The Non-America’s Cup - A Superb Omega Defined by What It Isn’t

Tell someone who isn’t into Omega watches that you love the Non-AC and you’ll get a confused look. How can a watch actually be known as a Non-something?

When I first became really interested in Omega watches, there was an incredibly popular and sought-after watch talked about in forums like Timezone that confused me, along with the rest of the "watch noobs".  That was the Non-AC, or the Seamaster Pro Non-America's Cup.  

The Ref 2230.50 Seamaster Pro Non-AC - Image by @KStateSkier

It's one of the weirdest names for a watch out there, surpassing the Holy Grail, the FOIS and the Snoopy.  Who on earth calls a watch the Omega-Seamaster-Not-The-America's Cup, aren't 99.9% of watches Omega produces "Non-AC"?

This watch was special though because Omega didn't just take away the America's Cup script off the dial of the Ref 2533.50, they greatly enhanced it by giving it a set of beautifully finished, rhodium-plated white gold applied dial furniture.  Taking it a step further, even the Omega logo and lettering was also rhodium plated white gold and riveted into the dial.  

The Non-AC 2230.50 Seamaster Pro - Image by @Padders

Over the years that would come, this would spread across the Omega range as part of the early 2000's quality step undertaken by Omega, but the Non-AC stands out among the lineup as the first watch to bear such special finishing all the way back in 2001.  The 2220.80, 2225.80 and others with white gold finishing wouldn't come along until several years later in the mid-2000's.

While the Non-AC was a genuinely special watch and a step up from its peers, it didn't carry a significantly higher price tag, being about the same as other gold-bezel Seamaster Pro models of the era.  As a result, it became an instant favorite among collectors.

What's interesting is that Omega never really promoted or made any great effort to sell the Non-AC, it largely propagated by word of mouth and from collector to collector through photographs, because this watch photographs extremely well.

The Seamaster Pro 2230.50 Non-AC - Image by @Wetworks

The America's Cup Limited Edition

So we can't just talk about the Non-AC without acknowledging the AC, the original Omega America's cup limited edition.

This watch was released in two forms, on strap, Ref 2833.50 / 2833.50.91 and on bracelet, Ref 2533.50 in a total limited production run of 9,999 units.  That's quite a lofty number, and Omega was not really selling out large limited edition runs that easily back when this was released in 2000, so it remains to be seen how many of the 9,999 actually were produced in the end.  

The Seamaster Pro America's Cup - Image by @Padders

The America's Cup Limited Edition, differs from most subsequent LE models in that it is a tribute to the race itself, and not any one specific competitor.  The dial itself was based on the black 2254.50 dial, but with the lower writing replaced by the America's Cup logo, including the image of the iconic ewer itself.

The watch sets itself apart from other sword hand Seamaster Pro 300M models like the 2254.50 in that it has an 18K solid white gold engraved bezel insert inside the outer steel bezel.  This does give the watch a significantly more upmarket look, but as mentioned previously, it only has painted luminous hour markers and a painted Omega logo, unlike the Non-AC with all white gold to match the bezel.

The Seamaster Pro America's Cup LE 2533.80 - Image by @Dtt

The AC was never a bad watch by any means, quite the opposite in fact, but it doesn't evoke the same national partisanship that later team specific models do. This, along with the fact that it was succeeded a year later by the Non-AC which was a straight upgrade in terms of finishing simply made it a bit hard to love by comparison.

Case & Bracelet

The case of both the America's Cup & Non-AC are identical and based on the same 2254.50 design as all sword-hand Seamaster Pro 300M models.  

It features a very favorably proportioned case at 41.5 mm diameter and 12 mm thick, even with the domed crystal and 300 meters water resistance.  The case features the typical manually operated helium-escape valve featured on all Seamaster Pro 300M divers, and a knurled crown shrouded by pronounced crown-guards.

The America's Cup LE 2533.80 Case-back with engraving - Image by @Dtt

The screw-in case-back features the standard wave pattern with hippocampus logo in the center on both models, however the America's Cup versions also has the text Seamaster Professional Chronometer 300M / 1000 ft xxxx/9999 engraved in a ring around the outer edge of the case-back.  

In addition to the case-back engraving, the America's Cup LE also features the text "Limited Edition" engraved on the crown-side of the case, either side of the crown.  This rather pronounced engraving is likely a bit much to some people, and something Omega definitely don't do any longer.

The Seamaster Pro America's Cup Limited Edition 2533.80 Case Engraving - Image by @Dtt

The 18K white gold bezel is the most noticeable feature of both watches and it simply stunning.  Prior to the ceramic bezels, these gold inserts with their detailed engraving and reliefs were the most attractive option by far on Seamaster Pro models and while they can be somewhat prone to damage, refinishing is possible to some degree.  It should be noted that if this bezel is significantly damaged, that is an expensive issue to solve, so the bezel should be a priority in any condition assessment.

