5 Things to Know About Omega

The first watch on the Moon. The timepiece of James Bond. The only brand to truly compete with Rolex’s popularity. These are the first things that come to mind at the mention of Omega.

Founded in 1848, Omega is one of the most recognized brands in the world today. While the brand itself, and its iconic watches, almost need no introduction, there is so much more to Omega’s history that has made it one of the foremost watchmakers in the world.

 

Here are 5 things to know about Omega.

 

Vintage Omega Seamaster Ad for the Olympic Games

 

1. OMEGA has been the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games since 1932.

Omega’s history with the Olympics began the year prior, when it set precision records at all of the six trials at the Geneva Observatory. The Omega chronometer kept time more accurately than any other watch ever produced before; and this caught the attention of the Olympic committee. Omega became the official timekeeper of the Olympics beginning in 1932; and the partnership remains intact to this day.

Omega’s unprecedented precision was not only crucial in accurate recording of decisive moments in the games but also in developing vital equipment that athletes rely on.

 


 

NASA Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on board the Apollo 11, wearing an Omega Speedmaster

 

2. OMEGA was the only watch brand to pass NASA’s rigorous tests in the 1960s.

In the early 1960s, NASA launched the Apollo program with the mission to land humans on the moon and bring them back to Earth safely. By 1964, NASA began its search for a robust and reliable timepiece to become the official watch of the program. The company put out a request to various watch companies, with Omega, Rolex, Longines ,and Hamilton each submitting a watch for testing.

 

Moonwatch
Omega Speedmaster MoonWatches

 

The NASA watch trials were essentially a series of torture tests for the watches, putting the pieces through extreme conditions such as high temperatures, volatile fluctuations, changes in gravity, and high pressure levels. In the end, it was only the Omega Speedmaster that passed the hurdles.

In 1965, the Omega Speedmaster was declared ‘operational for space exploration and flight certified’ by NASA – and would go on to become the first watch worn on the moon, during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

 


 

Explorer Ralph Plaisted wearing an Omega Speedmaster at the North Pole

 

3. OMEGA was also present during pivotal moments in human exploration.

Omega has certainly made its mark outside of space but it has also proved instrumental in the exploration of the Earth. An Omega watch accompanied man in the pioneer expeditions to both ends of the planet – the North Pole and the South Pole.

On April 19, 1968, American explorer Ralph Plaisted led the first surface expedition to the exact geographic North Pole. With three other brave men, he made the 412-mile, 43-day trek, using only a sextant and an Omega Speedmaster to calculate the exact position.

In February 1990, at the other end of the world, Arved Fuchs and Reinhold Messner traversed Antartica on foot to reach the South Pole. Braving temperatures of -40 degrees, a 1,740-mile walk and a 90-day journey, the duo were the first to make it to the South Pole with neither animal nor motorized help. They used an Omega Speedmaster as their timekeeper during the mission.

 


 

Omega Co-Axial Caliber 9905

 

4. OMEGA changed the watchmaking landscape by commercializing the co-axial escapement.

When Omega launched the Co-Axial calibre 2500 in 1999, the entire watch world stood at attention. It was then the first practical new mechanical watch movement to be introduced since the 1700s.

Invented by English watchmaker George Daniels in 1976, the Co-Axial is a modern watch escapement that solves the issue of friction and stability, that was common in the traditional lever escapement. Despite its ingenuity, getting it into production wasn’t easy – and it was Omega who took on the challenge.

Omega launched the first watch with the co-axial movement in 1999 and today, has incorporated the co-axial escapement into almost all of its timepieces.

 


 

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss

 

5. OMEGA conquered magnetism with its > 15,000 gauss watch.

Magnetic fields constantly pose a threat to watch movements, and almost every watch company has an anti-magnetic watch on offer with resistance to 1,000 gauss being the standard.

In 2013, Omega came out with a very unconventional solution to this problem, creating the first movement that was capable of resisting magnetic fields greater than 15,000 gauss.

 

Aqua Terra
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss

 

Where the industry standard was to use a soft iron inner case for protection against the effect of magnetism, Omega took a different approach. The company designed a new movement, in which the components were made of non-ferrous materials, eliminating the need for the inner case, while providing greater resistance to magnetic fields.

The technology used in the > 15,000 Gauss watch has been employed by all in-house made Omega movements since 2017.

 


 

More than 170 years on, Omega continues to push the boundaries of watchmaking. Explore our vast collection of Omega watches for men and women at SwissWatchExpo.com.

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