If you were asked to name at least one luxury watch brand, chances are, you’d probably say Omega. Yes, the name recognition is impressive that you’d be familiar with it even if you don’t consider yourself a watch enthusiast. And we don’t blame you—the brand has literally conquered the greatest frontiers, graced the silver screen with the most iconic of characters, and made history by becoming the first watch on the moon. No other brand can claim all that, especially the last one.
The origins of the watch giant
You’ve seen it on the wrists of your favorite thespians, and you’ve read about it being the preferred watch of most influential politicians. But have you ever wondered how the Greek letter-engraved watch came to be one of the most recognizable brands in the world?
The firm was founded in 1848, with a rather unimaginative name—La Generale Watch Co—by Louis Brandt. The company’s name didn’t stay for long because as soon as Brandt’s sons joined him, La Generale became Louis Brandt & Fils. But that didn’t stick either. In 1894 though, the sons who joined Louis, Louis-Paul and César, made a breakthrough with an in-house technique that revolutionized the way timepieces are repaired, a movement the duo has dubbed as the Omega caliber. Watches made with the technique were sold with the name—you guessed it—Omega, and became a hit. The family finally pinned down a name to call their firm, and it has not changed since.
Omega Speedmaster close up. pio3
Precision is more than just a claim
Many watch manufacturers can boast of the supposed precision of their watches, but only few can actually say that they are certified to provide the exact time every single time. Omega certainly can, with its years of participating and proving the accuracy of its timepieces in Observatory trials, competing with other big names in the industry for extended periods of time. It has won for many years, even bagging for itself the topmost prize for all the categories in 1931. This achievement led to the proud and mighty tagline “Omega – Exact time for life”.
The trials were conducted to encourage the improvement of technology in time-telling among chronometers. It’s hard to tell whether the wins pushed the company to innovate every time, or if that was just compounded with Omega’s commitment to be exact for life. One thing is for sure, though: Omega can claim precision and innovation, and no one can dare contest that.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra mechanical swiss watch. Simon Greig
Omega is the master wherever it goes
Omega’s watches are more than just winners at observatory-conducted marathons, they also dominate land, the seas, and who could miss space?
The record-breaking 1931 win of Omega at the Observatory trials has certainly opened the door for many other opportunities. The Swiss brand has been the designated official timekeeper of the Olympics countless times since 1932, among the top honors the company could wish for. The appointment is a first in the Olympics’ history as it has never limited the timekeeping to just one company.
Even the seas are not immune to the power of Omega. The company launched the Seamaster collection in 1948, its longest continuing line to date, after taking inspiration on old British Royal Navy designs. It is distinct for its O-ring gasket that functions as a waterproof seal, and makes it less susceptible to changes in pressure and temperature when underwater. The Seamaster became exactly the name it bears after a successful dive in 1955 with Gordon McLean, plunging into the water as deep as 205 feet, consequently becoming a top choice among professional divers.
And just when you think it can’t go any further, Omega actually became the official watch to accompany the first men on the moon. The company made history with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who wore his Omega Speedmaster when he stepped out of Apollo 11. NASA specifically approached Omega to be the astronauts’ official watches after subjecting the Speedmaster to extreme conditions and with it surviving each test. The first landing on the moon was also the first of the Speedmaster’s many expeditions. The line soon became aptly nicknamed the “Moonwatch.”
Omega Boutique in Eastern China, Nanchang City, Jiangxi, China. humphery
Magnetic on the big screen
The most famous spy to grace the movies has propelled its preferred brands to stardom, Omega among them. In 1995, Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond marked the first time that an Omega watch, specifically an Omega Seamaster, was seen with 007. Daniel Craig’s version preferred the Seamaster as well, donning the timepiece in all the movies he starred in as James Bond.
Omega Presents Ladymatic with Nicole Kidman
The lasting appeal of an Omega
In its centuries’ worth of experience in the art and science of horology, Omega has proven itself worthy of its reputation. From the innovations it has made in its chronometers, to the improvement and large-scale production of co-axial escapement, and now its masterpieces’ resistance to magnetic fields, Omega surely has gone a long way from its days as La Generale Watch Co. In the days when a watch is considered a non-essential due to the strides in technology, donning one, especially an Omega, says so much about your personality and your enviable lifestyle.
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Outside Omega Boutique in Rue du Rhone 31, Geneva, Switzerland. Grzegorz Czapski