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History of Timepieces 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Omega

We all love a good game of name that random fact, and over the course of our editorial meetings, a clever concept came to light—why not compile some of these interesting and random facts about some of our favorite brands? Kicking things off with Omega, rummaging through the brand’s archives both historical and recent revealed an interesting cross-section of information. We aren’t here to bore you with the year the first Speedy was unveiled, or the name of the old Swiss fellow who founded the brand, but instead more obscure, interesting, and sometimes even confusing bits of information behind this iconic brand. Enjoy!

1. #SpeedyTuesday

The Power of E-Comm

The Swiss watch industry as a whole has been very slow to get onto the E-Comm bandwagon, especially the Swatch Group, so the unveiling of the online-only exclusive “Speedy Tuesday” Speedmaster came as quite the shock. Brainchild of Robert Jan Broer, Speedmaster fanatic and founder of Fratello watches, the 2,012-piece release sold out in an impressive 4.5 hours, and instantly cemented the Speedy Tuesday as a future collectible from the brand.

2. The Most Affordable Rattrapante

A Speedy Rattrapante

Of the many obscure Omegas to come and go over the years (the Anakin Skywalker, and early Omega Dynamics quickly come to mind), one remains an almost shocking underdog in the pack. Produced from 1999 to roughly 2001, the Speedmaster Rattrapante delivers a self-winding split seconds chronograph in a case that appears to be a hybrid of a Speedy and the X-33. Its looks might not be for everybody, but other than a couple long-in-the-tooth Breitlings and some obscure vintage offerings, this Speedmaster is basically the only way to get yourself into this beloved complication in the sub-$5k bracket.

3. Parts and Automation

Managing Thousands of Components

At the heart of the new 172,225-square-foot “Building O” production facility lies a 3-story tall parts inventory room, containing over 30,000 plastic cases of watch components. A programmed robotic arm is used to retrieve the required parts upon command. The facility was completed in late 2017 in anticipation of an increased sales demand in the Asian market.

4. CEO Raynald Aeschlimann

Swatch for Life

Raynald Aeschlimann, current CEO of Omega since late 2016, is no stranger to Omega, or the Swatch Group as a whole. First joining the group in 1992, Raynald worked for Longines for four years before migrating to Omega as a Sales and Marketing Project Manager in 1996. Working his way through the ranks he also spent time with Blancpain in Spain, and was appointed to the Swatch Group Extended Management board in 2013 before arriving at the helm of the much-loved brand.

5. The Hammer Drops > $1 Million

Most Expensive Omega Ever

This past November a new world record was set for the most expensive Omega ever sold at auction, the stainless steel Tourbillon 30—a 7.5 minute tourbillon, and the only one of its kind built back in 1947. According to the Omega archives a small number of other examples were cased up later in life, but this watch was the one-and-only. Clearly this pedigree drew some serious heat, as its initial estimate of 100,000 to 200,000 Swiss Francs was blown away as the hammer dropped for CHF 1,428,800.

6. The Alaska Project Has Nothing to do with Alaska

The funky white-dialed Speedy known for its massive protective outer case may be dubbed the Alaska Project, but no part of the piece’s intent or process of creation has anything to do with the Northern state. As a follow-up to the moon watch, NASA had been plotting further expeditions to the moon and wanted an even more robust timepiece for the occasion, as one of these projected missions included time on the moon’s frozen dark side. Though the mission never came to be, 5 prototype Alaska Project watches were built in 1969/1970 using special temperature resistant alloys as well as its hulking red aluminum outer casing, further protecting it from the extreme elements.

7. First in 2017

Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer Limited Edition

With a history that dates back to 1848, you would think that most watch brands would be shy on opportunities to unveil their “first ever” anything, right? Surprisingly, Omega arrived at the halls of Baselworld with a first of its kind for the brand, as until that time they had (shockingly) never built a world time watch. Given the depth and breadth of the brand’s creations we were almost surprised to hear that this was the case, though the fine execution of their first made us quickly think of the phrase good things come to he who waits.

8. The Strangest Complete Collection Ever

Beijing 2008, Unique No. 8 Collection

Omega has sold watch sets before, but when it came time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 things got a little out of hand. The Beijing 2008, Unique No. 8 Collection was comprised of the eighth numbered piece of each of the 32 Limited Edition watches in the Omega Beijing Olympic Collection, plus the three versions of the Olympic Split Seconds Chronograph 1932 pocket watches (also numbered 008 of course.) The 35-piece set was sold in a significant watch cabinet with, you guessed it, eight drawers to hold each and every timepiece, and the whole package sold for 888,888 Swiss Francs.

About Justin Mastine-Frost
Bold, adventurous, and well-executed. This is the calling card of timepieces Justin will always covet. From the deepest depths of the independents realm, to the latest and greatest limited-release novelties from our favorite big guns, Justin has gone hands-on with them — and more than likely has an opinion.

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