The history of Omega began in 1848 when Louis Brandt set up an assembly workshop in La –Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. His two sons, Louis-Paul and Cesar, changed the workshop into a manufacturers in 1879.
The year 1892 marked the creation of the first “minute-repeater” wristwatch and, in 1900, the first industrially-made Omega watch was created.
In 1901, a watch was specially created for motorcyclists, that could be directly attached to the fuel tank. This production was the first of many to partner Omega with the world of sport. In fact, soon after in 1909, the watchmaking company was responsible for the timekeeping of the Gordon-Bennett Cup, an international ballooning race. Later, in 1932, Omega was also given the responsibility for timekeeping during the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. To date, it is still entrusted with this responsibility for all timed events at the Olympics.
In 1917, Omega created the first pocket watch for people with impaired sight. The watch featured textured points that could be read by touch.
In 1929, there was the release of the super anti-shock Omega “Armure” and, in 1943, the release of the first range of automatic watches.
The year 1948 marked the launch of the Omega “Seamaster”; the first watch constructed with a robust, water-resistant casing. In 1952, there was the launch of the Omega “Constellation”, a range of manual winding chronometers. One year later, the company introduced an ultrasound cleaning system, which eliminated the inconvenience of manual cleaning.
Another very important date in Omega’s history is 1957 when the “Speedmaster” was created. This model was chosen by NASA, and worn by Neil Armstrong on 21st July 1969, the first and only watch to land on the moon. When a year later, an explosion crippled the Apollo13 module it was a Speedmaster that manually timed the precise engine boost required to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and saved the lives of the crew.
In 1974, Omega made a transition to the marine world with the Omega “Marine Chronometer”, the world’s first marine chronometer.
In 1985, the brand was taken over by Swatch Group that, to date, remains the company owner.
Three years later, in 1983, all crew members of the deep-sea research expedition “Nautilus” wore the “Seamaster Professional 200m”, 4,400 metres below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1994, to commemorate the centenary of the Omega brand, Maurice Grimm and André Beyner created the first self-winding wristwatch with central tourbillion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Omega.
Five years later, marked the launch of the co-axial escapement, the revolutionary design by the Englishman George Daniels that reduced the friction between the components practically to zero. This invention significantly improved both a watch’s accuracy and lifespan.
“Omega Official Timekeeper” is the label that has always accompanied this famous brand and sports events. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Omega exhibited one of its most recent creations known as the “Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronograph Limited Edition”. The third model in a collection of Beijing Olympic pocket watches, it is inspired by the number eight, which is considered in China to bring fortune.
If you wish to find out more about the relationship between Omega and “timekeeping”, the official Omega website provides Omega’s timekeeping history. On the website, you can find a wealth of information to satisfy every curiosity you may have for Omega. From historical and technical details, to a gallery of famous testimonials by: Nicole Kidman, Cindy Crawford, Michael Schumacher, George Clooney and many others.
Finally, fanatics of the brand can visit the Omega World Museum in Bienne. Exhibited here is a collection of some 4000 watches, movements, instruments, tools, photos, posters, certificates and awards.
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