Omega has always been one of the leaders of the Swiss watch industry. Their ties to James Bond, the Olympic games and the moon landing made the brand stand out. There’s still no real overview of what Omega has to offer so that’s why we decided to make this article.
Starting with a very history on omega watches, followed by their models and ending with the age old question of which is better; Omega or Rolex.
A brief history of Omega watches
The rich history of Omega watches started in 1848 when Louis Brandt founded La Generale Watch Co, which later became Omega, in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland). After Louis brandt passed away he passed his brand and legacy on to his two sons louis paul and César, the Brandt brothers.
The first Omega watch produced was a watch meant for British armed forces in the South African Boer war. Omega was one of the first to produce wristwatches in higher numbers.
Read more on Omega’s history in our previous article.
Omega Watch Models
In 1948, Omega released the Omega Seamaster. An Omega watch model meant for sports, with a water resistant case. The Seamaster line is still one of the best-known and most popular watch models Omega produces. The Seamaster line wasnt the first watch to be waterproof, however it was one of first popular waterproof watches. The waterproofness within Seamasters was increased dramatically when Omega started introducing helium escape valves into their watches, improving their dive watches
The Omega Seamasters have been made in all kinds of precious metals such as yellow gold, rose gold and a mix of them but most are made from stainless steel. With many Seamasters being dive watches, stainless steel is the most durable for diving. An opinion James Bond would most likely agree on. These stainless steel models have always been a big part of the Omega history and the Omega brand.
Some modern variants of the Omega Seamaster include:
1. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m (with helium escape valve)
2. The Omega Seamaster aqua terra (and the entire aqua terra collection)
3. The Omega Seamaster 300
4. The Omega Seamaster diver 300m (which was also the go-to James Bond’s watch for a while and has a master chronometer certification)
The Omega Constellation was released in 1952. The Omega Constellation was the most accurate watch in the Omega watches lineup, with a certified chronometer movement. These Omega timepiece´s were luxury watches often meticulously crafted and segmented Omega as one of the most prestigious brands. Some beautiful examples of these watches have a black dial in which the lacquer reflects light is the most incredible way. Most constellation timepieces come without the original metal bracelet and instead on a leather strap or a vintage leather strap.
A characteristic of Omega Constellation watches is the observatory emblem on the caseback with eight stars representing Omega’s greatest chronometric achievements at the annual observatory chronometer tests between 1945 and 1952. Ever since the 1932 olympic games Omega has been the official timekeeper of the olympics because of their well-known presicion. Constellations were also made in all kinds of precious metals, even some rare pieces in rose gold, white gold and platinum. These metals make the constellation have a wide range of designs and looks and make sure there is a perfect one for everybody.
In 1957 Omega released perhaps their most popular and coveted watch to date; the Omega Speedmaster. The Omega Speedmaster originated from the Seamaster line and was first introduced as the Omega Seamaster Speedmaster. Hence the Seahorse (Hippocampus) emblem on the caseback.
Astronaut Wally Schirra wore the Omega Speedmaster as the first person in space in 1962 during his Mercury-Atlas 8 mission.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional or “Moonwatch” was worn during the first American spacewalk as part of the Gemini 4 mission and later became the first watch worn on the Moon and lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch remains to be one of the most popular models in the range of Omega watches. They have been producing the Speedmaster professional since its release with small iterations and limited editions commemorating special events in the Omega Speedmaster’s history. We believe the Omega speedmaster is the ultimate Omega timepiece. Another one of those special iterations is the ultraman speedmaster, often featured on speedy tuesday.
Most Omega Speedmaster professional watches have a stainless steel case and a stainless steel bracelet. Some very rare gold ones from the 1960s and 1970s do exist and more recent versions have also been in yellow gold, these are mostly the same watch as the normal speedmaster except these are made in precious metals. Most however have always been made in stainless steel as the speedmaster moonwatch has always been an explorer type of watch, which fits best with steel. All these nice traits and icon status make this watch one of the ultimate luxury timepieces.
Recently these limited edition Speedmasters have soared in value as demand is high and supply is low. Take for example the Omega Silver Snoopy award 50th anniversary watch. A highly sought after special edition Speedmaster Professional selling for more than double the retail value.
Omega De Ville
In 1967 Omega launched the De Ville watch models. Originating from, again, the Seamaster lineup. The De Ville line was meant to be simpler, younger and more varied than the Omega Seamaster. The Omega De Ville quickly became Omega’s best selling watch. The de ville line also has many women’s models to acommodate for the demand in women watches.
The first time Omega launched the Genève line was in the early 1950s with the reference 2903-1. These first Genève watches were liked by many and were a less expensive alternative to the Seamaster and constellation line. By the 1970s 60% of Omega´s production was in fact the Genève line, marking their importance in Omega´s history. Many Genéve watches had a special feature like roman numerals or arabic numerals cementing the playful style of the Genéve.
The Genève line that began being popularized in the late 1960s has always been Omega´s playful line. With many interesting dial colors, layouts and case shapes these series of watches have always been the subject of trying new things. This is the exact reason there are so many special Omega Genéves.
In 1999 Omega introduced the co-axial escapement. The co-axial escapement was invented by George Daniels in the mid 1970s and patented in the 1980s. When George Daniels went to Switzerland to present his new invention to several major brand his invention did not catch on immediately as their watch industry was in the mids of the quartz crisis. Years later Omega started using the Co-Axial escapement in their watches and have reached master chronometer certification.
Omega has been the official watch of NASA, the Olympic Games and James Bond for ages. They continue to play a big role in modern timekeeping.
Omega Pocket watches
Pocket watches were the first creation made by Omega in 1848, Long before Omega watches were even invented. Most of these were wound with a key on the backside of the pocket watch. These type of watches were popular for nearly a century before the wristwatch became the standard way of timekeeping.
So we’ve seen a general overview of omega watchmaking and the kind of products they offer. In the watch world, Rolex is perceived to be market leader. That brings us to the following question:
Which is best, Omega or Rolex?
Second hand (or pre owned) Omega watches cost less than Rolex watches in general. The marketing of Rolex is different than that of Omega. Where at Rolex scarcity is the main driver of the price, at Omega the uniqueness and movement quality drive the prices. Notable is also that these watches are a master chronometer making them master chronometer certified. It is also marketed more towards the bigger public instead of the happy few. That’s why our reference leans towards Omega watches.
Are Omega watches worth the money?
In our opinion Omega watches are worth the money. The rising popularity, the aesthetics and history make Omega watches one of the nicest things to possess. Omega watches, like most luxury watches, tend to keep their value and rise when talking about unique editions. Vintage Omega watches have seen steady growth over the last years and will continue to do so as demand grows and good supply shrinks.
Shop Omega watches here.