmaster when it comes to historical significance and heritage.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT
Casio Edifice
$320.35

This watch uniquely adds smartphone connection capabilities to an analog Speedmaster look-alike presentation.

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01/20/2021 07:36 am GMT
Fossil Decker
$70.00

This watch’s face is inspired by the Speedmaster’s basic design but is simpler and less crowded. It comes with a replaceable silicone band.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT
Gigandet Racetrack Chronograph

This watch is a fun, versatile option that allows you to choose from several style varieties without the cost of personalizing an actual Speedmaster.

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IWC Pilot Chronograph Le Petit Prince
$5,480.00

The only luxury alternative on the list, this watch is for those who want to pay for the craftsmanship, reputation and indulgence of the Speedmaster, but also take a road less traveled. 

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01/21/2021 01:38 am GMT
Stuhrling Original Chronograph
$79.95

This watch stands out as the most affordable option on the list, while still featuring all the essential design features that a Speedmaster homage should have. 

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01/20/2021 07:36 am GMT

Why is the Omega Speedmaster So Popular?

There are two reasons:

First, it’s a genuinely good watch. 

Introduced as a racing watch in 1957, the Speedmaster used Omega Calibre 321, a legendary and highly sought-after movement crafted by Albert Piguet and acquired by Omega.

Mechanical Speedmasters, regardless of calibre, are made with a Swiss movement so complicated to build, that each watch is literally a horological triumph.

They’re also famously NASA-approved in spaceflight and interstellar activity even off the spacecraft.

NASA didn’t kid around with the qualification tests. The contending watches, which also included the Rolex Cosmograph, were subjected to several extreme conditions. Speedy, like 2010s Tom Brady, left the contenders in his moon-dust.

This leads us to the second reason: The Speedmaster’s historical importance and its relationship with space travel. 

Yes, part of it is good marketing on Omega’s part, but it’s no myth: Buzz Aldrin did wear his Speedmaster on the moon. All six lunar missions did include the Speedmaster.  

The Apollo 13 scare would have been the Apollo 13 tragedy if it weren’t for the Speedmaster, which earned Omega NASA’s award for outstanding achievements in-flight safety and mission success.

And yes, Tom Hanks sports a Speedy when he iconically tells Houston that we have a problem.

Like the Rolex Submariner is Bond’s watch, the Speedmaster is the space watch (though Craig’s lauded Bond iteration did bring a Seamaster into the 007 fold!).

What is the Best Omega Speedmaster?

As with all classics, the basics are the best. 

Today, the modern Speedmaster has more spin-offs than Cheers. Our recommendation? Stick to the original designs.

They’re indispensable and they hold their value better.

As far as Speedmaster movements go, the 861 calibre is easier to produce than the 321 calibre, making the 321 rarer.

Which begs the question…

What is the Difference Between the Speedmaster, Speedmaster Professional and Speedmaster Reduced?

In the mid-60s, the Speedmaster was created with a new, stronger case that protected the crown and chronograph pushers. This was the first Speedmaster labeled “Professional” on the face.

All Speedmasters used calibre 321 prior to 1968. After, they’ll mostly use a variant of Piguet’s 861 calibre, each much like the 321 but with increased beat rates. 

The watches on Apollo 11 were 321 and the first watches on the moon were 861. The present Speedmaster Professional has calibre 1863, an 861 variant.

The Speedmaster Automatic, or the Speedmaster Reduced, is a smaller version (38mm vs 42mm) of the Speedy Pro. With an automatic movement, it’s also a cheaper alternative to the Omega Speedmaster Professional. It came out in 1988 and was discontinued in 2009.

Often, but not always, the Professional has a hesalite crystal, and the Reduced has sapphire. Hesalite is naturally anti-reflective but softer, while sapphire is stronger but needs an anti-reflective coating that affects clarity.

Budget aside, those who prefer automatic movements or have smaller wrists often prefer the Reduced.

Now fast-forward to today.

The latest Speedmaster Professional features: 

  • 42mm case
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Manual-winding chronograph movement
  • Calibre 1863, an 861 descendant
  • Presentation box (watch collectors love these) with a NATO strap and a book of the Speedmaster’s adventures.

Basically this Speedy Pro comes with the entire watch’s mythology.