The Stunning 18K White Gold Bezel of the Non-AC 2230.50 - Image by @Wetworks

In terms of bracelets, the America's Cup LE, Ref 2533.50 is fitted with the Bond style Seamaster bracelet, while the Non-AC Ref 2230.50 is fitted with the Speedmaster style bracelet, both with a Seamaster clasp and diver's extension.  Being standard 20 mm lug width Seamaster cases, these watches are compatible with a great many other strap and bracelet options including NATO straps, Milanese mesh and vintage diver mesh.  The strap version of the America's Cup, Ref 2833.50.91 / 2833.50 comes on a leather strap with single fold steel deployant clasp, and is quite uncommon to come across.

Movement

The movement powering both the America's Cup and the Non-AC is the Omega Calibre 1120 chronometer, which is an excellent, accurate and highly durable movement.

This movement is the predecessor of the Co-Axial Calibre 2500 and is based on the ETA 2892-A2, with some significant modification carried out by Omega.  It oscillates at 28,800 vph, features quick-set date, hacking, and a 44-hour power reserve along with being chronometer certified.  

The Omega Calibre 1120 movement powering the AC & Non-AC Seamasters

These are highly regarded movements which are known for being trouble-free and excellent performers.  They can be serviced easily by any qualified independent watchmaker with access to an Omega parts account for less than the cost of a factory service.

At this point in their lives, all America's Cup and Non-America's Cup examples will either be due for service or well over-due for service.  Due to this you should factor the cost of a service into any purchase as the damage done by letting metal on metal wear occur in a watch with dry lubricants will add to your eventual servicing costs.

Variants

Comparing the two dials below you can see the key differences between them quite clearly.  The basic black wave pattern and black date wheel are retained, but the changes are myriad beyond that.  

A lume shot of the Seamaster Pro Non-AC 2533.80 - Image by @Kstateskier

On the America's Cup, a white painted outline around the lume plots can clearly be seen, while the Non-AC has the white gold frame around the lume with no paint surrounding it.  The Non-AC's Omega logo and text in applied white gold makes a significant difference over the plain painted white of the America's Cup, while the dial text, even if a bit long on the Non-AC, still draws less attention than the words America's Cup.

Buying

The first and most obvious question is to AC or to Not-AC.  The good news is this is a very easy question to answer for the vast majority of people.  

The Non-AC is the better watch, it has a nicer dial, does away with the rather kitsch "Limited Edition" engraving on the side, and doesn't tie you to a sailing race that you may not really be that interested in.  It is however a beloved watch, and collectors will often pay well over $2,000 for a nice example, getting close to $3,000 for an excellent example.

The Seamaster Pro Non-AC 2533.80 - Image by @Kstateskier

The America's Cup on the other hand, is the cheaper watch and significantly so.  These sell on eBay for around $600-1,000 less than their Non-AC cousins, which is a VERY large saving.  If you consider the watch purely on its merits, that is actually quite a steal, one recently sold on bracelet with box and papers for $1,342 on eBay.

That really is a lot of watch for the money, and better value than most 2531.80 or 2254.50 Seamaster Pro models if you don't mind the America's Cup treatment on the watch.

Unless you are completely against bracelets, you will likely only want either the 2533.50 or 2230.50, the cost of adding a bracelet later makes it hard to justify if the watch comes on a strap.

Omega made a lot of these watches and supply tends to be very good for both, although on the buy side, demand is quite high for the Non-AC and very low for the America's Cup.  

The Stunning Seamaster Pro Non-AC 2230.50 on Omega Vintage Mesh - Image by @Wetworks

Although these watches were sold all over the world, there is a remarkably high number of Non-AC models in particular available out of Japan.  Chrono24 and eBay will always be quite full of nice clean watches from Japan, while Japanese auction sites inside the country have even better deals and a great deal of supply.  I've often commented that Japanese watch collectors have excellent taste in Omega watches, so this comes as no surprise.

Some of the best deals on these and the best condition examples come from forum deals.  One long-time Omegaforums member @Wetworks sold his Non-AC only fairly recently and has taken some of the most stunning photos of this reference anywhere on the internet, whoever ended up with that watch definitely did very well for themselves.

Discussion thread on Omegaforums can be found here:

Omega Stories: The Non-America’s Cup - A Superb Omega Defined by What It Isn’t
[IMG] When I first became really interested in Omega watches, there was an incredibly popular and sought after watch talked about in forums like...