The Complete Guide To Omega Watches

Jan 16, 2020

Category: Style

The history of the world’s most prolific watchmakers is one of inherent character. After all, an industry as prestigious as the aforementioned cannot be measured in sheer minutes or seconds, making it something of an ironic enigma. But, behind doors of precise, generational heritage, one artisanal outfit has immortalized its name through consistent craftsmanship.

Omega: the standard to which all other watchmakers are held. If you don’t know that name by now, you’re likely taking your first infantile steps into the realm of high-end wristwear. Luckily, the brand’s long-winded reputation lends itself to extensive archival, meaning that its legendary history isn’t as inaccessible as one might think. Below, we’ll dive into what makes Omega watches so special, why they’re held in such high repute, and give you an in-depth look at some of the brand’s most iconic models. In the end, you’ll step away from this guide with a bit more knowledge on one of history’s premier watchmakers, and hopefully, a better idea of which model would fit best into your tasteful collection.

A Brief History Of Omega

The World's Most Adventurous Watches

Omega’s story starts in 1848. Nestled within the Swiss countryside, the company was birthed under the watchful eye, and talented hand, of Louis Brandt. Under the guise of La Generale Watch Co, Brandt’s timekeepers started as small, modest projects crafted at his workshop in La Chaux de Fonds. These key-wound precision pocket watches were built entirely by hand, calling upon extensive detailing, design, and bespoke components accrued from the area’s surrounding craftsman. Sadly, Brandt would pass away in 1879, spurring his sons, Louis-Paul and César, to take on the family business.

With ambitious goals for their father’s reputable company, the pair revolutionized the watch industry by creating one of the very first in-house manufacturing systems, producing nearly identical components and parts to create a series of interchangeable pieces. In 1885, Louis-Paul and César released their first mass-produced caliber (known as the Labrador) as a precursor to the company’s debut minute-repeating timepiece. The first iteration of the timekeeper was introduced to the public in 1892, paving the way for an all-original 19-line Omega Caliber, from which the company would derive its name. By 1903, Louis Brandt et Frère/Omega Watch & Co. was born, and with it, one of history’s most lauded horological contemporaries.

In 1917, Omega’s dependable watches were adopted by the British Royal Flying Corps’ combat units, marking it as one of the first watchmakers to be officially contracted by a military organization. Not long after, the U.S. Army followed suit. It was clear that the company’s future was bright, and after being named as the official timekeeper for sanctioned sporting events throughout Switzerland, Omega was approached by the Olympic Games Committee in 1932 to supply its officials, and athletes, with the world’s finest timekeepers. This was the start of a long, illustrious partnership for the company, and to this day, no company has usurped them from their throne.

But it wasn’t until 1948 that the company released the first of its legendary timepieces, the Seamaster, as a celebratory piece for its 100th Anniversary. For a decade, the Seamaster silhouette reigned supreme as one of the most respectable watches in Omega’s catalog, and at the tail end of the 1950s, the company introduced the Speedmaster line of chronographs. These stylish, simplistic models would catapult Omega into the public limelight, thanks to influential persons like Wally Schirra, an astronaut on the Mercury Sigma 7 Mission, who wore the watch into space, making it the first Omega variant to claim the title. Later, the Speedmaster line would be named as the official chronograph for American space missions by NASA, resulting in its first trip to the moon in 1962 atop the wrist of astronaut Buzz Aldrin. After years of trusted use, the company’s watches had made it a household name for collectors, politicians, and businessmen, as well as the common class who aspired to own one of history’s most prolific models. In 1990, the Seamaster even encroached upon the world of pop culture, thanks to its appeal as the official timekeeper of International Super Spy, James Bond.

Since the introduction of both the Seamaster and Speedmaster variants, Omega’s catalog has continued to grow. A multitude of different styles, movements, and structures have paved the way for the company’s illustrious reputation — and today, its current generation of watches pay homage to their predecessors. Below, we’ll outline Omega’s most notable variants, and give you a run-down on what makes them special.

