Brand Directory: Omega
Formerly known as the La Generale Watch Co. it was founded by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1848. When he passed away in 1879, his sons quickly stepped in to carry on their father’s vision. In 1880 they moved to 96 Rue Jakob-Stampfli where they remain today.
In 1885, the brothers released their first mass-produced calibre, the Labrador, Later in 1892, they developed the first minute-repeating timepiece.
In 1903 they renamed the company Omega until 1982 when they officially changed their name to Omega SA.
During WW1 Omega watches were used as official timekeepers for the Royal Flying Corps and the US Army.
In 1930, Omega and Tissot merged together to form Société Suisse pour l'Industrie Horlogère (SSIH) In 1931, another group was formed - Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG). Where SSIH was primarily French-speaking, ASUAG was founded by the more German-speaking members of the Swiss watch industry.
In 1948 they introduced the first edition of one of its most symbolic watches: the Seamaster.
Omega first introduced the Constellation in 1952. At the time it was Omega's flagship timepiece. The first models had a Cal. 354 bumper movement in them. Later in 1955 Omega introduced the Automatic Cal. 50x, followed in 1959 by the Cal.55x (no date) and 56x (date) versions. Many of the Constellations came with pie-pan dials, diamond indexes, and fancy lug configurations. All the gold Constellations of that time have the Observatory of Geneva hand engraved on the back. The stainless steel and stainless steel/gold versions had a gold medallion on the back with the Observatory of Geneva. The eight stars above the Observatory stand for the many exploits of Omega in the world Chronometer competition. Celebrating the fact that all Constellations are Chronometer Certified.
In 1962, Omega made history when astronaut Wally Schirra wore a Speedmaster on his Mercury Sigma 7 Mission, making it the first Omega watch to enter space. After stringent tests, NASA used Omega for all their Apollo missions including the 1969 Moon landing of Apollo 11. Today Omega is still an astronaut's first choice of timepiece. In 1969, President Nixon famously turned down the opportunity to be gifted the first-ever all gold Speedmaster Professional Deluxe because he deemed it to be “too valuable.”
As a response to the ever-growing threat of electronic watches to the manufacturers of mechanical watches, Omega in collaboration with Swiss brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe formed Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH). Prototypes began in 1967 with production starting in 1968. Then In 1972, Omega introduced the reference, 198.030, which included the Omega calibre 1250, a ‘tuning-fork electronic movement which was made under licence from Bulova.
Later we saw a merger of SSIH and ASUAG into SMH, or Société de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie. This merger took place in 1983.
In 1992, the company acquired Blancpain, and in 1998 they officially rebranded themselves from SMH to the Swatch Group. Then, in 1999, they purchased and integrated Breguet into the group.