Innovative watchmaking is the cornerstone of OMEGA’s heritage but it is inspired by sports timekeeping, our conquests of space, our advocacy on behalf of worthy organisations and, of course, our enviable role in support of the world’s favourite spy.
OMEGA has built its reputation on revolutionary watch movements. And the Master Chronometer watches, which earn that designation by passing tests approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, put our COSC-certified chronometer calibres in the spotlight once again.
OMEGA’s creative use of materials and its creation of new alloys enhance our watches’ aesthetic appeal and improve their quality. Innovative uses of ceramics, silicon and precious metals are important parts of our story.
OMEGA’s Master Chronometer watches are tested and certified twice. Firstly, the movement is tested by the Official Swiss Chronometer Control (COSC) with precision criteria of -4/+6 seconds per day. Then the complete watch and its movement undergo eight Master Chronometer tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) with criteria of 0/+5 seconds per day.
Since 1962, OMEGA has been on-hand – literally – as astronauts explore space. Its status as the first watch on the Moon earned the Speedmaster its nickname in 1969: the Moonwatch and is one of the most iconic models.
Originally established as “La Generale Watch Co.” by Louis Brandt in 1848, the company was renamed to “Omega Watch Co” in 1903, honoring the global success of its best selling caliber produced since 1894, the Omega Caliber 19.
In the first half of the 20th century, Omega participated in and regularly won observatory trials that challenged the precision of watches under extreme circumstances. In 1931, Omega won the first prize in all six categories of the Geneva observatory trial, inspiring the slogan “Omega – Exact Time for Life” as well as the dedicated case back engraving which can be seen on its “Constellation” models.
Led by the entrepreneurial spirit of Paul-Emile Brandt (the grandson of Louis Brandt), Omega was able to grow through strategic partnerships, in particular by the union with Tissot and the foundation of the Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère (SSIH – later Swatch Group) in 1930 as well as the acquisition of the Lemania Watch Co.
In 1932, as a result of Omega’s persistent strive for excellence, precision and strategical growth, the company was named the first and only official timekeeper of the Olympic Games and remains it till today.
Issued in 1948 for the 100th anniversary of the company, the Seamaster line was an evolution of the waterproof Omega watches made for the British military during WWII and became a big commercial success for the company, not least to its perfect balance between technical capabilities (higher water and temperature resistance due to its rubber o-gasket) and dressy appearance.
In 1957, the rather dressy Seamster line was complemented by the Seamaster 300 family as part of the “professional line” alongside the Railmaster as well as the Speedmaster. Cleary emphasizing the tool oriented character of this collection, the professional line was the origin for one of the most iconic watches we know today, the Speedmaster “Moonwatch” or “Speedy”.
The cosmic career of the Speedmaster began in 1962, when Wally Schirra and Gordon Cooper wore their own “private” Omega CK2998 watches on the Mercury 9 mission, subsequently considered to be somewhat “risky” by NASA officials who decided to go for a more official supplying concept for future missions. From late 1964 to early 1965, NASA conducted a series of extreme tests with various different watch suppliers and ultimately selected the Omega Speedmaster to be the future astronaut’s spacewalk associate.
But the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions were the historical events for the Speedmaster (ref. ST105.012) to earn its stripes. Wrapped around the wrist of Buzz Aldrin, the Speedmaster became the “Moonwatch” as the first watch worn on Erdtrabant. And the tragic events in the Apollo 13 mission allowed the Speedmaster to prove itself a second time when it was used to time the 14 seconds maneuver needed readjustment the course of the Lunar Module enabling it to renter earth’s atmosphere, for which Omega was presented with the “Snoopy Award”.
Also leaving its mark on the movie industry, Omega became the “official bond watch” by equipping Pierce Brosnan with the newly released Seamaster 300M in 1995 and until today, Omega is honouring his provenance by surprising collectors with exclusive model lines like the “Museum Series” (debuted in 2001), limited editions or the “FIRST OMEGA WRIST‑CHRONOGRAPH”.
Let’s have a look at Omega’s vivid history: