02/16/2024
 6 minutes

Breitling vs. Omega: Between Altitude and the Deep Sea

By Jorg Weppelink
Breitling vs. Omega

Breitling vs. Omega

Breitling and Omega are two of the biggest luxury watch brands in the world. They both have rich histories dating back to the 19th century and are much loved by enthusiasts and collectors, but there are notable differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look at what sets these brands apart.

Brand History

Breitling was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. From its early days, Breitling has played a key role in the development of the chronograph as we know it today. The Chronomat, Navitimer, Premier, and Superocean are some of the most well-known models in the manufacturer’s collection, all of which date back to the 1940s and 1950s. The fact that these watches are still part of Breitling’s lineup to this day speaks volumes about the brand’s legacy. This is a big part of what made Breitling one of the top players in the industry.

Omega was founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. From day one, creating high-precision timepieces was the primary focus of the watchmaker. Omega’s famous 1957 trilogy of the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300, and Railmaster changed the brand’s history forever. When Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on July 20th, 1969, with a Speedmaster on his wrist, the “Moonwatch” was born. Today, the Speedmaster, Seamaster, Constellation, and De Ville names are still part of the manufacturer’s extensive collection. On top of that, Omega has partnerships with James Bond and the Olympic Games, making it one of the biggest luxury watch names out there.

Omega Speedmaster Ed White Calibre 321
Omega Speedmaster “Ed White” Calibre 321

Watch Collections and Models

Both Breitling and Omega have extensive collections with a lot of different options available. The most important lines in the Breitling portfolio include the Navitimer, Chronomat, Premier, and Superocean. All of these model families offer a range of sizes, dial colors, and complications, ensuring there is a watch for everyone. My personal favorite is the Chronomat B01 42, a glorious modern version of the Chronomat from 1984, with its characteristic bezel featuring four rider tabs and a Rouleaux bracelet. Another stand out is the revived Top Time collection – I would love a modern remake of my favorite vintage Breitling: the Top Time ref. 810.

Breitling Chronomat 42 B01 42 Chronograph Automatik Ref. IB0134101G1A1
Breitling Chronomat 42 B01 Chronograph Automatic ref. IB0134101G1A1

At first glance, the Omega collection seems more concise with only four product families, but if you start clicking, you quickly discover there is much more to the Speedmaster, Seamaster, Constellation, and De Ville lines. The Constellation has two sub-collections, the Seamaster and De Ville have four sub-collections each, and the Speedmaster has six. The most iconic is undoubtedly the Moonwatch, which is part of the Speedmaster family. Other popular sub-collections are the Seamaster Diver 300M, the Seamaster Aqua Terra, and the Speedmaster Heritage. When it comes to individual models, my favorites are the Seamaster Ploprof 1200M Summer Blue, the Speedmaster Calibre 321 “Ed White,” and the current Speedmaster Moonwatch.

If we put them head-to-head, it is safe to say that Breitling is the brand for chronographs, which makes sense, seeing as they were instrumental in developing the category. The manufacturer’s Superocean family, however, adds a healthy dose of dive watch options to the mix. Omega’s lineup is more balanced, focusing on chronographs with the Speedmaster and dive watches with the Seamaster. The Constellation and De Ville lines add stylish, elegant timepieces to the range. What stands out for both brands is the extensive number of variations in models and colors, resulting in wide-reaching collections.

Breitling vs. Omega: Style & Design

Breitling has always been known for its rugged, oversized designs that focus on offering the ultimate in functionality and utility. But ever since current CEO Georges Kern took over, there has been a strong focus on taking inspiration from the past with historically-accurate reissues, modern versions of past classics, and adding smaller pieces to the collection. As a result, the portfolio feels more balanced and offers many styles, drawing on the 1940s with the Premier, the 1950s with the Navitimer and Superocean Heritage, the 1970s with the Superocean, and the 1980s with the Chronomat. This diversity ensures there is a timepiece to suit every taste.

