Omega is a brand synonymous with luxury in the world of watches. Similar to other luxury watch brands, Omegas are sought after for their classic style, remarkable craftsmanship, and also their exclusivity. These factors combined make owning an Omega watch a symbol of opulence, and particularly a thing of interest for those in the know.
Predating both Rolex and Breitling, the Swiss company was founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt; in fact, originally the brand was named after Brandt himself. The company differed to its contemporaries in that each part of the watch was made through different production lines. The company traded under Brandt’s name until he passed in 1879, leaving the company to his sons Louis Paul and Cesar who added ‘& Fils’ to the company name. The company was growing at such a rate that the two brothers decided to move the business from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Bienne in an effort to industrialise the Louis Brandt & Fils name.
The brothers worked under this name, breaking boundaries in the watch industry for the following few years and creating exceptional pieces of timekeeping. It was not until 1894 that the brothers created the watch that would give them their new, infamous name, ‘OMEGA’. The 19-ligne calibre watch was groundbreaking in terms of accuracy, and it also had the ability to have parts removed and replaced without effecting other parts of the watch and could be solved globally rather than only by specialists in the company. Today we still see the effects of this 19-ligne calibre when winding and setting watches when using the crown and stem of the watch.
It was this watch in particular that gave the brand the name it has been using for the last 129 years. The Brandt brothers were so pleased with their success that they named this watch ‘OMEGA’. The symbolism of naming this watch after the last letter of the Greek alphabet most likely relates to the accomplishment achieved by the brothers, and that they thought this watch was possibly their ‘OMEGA’. The brothers however did not stop here, and throughout their careers in the watch industry had many great feats; Omega was the chosen brand for event organisers due to the accuracy the watches provided, the brand took part in the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925 showcasing design ability, and in 1932 became the first watch to time all events in the Los Angeles Olympics.
In this month’s auction we have a gent’s vintage 18ct gold Omega Seamaster. The Seamaster is the brand’s most notable watch, and for good reason. 1948 marked 100 years since the company was set up by Louis Brandt, and to celebrate, the Seamaster was developed. It was originally created so that it could be worn by military personnel in submarines and could withstand sudden temperature and pressure changes. The Seamaster available to the public was marketed as a gentleman’s watch for ‘town, sea, and country’, and was different to others in the market thanks to its waterproof technology.
This is just a bite-sized piece of the history of OMEGA and justifies the affinity between watch collectors and this brand.