If the project had been announced a couple of years ago, we had not got the chance to go hands-on with the commemorative pocket watch released to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Omega name. On the occasion of the visit to the Omega headquarters in Biel, we were finally able to take to a look at this fascinating timepiece. And this was well worth the wait, in particular in view of the work performed in the reconstruction of the famous 19-ligne calibre powering the watch, partially using original parts…
If the roots of Omega go as far back as 1848, when Louis Brandt set up an établissage assembling watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Omega name goes back to 1894 and the presentation of the Omega 19-ligne calibre (a ligne is an ancient French unit of measurement of approximately 2.26mm). Produced in series and based on the innovative principle of interchangeable parts, this movement would be instrumental in cementing the fame of the company and changed its future forever.
Particularly accurate, it also combined winding and time-setting via the crown, which was still a rare feat at the time – the Louis Brandt & Frére patent N°8760 dated August 1st, 1894 corresponds to a keyless mechanism allowing for time setting and winding through a single crown. The combination of both functions was not a first, since Adrien Philippe designed such a mechanism in 1845, but it was still very much of a novelty at the time.
The name Omega was chosen as the final letter of the Greek alphabet, standing for the ultimate step in perfection. The success of the Omega 19-ligne calibre was such that in 1903, the name of the company itself would be changed to Louis Brandt et Frère – Omega Watch & Co. It was officially produced until 1923.
The Recreation of a legendary movement
To celebrate the 125th anniversary of this legendary movement presented in 1894, Omega has introduced a superb half-hunter pocket watch powered by a reconstructed 19-ligne movement using original parts stored away for decades. This is not the first “original calibre reconstruction” project by Omega, but this is a fascinating project in many respects. The plate, the bridges, the bi-metallic balance spring and the escapement are original. New components were required to bring the calibre to meet modern quality standards, such as the barrel, mainspring, screws, chatons or jewels. The whole gear train was also recalculated. Last but not least, the modern keyless mechanism is another first for the 19-ligne calibre. Each movement comes with its own chronometer certificate attesting to its precision.
The work performed by the watchmakers of the Omega Atelier Tourbillon is a feast for the eyes. This new execution of the iconic movement resulted in the creation of a new Master grade, standing out with exceptional finishing (besides the technical upgrades mentioned above). The untreated German silver bridges and mainplate are meticulously finished, with beautiful chamfers and a damaskeening pattern, following a style first used by Omega in the earliest years of the 20th century. The black polished steel parts are executed to perfection.
The Omega 125th Anniversary Pocket Watch
The recreated movement is housed in a 60mm half-hunter pocket watch, i.e. with a viewing window in the front case allowing the wearer to quickly tell the time, with the crown at 3 o’clock. It is fashioned out of the brand’s white and rose 18k gold proprietary alloys; Canopus gold for the case body and Sedna gold for the crown and covers. It is beautifully decorated with red enamel, which was particularly difficult to achieve in the desired red hue to match the Omega signature colour.
Opening the front cover of the watch allows you to discover the off-white enamel with petit feu enamel Roman numerals. It features 3 levels to enhance legibility, which requires three separate dial parts seamlessly soldered together. There are also 13-24 hour markings on the bezel, to provide a 24-hour scale. The polished leaf hands are fashioned out of Sedna gold. The rear cover features the God Chronos medallion on the exterior and 125th anniversary logo in red enamel on the interior. The side of the case features an intricate red enamel arabesque decoration.
A limited edition of 19 pieces, the Omega 125th Anniversary Pocket Watch comes in a beautiful wood box and is equipped with a brown braided leather cord. The result of its complex, time-consuming production process is a captivating bridge between past and present, bringing back to life a historically important movement while combining century-old craftsmanship and modern technique.
The price of this superb watch is set at CHF 207,300 or EUR 205,300. For more information, please visit www.omegawatches.com.