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Omega History

1848
Louis Brandt founds La Generale Watch Co in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

1894
Louis Brandt’s sons Cesar and Paul develop an entirely new watchmaking process, which enables La Generale to create watches with interchangeable parts. These luxury watches are given their own brand name: Omega. Omega is the name of the movement, Calibre 19, which powers the watches.

1903
The Omega brand is so successful La Generale officially splits it off and makes it a company in its own right. In the same year, both Cesar and Paul die, leaving Omega in the hands of Paul-Emile Brandt. It is Paul-Emile who will turn the brand into the worldwide powerhouse of horology it is known as to the present day.

Omega begins to participate in observatory trials at Neuchatel, a habit it will continue annually. These trials certify luxury watch movements for the precision of their time measurement.

1919
Omega is awarded 1st Prize at Neuchatel’s observatory trial. The brand’s movement 21 gets the prize: it will later become Omega’s legendary Calibre 47.7.

1922
Omega takes part in Kew Observatory’s trials and achieves 3rd place.

1925
Brandt works on a merger between Omega and Tissot. Omega takes 1st place at Kew.

1930
Omega becomes one of the founding companies of the Societe Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogere (SSIH). SSIH will go on to become one of the most-recognised and well-respected horological organisations in the world. Later, it will be merged with the Allgemeine Gesellschaft der schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG), to form the Swatch Group

1932
Omega unveils its small-sized wrist chrono, Omega 28.9. In the same year, Omega is named sponsor of the Olympic Games for the first time.

1933
Calibre 47.7 sets a new record at Kew Observatory’s trials, scoring 97.4 points from a possible 100.

1936
A newer Calibre 47.7 beats its predecessor at Kew, scoring 97.8 points—a record it will hold until 1965. Between 1936 and 1974, Omega calibres will scoop an astonishing 28 1st places and records at observatory trials in Kew, Geneva and Neuchatel. In some years, the brand will hold all of the first four places available.

1947
Omega develops the world’s first tourbillon wristwatch movement—the Omega 301. This movement delivers the most accurate time observations ever recorded by a wristwatch, in 1949: in 1950, it breaks its own time record again.

1955
Joseph Reiser assumes leadership of the SSIH. Under his control, the Omega brand will create some of its finest chronographs.

1957
Omega launches the Speedmaster, the watch destined to become the first and only timepiece to walk on the moon.

1965
The Omega Speedmaster is selected by NASA as its official space chronograph. The selection process, which takes up much of the early 1960s, sees the Speedmaster subjected to 48 hours at 71 degrees Centigrade, followed by a 30 minute stint at 93 degrees Centigrade. It is also tasked with performing at extreme low temperatures, in high humidity, at low and high pressure, and while being subjected to an acceleration force of 7.25G.

Ed White makes a space walk (the first by an American) wearing an Omega Speedmaster.

1969
Buzz Aldrin wears his Omega Speedmaster on the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong’s Speedmaster is used to time critical operations inside the lunar landing module. From this day forth, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph will be known as the ‘Moonwatch’. Its telltale ‘pie tin’ dial, shiny tachymetric bezel, and domed sapphire are present in all NASA’s piloted missions. The watch will spend time in landing vehicles, shuttles, and eventually the International Space Station.

1970s
Rolex and Omega vie for supremacy in the luxury watch market. During this decade, the Omega Marine Chronometer is also certified as the first ever wristwatch chronometer capable of undersea work.

1974
The Omega Marine Chronometer, powered by the quartz Calibre 1511, is brought to market. It is one of the most accurate luxury watches ever made, losing only 12 seconds per year. The Marine Chronometer, which will remain on sale until 1978 (latterly with the smaller, but still as accurate, Calibre 1516). Jacques Cousteau is among the famous faces to put one on his wrist.

1995
Omega luxury watches become the timepiece of choice for James Bond. The secret agent wears multiple Omega models in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Daniel Craig’s Bond will also wear Omegas in all of his films.

1997
Supermodel Cindy Crawford, one of the most famous and recognisable faces on the planet, becomes Omega’s first official brand ambassador.

