Section 1 - History
One of the most influential Swiss watchmakers, Omega was founded at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland in 1848 by Louis Brandt as “La Generale Watch Company”.
The company was a typical etablisseur, assembling good-quality pocket watches from parts supplied by local workshops, and distributing the finished watches through Europe.
In 1894, his sons, Louis-Paul and César, revolutionized the business by applying the modern theory of interchangeable parts that was the main driver for large-scale production. The brothers decided to focus the production by giving it a brand, and decided for “Omega”. So, Omega was officially founded as a company in 1903.
1903 was the year when the two brothers died, leaving the company - which grew to become one of the largest of Switzerland, with over 800 workers - in the hands of their sons, the oldest of them, Paul-Emile, was only 24.
But he was exceptionally gifted. He managed to steer the company in the difficult years of the economic crisis and the First World War, finding alliances and partnerships to consolidate it, to join it with Tissot in 1925, and creating the SSIH group in 1930.
By 1970, SSIH was the largest Swiss group, grouping under its umbrella more than fifty companies. During the quartz crisis, the SSIH joined forces with another Swiss group, ASUAG, creating ASUAG-SSIH, which was eventually bought by a group of private investors and renamed SMH - what would in modern days become the Swatch group, today the biggest horology group in Switzerland.
The Omega watches have been worn by almost every personality on Earth, from sportsmen to politicians, from businessmen to royalty, from actors to musicians. Among them, one of the most notable and unexpected was Mao Zedong, the Founding Father of the Republic of China.
Omega retains some notable inventions in horology. In 1892, it manufactured the first minute-repeating watch, mounting a movement made by Audemars Piguet.
In 1947, it was the first company to mount a tourbillon wristwatch - a limited series of 12 pieces, incorporating the 30I movement. They were among the most precise watches in their time.
In 1999, Omega started to release watches based on the co-axial escapement created by George Daniels, one of the most notable horological inventions of the century. Today, most of Omega’s movements mount this horological feature.
Section 2 - Iconic pieces
Omega has created an endless variety of watches during the years, but it is best known for some lines that have captured the heart of its public.
The best-known Omega watch is the Speedmaster professional, and its name is indissolubly linked with the space exploration, as the Omega Speedmaster has been the official watch used in the Apollo missions, and with Apollo 11, the first to ever touch the surface of the Moon, at the wrist of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
In Summer 2019, the Moonwatch has been re-edited by the company with its original caliber, the 321, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission.
During the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, the Speedmaster was used to accurately time the 14-second engine burst that saved the mission - and the life of the astronauts.
Another important watch for the company is the Seamaster. And was worn by none other than the most famous spy of the world, James Bond, in several movies, starting from GoldenEye (1995) onwards, worn by actors Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. it is rumored that the Seamaster, with its iconic shape, comes from the pencil of Gerald Genta.
If the rumor was true or not, in the following case we know it for sure.
The Constellation is another milestone for the company, as it was re-designed by the legendary Swiss watch designer. Its essential style is astounding and timeless.
Genta was the author of the C-model, and also, he created the amazing 14900 model with its distinctive three-dimensional shape of the dial, as well as the rice-grain bracelet.
The DeVille is another very popular line of the watchmaker Omega. Introduced in the 1960s, it is a more dressy line than the Constellation, so it is aimed for more formal use. It is also more complicated, as the top versions feature skeletonized movements and tourbillons.
1 - Speedmaster line
The Speedmaster is possibly the most iconic line of watches from Omega.
It was introduced in 1957 as a sports and racing chronograph and used the 321 movement. This movement, which became legendary, was designed by Albert Piguet for Lemania in 1946.
The use of chronographs was important to precisely calculate time, so to accurately time fuel consumption, trajectories, and other variables - and this feature was most important in fields like the budding space exploration. So, NASA issued a bid to several makers to provide a chronograph that could withstand very stringent qualifications - and the Speedmaster was chosen as the official watch for the needs of the space agency. The first officially-qualified Speedmasters were worn by Gus Grissom and John Young on Gemini 3, in 1965.
Today there is a huge variety of Speedmasters, as the model has been adapted and reissued in time, with a large number of special editions that offer to everyone the possibility of finding the one they like. Between the most elusive and coveted, the Snoopy edition, featuring the famous character by Schultz.
