The last word in timekeeping since 1848
Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet – the ultimate – which is a fitting name for watches that have achieved more than most in sport, exploration and human achievement.
The story begins at a workbench in a village called La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, over 160 years ago. One Louis Brandt set up a small watch assembly workshop and built a reputation for exquisite attention to detail.
Soon, his two sons joined the firm and, within 30 years or so, the family business had evolved into an end-to-end manufacturer and set up a factory in Bienne.
The sons pioneered new techniques and by 1894, had created a watch they called the Omega calibre. Its accuracy was astonishing and it became so famous that the Brandts decided to name the business after it.
Omega timepieces were soon in demand for the accurate timing of rail travel and many local sporting events. Their reputation became global when chosen to be the official timekeeper for the Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race in 1909.
It’s important to remember that the super-accurate split-second timing we expect in sports these days wasn’t possible 100 years ago. Indeed, many people thought that obsessing about fractions of a second was decidedly odd!
The fact that Omega was able to split the second and was also interested in offering its chronometers to event organisers changed the basis of human competition, while cementing the reputation of the brand.
From the 1932 Olympics, where a lone watchmaker arrived with 30 chronometers and helped accredit 17 new world records, to the sophisticated electronics we expect at any event these days, the Omega brand has been seen more than any other at start and finish lines around the world.
Their watches have also been visitors to another world.
Since 1965, Omega chronographs have been flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions and are the only watches to have withstood all of the US space agency’s tests under conditions of zero gravity and magnetic fields, extreme shocks, vibrations and temperatures ranging from -18 to +93 degrees Celsius.
It was a Speedmaster that recorded man’s first steps on the moon’s surface (02:56 GMT, 21 July 1969) – and the nickname for this model ever since has been ‘Moonwatch’.
When Russian and American astronauts first met and linked their space craft, they were both wearing Omega watches and, uniquely, after an Omega had sailed through punishing tests on the Russian MIR space station, the watch was launched commercially via live link between MIR, Houston Mission Control and American TV!
Still today, the Speedmaster Professional is the only watch officially certified for extra-vehicular activity on other worlds.
So if you’re into super-accurate timekeeping and utter reliability, there’s no doubt an Omega will fit your bill. The stories you could tell about sporting prowess and interplanetary exploration are more good reasons to choose the brand. The fact that Elvis Presley wore one when he was in the US Army may be just the clincher you need!
And there’s another reason to put Omega on your shortlist, especially a pre-owned ladies or gents model from Albemarle & Bond – value for money.
Browse our stock of prestige, pre-loved watches and you’ll see that you can put an Omega on your wrist for less than £1,000 …and that’s the brand that times the Olympics and walked on the moon.
How so? Because Omega have deliberately set out to be among the more accessible prestige brands. Their quartz range is perfect for ladies or gents, is 100% Omega, but naturally takes fewer hours of painstaking craft to build, so it’s yours for less.
Of course, you can also pay more. Their latest innovation, the co-axial automatic movement, is a remarkable achievement in miniature engineering and consequently commands higher prices, both new and used.
The famous Seamaster now uses the coaxial movement. It’s waterproof to 300 metres, has a wetsuit extension for the bracelet and a helium release valve in the case, so that the watch won’t explode when you return to the surface after a deep dive. We sometimes have stock of the James Bond version, with 007 engraved on the back and the bracelet!
So who will you be joining as an Omega owner? Well, the list is long and illustrious, from kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, to high achievers in sport, entertainment and business.
John F Kennedy wore one, as does President Obama, Prince William, George Clooney, Anna Kournikova and Buzz Aldrin.
Given that Omega has embraced quartz movements more readily than other prestige watch brands, let’s now talk about accuracy.
It has to be said that you don’t buy an expensive mechanical watch for its accuracy. A £30 quartz Timex will be as efficient at keeping time as £10,000 worth of chronometer or, indeed, any expensive mechanical watch.
Of course, an Omega chronometer is incredibly accurate – the chronometer rating isn’t given to a watch if it loses or gains more than a few seconds a day – but quartz is always going to be technically more precise.
A quartz Omega, for example will typically be accurate to one second a day. Its mechanical chronometer counterpart will probably manage three seconds a day. Both are more than adequate for normal human use and mean that you’ll only ever need to adjust your watch twice a year, if and when you need to change to and from summer time.
So if accuracy isn’t the big issue any more when choosing a watch, what is? We think it’s feelings.
The feeling you get wearing engineering that’s about as good as human beings can achieve. The feeling you get wearing a watch that works on the moon, and has been tested in zero gravity as well as 300 metres under the sea. The feeling you get when you buy something you deserve, that rewards hard work, achievement, a milestone in your life.
Plus, of course, the feeling of satisfaction you get when you have bought such an important personal asset at a very good price – from Albemarle & Bond!