If you’re familiar with the Greek alphabet, you probably already know that “omega” stands for greatness and perfection. If you’re a luxury watch fan, then you can certainly understand why this name is suitable for one of the most recognized timepieces in the world. There are many reasons why Omega watches are some of the most dominant in the luxury timepiece industry, and also why they are among the most popular. Listing all of them would take ages! So, we’ve selected the top 10 most interesting facts about the Swiss watch manufacturer and how they’ve gained worldwide recognition.
Let’s get started!
Where did the name Omega come from?
The company got its start in 1848 when Louis Brandt founded a watchmaking business in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. But it wasn’t initially named Omega. In 1877, Brandts’ two sons joined him in the business and the company was named Louis Brandt & Fils (the French word for “sons”). Almost 20 years later, the father and sons team produced a new mechanical watch movement that was the apex of accuracy with an ease of repair and maintenance that was unprecedented. The movement received global success. Can you guess the name of it? That’s right- this movement was called the Omega Caliber. Because of its huge success, in 1903 Brandt and his sons decided to re-brand their company as Omega. And thus, the renowned Omega watches were born.
Ever since its founding Omega has been on the quest to achieving chronometric precision and accuracy. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Observatory trials were held to test specific timepiece functions and encourage improvements in the industry. These chronometric marathons were like the Olympics of watchmaking. Top manufacturers competed against each other and the winners earned substantial publicity and bragging rights. Omega was always a strong contender. At the 1931 Geneva Observatory trials, Omega received the first place prize in all six categories. Later that same year, the widely recognized company adopted the slogan “Omega- Exact time for life,” an advertising campaign that was well deserved. The company garnered a reputation of making precise, innovative timepieces; their quest for ultimate precision was a success.
Human exploration on Earth
Omega watches have played important roles during many pivotal moments throughout history, especially when it comes to human exploration. Two of these moments took place on complete opposite ends of the planet. On April 19th, 1968 Ralph Plaisted led the first surface expedition to the North Pole. Plaisted and his team made the 412-mile, 43-day trek with the help of their Omega Speedmasters and sextants.
In February 1990, at the other end of the world, Arved Fuchs and Reinhold Messner crossed Antarctica on foot. Enduring temperatures of -40 degrees and winds around 90mph, their 1,740-mile journey lasted 90 days. What was Messner’s timekeeper during their mission? An Omega Speedmaster. Both of these events were further proof of the durability, reliability, and precision of these luxury watches.
Omega watches launch into outer space
Not many luxury watch brands can say their watches perform exceptionally well on and off the Earth. But Omega certainly can. Walter Schirra, an American astronaut of Swiss origins, was the first person to take an Omega into space. He wore his personal watch, an Omega Speedmaster, into orbit on October 3rd, 1962. Three years later, and after several rigorous tests, NASA declared the Omega Speedmaster as the only wristwatch suitable for space.
In 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. However, he was not wearing his watch. The clock inside the Lunar Module broke during their journey to the moon so he hung his Omega Speedmaster Professional as a replacement. But Buzz Aldrin was wearing his watch when he stepped out of the spacecraft! It was Aldrin’s Speedmaster Professional that was the first watch worn on the moon. Unfortunately, the watch was stolen a few months after the moon landing. Omega is still the only watch utilized by NASA astronauts to this day.
Making waves with Omega watches
Omega was the first watch brand to produce and commercially distribute watches as “dive watches.” The original Omega dive watch was the Marine, which was used by the British Navy. But Omega saw room for improvement. Launched in 1948, the Omega Seamaster is now one of the oldest lines in the current collection. More than 70 years later, the Omega Seamaster is still synonymous with professional diving. The Seamaster is available in a variety of different models and can withstand most any type of water activity.
Omega and the Olympics
Omega’s impressive first place wins at the Geneva Observatory trials in 1931 caught the attention of the International Olympic Committee. After learning of the Swiss watch company’s reputation for accuracy, the Olympic Committee appointed Omega as the official timekeeper of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Omega became the first company entrusted with the official timekeeping of all disciplines during the Olympic Games. After almost 90 years, that partnership remains intact to this day.
James Bond’s favorite watch
In 1995, Omega became the watch of choice for James Bond with the release of GoldenEye. Throughout the film, 007, played by Pierce Brosnan, wore an Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional. James Bond has worn an Omega timepiece ever since. Other Omega watches seen throughout the Bond series include the Seamaster Planet Ocean and Seamaster Professional 300M. In 2013, Omega celebrated the 50th anniversary of James Bond with the release of a special edition timepiece. In honor of the notorious British spy, Omega released a special update of the Seamaster Diver 300M called the James Bond 50th Anniversary Collector’s Piece.
The co-axial escapement
The invention of the co-axial escapement is not accredited to Omega. It was actually invented by English watchmaker George Daniels. But Omega took up the challenge of putting the co-axial escapement into large-scale production. The Omega Co-Axial Caliber 2500 was launched in 1999. In 2007, Omega launched an updated version of the co-axial escapement, the Co-Axial Caliber 8500, which featured low friction, mechanical efficiency, and exceptional timekeeping performance. All Omega watches with the Co-Axial Caliber 8500 are COSC-certified chronometers.
Omega conquers magnetism
Another great achievement for Omega came in 2013. Up until this time, most watches could not resist extreme levels of magnetism. But because Omega is always looking for new ways to achieve greatness, they were determined to change this. Most anti-magnetic watches utilize a soft iron inner case to eliminate the effect of magnetism. Omega’s approach was different; the company designed a new movement, in which the components are made of non-ferrous materials, providing far greater resistance to magnetic fields and eliminating the need for an inner case. This new anti-magnetic movement was the world’s first to be capable of resisting magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss. In 2015, Omega released its innovative movement in a brand new model, the Omega Globemaster. Since then, the brand has gone on to incorporate the new movement in other Omega watches.
Omega watches and celebrities
While 007 is seen wearing Omega watches more frequently, he is not the only celebrity to adorn these luxury Swiss timepieces. In fact, Omega’s reach extends far beyond the world of Hollywood. Besides the likes of Ringo Starr, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy were also very fond of Omega. Kennedy wore an Omega during his presidential inauguration in January 1961. Today, the watch is housed at the Omega Museum.
Shop Omega watches in San Diego
If there is a watch brand that can claim to master of land, sea, and space, it’s Omega. For more than 165 years, Omega has pushed the boundaries of horology. Not only are Omega watches very popular, they are some of the greatest functioning timepieces in the world. There truly is an Omega for everyone. Looking for deals on Omega in San Diego? Visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers on San Diego Avenue! All certified pre-owned Omega watches in our collection have been pristinely reconditioned to perform and appear like new. So, which Omega do you desire?