In 1848, Louis Brandt, the descendant of a watch making family and a resident of the Swiss clock-making center of La Chaux-de-Fonds, started assembling pocket watches out of parts from local clockmakers. By 1889, Louis Brandt & Fils, the precursor to Omega, was the largest watch manufacturer in Switzerland, producing more than 100,000 watches annually.

The first Omega wristwatch — in fact, it was one of the first industrially made wristwatches in the world — appeared in 1900. It had a silver double-hinged case, fixed attachments for a bracelet-strap, a guilloché back, enamel dial, Arabic hour numerals, and pear-shaped hands. This was followed in 1902 with a men’s wristwatch for watch maker Edwin J. Vokes of Bath and the Kirby Beard department store in Paris. A women’s version of the watch appeared in 1910.

During World War I, Omega made wristwatches for British Royal Flying Corps and communications troops in the U.S. Army. These military wristwatches had a white enamel dial, Arabic numerals, radium skeleton hands, and either a chrome-plated metal or silver case. Some versions featured a tempered-steel grid over the watch face to protect it from shocks.

Omega created a shock of its own in 1925 when it introduced its Ladies’ Jewelry Watch at the Paris Decorative Arts Exhibition. This fashion-forward timepiece had a rectangular platinum case, which, along with the bracelet, was set with a large sapphire and 82 diamonds.

The 1940s were a very busy time for Omega. In addition to making watches for the military during World War II, Omega introduced its Chronomètre in 1942. This handsome, highly accurate wristwatch had a silvered dial, Arabic numerals, and black wire hands. Best of all, its stainless-steel case was water-resistant.

After the war, in 1947, Omega produced its first calendar watch — now wearers could get the time, date, day, month, and moon phase at a glance. And in 1948, the Seamaster (based on designs created for the RAF) arrived in both chronometer and standard versions.

1952 brought the first Omega Constellation. The "connie," as vintage Constellations are known to collectors, was self-winding, had gold hour markers, and was water-resistant to 3...

The watch that would permanently cement Omega’s reputation for accuracy and reliability arrived in 1956. It was a chronograph watch called the Speedmaster. Within a decade, NASA had selected it for all of the space agency’s manned missions, but only after it withstood a battery of severe tests, including performing at zero gravity, in proximity to magnetic fields, and at temperatures ranging from -18 to +93 degrees Celsius.

The crew of Gemini 3 was the first to wear Speedmaster Professionals, as they were now known. But the watch gained its greatest acclaim on July 21, 1969 when it was strapped to the wrist of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon — according to his watch, the time was 02:56 GMT. Thereafter, the Speedmaster Professional was called the Moon Watch.

Omega produced a commemorative Speedmaster Professional to acknowledge this accomplishment but it did not rest on its laurels. In 1970, the Speedmaster helped rescue the Apollo 13 mission from a potential disaster — explosions had destroyed the spacecraft’s timing instruments, so astronauts and ground control alike relied on Omega wristwatches. And during the historic Apollo-Soyuz space rendezvous, Speedmaster Professionals were also worn in 1975 by American astronaut Tom Stafford and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.

Key terms for Antique and Vintage Omega Wristwatches:

Chronograph: A watch that also records time intervals (like a stopwatch).

Chronometer: A watch that has been certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute not to lose more than four seconds per day, nor to gain more than six.

