A Look at Omega's Iconic Legacy & Timeless Innovation

If you’re an action movie junkie, you then pay attention to all the special effects that ensue. If you’re a watch fanatic, you then pay attention to Bond’s gorgeous OMEGA timepiece. OMEGA has become synonymous with James Bond, among other things, but the brand did not get its start in Q’s lab. The Swiss watch giant had much more humble beginnings - in line with many other Swiss watchmaking legends.

photo of omega speedmaster snoopy edition

The Alpha of OMEGA

Well over 150 years ago, in 1848, a young watchmaker/entrepreneur named Louis Brandt started a watchmaking business in his small Swiss hometown. Many Swiss watchmakers in the late 1800s focused on quality; however, Brandt was laser-focused on precision. Over the course of the next 31 years, he built a small brand focused on meticulously precise timepieces and earned a reputation for precision that spread throughout Switzerland and Europe. Sadly, Brandt passed away in 1879, before his brand could grow to the true precision powerhouse it is today.  

After Louis Brandt died in 1879, his sons took over the business. Louis-Paul and César followed in their father’s footsteps, focusing on the production of quality timepieces. The following year, the brothers moved the watch brand, then called “Louis Brandt & Fils,” to the larger Swiss city of Biel/Bienne.

photo of omega seamaster watch

OMEGA Makes a Name for Itself

From their new home, the Brandt brothers quietly and methodically focused on watchmaking precision and innovation. That led to the release of the first series-produced calibre in 1885, and of the world’s first minute-repeater wristwatch in 1892. While those advancements were considered successful, they would pale in comparison to the brothers’ next innovation. That creation would propel them to fame and change the watchmaking industry forever.

In 1894, the Brandt brothers released a revolutionary watch movement - the 19-ligne caliber. This movement (called the “OMEGA”) was accurate to an incredible degree, but that was not the movement’s only claim to fame. There were two major breakthroughs that took place through the release of this movement: the first was that all the components within the movement could be easily replaced by watchmakers anywhere in the world. Anyone in the watch repair profession would have the necessary components to service OMEGA watches without having to modify the parts. The second advancement was something that every watch wearer takes for granted today: winding the mechanical timepiece, and setting its time, through use of the crown and stem. This feature has been almost universally accepted, but it was a mind-blowing innovation prior to 1900.

The OMEGA movement received many accolades – even taking home the Grand Prize at the Universal Exposition in Paris, at the turn of the century.  Both the public and the watchmaking profession sang significant levels of praise for the Brandt brothers’ innovative movement.  So much so, that the Brandt brothers renamed their company to OMEGA Watch Co., usually shortened to just OMEGA.  A few short years into the 1900’s, OMEGA had surpassed all other Swiss brands – becoming the largest manufacturer of finished watches in Switzerland. 

photo of omega speedmaster darkside of the moon watch

Accomplishments on the Rise to Watchmaking Prowess

The early 1900’s brought OMEGA’s first interaction with timing in sports, as the company served as official timekeeper for many Swiss sporting events and balloon races.  Beginning in 1932, OMEGA became the official timekeeper of the Olympic games – a role the company would play 30 times over the following 91 years.  Aside from a sporting focus, OMEGA also had numerous innovations during the first half of the 20th century – the world’s first automatic movement to use two weights (to improve watch winding efficiency) in 1931, the world’s first commercially-available diver’s watch in 1932, and one of the world’s first tourbillon movements in 1947.  In 1948, the brand released its iconic “Seamaster” collection to celebrate its 100th year as a company.  That release was followed by the Professional line in 1957, which included the Seamaster 300, Speedmaster, and Railmaster.

In the 75 years since OMEGA turned 100, its contributions to both horology and the sports world have been numerous.  OMEGA has been instrumental in improving the timekeeping precision needed to judge speed in the various Olympic events.  Along with the commitment to improve timekeeping science, OMEGA also committed to timepiece durability.  To that end, OMEGA timepieces have traveled on polar flights (1956), to the moon (in 1969), and across Antarctica (in 1989). 

photo of an omega seamaster james bond edition

Contact Grand Caliber Today

Whether you’re gearing up for a flight to the moon, competing in the Olympics, performing an international spy mission, or simply want a precise and classy timepiece – OMEGA might be just the answer you’re looking for.  Grand Caliber can hook you up with the exact timepiece you’re looking for.  When you’re ready to add a gorgeous OMEGA to your collection, turn to Caliber.  Grand Caliber.  Cue spy music. 

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