Let’s face it, there aren’t that many women’s watches out there that can be worn day in, day out in just about any environment. Either they are beautiful dress watches with luxurious details that require extra-special care or they are downsized versions of men’s sports watches. Striking a balance between a sporty, resilient watch that is elegant enough to transition from the tennis court to a cocktail party is no easy feat. Omega responds to this particular segment with its Constellation Manhattan collection.
Recently refreshed in 2018, the Manhattan is a mix of luxurious elements combined with a robust case, an integrated bracelet, double chronometer certification and anti-magnetic properties. Could this model be the perfect daily beater for women? Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the Constellation Manhattan 29mm model in steel and Sedna gold. It might be small, but I can assure you it is packed to the gills with refined finishes and the highest anti-magnetic credentials out there today.
Designed by a woman in 1982
We recently reviewed the history of the Constellation and its numerous aesthetic and mechanical transformations over the years. What started life a men’s chronometer in 1952 slowly took female customers on board and in 1982 the Constellation Manhattan family made its debut.
Designed by Carol Didisheim, the Manhattan featured a cushion-shaped case with a round aperture for the dial and a fully integrated metal bracelet. The rounded case was scalloped at both ends with half-moon facets and the overall impression was one of smooth surfaces and a continuous design that flowed from the case to the metal bracelet. However, the most salient design feature of the watch was its claws. Originally used to ensure the water-resistance of the case, the claws would become the iconic trait of the Manhattan watch.
Anti-magnetic movement designed for life in the 21st-century
Instead of starting with the general appearance and aesthetics of the watch, I am going to deal with one aspect of the movement which truly sets this particular 29mm model in a category all its own. Of course, there are women’s watches out there with higher water-resistance rates (this Manhattan has 50m), but I challenge you to find a women’s watch with the kind of magnetic resistance this model can provide. Thanks to the incorporation of Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer calibre 8700, this watch can tackle magnetic fields of up to 15,000-gauss.
Is this really necessary, you may ask? Well, given the amount of magnetism we face every day of our lives, I would say, yes, absolutely vital. Think about phones, airport scans, magnets on the clasps of your handbag, wallet or iPad, laptops, induction hobs and even automatic doors. I won’t bother mentioning MRI scans because nobody is allowed in the machine with metal objects.
29mm Case and integrated bracelet
The two-tone 29mm case and bracelet are a mix of Omega’s proprietary 18k Sedna gold with stainless steel. It is the first time Sedna gold is used in this particular family and the combination of lustrous red gold and matte stainless steel is not only appealing but manages to highlight Didisheim’s distinctive case construction. The description provided by the brand of the “half-moon facets” is a little vague but with this particular matte finish, you can actually see what Omega’s press people are referring to. To make it clear, two triangular shapes at either end of the case, much like cat’s ears, meet a sloping faceted arch (half moon), which is united seamlessly with the integrated bracelet. Even the teeth of the gold crown play with the half-moon shape as do the polished sides of the bracelet and the domed cover of the clasp.
The combination of integrated case/bracelet, Master Chronometer movement and luxurious details makes this Constellation Manhattan a great day in, day out watch.
It’s funny how the finishes on the case actually reflect the hybrid nature (sporty/elegant) of this model. On the one hand, the surfaces of the stainless steel components are brushed for a matte sporty look. On the other, the Sedna gold bezel, crown, claws and mid-bar links are polished to an almost mirror-like finish, in keeping with the look of elegant dress watches. The polished gold bezel is set with 36 brilliant-cut diamonds, including the two diamonds positioned in the centre of the claws for an extra dose of femininity and luxury.
Omega has always had a stellar reputation for its bracelets and the 29mm Constellation Manhattan has been treated to a new two-tone bracelet alternating matte steel links with polished gold hinges, just like those on the original 1982 models. The steel clasp on the bracelet features the half-moons of the case and is fitted with a comfort-release-adjustment system allowing you to extend the bracelet by 2mm when required – very convenient when travelling to hot or extremely cold countries when your wrist expands and contracts. Given its dainty dimensions and fluid metallic bracelet, the overall wearability of the watch is excellent and it sits flush on the wrist.
The dial is made from white mother-of-pearl and features applied Sedna 18k rose gold details like the Omega logo at 12 o’clock, the Constellation star at 6 o’clock, the frame for the date window at 6 o’clock, and the round bezel-setting housing the diamond indices. Even the Dauphine-style skeletonised hands and seconds hand are made from Sedna gold. Perhaps the one aspect that contradicts its sporty, everyday nature is the lack of lume throughout. While it upgrades the dress factor of the watch, it downgrades legibility. In the 2018 refurbishment, the date window was relocated to its current position at 6 o’clock and has the same tone of background as the dial for a more discreet presence.
Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the level of precision, performance and magnetic resistance of this movement is unrivalled in the industry. With its double chronometer certification – first tested by COSC and then by METAS-approved Master Chronometer tests – the watch boasts a precision rate of 0/+5 seconds per day. Capable of enduring battle magnetic fields of up to 15,000-gauss, which can seriously affect a watch’s performance, the movement is equipped with a silicon balance spring and other anti-magnetic materials. Another clear advantage is the incorporation of a Co-Axial escapement, translating into a reduced need for lubrication and fewer visits to the watch hospital. One of the eight Master Chronometer tests involves shock-resistance and the watch can take up to 5,000g of shock, more than enough to wear the watch while playing golf or tennis. You can see the calibre 8700 through the domed exhibition caseback with its industrial yet pleasant finishes. With a frequency of 25,200vph, the movement provides a generous power reserve of 50 hours.
This Constellation Manhattan 29mm model really does offer the best of both worlds. It is robust, resilient and sporty enough for everyday wear and tear, yet it is feminine and dressy enough to wear in the evening. The movement is one of the toughest movements on the market today offering an unrivalled level of anti-magnetism – something that you can’t see but which prolongs the life of the watch’s precision. The integrated bracelet and case create a streamlined silhouette and the luxurious touches of Sedna gold, diamonds and mother-of-pearl will be appreciated by many women. So yes, this is definitely a solid candidate for a woman’s daily beater.
The Omega Constellation Manhattan Co-Axial Master Chronometer 29mm model – ref. 126.96.36.199.55.001 – retails for EUR 11,300. More information at omegawatches.com.