OMEGA is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and symbolises accomplishment and perfection – qualities that have been inherent in every OMEGA watch since the company’s founding by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 1848.
Louis Brandt assembled key-wound precision pocket watches from parts supplied by local craftsmen. He sold his watches from Italy to Scandinavia by way of England, his chief market. In 1894, his two sons Louis-Paul and César developed a revolutionary in-house manufacturing and total production control system that allowed component parts to be interchangeable.
Watches developed with these techniques were marketed under the Omega brand of La Generale Watch Co. By 1903 the success of the Omega brand led to La Generale Watch Co to spin off the Omega brand as its own company, and the Omega Watch Co was officially founded in 1903.
OMEGA went on to be official timekeeper at no less than 21 Olympic Games, bringing numerous innovations to Olympic sports over the years, such as the first electronic timekeeping at the Helsinki games in 1952 – the same year in which the company was awarded the Olympic Cross of Merit for its outstanding contribution to sport.
On account of its precision and reliability, OMEGA’s Speedmaster watch was chosen by NASA as its official chronometer in 1965 and 4 years later was the first watch to be worn on the moon, when, on 21 July 1969, Neil Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind.
OMEGA owes a large part of its watchmaking excellence to the quality of its movements. These magnificent watches are highly collectible, and hold a very special place in many collectors showcases.
Omega is clearly one of the top and key brands of the industry. Here are 7 timepieces, selected by WatchTime, that made the history of Omega Watches.
First Minute-Repeater Wristwatch (1892)
The world’s first minute-repeater wristwatch was unveiled in September 1892 by the Bienne, Switzerland firm of Louis Brandt & Frère, precursor to today’s Omega watch company.
First Omega Wristwatch (1900)
The first wristwatches bearing the Omega name were produced in 1900 and used by British officers in South Africa’s Boer War (1899-1903). Omega was one of the first firms to begin serial production of wristwatches.
Omega Seamaster (1948)
René Bannwart is considered the father of the Omega Seamaster line. The man who would later found Corum had begun building Omega’s design department in 1940. This was new. At that time, sketches for new models were usually drawn by draftsmen in watch-case factories. Bannwart’s decision set Omega on a new path that other brands would soon follow.
Omega Constellation (1952)
Omega began using the name “Constellation” in 1952 to denote its officially certified wrist chronometers. The premier model was powered by Caliber 28.10 RA SC PC RG AM (nicknamed the “352”), which first appeared in 1945. This model was also Omega’s first serially manufactured wristwatch chronometer.
Omega Speedmaster (1957)
The Omega Speedmaster, destined to become the most famous chronograph in the world because of its use by NASA for the Apollo program, was introduced in 1957. But the Speedmaster story really begins in 1943 with chronograph Caliber 27 CHRO C12, developed by Jacques Reymond. The ‘Speedy’ is still an important timepiece in Omega’s collection and modern editions, such as the Speedmaster Mark II or the classical Professional Moonwatch, continue to use this legendary past.
Omega De Ville (1967)
Omega launched De Ville as a separate line in 1967. It had been a collection within the Seamaster line since 1960. Simpler, younger, more colorful, and more varied than the Seamaster, it quickly became Omega’s best-selling collection.
First Co-Axial Escapement (1999)
The Omega De Ville Co-Axial contained automatic Caliber 2500, the first wrist chronometer with a co-axial escapement. The escapement was invented by English master watchmaker George Daniels. Omega developed Daniels’s design so that it could be manufactured in large quantities.
If you’re lucky enough to own an Omega timepiece, make sure you keep it looking its best by booking in for a service and polish. A full service ensures that your watch is reverted back to its showroom functionality and precision time keeping.