Collecting Vintage Omega Watches

Collecting Vintage Omega Watches

Collecting Vintage Omega Watches   feature articles

Introduction

A little while back I wrote a defense (or justification, depending on how you look at it) of vintage watch collecting for aBlogtoRead. Following up on that, I’d like to share a bit more of my passion for all timekeepers vintage by presenting a “state of the market” article. My personal interest, and the bulk of my collection, is in Omegas made before the 1980s, so I shall cover that which I know best.

[editor's note: To complement Jason's article and selected images, I am also including pictures I took while at the Omega watch Museum in Switzerland. Among those images you'll find some great shots of vintage Omega timepieces, as well as representations of models that are discussed below. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.]

I’ve long felt that Omega, while well known and very respected, has been a relatively under appreciated brand among vintage collectors. That’s not to say they aren’t popular as collectibles, just that they are undervalued. Vintage Omegas are exceptionally good timepieces that are reasonably priced in today’s market; even the most valuable and rare Omegas won’t compete with the likes of Rolex and Patek, even if they are comparable in quality. While I feel this is a real shame, considering how good these watches are, it does mean that collectors have access to a wide variety of interesting pieces for reasonable money. It’s also a great introductory brand for a budding collector – they are easy to find, easy to service and get parts for, are reliable and well made, and generally nice watches to wear on a daily basis.

Collecting Vintage Omega Watches   feature articles

The Brand and the History

Omega began as an assembly “Comptoir” in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. Louis Brandt founded the company in 1848 as a workshop that assembled pocketwatches and distributed them in several countries. The name Omega didn’t come about until 1894, by which time Louis’ sons Cesar and Louis-Paul had converted the workshop into a small manufacture in Bienne. Omega wasn’t a brand, initially; it was a movement calibre – a pendant-wound pocketwatch calibre that utilized streamlined construction techniques and interchangeable parts for a reliable and easy-to-service mass-produced design. Soon Omega calibres became a worldwide success, so much so that all watches produced by the company were branded Omega from 1903 onward. The Omega calibre was so successful and well designed that it was produced (for pocketwatches) until 1967!

Over the years Omega has been known as a brand that produced reliable and accurate watches for a wide market. In the early decades they were leaders in the production of class-winning chronometers, in both pocket and wristwatch calibres. Before the abolition of competition in chronometer trials in the 1970s, Omega was a record holder in several categories, and was one of the largest producers of mass-produced series chronometer movements in the world (until Rolex took that crown). They were also well known for being the official Olympic timekeeper from 1932 onward, and created many innovative sports timing mechanisms over the decades.

The most significant and best-known Omega models emerged in the 1950s – the Constellation chronometers, the Speedmaster chronographs, and the Seamaster dive watches. Today these three models are the top level of Omega collecting. The company’s real claim to fame was the selection of the Speedmaster chronograph by NASA for use in the space program in 1965 after a series of grueling tests. In 1969 it became the first watch on the Moon, worn by Buzz Aldrin on the surface (Neil Armstrong left his in the lander as a backup clock, a testament to how much faith they put in the Omega). Since 1969 the Speedmaster Professional (as it became known after it was selected by NASA) has become the best known, most collectible and most desirable Omega out there, thanks in no small part to Omega’s continuing marketing touting their participation in the Apollo landings (and countless limited editions to honor the fact).

13 comments
hassanh
hassanh

Hai I have an Omega vintage watch with inscriptions at the back -- www and Y17348 and also 10681547.

The watch has stopped working due to over winding.

Can anyone let me know how much it is worth or how old it may be. 

shike912
shike912

I have an omega antique gold watch, swiss made,winding,running condition and never have been opened. Engraved at the back: To my friend and colleague ALBERT DE SOUZA from Shell Staff Br Borneo. (1917-1957).

This watch has no exact similarity to the antique omega watches. If you want to see the pictures of this watch, I would post it to you.

TypeArt
TypeArt

My mother gave me my father's Omega watch which she says he purchased in Switzerland around 1945 as a GI in WWII. I can't find any information regarding it such as it's rarity or value. I brought it to a watch expert and repairman who took off the back and said it has 24 jewels, movement 565 and serial no. 27515976. It's square but is not gold. Would anybody have any information that would be helpful to me?

JamesHoyt
JamesHoyt

I have two Omega watchs I purchased in 1968 &69, A Seamaster 300 (purchased at the Naval base in Rota Spain while stationed there)for $189The second was purchased on Feb 1969 , a Speedmaster Professional MarkII, (from the USS Forestals CVA59 ships store) for $250 (one months pay). I think I made a good investment.

Raslim
Raslim

May I know where I can have my 1952 hand wound Seamaster assessed it's value?

TylerSelph
TylerSelph

Talk about a rare Omega watch. I think I just saw one on eBay? Vintage Omega 91 diamond ladies watch. Never even seen one before. Can anyone help me identify this watch? Circa?  Was this watch mass produced, limited edition, custom made? What might it be worth? The seller doesn't know much about it. Thanks for your help...

Tyler

AnnaBonanno
AnnaBonanno

Hello Jason, I was wondering if you could help me find out about a family heirloom. Its an Omega Seamaster 18K gold watch&band. cant seem to find the information anywhere. havent had it opened yet. back of the watch is stamped 18K 790 and 0060. Back has Omega symbol & stamp (Omega Watch-O) & says "swiss made". Back also has a stamp toward lower right corner; looks like an unclosed slanted rectangle, open on the left side & peaked on the lower right corner. Inside it appears to be "AG0" with "0" being a degree sign, although hard to see. Additional engraving looks like large circle & smaller circle over bottom of it. The face is white mother of pearl with gold 3D numbers & hands. There's a small hand below them with two intersecting lines. I'm not sure if that is a chronograph or not. The face says Omega Seamaster & has the Omega 3D gold symbol above it. One dial on side of the watch. Under base of hands on face are letters but they're hard to see; look like they start with "HHN..." or "HNN...." The band&buckle are 18K 790 but has "Arbiter" engraved where it attaches to the watch. I'm writing to you because you're the first person Ive found that truly knows vintage Omega watches. The watch was passed down by a great uncle that grew up in Naples Italy and moved later in life to Argentina. Any help would be appreciated.

Eric S
Eric S

Thank you, Jason, for a highly informative and well-written article!

 JohnnyJohnnyJohnny
JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

Omega's are pretty cool. I think if I buy one it might help compensate for my very small penis. Then maybe women will stop laughing at me and I can stop giving off such a forced air of confidence that everyone knows is just desperate. I would try to buy a Hublot for this task but I cannot really afford one so I will try a vintage Omega and let you guys know how it goes.

SuperStrapper
SuperStrapper

Very cool. I have a high appreciation for this brand, although I'm not of the ilk that goes nuts for it either. I know forum members that would step over their mothers to own a vintage Proplof, regarldess of the fact it has all the aesthetics of a punched onion. To each his own, I firmly believe.

Great write up, this should be very useful to anyone currently in, or thinking about getting into vintage Omega watches.

Greg S
Greg S

Fantastic article Jason, you really should consider writing that book! Cheers.

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