2 - Seamaster
The Seamaster collection is another very popular line of the watchmaker, and it rivals in popularity the Rolex Submariner. As the name suggests, the Seamaster is Omega’s rendition of the diver watch, and since its introduction in 1948, it has grown into a very complex and articulate line.
From its original “tool watch” scope, it has evolved to become an all-rounder which finds itself well represented underwater as well as in companies meeting rooms.
Between the most famous wearers, we can cite the famous marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, who was a fan of the model. The Seamaster hosts several interesting models which are much sought by watch aficionados, like the Ploprof, with its signature shape; the Bullhead; and the Railmaster, made to withstand strong magnetic fields. The Aqua Terra line combines the more sporty features of the Seamaster and combines them with a more formal look to obtain a watch that might be perfect for both worlds.
3 - Constellation line
The Constellation, first introduced in 1952, was Omega's first attempt to create a watch that was formal enough to be worn in business situations, yet casual enough to be worn outside the office.
Gerald Genta re-designed the watch for the company and gave it a style that was similar to the Universal Geneve’s Polerouter. It's signature dial, with its three-dimensional effect, looks stunning and very refined and represents a milestone in watch design.
The Constellation has evolved in modern times, with versions in stainless steel, precious metals, and gems, both for men and women.
4 - De Ville line
What we have said about the Constellation can be said about the De Ville line - except for the fact that the De Ville is more formal, featuring beautiful, classic designs.
The De Ville collection represents the modern rendition of the classic dress watch and offers a wide range of great-looking designs mounting excellent movements, which go from the simple three-handers to the most complex tourbillons.
The collection features also many Ladies’ watches in precious metal and gems, so it is perfect as a jewelry watch as well, and its timepieces are well suited for the most demanding social occasion.
Section 3 - News
You might be used to watches with a titanium case, but for sure, you are not used to a watch mounting a titanium movement.
Well, this is what Omega has done recently. launching this incredible timekeeper made of titanium and ceramics. Named Seamaster Aqua Terra Ultra Light, it is among the most expensive and advanced watches of the Omega brand.
Its new caliber, completely made in titanium, is feather-light: and all together, including the strap, the watch weighs just 55 grams, making it among the lightest on Earth.
All the components of the watch have been optimized to reach this ultimate goal: reducing weight to a minimum and eliminating friction. The fact that the watch is just titanium and ceramics makes it also highly resistant to magnetizing, meaning it can resist magnetic fields as strong as 15,000 Gauss. As a note, the original Rolex Milgauss was designed to withstand 1,000 Gauss.
Section 4 - Gossip/Style
Oct 2018 - Alessandra Ambrosio, Nicole Kidman, and Cindy Crawford met in Shanghai to launch Omega’s Constellation collection.
The three ladies, who are ambassadors of the brand, then posed for a souvenir photo in which they looked more elegant and sophisticated than ever before.
“Charlie's Angels in Shanghai” commented ironically Cindy Crawford on Instagram.
After the photo, the trio prepared for the gala event where they charmed the audience with their outfit - all of them wearing a vivid red dress, considered a lucky color in China.
May 2019 - One of the most acclaimed Italian Chefs, Carlo Cracco, has been spotted at the market making grocery purchases for his one Michelin Star “Ristorante Cracco” in Milan.
He was wearing an Omega Speedmaster.
We are not that sure if he is going to use it to check the preparations in the kitchen to ensure the dishes receive perfect cooking, but to recover his recent loss of a Star, for sure he is doing his best - and a professional timekeeper like the Speedmaster would surely help.
Apr 2019 - Adding a new chapter to Omega’s illustrious underwater accomplishments, Victor Vescovo brought his bathyscaphe to the deepest point of Earth: the Mariana Trench, where he set a new world record for diving at 10,928 m (35,853 ft), while wearing an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean.
Inside the tiny ambient of the submarine, the explorer conducted his research for four long hours, being subject to the tremendous pressures of ocean depths. With this feat, we can say that Omega has truly achieved the scope of its legacy: being where no other watch has ever been before.
Section 5 – Current Most Popular Models
There is little doubt that the Speedmaster is Omega’s most popular and acclaimed model.
It has become a sort of industry-standard in chronographs, and its endless varieties guarantee that everyone might find a version he or she likes, from the rare vintage specimens featuring the 321 caliber to the more modern models and limited editions, among which the Snoopy version (in several editions) is one of the most sought.
