Omega is without a doubt one of the top five Swiss watchmakers. The Biel-based company produces high-quality watches, many of which enjoy legendary reputations. They're characterized by the typical Omega attributes of reliability and functionality.
The Speedmaster model is one shining example among many exceptional Omega watches. It is not a coincidence that NASA astronauts wore this watch when they landed on the moon for the first time on July 21, 1969. Mechanical watches from various manufacturers were put to the test, and the Speedmaster Professional came out on top. It best handled the heat, cold, jolts, acceleration, high pressure, vibration, and other challenging conditions faced by astronauts. NASA had already chosen the Speedmaster during the Project Gemini program, which preceded the moon landing. During the failed Apollo 13 mission in 1970, the crew had to burn their rockets for exactly 14 seconds in order to set a safe course back to Earth. Their lives depended on it, and they used the Omega Speedmaster to accurately time their maneuver and safely return to Earth. In the world of watches, this is truly what myths are made of.
Underwater, the Seamaster reigns supreme. Together, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, the Rolex Submariner, and the Omega Seamaster make up a trifecta of the most renowned Swiss diving watches. Omega originally introduced the series in 1947 as a men's wristwatch with improved water resistance. It has been reworked and improved numerous times since then. The Seamaster is offered in several variations including mechanical or quartz versions. The particularly complex versions fulfill watch requirements set by professional divers and have a unique pressure-equalizing helium valve. The Ploprof 1200 M model is designed to handle pressure up to 120 bar (1200 m).
Omega takes a less technical approach to their Constellation series as opposed to the Speedmaster and Seamaster series. The Constellation has undergone a number of changes since it was first introduced in 1952. Early models were simple and elegant wristwatches with three hands. Since the 1980s, many models feature a fixed bezel with Roman numerals. Some Constellation watches have so-called claws, slightly raised parts of the bezel at the three o'clock and nine o'clock positions. As the designs were modernized, high-quality quartz movements were introduced to improve accuracy. In fact, the marine chronometer was developed from the Constellation series. Aside from radio clocks, these are the most precise watches in the world. Since 1967, Omega has also offered a Constellation series for women. Certain pieces in this collection are distinguished by gold and decorative diamonds.
The De Ville series is a touch more classic than the Constellation. The series, introduced in the 1960s, appeals to an audience similar to that of Blancpain or Breguet. This series features classic, clean designs with Roman numerals; movements with tourbillons; and cases made of white, rose, and yellow gold. Many of the women's models also feature diamond-set bezels or diamond hour markers.
The history of Omega goes back to the 19th century. In 1848, Louis Brandt began manufacturing pocket watches in the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. He made arrangements with local suppliers, which allowed him to sell his products to a wider market, including in Italy, England, and Scandinavia. Later, Brandt's sons moved the company to its current location in Biel. Although the name Omega had been in use since 1894, it was first officially registered in 1903 when the third generation took over. In 1930, Omega and their competitor Tissot made a joint decision to serve separate markets. Omega was to focus on the luxury watch sector, and Tissot, on the middle class. When the quartz crisis put the Swiss watch industry in a difficult position, the two brands came together in 1983 under the newly formed Swatch Group. Omega remains part of the group to this day.
Omega has garnered attention over the decades for their technical innovations. In 1892, the manufacturer introduced the first wristwatch featuring a minute repeater, a particularly intricate complication that chimes the time. Omega was responsible for timing all of the events at the 1932 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and they introduced automatic timers for the first time at the 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki.
The manufacturer reached a new level of precision with their quartz chronometers introduced in the 1970s. A high point was the caliber 1525, which was used to power the marine chronometers used by the French navy. It was specially made and delivered in a box made of precious wood with a brass coating. Over the course of a year, these chronometers deviate from the exact time by less than five seconds.
Today, Omega turns to the Swiss movement manufacturer ETA to produce their calibers and then perfects them under their own name. In 1999, a special concept called the co-axial escapement was introduced. Not only does it operate with little friction and no lubrication, but it is also very shock-resistant. The reliable ETA 2892-A2 caliber powered the first co-axial escapement watch, and the De Ville series was the first to feature the mechanism. Englishman George Daniels invented the co-axial escapement in the 1970s, and today it is featured exclusively in numerous Omega models. These models are identified by the dial inscription reading "Master Co-Axial Chronometer."
One of the Swiss manufacturer's newer achievements is the development of watches that are highly resistant to magnetic fields. In October 2013, the Seamaster Aqua Terra marked the beginning of a new generation of watches. These timepieces make use of anti-magnetic silicon, which allows calibers to remain unaffected by up to 15,000 gauss of magnetism. The watches with these features bear an official Omega quality mark developed in 2015.
Many prominent figures, both in real life and in fiction, have been drawn to the allure of Omega watches. The most famous wearer may very well be secret agent James Bond, who wore a Seamaster in the 1995 film GoldenEye. The French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau also relied on the Seamaster during many dives. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, wore a Seamaster Calendar in 1960 when he was promoted to sergeant while stationed in West Germany. However, it isn't only kings who recognize the value of the brand. The former US president John F. Kennedy, the former Chinese chairman Mao Zedong, and the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev all wore Omegas – Gorbachev selected a golden watch from the Constellation series. Likewise, actor Tom Hanks wears an Omega Speedmaster Professional as a reminder of his role in the film Apollo 13.