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Omega's History

Omega's History

Swiss luxury watchmaker, Omega SA is based in Biel, Switzerland. They were the official watch for Britain’s Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and the first watch on the moon in 1969 thanks to NASA. Omega has also been keeping track of time for the Olympic Games since 1932. James Bond also wore this watch since 1995. John F. Kennedy, Price William and Buss Aldrin have all been seen in Omega watches. Omega is owned by Swatch Group.

Omega has a long history. Second in line, the La Generale Watch Co. was founded by Louis Brandt in 1848. Brandt assembled perfect pocket watches from supplies he found at local craftsman. He jumped around the world selling his watches, England being his primary market. His sons developed an in-house manufacturing and production system that would allow parts to be interchangeable. If watches were made with this technique then they were marketed under the Omega brand. The Omega Watch Co was officially formed in 1903.

The sons both died in 1903, leaving one of the largest watch companies in Switzerland in the hands of four ‘children’. None were over the age of 25. The oldest, not yet 24, was Paul-Emile Brandt. He was a large part of Omega at the time and he would steer the company into a merger in 1930 with the SSIH Geneva group.

Under Pail-Emile and Joseph Reiser’s influence the SSIH Group grew quickly and by 1970’s became the number one watch producer in Switzerland and number 3 in the world. Omega was outselling Rolex. Both were part of the “King of Swiss Watch brands” competition. Omega watches were more professionally focused, and in the meantime Rolex was famous for their branding.

Of course this all changed in the late 1970’s when Seiko and Citizen rose to power with the quartz era. Things got bad in the 80’s for SSIH and there were rumors of Seiko purchasing Omega after Omega was being bailed out by government funding. The purchase never happened.

There was major restructuring and ASUAG and SSIH merged and formed ASUAG-SSIH in 1983. A couple years later, a group of private investors took over the company and took the next decade to become one of the top watch producers in the world. By 1998 the group was called Swatch Group and they now produce Omega and other brands.

As I’ve talked about in most of my blogs (and mentioned previously in this one), James Bond GoldenEye (1995) wore the Omega Seamaster. Omega wasn’t only Rolex competitor, they also learned from their higher pricing, and increasing advertising strategies, which made Omega a direct competitor.

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