The Seamaster is the underwater equivalent of the Speedmaster. While fighting a constant struggle against its arch-rival, the Rolex Submariner, during the years the Seamaster has become the watch of choice of many enthusiasts. The Seamaster range is the oldest line in production from Omega, still going on since 1948, and is composed of a huge variety of models, all dedicated to the water world, and all featuring water resistance of at least 150 meters.
The Constellation and the De Ville collections represent the offering of the watchmaker in dressy watches. As both have been launched in the Fifties, they offer an enormous range of watches of every kind which are made to accompany you through all of the events of daily life, from the most casual to the most formal.
Section 6 – Current Approximate Price List By Line/Model
The Speedmaster line
The current Speedmaster line is so large and varied that impossible to describe everything. To simplify things a bit, apart from the limited editions, the main models of Speedmasters are the Professional, the Reduced and the Date.
Other notable pieces include the Speedmaster Racing, designed for the motorsports, and the Quartz-based Spacemaster and Skywalker.
||Sports Luxury Watch
||Stainless Steel, Titanium, Ceramics
||Chronograph and Others
The current “basic” Speedmaster, the Professional Moonwatch, is a 42mm watch fitted with the caliber 1861 movement and a hesalite crystal. This watch costs around $3,700, and maintains well its value, with no significant depreciation in used ones.
The previous model, the 145.022 manufactured from 1968 until the 1980s, can be found on the market from $5,800 upwards.
Previous models, like the 105.022 and the 145.012, featuring the original caliber 321, are much more difficult to find. Expect to pay from $12,500 upwards for the privilege of wearing one.
The Speedmaster Reduced is the perfect choice for smaller wrists (39 mm instead of 42 mm). It mounts a caliber derived from ETA2890-A2 with a Dubois-Depraz module. It is one of the most affordable models of the Speedmaster, starting around $2,300 upwards. The title for the economy king goes to the Speedmaster Date, based on a Valjoux-7750-derived caliber, which starts at $1,800, upwards.
The Ceramic models also play an important part in the Speedmaster lineup. They are available in three colors: black, white, and grey, and are known as Dark Side of the Moon, etc. - you may find them starting from $7,500 upwards.
The Speedmaster Racing series comes in two sizes, 44 mm and 40 mm, both of which feature the typical design stemming from the world of motorsports. The bigger brother can be found from $5,500 upwards, while its little brother is more affordable, from $2,700 upwards.
Last, the quartz-based Speedmasters mount high-precision movements designed for astronauts. The 45 mm Skywalker has an analog and digital display offering a huge variety of functions, like a perpetual calendar, the support of three timezones and a countdown, and can be found for $3,500 upwards. The 43 mm Spacemaster is made in titanium, has similar functions to the Skywalker and can be found for the same sum as the latter, or little more.
The Seamaster line
Omega has been among the first companies to create a truly water-resistant watch: the square-shaped Marine, dating back to 1932. The Seamaster line, which debuted in 1948, represents the oldest line of the company still in production and is always in evolution. All of the models offer important water resistance, and the majority qualifies for deep-diving activities.
The Seamaster line incorporates also some “oddball” watches like the Railmaster and the Bullhead, which have a small but very loyal following of fans.
||Sports Luxury Watch
||Stainless Steel, Titanium, Gold, Platinum, Ceramics
||Date, GMT and Chronograph
The original Seamaster 300, a watch that looks great with a diving suit or a just a suit, boasts a 300 mt. water resistance, and goes from $4,500 upwards. For a vintage model from the 1960s, plan to spend at least double that.
The Seamaster Professional Diver 300, featuring a helium escape valve, is available in different sizes and configurations, starting from $3,000. The chronograph version starts from around $4,500.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean is resistant to 600 mt. and offers several models with different features. The prices start from around $4,800 for the basic model, $6,000 for the GMT version, and $7,500 for the chronograph. The gold versions are way more expensive, starting from around $15,500 upwards.
The Ploprof is a deep-diving watch designed for professional divers. It offers an amazing water-resistance of 1,200 mt. Expect to pay around $7,000 for the steel version and $8,500 for the titanium one.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra, as its name suggests, is a more formal version of the Seamaster. It is water-resistant to 150 mt. but still looks fine as a dress watch. It offers versions with quartz or a mechanical movement. The quartz-based can be bought starting from $1,200 upwards. The mechanicals start from $2,800 and climb upwards depending if they have the chronograph function (around $4,500) and the GMT (around $6,500). The material of the case boosts the prices from $11,500 upwards.