Constellation Line

Omega's Astro-Oriented Collection

Omega Constellation Steel Chronometer

Omega’s 39-millimeter Constellation Steel Chronometer is a timeless watch that pairs a sleek, minimalistic design with the company’s “dramatic” architecture. On its exterior, a reflective steel case gives way to the timepiece’s subtle intricacies, including half-moons, claws, a mono-rang bracelet, and engraved Roman numerals on its bezel. To add tasteful contrast, a sun-brushed black dial acts as the perfect enclosure for the watch’s day-date window, while 18-karat white gold hands, indexes, and star exude an aura of class. At its heart, the Constellation’s OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 movement is framed by an anti-reflective, scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal for all to see. If you’re looking to proclaim your status, and err toward mysticism, this is the watch for you.

Purchase: $6,050

Olympic Line

Sports' Most Trusted Timekeepers

Omega Olympic Official Timekeeper

Omega has a long history of Olympic inclusion, and as the event’s official watchmaker, it comes as no surprise that the Olympic Official Timekeeper is an endearing symbol of athletic prowess. This tasteful, rounded variant arrives in a robust 38-millimeter silhouette, calling upon a lavish 18-karat white gold case, brushed crown, and vintage OMEGA symbols to exude an aura of professional heritage. An anti-reflective, scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal protects the watch’s exclusive Calibre 3203 movement, providing precise timekeeping as a testament to its history as an Olympic model. Blue steel hands at the Timekeeper’s 3- and 9-o’clock accent its subtle black leather strap, while the inclusion of 18-karate white gold T-bars and special Olympic engraving demarcate its identity as a limited-to-188 production model. If you’re a connoisseur of athletic endeavors and appreciate the role that Omega has played in the history of Olympic competition, this wrist-bound accessory is an attractive proposition.

Purchase: $18,000

Omega Olympic Pocket Watch

The Olympic Pocket Watch is a nostalgic look at the timekeepers of a bygone era. This wondrous model relies on the same luxurious 18-karat white gold exterior as its sibling, and even features a domed, anti‑reflective, scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal to keep its sub-70mm dial protected. At its heart, a Rhodium‑plated Calibre 3889 manual‑winding chronograph movement, which calls upon a design hidden at OMEGA’s headquarters in Biel since 1932, reinterprets one of history’s most revered timekeepers. A 30-minute recorder, central chronograph hand, and small seconds dial adorn the pocket watch’s interior, while its case back, stamped with the official Olympic Games’ five-ring logo, rounds everything out. Only 100 of these legendary timepieces exist, so expect to pay a pretty penny in order to add one ot your collection.

Purchase: $109,000

Seamaster Line

Omega's Adventurous Workhorses

Omega Seamaster Railmaster

As you might expect, the history of Omega’s Seamaster Railmaster lies in the realm of railway use. In 1957, the original model was designed strictly for railway staff, giving it a timeless structure that would be used for generations to come. But now, the Railmaster has been redesigned for a more contemporary consumer, calling upon a 40-millimeter symmetrical, stainless-steel case, a vertically-brushed black dial, and stainless steel hands to pay homage to its utilitarian predecessor. A beige “Railmaster” indicator can be seen on the watch’s dial, complementing its vintage Super-LumiNova hour markers and two-tone grey textile strap. At its heart, an OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8806 keeps everything working as it should, undertaking, and adhering to the strictest Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology standards, including the ability to withstand magnetism of 15,000 gaus, which was essential for workers during the era. If you’re a fan of transportation, and the role that railways have played throughout human history, there aren’t many variants that will check off boxes like the Seamaster Railmaster.

Purchase: $4,900

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

As one of the most iconic, and legendary watches from Omega, the Seamaster Diver 300M has enjoyed a long-running career as adventuring’s darling variant. After being used for nautical endeavors following its creation, this timeless watch has steadily evolved into a symbol of status and prestige, calling upon a 42-millimeter stainless-steel case, blue ceramic bezel, laser-engraved waves, and a recognizable white enamel diving scale that harkens back to its use in the 1950s. Below its scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal, the watch’s polished blue ceramic dial, skeletonized hands, and raised indexes boast a unique, rhodium-plated finish, and have been filled with white Super-LumiNova for enhanced visibility in dark areas. At its heart, an OMEGA Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 movement can be seen through the watch’s wave-edged case back, accenting a specialized, conical helium escape valve, and over 1000-feet of water resistance. Coincidentally, many of the utilitarian aspects of the Diver’s original model have returned here, so if you’re looking for a watch that’s a bit more rugged while remaining relatively refined, the Seamaster Diver 300M might be the one for you.

