Omega is one of the most widely known, durable, and functional luxury Swiss watchmakers today. Based in Switzerland for 170 years, the brand continues to produce excellent and stylish timepieces.
The brand is so reliable that both Great Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and the American Army chose it as the official timekeeper of their combat units in the early 1900s. Omega has also been picked by NASA as the first watch to reach the moon in 1969. From astronauts to Olympians, Presidents, royalty, celebrities, and even James Bond himself, Omega is beloved by many.
The History Of Omega
La General Watch Co. was a Swiss company that served as the predecessor to what would become Omega. The company was started by Louis Brandt to produce key-wound precision pocket watches sourced from local materials, which he sold primarily in England. His two sons later developed an innovative total production control system that produced interchangeable parts, which ended up going in the first Omega watches.
Soon the brand became one of Switzerland’s largest watch companies and grew even more by the 1920s when it merged with Tissot. Under Brandt’s son’s leadership, the brand expanded to more than 50 companies by the 1950s and was producing the now famous Omega chronograph movements. The watchmaker also began outselling Rolex, whose watches were more expensive yet less interesting.
By the 1970s, while Rolex and Omega still fought for the top spot of luxury Swiss watchmaker, Japanese watchmakers such as Citizen and Seiko began to produce quartz movement pieces. Omega followed suit and began experimenting with Swiss made quartz movements.
Omega Precision And Innovation
Omega and Patek Philippe were two of the only brands who regularly participated in chronograph time trials each year. These trials were designed to challenge watchmakers to measure time more precisely. In 1894, the brand created the now famous 19 caliber model and participated for the first time in the observatory trials. By 1919, Omega secured a first place prize at the trials with a 21 caliber model that was later renamed the Cal. 47.7.
Throughout the years, Omega often outperformed other brands and became the largest manufacturer of COSC chronometers for more than a decade. The brand’s slogan throughout the 1930s was “Omega – exact time for life” as a direct result of its performance in the trials. Omega’s ability to create pristine regulating timing movements was as much a result of its use of contemporary chronometric innovations.
Famous Omega Movements
Omega is well known for the 301, the first tourbillon wristwatch calibre in the world. These movements are unique as their cages rotate one time each seven and a half minutes, unlike the once per minute of traditional tourbillon movements. The design is so accurate that in 1949 one of these models delivered the best results ever recorded by a wristwatch up to that point.
Just before the turn of the century, Omega introduced the first mass-produced watch with a coaxial escapement. Designed with help from British watchmaker George Daniels, it is still considered one of the most important horological inventions in history. The coaxial escapement works with almost no lubrication, which was an issue of the old lever escapements. By using radial friction instead of sliding friction, the coaxial escapement also reduces friction which translates into greater accuracy and less need for servicing.
Omega also created the world’s first movement resistant to magnetic fields bigger than 1.5 tesla, which greatly exceeded any previous resistance by other movements. Daniel Craig, playing James Bond, used a similar movement in the films he starred in.
Omega in Space
Omega’s precision and durability made it a top choice for NASA and other astronauts. The Omega Speedmaster was selected for numerous NASA missions. The brand’s early chronographs were viewed as essentially ahead of their time. The Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph became the first watch to reach the moon when it was worn by Buzz Aldrin during his walk through space. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, ironically took his Speedmaster off and left it in the Lunar Module as the vehicle’s electronic timer had been malfunctioning. Armstrong’s Omega is now famously on display at the National Air And Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
For the model’s 50th anniversary Omega released a commemorative Speedmaster Moonwatch which is an homage to the first-hand winding Speedmaster of 1957.
Omega At DavidSW
No matter what type of Omega you’re looking for or what purpose, DavidSW has been buying and selling these authentic timepieces for more than 10 years. If you’re looking for a particular Omega model contact us today to learn more.