Between the Seamaster versions, you may find a collector’s desire, the Bullhead, with its signature crown at six o'clock that commands an internal bezel. The Bullhead start from around $9,000, upwards.
The last model is not a diving watch. It is the Railmaster, an antimagnetic watch first presented in 1957. The first models could resist magnetic fields up to 1,000 Gauss, while the modern versions reach a resistance of 15,000 Gauss. A recent Railmaster will cost around $6,500, while a vintage version will reach more than twice as that.
The Constellation line
Omega offers the Constellation as an all-rounder watch, something that you can wear for every kind of occasion because it is classy, but with a hint of a sporty look. In production since the 1950s, this watch has changed significantly in design and proposes an endless variety of sizes and material, from stainless steel to yellow, white, or red gold, both for men and ladies. Bimetal models are also available, and gem-studded versions are not uncommon.
||Stainless Steel, Gold, Gems
||Day and Date
The basic Constellation of today, with the signature four “claws” bezel introduced in the 1980s, starts from $3,000 for a stainless steel version, $4,500 for the bimetal version, and $18,500 for the 18k gold one. Ladies' models are a tad more affordable.
The Globemaster - with its Master Chronometer certification - is a special model in the Constellation line. Its stainless steel versions start from around $5,000, bimetal from $8,000 and 18k gold from $12,000. The most expensive version is the rare platinum edition, at $30,000 upwards.
The De Ville line
The De Ville collection has been known for its elegant dress watches since its launch and continues today to give the best quality and horological technique from the maison. You will find men’s and ladies' watches mounting quartz and mechanical calibers, with the high-end versions mounting tourbillons The cases are made of stainless steel, gold alloy, or platinum, sometimes with gems.
||Stainless Steel, Gold, Platinum, Gems
||Day and Date
The De Ville collection is divided into separate lines. The prices range from the few hundreds to several hundreds of thousands.
The basic quartz-based stainless steel version starts around $1,000, but you might find used timepieces in the $500 range. The gold models start around the $3,500 range, upwards to over $20,000.
The De Ville collection also offers some skeletonized versions with tourbillons, which can go as high in price when new can go up to $1,000,000. However, a second-wrist watch in rose gold can be found around the $40,000 mark.
The Tresor line is especially thin and mounts both quartz and mechanical calibers. The prices start at around $8,500.
The Hour Vision line takes skeletonization to its extremes, showing the movement also from the sides of the case. Its prices start from $7,500 upwards to over $20,000.
Section 7 – Previous Blog Post
The Omega Da Ville Chronoscope Co-Axial Rattrapante Watch. This is a beautiful split-second chronograph that looks way more expensive than it actually is.
It features an automatic movement with an expedition back that shows this off nicely. The 42mm case gives the watch a professional look that can be worn in the evening or on the weekend with friends.
Section 8 – Q & A
How good are Omega watches?
Their technology and quality control is top-grade, whether or not you buy their ‘master chronometer' movement or not, reliability will not be a problem. Their technology and quality control is top-grade, whether or not you buy their ‘master chronometer' movement or not, reliability will not be a problem.
Are Omega watches overpriced?
Quite the opposite. Omega watches are very fairly priced for the quality they deliver. Their movements are beautiful, reliable, and robust. Their designs are both classic and modern, and there is a model for everyone.
Which is a better watch: Omega or Rolex?
As the question is posed, I might say that overall Omega is a better watch because of the coaxial escapement, but possibly, Rolex has a better quality department. As of my personal opinion, modern-day Rolex and Omega products are comparable: they are high-end watches made in an industrially-bent production system.
Which are the best Omega watches?
All Omega watches are best. They are known for their unmatched time-telling. Yet, there are some timepieces that lead the race. Within the various collections like Speedmaster, Seamaster, Constellation, and others, there are some grooving Omega watches that instantly make the wearers feel crazy.
Why do people prefer vintage Omega Speedmasters?
On May 25, 1961, the President pointed up in the sky at a huge chunk of rock orbiting our planet and dared us to go there by the end of the decade. And we did it. You don't buy a vintage Speedmaster because you want the latest engineering. You buy it because it's the watch that they wore on the moon.