Guilloché: An engraving technique that uses mechanical means to create precise, intricate, and repetitive patterns and designs.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steve Waddington’s vintage Omega watch site, featuring in-depth pages on models like Omega’s Pilot Line, Chrono… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Omega Seamaster Automatic Date Cal 565 Black Military Dial Glows 1960s Omega Seamaster 600 1964 Men's Vintage Rose Gold Pltd Orig Dial 601 Adjstd 2 PosOmega 1971 Seamaster 200m Divers Shom On Mesh Bracelet Complete Nos MovementOmega Seamaster Watch Mens Large Size Quartz Sapphire 300m 2264.50 Men'sOmega 3 Registers Vintage Wrist Chronograph - Great Timepiece For Collectors!!!Omega Speedmaster 3513.50 Mens Watch Sapphire Auto Watch Mens Men's Silver BlackH1406 Omega Seamaster Professional Diver Automatic Date Black Mens 300m 2254.50Omega Seamaster Men's Auto Wind Exlt. Solid Ss Case Dial Is Minty Cira. 1964Omega Speedmaster Professional Mk Iv Chronograph Automatic Date Vintage 1973 4Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Coaxial Constellation Chronometer Pie Pan Dial Auto 18k Solid Gold WatchRare Collector Vintage Mens 1960's Omega Seamaster Automatic #a794Omega Seamaster Watch Mens Large Size Quartz Sapphire 300m 2541.80 Men'sMens Military Style 1912 Omega Switzerland Vintage Regulateur Watch CollectableMens Amazing 1933 Omega Factory Vintage Half - Skeleton Watch Quality EngravedOmega Seamaster Chronograph Jedi Deep Blue 176.007 Automatic 1040 Vintage 1972 Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch Mens Manual Men's 3570.50Omega Speedmaster Professional "moon" Watch - 3573.50Omega Speedmaster Re-issued Watch Mens Manual Broad Arrow 3594.50 Men's Omega Seamaster Professional Chronometer 300m-2252.50Omega Planet Ocean 600 M Co-axial Chronograph 45.5 Mm Ref Seamaster James Bond Black Dial Chrono Automatic Date Men’s WatchOmega Dynamic Chronograph 1138 Automatic - Steel Racing Chrono 5240.50 Swiss Omega Speedmaster Schumacher Limited Model - 3518.50Stainless Steel C&b Mens Omega Seamaster Automatic Chronometer Dive Wrist WatchVintage Omega Geneve Date Steel Automatic Men's Watch, Cal. 565Vintage Omega Speedmaster 1968 145022-68 St Cal861 Pre-moonH1390 (h1480) Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon Thefirst Watch Worn Onthe MoonMens Brilliant! 1937 Omega Switzerland Vintage White Crystal Watch GoldOmega Speedmaster Professional "moon" Watch - 3572.50Omega Speedmaster Automatic Marui Limited #3539.31 (panda Dial)Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 30th Anniversary Edition - 3560.50Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300 M Co-axial 41 MmOmega De Constellation Hybrid Chronograph 18k Yellow Gold Steel 1242.50.00Rare Collector Vintage Mens 1970 Omega Seamaster Automatic #a783Stunning Omega Constellation Automatic Men,s Watch In Excellant ConditionBeautiful Retre Rare Elegant 1965 Square Thin Omega 620 Mens Vintage Dress WatchTop Rare Swiss Vintage Omega Seamaster Calendar Black Dial Wrist Watch Superb!Omega Speedmaster 125 Collectibe Edition LimitedOmega Speedmaster Professional Moon Phase - 3575.30 18kwg BezelOmega Speedmaster Professional 1957 Re-edition 3594.50Ltd Ed Schumacher Automatic Omega Speedmaster Chronograph Mens Watch Box PapersOmega Speedmaster Pre Moon 105 003 65 Cal 321Vintage Tissot Mans Watch.g.w.o. (part Of Omega.)s/s Case Blue Bt Mems Omega Speedmaster Reduced Chronograph St.steel Black Dial AutomaticGenuine Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Mens Coaxial Chronometer Watch Box PapersH1185 Omega Seamaster Professional 300m America's Cup Solid White Gold BezelOmega Seamaster Professional 300m/1000ft-2262.50Original Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 2909.50 Co-axial Chronometer Orange WatchVintage Omega Seamaster Cal 344 Auto Near Mint Original Dial**no Reserve!Omega "seamaster De Ville" Men Wrist Watch - Gold Filled Case - Original Dial!!!Omega Speedmaster 145.022-78Mens Omega Tiffany & Co 14k Automatic Mens Sweep Second Hand Running Wrist WatchVintage Omega Constellation Pie Pan Deluxe 18k Solid Yellow Gold Case & Dial NrVintage Omega Constellation Pie Pan 18k Solid Yellow Gold Cal 564 No ReserveOmega Heavy 18k White Gold .90ct Vs Diamond Ladies Watch W/ Florentine BraceletOmega Speedmaster Men's Watch Automatic Sapphire Ss Canvas / Rubber BandMens Omega Seamaster Pro 200m Date Func 18k Gold & St.steel Quartz W/braceletGenuine Large Vintage 1970s Omega Seamaster De Ville Ticking Mens Wrist WatchMems Omega Speedmaster Reduced Chronograph St.steel Black Dial Automatic