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THE OMEGA STORY
Omega is the undisputed alpha dog of the watch world. Omega has enjoyed top-dog status among wrist watch brands for more than 170 years. Prestige simply comes with the territory when icons like John F. Kennedy, Buzz Aldrin and Prince William have all shown off their admiration of a brand. Omega is simply the brand of icons. In addition to being the official Olympic Games timekeeper, Omega is also credited with being the first brand to put a watch on the moon. The amazing thing is that the same impeccable craftsmanship and meticulous features that made their way to the moon can be worn over your wrist. Do you want to learn about the mystique, engineering and craftsmanship behind what many consider to be the best watch in the world? Lido Watch Club is celebrating Omega by taking a look at the history and collections behind a brand that just can’t stop breaking records. Discover the enduring, evolving Omega story.
Many of us are so used to seeing contemporary celebrities and people of influence wearing Omega watches that it can be easy to forget that this is a brand with a long legacy. However, the fact is that the beautiful products we see today are the results of decades of designing, engineering, and testing.
How did Omega come to be the watch brand that’s synonymous with sport, style and performance? It all began with a watchmaker named Louis Brandt. Industrious Brandt was just 23 when he opened a watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The humble workshop had been expanded into a larger facility in Bienne by 1894. The facility in Bienne is where the Brandt sons finally produced a 19-ligne caliber that would change watchmaking as the world knew it forever! The new caliber checked all the right boxes by being highly accurate and easy to service. It was extremely unique due to the fact that it combined time setting and movement winding within one crown. The naming of this creation marked the first time that the Omega brand title was used. In fact, the success of the new caliber was so huge that the Brandt family officially changed the name of their company to Omega.
The newly renamed Omega company was off on a path of unstoppable success at this point. Omega took home the top prize at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. It was just three years later that Omega officially became the largest producer of finished Swiss watches. That’s saying a lot when you consider that Switzerland is the cradle of the watchmaking industry. Of course, Omega didn’t rest on its laurels.
The early part of the 1900s was marked by Omega’s obsession with refining and improving its products. Nobody could top Omega in terms of precision and reliability. The brand was able to set a number of precision records at the Geneva Observatory and other labs throughout Europe. What’s more, the company put a deep focus on creating watches that were easy to repair. This is a big deal because a watch that is easy to repair represents a smart lifelong investment for a consumer who is in the market for a timepiece. Omega’s focus on providing value from every angle is one of the reasons why the brand continues to dominate the watch industry to this day.
The Olympics came calling in 1932. This was a defining moment for Omega because it marked the watch brand’s entrance into the realm of true global recognition. Even a person who had no interest in purchasing a timepiece knew what the Omega brand stood for once the 1932 Olympic Games had come and gone in Los Angeles. The partnership between Omega and the Olympics proved to be a successful one. Omega continues to serve as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games to this day.
Omega wasn’t content with simply keeping time at the world’s biggest sporting event. The brand pivoted toward military supply throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Omega had become the largest supplier of watches for the British armed forces and its allies by the 1940s. This continued all throughout World War II. In fact, 1948 was an especially important year for Omega. The brand marked 100 years of production by releasing the water-resistant Seamaster in 1948. This watch has gone on to become one of the most famous timepieces in history. Omega wowed the timepiece world just a few years later with the release of the Constellation in 1952. The Constellation quickly became the flagship dress watch of the brand. This memorable and iconic watch is easily identified by its eight-star design. What is most surprising of all is that the best was still very much yet to come!
Many people view 1957 as being the most important year in Omega’s history. This was the year that the brand launched the Omega Professional line. The Professional line introduced the world to three of the most famous timepieces of all time. Those three iconic watches are the Speedmaster chronograph watch, the Railmaster antimagnetic watch and the Seamaster 300 dive watch. Watch enthusiasts still consider these models to be the jewels in Omega’s crown. The Omega brand was impacted by the Quartz Crisis of the 1980s in a big way. This crisis resulted from a rejection of traditional quartz watches by the market in favor of digital watches. A complete reworking of the entire watch industry led to Omega becoming a part of the Swatch Group.
OMEGA Collections and Cost
Omega watches are much more affordable luxury Swiss timepieces for entry-level watch enthusiasts and as such the company divides its lineup into four main collections (Constellation, De Ville, Seamaster, and Speedmaster) which then branch off into specific models. Below you’ll find the popular models listed and an estimate of what they often retail for.
|OMEGA Model||Reference #||Retail Price|
|Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar||126.96.36.199.06.001||$8,500|
|Constellation Globemaster Master Chronometer||188.8.131.52.02.001||$19,800|
|De Ville Hour Vision Annual Calendar||4184.108.40.206.02.001||$10,750|
|Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M||220.127.116.11.01.001||$5,500|
|Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M GMT||18.104.22.168.03.001||$8,000|
|Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M||22.214.171.124.01.001||$6,500|
|Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GMT||126.96.36.199.01.001||$8,000|
|Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Chronograph||188.8.131.52.01.001||$8,750|
|Seamaster PloProf 1200M||184.108.40.206.01.001||$13,000|
|Seamaster Diver 300M||220.127.116.11.01.001||$9,500|
|Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph||18.104.22.168.01.001||$7,500|
|Speedmaster “First Omega In Space”||322.214.171.124.02.001||$18,000|
|Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 – 50th Anniversary||310.60.42.50.99.001||$35,750|
|Speedmaster Professional “Dark Side of the Moon”||3126.96.36.199.01.003||$12,000|
|Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch||3188.8.131.52.01.005||$5,500|
|Speedmaster Professional “Speedy Tuesday Ultraman”||3184.108.40.206.01.001||7,500|
The Seamaster collection is celebrated for being the oldest collection that remains in production. The Seamaster is best known for being one of the watch industry’s preferred diving watches. However, most people recognize this timepiece for being James Bond’s official watch in “Goldeneye” when the film was released in 1995. Omega has been beefing up the size and water resistance of its Seamster timepieces in recent years. Many fans of this model appreciate the way Omega uses a wide assortment of sizes, metals, colors, bracelets and more to create truly unique looks.
