Omega is a Swiss luxury watch brand. Due to its excellent quality and design, it is highly popular worldwide and is admired by many people.
Many of you may have heard the names Seamaster and Speedmaster.
In this article, I will explain the history of Omega.
Louis Blanc, a watchmaker, opened his first pocket watch workshop in 1848. His first product was a key-wound pocket watch.
Later, he brought his son Louis Paul into the business, and the workshop grew to become Louis Blanc & Faures.
Paul, who believed that securing labor was the key to development, moved the company to Bienne.
This was an area blessed with labor capital.
In 1880, he developed a mechanical cylinder caliber. In 1880, he developed a mechanical cylinder caliber and sold pocket watches equipped with this caliber with great success. Paul’s brother, Cesar, who moved to England at the age of 18, was instrumental in this success. Cesar, who had been working hard to expand his sales channels, expanded his market to South America following the UK.
He was able to expand thanks to the high quality of his products and his marketing ability to anticipate demand.
By 1889, César had grown into a major company with 600 employees and an annual production of over 100,000 pieces.
1894 was a momentous year for OMEGA: the development of the 19-line calibres. It was the first watch to be produced under the division of labour system and had a major influence on later watchmaking systems.
The caliber was named “Omega,” Greek for ultimate, because it was made with the best technology available at the time.
In 1903, the company name was changed to Société Anonyme Louis Blanc and Frères Omega Watch, and Omega was added to the name.
In 1982, the company name was changed to OMEGA.
There are many stories that attest to OMEGA’s quality. One of the most famous is the story of the Speedmaster, which was chosen as the instrument of choice in space.
In 1965, NASA made the Speedmaster the standard equipment for its astronauts, citing its “precision, unmatched reliability, outstanding robustness and ease of operation.
NASA selected a number of watches for testing in order to find a watch that could be used in space.
The only one that passed the test was the Speedmaster. It was a hand-wound chronograph, and its case was a triple-sealed Seamaster case made at the request of the Royal Navy.
The first time it went into space was during the Gemini mission in 1965. It also kept accurate time during the Apollo moon landing in 1969.
But it was in 1970 that the Speedmaster really came into its own. The oxygen tank of Apollo 13 exploded. The electrical system failed and the timekeeping device was damaged. Apollo 13 was forced to return to Earth after giving up on landing on the moon.
In order to return to Earth, the rocket engines had to fire accurately, and if the timing was off by even one second, there was a possibility that the rocket would not return to Earth orbit.
OMEGA, which uses the physical energy of machines to keep time, was able to drive the engines accurately even in space. Thanks to this, the Apollo 13 crew was able to return safely.
In 1989, the Russians equipped their cosmonauts with Speedmasters.
OMEGA has also been selected as the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, having timed 21 Olympic Games, from Los Angeles in 1932 to Albertville in 1992. There are not many watches that can measure to the nearest thousandth of a second, thanks to OMEGA’s technological prowess and accumulated experience.
The financial crisis that hit OMEGA
Although the company’s business has been going smoothly, it has actually been hit by two financial crises.
The first was the Great Depression of 1929. The Great Depression of 1929 hit the world and affected OMEGA as well. The company overcame this crisis by forming the SSIH Group with Tissot, a prestigious Swiss watch manufacturer.
The second crisis was the quartz shock, when Seiko launched a quartz watch in 1969 that drove a number of prestigious watch companies into bankruptcy.
Quartz is a driving mechanism that currently accounts for 97% of the market share, but compared to mechanical watches, it is
Lower production costs
No need to wind the mainspring
It is also resistant to shocks.
It was so superior to mechanical watches that it negated the efforts of brands to improve the quality of mechanical watches.
Of course, Omega was also in financial trouble and was offered a takeover by Seiko. This caused such an uproar that it was debated in the Swiss parliament.
In 1986, a number of watch brands came together to overcome this crisis, and the SMH Group was born. In 1986, a number of watch brands came together to overcome the crisis and formed the SMH Group, which has since changed its name to the Swatch Group, with OMEGA representing the group.
The Seamaster was developed in 1948, the 100th anniversary of OMEGA’s birth. During World War II, Omega was commissioned to make watches for the military and was required to have high anti-magnetic and water resistance. The Seamaster met these requirements.
It was developed using the know-how once employed by the British military and presented as an all-round model.
It was launched not as a diver’s watch, but as a water-resistant all-round watch.
It was born in 1960 as a line of Seamaster watches. The first name was “Seamaster De Ville” and no one could have predicted that it would become a separate line.
The Deville, which became independent in 1967, is characterized by a simpler and more elegant design than the Seamaster.
The “Classic,” with its Roman numerals on the dial, and the Co-Axial, with its overhaul cycle of five years or more, are models that have inherited the design features while evolving technologically.
Incidentally, “de ville” is a French word meaning “city/urban”. The thin and sleek design, unlike the previous models, is probably an expression of the city in the style of Omega.
The secret of its popularity
High technology and durability
Omega watches are among the most technologically advanced in the world. Omega watches are among the most technologically advanced in the world, as evidenced by the fact that they have passed the “Master Chronometer” standard.
This is a regulation that certifies the quality of a mechanical watch, and it must pass the standards of the Swiss Association of Certified Chronometer Examiners to be eligible to take the test.
After passing this test, the watch must pass eight different tests conducted by the Swiss Federal Office of Metrology and Accreditation.
Omega is the only company that sells watches that have passed these tests, which are subjected to strict inspections down to the smallest detail.
- High cost performance
Many people think that Omega watches, with their high precision and attention to materials, are only available in high-end lines that cost more than several million yen.
In fact, there are some models in the price range of 200,000-300,000 yen, which are easy to purchase and can be recommended for first-time buyers of luxury watches.
With the exception of some limited edition models, Omega is characterized by the large amount of products available in the market. They are relatively easy to obtain and there is no difference in after-sales service between genuine and parallel products. For these reasons, they are popular among many people regardless of generation or gender.
As mentioned earlier, Omega has a variety of histories that guarantee its quality.
In addition, Omega watches appear in the famous spy movie series “007”.
The main character, James Bond, uses the watch in the films since 1995. It has contributed to broadening the name recognition of Omega.
Omega originally started as a pocket watch workshop. By working with his son, the company’s popularity expanded outside Japan. Since then, the company’s technical expertise has been so highly regarded that NASA has recommended it as standard equipment for astronauts.
OMEGA has released many popular models and has overcome two financial crises.
I am sure that its glamorous history will continue in the future.