Global Watch Shop

Omega History and Information

Omega was founded in 1848 by a 23 year old named Louis Brandt, in a family villa in La Chauds De Fonds, Switzerland. When Louis Brandt died in 1879, his two sons Louis-Paul and Cesar took control of production. The two moved the factory in 1880 to Bienne, where they first owned one, then another factory, the second of which - in Rue Jakob-Stampfli - the company still operates in to this day. By this point, the two brothers had full control of the manufacturing process.

1885 was an historic point for the company, heralding the birth of the “Labrador”, the brother’s first mass produced calibre. The watch has a routine variation of less than 30 seconds per day. More innovations were soon to follow, with the 1892 invention of the first minute-repeating wristwatch, and – more significantly – the creation in 1894 of the 19 line Omega Calibre. This was manufactured using previously unknown mechanical techniques and played a key part in Omega’s reputation building in the 19th century.

In 1899 Omega began its long-standing relationship with the military, with a British artillery officer praising the timepieces following a mission in Africa. The company itself claim that this officer was probably the first Omega ambassador. Just a year later, the entire Omega collection won the prestigious Universal Expo Grand Prize in Paris.

1901 saw Omega create their first watch made specifically to be attached to motorcycles and automobiles, and in 1905 they began their relationship with sports timekeeping by becoming official timekeeper at a number of events, and in 1906 they kept time at the Gordon Bennet Cup – an international balloon race. These were the first examples of a long-standing relationship between Omega and high-performance sports timekeeping.

By 1906, Omega were really starting to make their mark on the watchmaking world, sold in 6 continents, and recognised by many of the World’s most prestigious organisations. In 1925, Omega were honoured with the Grand Prize at the Exposition Des Arts Decoratifs, the birthplace of Art Deco.

3 years later saw the invention of the Armure, a ground-breaking super shock-resistant watch in a square case. Following this, in 1931, the company prototyped the first automatic movement using weights for movement winding. This was a break-through in terms of efficiency and a crucial step in the development of watch technology. Just a year later, Omega’s first diver’s watch, the Marine was introduced to wide acclaim.

1933 was the year in which Omega first record their use in aviation, as the Italian ministry of aviation employed 48 precise models on a race from Rome to Chicago. In the following years, Omega set a range of precision records, became the largest supplier to the armed forces of Great Britain and introduced their famed ladies Medicus ladies’ watch. This was the first watch with fixed central attachments for a strap.

Through the years, from their humble origins, Omega pioneered a huge range of innovations, the 40s saw their first luminescent ladies’ watch, their first tourbillon movements and the famous Seamaster, whilst the 50s and 60s introduced the legendary Constellation, Speedmaster, Seamaster 300 and Railmaster. Over these years, everyone from John F Kennedy to Elvis wore Omega watches with on official duties. What’s more, in 1962, astronaut Wally Schirra took his Omega Speedmaster to space on NASA’s Mercury Sigma 7 mission, and in 1969, the Speedmaster first landed on the moon.

Omega has amongst the most prestigious and fascinating history of any luxury watch brand. From a small factory in Switzerland, to a company selling tens of millions of models, Omega have been at the forefront not only of high-profile public life, but also to some of mankind’s greatest achievements. If you’re looking for a watch with the perfect mix of ultra-high performance and stylish aesthetics, an Omega model could make the perfect choice.

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