What were you doing at age 23? Working at a bar and trying to figure out what to do with your new BA in Communications? Well, at 23 Louis Brandt was busy founding what would become Omega Watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Louis would assemble key-wound precision pocket watches through the British market to buyers throughout Scandinavia. Due to the fast growth of the company and the unsatisfactory conditions of the original assembly shop, Brandt’s sons abandoned the location to look for greener pastures. The sons moved into a small factory in Biel/Bienne in January 1880, eventually buying out the entire building later the same year. A mere two years later the company relocated to a converted spinning factory in the Gurzelen area of the same city, where the company remains headquartered to this day.
After the Brandt brothers died in 1903, the 800-employee company was left in the hands of four young people, the oldest being Paul-Emile Brandt, who was only 23 at the time. Brandt took over and brought the company to new heights, becoming the company’s most storied builder and architect. Omega was chosen as the official wristwear for Britain’s Royal Flying Corps, as well as the American Army’s combat units during World War I. The troubled economic times of WWI led to the eventual merger of Omega and Tissot in 1930 into the group SSIH, Geneva. SSIH, along with Rolex dominated wristwear for decades up until the 1970s, when a couple of plucky little companies out of Japan named Seiko and Citizen came a-knocking, pioneering and perfecting the new quartz movement.
What’s a little competition between friends? Omega and Bulova had been competing for a NASA contract to be the official watch of the astronaut. Although Omega came out on top as the official timepiece for the astronauts in the program, Bulova Accutrons, with their tuning fork movements were chosen as the panel clocks and time-keeping mechanisms in the spaceships themselves. The first watch on the moon was the Omega Speedmaster Chronograph, worn by Buzz Aldrin. It would have been Neil Armstrong wearing the moon’s first watch, but he left his aboard the Lunar Module after the onboard timer on the LM malfunctioned. Unfortunately, while donating several personal items to the Smithsonian Institution, Aldrin’s watch was stolen. Now Armstrong’s 105.012 Speedmaster is on display at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
As if being the first watch on the moon wasn’t cool enough to guarantee profitability, due to the global economic crisis and recession between 1975 & 1980, profits for the manufacturer dwindled enough that the company needed to be bailed out by banks in 1981. SSIH wasn’t the only watch manufacturer on troubled waters, which led to a merger between them and another large Swiss watch manufacturer, Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG) in 1983. The company experienced a resurgence in the mid-90s when Pierce Brosnan’s version of 007 switched from the traditional Rolex Submariner to the Omega Seamaster. Omega has been the waatch of choice for the British superspy ever since. In 1985 ASUAG-SSH was taken over by a group of private investors led by Nicolas Hayek and renamed Société de Microélectronique et d'Horlogerie (SMH). In 1998 this became the Swatch Group. They now manufacture several brands of watch including Omega, Swatch and Breguet.
From America’s Cup to olympians the world over, from submariners to astronauts, from James Bond to Mao Zedong, Omega has been and will continue to be a driving force in precision timepieces. Through Omega’s ability to innovate and create, rising to every challenge,their history has been long and their future will remain bright.
An Omega watch is much like an automobile in that proper cleaning and maintenance will help to ensure a higher value down the road. Watches have a ton of moving parts, and if one of those parts is off by even a fraction of a degree, the entire mechanism will suffer. Make sure to take your Omega in for a “tune-up” every four years or so to make sure all the bits and pieces inside the case of the watch are moving as they should. Regular cleanings can also have a dramatic effect on a watch’s value. A clean, polished bracelet and a well-functioning clasp can mean a world of difference when our team of evaluators is determining the final value of your Omega watch. Make sure to hold on to your original box and paperwork as well. Not only does it add to the watch’s overall value, it helps our evaluator’s to establish the legitimacy of your Omega.
With Pawngo, loaning against your Omega is as easy as filling out our simple application. Our team of evaluators are all GIA graduate gemologists and have decades of experience in the field. Once you fill out your application, our evaluators will send you an initial offer based on your description. Once you accept that offer, you’ll receive a prepaid FedEx shipping label. After your Omega is received at Pawngo’s secure facility, we will run a thorough evaluation and send you out your final offer. Once that offer is accepted, we fund your bank account directly! It’s as simple as that. All you need to do is click the button above to
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