Omega made another really cool modern Speedmaster. It lacks the “Professional” appellate, but has an interesting grouping of features:

  • 39.7mm case
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Manual-winding chronograph movement
  • The coveted calibre 321

This modern Speedmaster is much pricier than the modern Speedmaster Professional, likely due to the 321 movement.

I realize this article is about Speedy alternatives, but if you’re interested in the real-deal Speedmasters at a great price, consider checking out eBay.

They have a new Authentication Guarantee service, which makes it much easier to feel confident when shopping for high-end watches. We put together a whole post on eBay’s Authentication Guarantee here.

Seven (Mostly) Affordable Omega Speedmaster Alternatives

So now that we’re caught up, let’s get to the watches!

Seiko SSB031

Seiko’s homages are well respected, not because of the similarities it has with the Speedmaster, but the thoughtful differences. Seiko is an important brand on its own, not a knock-offs manufacturer.

Seiko SSB031 Chronograph
$186.00

This watch is the quintessential Speedmaster homage, successfully rebuilding the iconic design with less extravagant materials resulting in an affordable, high-quality timepiece.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT

I think the SSB031 is Seiko’s best Speedmaster alternative, to stiff competition. 

It checks off all the boxes of a classic, effective chronograph, with more reasonable materials –and at a more reasonable price tag! It has a Hardlex mineral composite glass and features a Seiko-exclusive Mecha-quartz movement for exceptional accuracy.

I love the red second hand, which distinguishes it from the other Seiko homages. 

Compared to the Speedmaster’s design, the SSB031 has thicker number markers, and the components on the face are generally closer together, which is classic for Seiko sports watches

It’s water resistant up to 100 meters; the Speedmaster is at 50 meters.

If the Speedmaster was The Beatles, the SSB031 is like a uniquely talented rock band inspired by the Beatles, not a Beatles cover band. 

DETAILS of the SSB031

MovementSeiko-exclusive Mecha-quartz 
Case Diameter40mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel
Band Width20mm

Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is the Speedmaster’s pinch hitter, at a fraction of the price.

affordable omega speedmaster alternative from Bulova, the lunar pilot
Bulova Men's Lunar Pilot Chronograph
$563.84

This watch is arguably a Speedy competitor at a much lower price-point and is the closest to the Speedmaster when it comes to historical significance and heritage.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT

When commander Dave Scott’s Speedmaster broke during the Apollo 15 lunar mission, Scott relied on his personal Bulova. NASA kept this under their hat for years, but we now know that the Bulova Lunar Pilot is also historically significant.

I deign to say that the Lunar Pilot is as much a competitor to the Speedmaster as it is an alternative. Despite the gap between their price-points, this Bulova literally competed with the Speedmaster for NASA’s approval in the 60s.

The Pilot’s movement is an accurate high-frequency quartz, with hands that sweep very similarly to those of a mechanical. It’s packaged with a Nylon NATO strap, like the modern Speedy Pro. 

I consider this watch to be one of Bulova’s best watches in general, whether vintage or modern.

DETAILS of the Bulova Lunar Pilot

MovementQuartz, High-frequency
Case Diameter45mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel, Nylon NATO
Band Width20mm

Casio Edifice

Welcome to the future, gents.

Imagine having a 1960s Jaguar E-type, but with 2020 hybrid safety features. The Casio Edifice embeds technological updates into an analog chronograph appearance.

Casio Edifice
$320.35

This watch uniquely adds smartphone connection capabilities to an analog Speedmaster look-alike presentation.

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01/20/2021 07:36 am GMT

With its Bluetooth capabilities, the Edifice can link to your smartphone. You just need to download the app.

In typical Casio fashion, this watch has a plethora of performance highlights. It’s water-resistant up to 100 meters, its battery life lasts up to two years, and Casio’s Tough Solar Technology powers its quartz movement, which can last months before needing more sun.

And finally, with a 49.2mm case and a 14mm band, this piece wears much larger than the actual Speedmaster emphasis on the much.

DETAILS of the Casio Edifice:

MovementQuartz, Tough Solar Technology
Case Diameter49.2mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel
Band Width14mm

Fossil Decker

I think of the Fossil Decker as a calmer alternative to the Speedmaster. It’s a Speedmaster having an after-work martini.

Fossil Decker
$70.00

This watch’s face is inspired by the Speedmaster’s basic design but is simpler and less crowded. It comes with a replaceable silicone band.

