27 August, 2018

The History of Omega

Omega is the name of the last letter of the Greek alphabet and used in other areas such as science, religion and astrology.

Although, in watchmaking, they are one of the oldest watchmakers in Switzerland with advances that illustrate their expertise and innovation. 

Their journey in Watchmaking started in 1848 when Louis Brandt founded Omega. To establish a reputation for reliability and precision, he embarked on a voyage from Scandinavia to the tip of Sardinia, Italy. 

The Life of a Swiss Watchmaker

In 1879, Louis-Paul took the reigns. He utilised the tax incentives in Switzerland and moved the company to Bienne in 1890.

A Swiss watch is a mark of excellence based on the series of tests they endure against strict criteria. Watchmakers carrying this accreditation can appeal to a broad audience who seek quality timepieces. 

Louis-Paul and his brother César focused on mechanical movements which appealed to different audiences because of their simplicity. This popularity enabled them to increase their annual production to100,000 watches with a workforce of 600 employees. 

Omega Milestones

Throughout Omega's history, you'll see several records, affinity for major events and milestones which remind us of their expertise in watchmaking. 

Examples include, 

  • The official timekeeper for the Olympic Games on 28 occasions (Since 1932). This came one year after the "clean sweep" where Omega dominated the Kew Observatory tests.
  • Apollo 11 - The first watch to be worn on the moon (1962).
  • First-minute repeating wristwatch (1892).
  • Amelia Earhart - Flying solo across the Atlantic.
  • Ralph Plaisted - Expedition to the North Pole.

Omega became the official watch of 007 James Bond who has worn an Omega Seamaster since 1995.

Famous Omega Watches

Omega has created famous collections that propelled them to the pinnacle of watchmaking, here are some of their most notable collections!

Seamaster - The watch with a license to kill.

James Bond has been wearing the Seamaster 300 since 1995. Its origins date back to 1948, the centenary of Omega. It's since become the best selling and oldest of all Omega collections.

The groundbreaking feature was the O-ring gasket that helped with water resistance. 

Trivia - The marine collection inspired the Seamaster which consisted of watches worn by the likes of Yves le Prieur. 

Speedmaster - The first watch in Space.

Part of an exclusive club of watches leaving the Earth's atmosphere and still working! The Speedmaster is an example of watchmaking at its finest. 

In 1957, Omega released the Speedmaster, a sports chronograph which coincided with their timekeeping at the Olympics. 

NASA purchased chronographs to test their durability against the requirements of their planned Mercury Program. This goal of this program was to put American astronauts in space.

After three years of testing, the Omega Speedmaster won and ref: CK 2998 partnered Walter Schirra on the Mercury Programme in 1962. 

Constellation/Globemaster - When luxury meets performance

The Omega Constellation, formerly the flagship of Omega, was a collection that goes back to 1952.

Omega sought to balance luxury and performance. You can identify these watches with their pie-pan dial.

The demand for The Centenary, released in 1948 for Omega's 100th birthday, became overwhelming that it inspired a new collection, The Constellation.

Trivia - The Constellation became known as the Globemaster in the USA due to a trademark dispute in 1956. 

The Globemaster contains a Marine Chronometer. This is a certification which means the watch has a Master Chronometer accreditation.

De Ville - Elegance and exceptional finish

Known for their aesthetic beauty and remarkable finish, De Ville has been adorning Omega's collections since 1967.

Compared to bulkier collections such as the Speedmaster and Seamaster, the De Ville collection is notable for its classic design.

Final Words

Omega's contribution to the world of watchmaking has made them revered by other watchmakers and also watch enthusiasts.

Notable wearers of Omega watches include John F Kennedy, George Clooney, Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr and Buddy Holly.

Here's a short film celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster.

What's your favourite part of Omega? Hit the share button and let us know! 

Continue our series with the Story of Patek Philippe! Check our blog post: Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Patek Philippe 

Is it time you started your Omega adventure? Explore our collection in auction. You'll find two limited edition Speedmaster watches! First is an Apollo 11 version and the second is an 18k rose gold Michael Schumacher.

 
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Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Omega