In 1848, 23-year-old Louis Brandt set up a workshop in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland that was eventually to grow into watch company Omega. He died in 1879, and his two sons Cesar and Louis-Paul took over the business; in 1880 the company moved to Bienne, where it still has its headquarters today. In 1884 they produced the 19 line (OMEGA calibre), a movement manufactured using groundbreaking industrial techniques from which the company would later take their name.
In 1909, the brand was asked to time the Gordon Bennett cup, an international balloon race – this started their long association with sporting events and in 1932, Omega started its career as official timekeeper to the Olympic Games, a role it continues to this day. Since producing its 10 millionth watch in 1944, the company has gone from strength to strength and still produces top quality timepieces to this day.
Good examples of Omega watches perform well at auction. Of particular interest to collectors are early examples of innovative designs and limited edition pieces, such as 1920s Art Deco-inspired enamelled watches, a timepiece launched at the 1929 Barcelona Universal Exhibition designed to be worn on the back of the hand, the 1932 Marine watch designed for scuba diving or the iconic Speedmaster launched in 1952. There’s a buoyant market for Omega watches in general, but early examples of these innovative models are particularly sought after. Omega watches remain very collectable, with condition and rarity being driving factors when determining cost. As the brand was worn by many sports stars and celebrities, such as Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, any proven links with famous owners will add to the value, as will original packaging or cases.
OMEGA’s pioneering spirit has taken them to the Moon, helped conquer the oceans’ depths, and allowed them to time the world’s most important sporting events. At the same time, OMEGA were setting precision records and have been continuously re-defining state-of-the-art mechanical watchmaking since 1848.