1999
Omega premiers the coaxial Calibre 2500. This movement becomes the heart of the world’s first commercially available wristwatch incorporating a coaxial escapement. (A coaxial escapement is the most modern, and most accurate, escapement type).

2004
Swimmer Michael Phelps is named an Omega brand ambassador, in time for the Athens Olympic Games in the summer of 2004. Phelps will go on to become the most decorated Olympian ever, winning a record-smashing eight golds at the 2008 Olympics alone.

2006
Omega is selected as official sponsor for the Winter Olympics.

The following memorable exchange takes place between James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), in Casino Royale, the reboot Bond movie that will start the franchise’s most popular run:

Vesper Lynd (spotting Bond’s luxury watch): Rolex?
Bond: Omega.
Vesper Lynd: Beautiful.

It’s one of the great marketing moments of the 21st century, instantly positioning Omega as superior to its long-term rival. After all, if Bond chooses Omega, who wouldn’t want to follow suit?

2008
Ambassador Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

2011
Omega becomes the official PGA Tour timekeeper (USA). The brand will enhance its reputation in the golf world with a series of high-profile golfing sponsorships including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Greg Norman, Stacy Lewis, and Shanshan Feng.

2012
Omega steps up its commitment to golf, elevating the status of its relationship with the PGA of the USA from ‘Official Partner’ to ‘Official Patron’.

2013
Omega announces a completely new anti-magnetic movement, which has a resistance of 1.5 tesla. This movement is the most magnetically resistant calibre in the world.

The brand releases the Speedmaster ‘Dark Side of the Moon’—an all-black, all-ceramic version of the co-axial Speedmaster chrono. The case, the bezel, the dial, even the buckle are in true black ceramic. The Dark Side of the Moon is almost as big a hit for Omega as it was for Pink Floyd. Omega will continue to sell, and sell, this ceramic model. Indeed, so large is demand for the Dark Side of the Moon that orders are delayed by 12 months

2014
Omega continues to celebrate its lunar history with the ‘Grey Side of the Moon’—an all-grey, nearly-all-ceramic version of the co-axial Speedmaster chronograph. This time, the dial is not ceramic but platinum-plated. The rest of the case is in a grey ceramic Omega refer to as ‘Lunar Dust’ (the original name of the watch). It’s another massive hit, and paves the way for the third watch in the series, which will be released in 2015.

2015
Omega releases the Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Limited Edition, and a special ‘Silver Snoopy’ Speedmaster. The latter watch celebrates the 45-year anniversary of Omega’s involvement in the safe return of the Apollo 13 astronauts. The Spectre limited edition is the first time a ‘real’ Bond watch—one worn in the film by Bond himself—has ever been made available to the public.

In the same year, Omega releases the Globemaster: the world’s first Master Chronometer-certified luxury watch. The Master Chronometer certification is bestowed by METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. The Master Co-Axial 8900 / 8901 movement, which beats at the heart of the Globemaster, is subjected to eight rigorous tests, which explore its ability to retain accuracy in the presence of real-life wearing conditions such as magnetic fields and water.

The ‘White Side of the Moon’ is also brought to market—and yes, you guessed it, it’s an all-white, all-ceramic version of the co-axial Speedmaster. This time, the case is in zirconium oxide (a white ceramic made from crystalline zirconium). The dial and bezel are in white ceramic, and the watch comes on a white leather strap.

2016
In February 2016, James Bond’s own Omega Seamaster 300—‘Prototype One’—is sold at auction at Christie’s in London. The watch, which features a polished ceramic bezel with LiquidMetal scale, is capable of withstanding magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss. It sells in a live auction for £92,500.

To celebrate the career of Omega brand ambassador Michael Phelps (the most decorated Olympian of all time), Omega releases the Planet Ocean Co-Axial Master Chronograph ref 215.30.46.51.01.001. It goes on sale at the end of July, just weeks before the Rio 2016 Games are due to start. Omega is once again official timekeeper of the Games.

Omega’s patronage of the PGA of the USA is highlighted once again as golf returns to the Olympic Games for the first time in over 100 years.

You can view our newest Omega watches as well as the latest additions to our unworn luxury watch collection here.

Watch Brand Histories