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01/21/2021 01:36 am GMT

There are no numbers on the face, just bold stylish markers with thicker hour and minute hands. 

The silicon band is controversial, but I think it works more harmoniously with the Decker’s less frenetic dial than a skeletal stainless steel bracelet would. The plumpness of the strap is also reminiscent of a spacesuit.

If you’re not Team Silicon, the strap is easily replaceable!

The Decker also comes in different tones for the hands and hour markers, which is a fun but subtle way to personalize it.

DETAILS of the Fossil Decker:

MovementQuartz
Case Diameter44mm
Band Material TypeSilicon
Band Width22mm

Gigandet Chronograph Racetrack

I lovingly refer to the Gigandet Racetrack line as the “Speedmaster remixes.” It’s the fun watch of the list. Costume jewelry for men.

Gigandet Racetrack Chronograph

This watch is a fun, versatile option that allows you to choose from several style varieties without the cost of personalizing an actual Speedmaster.

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With the Gigandet’s low price-point and endless color variety, all the rules about sticking to conservative and classic visuals get thrown out the spaceship.

You can choose different colors for the face, inner dials, and bezel, as well as different colors and materials for the strap. Color and material options such as blue, brown, tan, white, black, leather, and stainless steel are playful but still grown-up.

Gigandet is also a relatively unknown brand, so it may surprise ardent watch collectors to see a chronograph they can’t quite pin down.

To expand into artier options, a rose gold band, for example, I also suggest the Gigandet Volante, which is similar to the Racetrack but with two dials on its face instead of three. 

DETAILS of the Gigandet Chronograph Racetrack:

MovementQuartz
Case Diameter43mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel, Leather
Band Width22mm

IWC Pilot’s Chronograph

Maybe you’re a chronograph-specific collector, or perhaps you want a less prevalent but equally impressive timepiece as the Speedy. I’ve heard some watch collectors say that the Speedmaster is “too obvious,” and while I respectfully disagree, I also respectfully turn these collectors to this IWC.

IWC Pilot Chronograph Le Petit Prince
$5,480.00

The only luxury alternative on the list, this watch is for those who want to pay for the craftsmanship, reputation and indulgence of the Speedmaster, but also take a road less traveled. 

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01/21/2021 01:38 am GMT

This is a luxury watch, fellas. It costs slightly more than the modern Speedmaster Professional, though much less than the modern Speedmaster with 321 calibre.

IWC has a rich heritage in chronographs dating back to the 1940s, so this Swiss-made timepiece is also an icon.

If legibility is important to you, the Pilot’s Chronograph has the Speedmaster beat. The Arabic numbers on the face are bolder, and there are more markers within each inner dial making for more discernible circles. 

Unlike the Speedmaster it has a day and date indicator, and it lacks a tachymetre bezel for a cleaner face.

This watch measures 43mm in diameter, making it slightly bigger than the 42mm Speedmaster Professional. 

DETAILS of the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph:

MovementSwiss Automatic
Case Diameter43mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel, Leather
Band Width22mm

Stuhrling Original Chronograph

This watch is a lot like the Seiko SSB031 in that it’s a respectful but unique enough homage to the Speedmaster. Due to its Swiss quartz movement though, the Stuhrling Original Chronograph wins the award for affordability.

Stuhrling Original Chronograph
$79.95

This watch stands out as the most affordable option on the list, while still featuring all the essential design features that a Speedmaster homage should have. 

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01/20/2021 07:36 am GMT

If budget is your top priority, then this is the watch you want. It’s rare for an effective luxury homage to be well under $100.

The tachymetre marks are on the inner rim of the face instead of on the bezel, which is protected by a scratch-resistant crystal. Like many of the homages, it is more water-resistant than the actual Speedy at 100mm. 

At 40mm it’s a little smaller than some of the other watches on the list, but still fulfills the expectations of a good homage at a shockingly low price-point.

DETAILS of the Stuhrling Original Chronograph:

MovementSwiss Quartz
Case Diameter40mm
Band Material TypeStainless Steel, Leather
Band Width20mm

The Right Speedmaster Alternative for You

Looking for an indulgent look-at-me device? IWC’s your guy. Perhaps you just need a simple quality chronograph. Seiko and Stuhrling have you covered.

Whether you’re searching for a good Omega Speedmaster lookalike on the cheap or an exciting alternative, I hope this roundup was helpful – to the moon and back!

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