Omega specialises in tool watches for extreme environments. Over the years it has catered to the likes of the British Royal Air Force, US Military and James Bond. Its greatest achievement, however, was being chosen to make the official NASA watch, which was strapped to the outside of Buzz Aldrin’s suit as he followed Neil Armstrong onto the surface of the moon. Unsurprisingly, the Speedmaster, a robust, waterproof chronograph, has since become one of the most iconic watches ever made. Omega has also been the official sponsor of the Olympic Games, since 1932, and has decorated the wrists of John F. Kennedy and a great deal of famous figures. Pre-owned Omega watches are always in high demand and vintage Omegas, especially the sports models, often crop up in important watch auctions.
Omega’s history stems back to 1848, when a 23-year-old Louis Brandt set up a watchmaking workshop. He carved out a following across Europe and eventually passed on his know-how and patrimony to his sons, who after just ten years in the business could lay claim to the largest manufacture of finished watches in Switzerland. In 1894, they developed a movement that would go on to reach such global renown that they decided to change their company name to that of the movement—Omega.
Such early success meant Omega was amongst the first to invest heavily in wristwatch research and development. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Omega wristwatches were awarded many international prizes for precision and function. This technical mastery meant they were adopted by a number of military units during the war years, enabling them to further develop and test their watches in live environments. This priceless experience was the genesis for Omega tool watches and a few years later the Seamaster was born.
Since as far back as 1906, Omega has been a frontrunner in ladies wristwatches. Early examples were often extravagant Art Deco and jewellery watches, as was the fashion of the time. But in 1955, Omega released the Ladymatic, its first widely available women’s model, and then a decade later, the first ladies Constellation, which is still Omega’s top-selling ladies model. The Constellation has been through a wealth of looks, including diamond-heavy pieces and square editions. Perhaps the most popular was the “My Choice”, made in the early 2000s in collaboration with Omega’s longest-running ambassador, Cindy Crawford. Other favourite Omega women's watches include versions of the Aqua Terra, De Ville Ladymatic and Seamaster.
For a number of decades the Constellation collection was also the pick of Omega’s dress watches. Its distinctive visage was formed over three decades of identity changes, which included a number of designs by watchmaking legend Gérald Genta. The 1982 “Manhattan” edition was the first to feature the four iconic “griffes” holding its crystal in place, and it retained a handful of Genta features, including the integrated hinged bracelet and the case shape. While it sits behind the Speedmaster and the Seamaster in terms of popularity, the Constellation was a hugely sought-after watch in the eighties and nineties, famously worn by Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and today there is a developing collector’s market for the vintage pieces. Other favourite Omega dress watches include the De Ville and the Edizione Venezia.