Going back to 1957 is always fun when talking about Omega. The brand’s release of the Speedmaster in 1957 introduced the world to what would soon be considered the go-to watch for motorsports. The Speedmaster is a history-making piece because it is the world’s first chronograph to feature the tachymeter scale engraved on its bezel. The default design up until this point had been to place the tachymeter scale on the dial. This change made it easier for the wearer to use the stopwatch function to measure speed and average distances.
The Speedmaster was updated to include a black bezel insert with the tachymeter scale in 1959. This change set the blueprint for all future Speedmaster designs going forward. Omega broke a new record in 1962 when the Speedmaster was worn by Wally Schirra during NASA’s Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. Omega actually formed a strong relationship with NASA during the 1960s. NASA had qualified the Speedmaster for use in its manned space missions by 1965. The Speedmaster watch even made the trip with the Apollo 11 crew! In fact, Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedmaster watch as he took those famous steps on the moon. The decades that followed saw major changes in size, design, materials and movements for the Speedmaster. However, many of the models that came after still featured the trademark crystals, black bezels, black dials and hand-wound mechanical movements that propelled the Speedmaster to greatness.
The Movement of Omega
Omega built its name on the performance of its calibers. In fact, the brand has a long list of precision records under its belt. Omega still produces all of its watches in Switzerland using a mix of time-tested and cutting-edge production techniques. Watch seekers today can find pieces with hand-wound movements, automatic movements and quartz movements when shopping from vintage and contemporary Omega collections. Omega is currently focused on producing in-house movements. The return to this approach is proving to signal a heyday for quality in the Omega timeline.
Notes on Caliber
Omega’s original Caliber 321 powered its Speedmaster designs all throughout the 1950s and 1960s. This elegant, beautiful design is still considered to be a marvel among watch components. Omega made the switch from the Caliber 321 to the Caliber 861 in 1969 as part of cost-saving measures. However, 2019 marked a very exciting return to form for Omega. This was the year that Omega finally announced the return of its famous Caliber 321.
Features That Stand Out
It’s worth talking about the co-axial escapement that Omega rolled out for the first time in 1999. The big benefit of this feature is that it actually produces less friction than the traditional lever escapements that had been used on watches up until this point. This reduction in friction means that less lubrication is required to facilitate movement. What watch wearers are looking at is better reliable and longer intervals between the need to have a watch serviced.
A Word on Master Chronometer Certification
Omega showed off the fact that its relentless pursuit of excellence is as strong as ever with the introduction of the Master Chronometer Certification in 2015. This certification shows that a piece has obtained both Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute certification and a passing grade using a series of eight tests conducted by the Federal Institute of Metrology. Omega’s Master Chronometer watches all have a minimum water-resistance rating of 100 meters. In addition, the minimum power reserve is 60 hours.
A Brand Built on Iconic Partnerships
Omega stands out from the pack due to its long-held relationships with NASA, the Olympic Games and other world-class institutions. In fact, Omega has fostered countless partnerships with influential stars and organizations in the worlds of swimming, sailing, golf, ocean conservation and film. This is a watch brand that is loved by Hollywood, the sports world and cutting-edge scientific institutions. The list of brand ambassadors who have collaborated with Omega includes Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Cindy Crawford, Michael Phelps, Daniel Craig and Sergio Garcia. Omega has been the official watch brand of James Bond for close to two decades. In fact, the company releases a special-edition Seamaster timepiece each time 007 makes his way to the screen in a new film release.
Comparisons Between Omega and Rolex
It’s only natural for comparisons to spring up between Omega and Rolex. The simple truth is that many people who are loyal to new and used Rolex watches also share an affinity for Omega. The big draw of Omega over Rolex is that Omega is the only one of the two to offer quartz watches. The benefit of a quartz watch is that you’re getting a much more accurate read than you’d get with a mechanical alternative. Of course, it all ultimately comes down to personal preference at the end of the day. Lido Watch Club customers often have an affinity for both options.
Sourcing a Quality Omega Watch
Do you want to walk among icons? Omega is the watch brand to throw your loyalty behind if you want to get caught wearing a watch that has been worn by many of the movers, shakers and influencers who have shaped our planet throughout the past 150 years. There is simply no other watch with such a high profile on the market today. Omega is obviously second to none when it comes to prestige and clout. Of course, the best part is that this is a hyped-up product that more than lives up to the hype.
Omega is a watch brand that’s hard to beat in terms of reputation. This is precisely what makes it such a good choice if you’re shopping for a timepiece that makes an impression for yourself or as a gift. Lido Watch Club is here to help you source a perfect Omega for whatever type of lifestyle you live. There are beautiful Omega styles that suit everything from the ski slopes to the office. We offer these highly collect able and unrivaled practical watches at competitive prices. Why settle? Treat yourself to the world-class Swiss craftsmanship behind every Omega watch.
– By Mark Fotohabadi