Purchase: $5,200

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M

By now, you likely know that Omega’s “maritime legacy” is relatively unmatched. To honor its nautical history, the company released the Planet Ocean in 2005, paying homage to its most illustrious dive watches, and ushering in a new era for ocean-savvy explorers. As a favorite among travelers and adventurers, the Planet Ocean 600M boasts an odd, but unique 39.5-millimeter stainless-steel case, a black ceramic unidirectional bezel that’s been imbued with a modern Liquidmetal diving scale, and an alveolar, screw-in caseback. On its face, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the watch’s Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 movement, Arabic numerals, and a subtle date window at the 3 o’clock position. Like its other seafaring sibling, the Planet Ocean features a capable helium-escape valve, but boasts improved 2000-foot water resistance, thanks to rigorous testing by The Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. If you’re looking for a nautical timepiece that’s been brought into modernity, and don’t mind wearing a model that’s relatively new, you can’t go wrong with the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M.

Purchase: $6,450

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M

For the more worldly adventurers out there, Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M combines facets of cartography, expeditionary planning, and ocean-inspired accents, to create something absolutely wondrous. A robust 43-millimeter stainless-steel case, integrated blue rubber strap, and solid polished link make up the watch’s primary silhouette, promoting sea-styled nostalgia, and tasteful design principles. But it’s the watch’s intricate dial that steals the show here, calling upon a subtle sun-brushed blue exterior, vertical teak stripes, and a handful of global destinations mapped atop its interior in a complex fashion. At its center, a 24-hour glass ring transitions from light, to dark blue, annotating day and night cycles for different parts of the world. A laser-ablated view of Earth from above has been emblazoned atop grade 5 titanium plate, resulting in natural, contrasting colors, thanks to a unique chemical reaction. At its heart, a Master Chronometer Calibre 8938 movement keeps the timepiece precise, while a 500-foot water resistance doesn’t leave it far outside of the realm of exploration. This is the watch for an adventurous soul who isn’t afraid to show off his status.

Purchase: $8,900

Speedmaster Line

A Day At The Races

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

Omega’s Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional has an unprecedented reputation as one of the world’s most iconic timepieces. When it’s not making its round in space, it illustrates the essence of Omega’s pioneering spirit, calling upon classic styling, precise timekeeping, and a timeless structure that continues to stand the test of time. That being said, the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has been imbued with some classy components, including a handsome hesalite crystal, an iconic black dial, and a central chronograph hand surrounded by a 30-minute (and 12-hour) recorder, small seconds sub-dial, and tachymetric scale, all within a 42-millimeter stainless steel case. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the watch’s mechanical Calibre 1861 — a transcendental, manually-wound movement that’s been worn to the Moon. If you love the nature of exploration and think that space might actually be the final frontier, Omega’s Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional will round out your collection in stupendous fashion.

Purchase: $5,350

Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer

While the Speedmaster Racing Chronometer departs from Omega’s traditional approach toward exploration and adventure, that doesn’t make it any less appealing. This beautiful 44.25-millimeter model mimics the brand’s Railmaster when it comes to its aesthetic prowess, calling upon a shadowy black ceramic bezel ring, orange text, and Liquidmetal numbers to accent its famous tachymeter scale. On its interior, a matte black dial calls upon two different subdials, applied rings, and a subtle date window amidst an array of orange and white to complement the watch’s race-style minute-track. Super-Luminova-imbued arrowhead indexes crafted from 18-karat white gold mark its circumference. At its center, a Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9900 movement, which has been certified by METAS’ highest industry standards, is protected by a domed, scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal. If racing and its historical relevance are your forte, this is the only watch in the Omega line that will scratch your itch.

Purchase: $8,450

The 15 Best Swiss Watches For Men

Now that you’ve sunk your teeth into one of Swiss watchmaking’s finest proprietors, head over to our guide on the best Swiss watches for men to find even more stylish accessories to round out your collection.

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