Omega Watches: A Brief History
Omega SA is a high-end watch company based in Biel/Bienne Switzerland. Omega is currently owned by the Swatch Group. The forerunner of Omega was founded at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland in 1848 by 23-year-old Louis Brandt. After his death, his two sons Louis-Paul and César Brandt built one of Switzerland’s largest watch companies. They both passed away in 1903 and left the company in the hands of four young people, the oldest of whom, Paul-Emile Brandt, was not yet 24 but who eventually became the great architect and builder of Omega. His influence would be felt over the next half-century. Omega is still one of the world’s most recognizable watch brands today.
As with other luxury watchmakers, Omega has a staggering number of models in various collections, which are updated regularly. Finding a specific Omega watch can be a difficult task due to sheer volume, but don’t worry, I’ll try to help you out. I have an affinity for Omega watches since my father gave me a 1971 Omega Seamaster Cosmic. When it was time for me to get my own, a Seamaster was the natural choice.
Omega designs watches for men and for women in 5 collections:
4. De Ville
If you’re shopping for an Omega watch, you’ll generally find the first four collections available online. As for the fifth, Specialties are exactly that… specialties (like Beijing 2008), so they’re quite rare. I would suggest learning about them on the Omega website before deciding to make a purchase. Buying an Omega watch is a big deal, so you want to do your research and take your time unless you know EXACTLY what you’re looking for.
Omega watches are identified by their Reference number, which is unique to each particular model for that given iteration, typically in an ####.##.00 format. For example, two Speedmaster Professional watches may have different reference numbers based on the model year and the case, dial and bracelet colours. An auction site like eBay is a great place to find authentic Omega watches at good prices. However, once you’ve identified a particular watch you may be interested in, I highly recommend copying the Reference number and visiting the Omega website search page to get a positive identification on the auctioned watch.
Omega Watches With No Name
A practice that was discontinued some 20 years ago, was to on occasion omit the model series name on the face of the watch and simply use the Omega company name. When Omega designed a watch for a particular audience, then it would add the model series to the face. The Omega Railmaster is one such example when it was launched in 1957, but the name has now stuck. Even today, some Omega De Ville watches omit the De Ville name to keep the face less cluttered and more elegant.
A final note about no-name Omega watches is that from the 1960s to the early 1980s, Omega mass-produced bare movements for other manufacturers to build Omega cases. This means that a number of watches from that period were being sold with the Omega company name but with dials and cases that were not Omega. The company ceased this practice because it felt it diluted the Omega brand. Keep this in mind when you find older Omega watches.