Brief History: Omega Watch Company
Including Serial Numbers, Production Dates and Calibers
1848 - Present
La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland
The Omega Watch Company was founded by Louis Brandt in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland in 1848. Brandt, 23 years old, began by hand assembling watches from parts produced by local craftsmen. When Louis Brandt passed away in 1879, he left the company to his two sons Louis-Paul and Cesar, who moved Omega to Bienne in January 1880.
By 1889, Louis Brandt and Fils became the largest producers of watches in Switzerland, with a production rate of of over 100,000 watches per year. During this period, they continued to make significant innovations, like the minute-repeating wristwatch, developed in 1892 in partnership with Audemars Piguet, and quite likely the first wristwatch of its kind.
Both Brandt brothers died in 1903, placing the fate of the company in the control of four descendants, the oldest of whom, Paul-Emile Brandt, was only 23 years of age.
Following a merger with Tissot in 1930 a new parent company, SSIH, Société Suisse pour l'industrie Horlogère SA, Geneva, was established. This group eventually encompassed over 50 companies including, Lanco, Lémania and Hamilton. SSIH eventually became the third largest producers of finished watches and movements in the world.
Omega World-Renowned Quality
Omega has a long-established reputation for innovation and quality, which has led to numerous awards over the company's 150 year history, starting as early as 1900 with the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair. In 1936, an Omega watch was awarded 97.8 points at the Kew-Teddington chronometer trials in England setting a world precision record.
Omega has also had a long affiliation with sports. Omega has been the official timekeeper at over 21 Olympic Games, and has contributed many significant innovations to sports timekeeping over the years. For example, Omega brought the first electronic timekeeping device to the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952. In that same year, Omega was awarded the Olympic Cross of Merit in recognition of its outstanding contribution to Olympic sports.
Omega on the Moon
Because of its well-deserved reputation for precision and reliability, the Omega Speedmaster was chosen by NASA as its official chronometer in 1965. It was the only watch flight-certified by NASA for EVA use, and accompanied astronaut Ed White on the first space walk during the Gemini 4 mission in 1965. In 1969 became the first watch to be worn on the moon when Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedmaster, fitted with cal. 321 movement, on his first lunar excursion. Neil Armstrong left his Omega Speedmaster in the lunar module during his historic first spacewalk. In all, Omega watches made six lunar landings. Omega watches were also the only watches certified for use in space by the Russian Space Agency.
More recently, Omega has continued to build on its reputation for innovation with the world's first self-winding tourbillon wristwatch in 1994, and the commercial introduction of the revolutionary coaxial escapement developed in conjunction with world-renowned English watchmaker George Daniels. The coaxial was first offered in limited series in 1999. The new coaxial escapement consists of three components: a coaxial wheel, an escape wheel, and a lever with three pallet stones, unlike the conventional pallet-lever and escape wheel of the lever escapement. The combination of the new escapement and a newly developed free-sprung balance attempts to eliminate the sources of error in timekeeping. The effect of the thickness and viscosity of lubricant on balance amplitude has been virtually eliminated, extending the planned service interval to around 10 years.
In practice, Omega's implementation of the co-axial escapement has not been without problems. Omega is currently on at least the 4th generation of their co-axial, and have yet to achieve the theoretical goal of lubrication-free performance. It has been reported that George Daniels (who passed away in 2011) was not happy with Omega's execution of his escapement design.
Through an economic crisis in the 1980’s the company merged with another large Swiss conglomerate, ASUAG, makers of Swatch, Longines and Rado, to create a new company ASUAG-SSIH. Eventually this pairing fell on hard times and the company was taken over by a private group and renamed SMH, which still exists today.
Fake "Omega" Watches:
The Omega brand has been frequently copied, and you have no doubt seen email advertisements for imitation Omega watches at deep-discount prices. Don't waste your money! These watches are cheap, poorly-made fakes that are not serviceable and will not perform like the genuine article. Counterfeiting products is illegal. We do not encourage or endorse the purchase of any counterfeit watch!
Omega Watch Repair:
At Renaissance Watch Repair, we are experts in the repair and restoration of vintage Omega watches. We do not repair modern Omega watches. We are also always looking for Omega pocket watches and vintage wristwatches to purchase for our inventory. Please contact us if you have any questions about the repair or sale of your vintage Omega watch.
Omega Watch Company
Omega Serial Numbers and Production Dates
Note that Omega began using ETA movements in some of its watches in about 1980. This table does not include accurate dates for Omega/ETA movements.
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This is an unofficial history of the Omega Watch Company. Renaissance Watch Repair is not affiliated with the Omega Watch Company. The Omega name and names of various Omega watch models as shown here are trademarks of Omega. Information provided for educational purposes only and we make no warranty as to its accuracy or reliability.