Omega is the kind of brand which has its story, a story which began more than a hundred and fifty years ago; in 1848 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, with a 23 years old man : Louis Brandt, and its brand, named after him. It had to wait, until 1879, for his two sons; Louis-Paul et César Brandt to decide to launch the industrial production and to move the company to Bienne, Switzerland, where Omega headquarters are still based.

In 1880, the brothers will launch their first calibre created by mechanical processes which will lead them quickly to a stupendous success, and before 1890, they will become the biggest watch company in Switzerland.

The brand Omega will born years later, in 1894, with the calibre Omega 19, which will inspire the two brothers.

But Omega, as the entire Swiss watch industry will suffer several crisis during its history. The first one appeared in 1908, 1909 but Omega managed to limit the damages by sacrifying the social side of the company. This sacrifice led to social conflicts during the first World War, and even after the creation of la Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogere (SSIH), regrouping Omega, Tissot and Lemania, crisis and social conflicts continued until 1937 and the signature of La Paix du Travail.

precision-award-omega-30mm
Precision award for the 30mm calibre, 1936.

During the World War II, France will ask Omega to manufacture detonator pieces, but Omega will refuse and will become the largest supplier of watch for the British army (more than 110 000 during the entire war).

Some few dates:

1948: First Seamaster.

1969: July 21st, Buzz Aldrin will land on the moon with the Speedmaster « Moonwatch », the only watch able to go in space without breaking its glass.

And guess what ? It’s an Omega.

buzz-aldrin-omega
Buzz Aldrin, 1969.

1983: Merger between SSIH and ASUAG (Allgemeine Gesellschaft der schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie) wich will become the Swatch group.

Today, according Vontobel study, Omega is the second brand selling the more luxury watches in the world (after Rolex) with 17% of market shares and 720 000 watches sold in 2015.

However the brand is still doing a lot of efforts concerning their marketing ; ambassadors and product placement are their spearhead. In their history,  we could find as ambassadors : Georges Clooney, Cindy Crawford, Nicole Kidman, Michael Phelps, Michael Schumacher, Buzz Aldrin, Anna Kournikova and many other celebrities coming from different fields such as Cinema, Fashion and Sports.

Omega has implanted itself more and more strongly in the world of sports these past years and particularly in the Olympics; the company is today more seen than Longines.

And how not to talk about one of the most famous watch product placement in Cinema.

omega-james-bond

It all started in 1995, with a new James Bond; a certain Pierce Brosnan. It is in the movie « GoldenEye » that we could first witnessed the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M (Ref : 2541.80) at 007 wrist. And it is still going on today in the last movie with the Omega Seamaster 300 « Spectre » limited edition.

This brand understood how to adapt and to evolve in order to survive in a real competitive market and it is still today at the top of its art.

Quentin Valette

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