1966 Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 "Twin Planes"
1966 Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute 809 “Twin Planes”

Omega’s collection also takes inspiration from different eras in the brand’s history, but there is one big difference: While the original Speedmaster came out in 1957, the wide variety of current Speedmasters draw on different moments from the model’s past.

One example is the current Moonwatch, which is modeled after the fourth iteration of the watch from the 1960s. The Speedmaster ’57, on the other hand, is modeled after the first-generation Speedmaster from 1957. The same goes for the Seamaster collection. While the popular Seamaster Diver 300M has evolved from the watch introduced in the early 1990s, the Seamaster 300 is inspired by the Seamaster from 1957. This approach creates an even more diverse pallet of options than the Breitling collection.

Quality and Technology

Both Omega and Breitling make great quality watches as a result of decades of dedicated craftsmanship, superior know-how, and a consistent will to innovate. Their watches are predominantly manufactured using automated processes relying on machines. One exception is the brilliant Omega Speedmaster Calibre 321, which is crafted by a special team of dedicated watchmakers who only work on this model. Additionally, Omega has some exceptional high-end pieces that are created and finished by hand. These examples are in keeping with the slightly more refined profile Omega has versus the functional and rugged tool watches that Breitling is known for.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Reference number 231.53.39.21.06.001 with co-axial movement
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M ref. 231.53.39.21.06.001 with a Co-Axial movement

When it comes to movements, Omega crafts all of its calibers in-house, the majority of which are Master Chronometers certified by METAS. This is a step up from the chronometer or COSC-certified movements that Breitling relies on. Omega has also earned a reputation for its Co-Axial movements, which require less frequent servicing.

Breitling, on the other hand, uses a mix of in-house and third-party movements. The brand crafts the widely respected B01 chronograph movement in-house and employs it and its derivatives in most of its timepieces. However, for the Superocean and Superocean Heritage lines, Breitling turns to COSC-certified Sellita movements. This is why Omega has the advantage when it comes to technology.

Pricing and Value Retention

Lastly, let’s take a look at pricing and value retention. In terms of list prices, you could say that both brands compete in the same price range. If we compare the most iconic timepieces from each, we see that the Breitling Navitimer B01 43 has a list price of $9,700 on a stainless-steel bracelet. The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch with a sapphire crystal is $8,000. You’ll see similar prices for many of the comparable collections.

If we switch our view to the secondary market, you will see that Omega watches tend to hold their value slightly better. Omega is the more popular brand with a wider audience, creating larger overall demand and higher prices for some favorite models. A general rule in watches is that limited edition models go for higher prices – that’s where Omega takes the upper hand. When it comes to the Speedmaster in particular, there is a huge demand for vintage classics and special limited-edition models thanks to a dedicated collector’s community. As such, prices for some models from the 1950s and 60s are high. Special editions like the Speedmaster Snoopy models or the Speedmaster Calibre 321 likewise demand hefty sums.

Omega Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary 310.32.42.50.02.001
Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary ref. 310.32.42.50.02.001

Limited edition Breitling models also keep their value well. Watches like the Navitimer ref. 806 1959 Re-Edition and the Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute are coveted collector’s items, although prices are nowhere near as high as those for some Speedmasters.

Read more: Do Omega Watches Hold Their Value?

Breitling vs. Omega: Who wins?

It’s hard to pick a winner between these two brands. Breitling and Omega are among the most famous names in the luxury watch industry thanks to their great histories, dedicated craftsmanship, and constant will to innovate. And while Omega has a slight upper hand in technology with its use of in-house movements, Breitling is gradually moving in the same direction.

When it comes to style, there is no winner. Breitling offers rugged tool watches, while Omega has created a more varied collection of timepieces for a wider audience with a touch more refinement and prestige. But both brands can count some of the industry’s biggest classics to their names.

And that’s exactly why they should be appreciated side by side instead of pitted against one another. You can easily own watches from both brands because they each offer something unique. After all, variety is the spice of life.


About the Author

Jorg Weppelink

Hi, I'm Jorg, and I've been writing articles for Chrono24 since 2016. However, my relationship with Chrono24 goes back a bit longer, as my love for watches began …

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