The history of Omega watches

Omega watches

Louis Brandt began his watch making business in 1848 under the name of the 'Comptoir d'Etablissement' in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The dealer bought the various components of pocket watches, blanks and casings and outsourced the assembly and finishing to different workshops. Louis Brandt was aware that he needed to raise the quality standard of his company and so he underwent a horology apprenticeship in Germany and England. In 1877, his son, Louis-Paul, joined the company and it was renamed ‘Louis Brandt & Fils’. Louis Brandt died in 1879 and his two sons, Louis-Paul and César jointly created a new factory that brought all the manufacturing operations, that had previously been scattered, together under one roof.

The first calibre (this term designates the characteristics of a watch: its movement, origin, maker’s name, arrangement of the elements, etc.) produced was presented in 1880. It gave rise to several watch brands including: Jura, Patria, Helvetia, Decimal and Gurzelen. The success was huge and in 1886 the company was employing six hundred people and making one hundred thousand watches per year. It opened its first branch in Paris.

In 1894 a new calibre was perfected, known as the ‘Omega 19’. Its quality and reasonable price ensured its immediate success. The Omega brand was registered. Great technical innovations continued until 1909, the year when Omega was chosen to carry out the first sports time-keeping for the Gordon Bennett Cup, the first and most famous of aeronautical competitions.

The First World War upset production and slowed down the rise of Omega, that nevertheless continued to innovate and design new calibres.

In 1932 Omega was exclusively awarded time-keeping for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles after buying out the Lemania Watch & Co brand which specialised in making dashboard instruments for cars and aeroplanes. The brand launched the Omega Automatique in 1943. In 1957 the Omega Speedmaster was created and would become a sort of industry standard for chronographs.

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