Omega SA is today one of the most important manufacturers of luxury watches. This Swiss company has a very long history: founded in 1848, it immediately produced high quality and luxury watches, soon becoming the protagonists of very important moments in history, accompanying the most famous English spy in the world and being worn by some of the most important movie stars.
The first images that come to mind when thinking about these watches are those of three NASA astronauts who set out to make a unique and fundamental journey into space in the history of mankind: NASA decided to use the chronograph "Speedmaster"For all space missions from the 60s onwards, including the moon landing; the chronograph was therefore chosen to accompany the three astronauts, Neill Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, on their journey to the moon. The most important moment for that watch was when Aldrin walked the moon's surface second, wearing just the one Speedmaster (Armstrong had left his aboard the spacecraft following the broken chronograph on board).
On the back of the Speedamaster you can see the words "The first watch worn on the Moon"(" The first watch worn on the Moon "), and"Flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions"(" Recognized by NASA for flying in all manned space missions ").
From the 007s onwards, agent XNUMX James Bond always wears an Omega watch on his wrist "Seamaster". Lindy Hemming, the Oscar-winning costume designer who also took care of choosing 007's watch for GoldenEye, a 1995 film, in which the spy was played by actor Pierce Brosnan, said: "I told myself that Commander Bond, a navy man, diver and discreet gentleman of the world, would wear the Seamaster with the blue dial. "
Before the official creation of the Omega company (ie as we know it today) its founder, Louis Brandt, gave birth to La Generale Watch Co., founded in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 1848; Brandt began by assembling key refillable pocket watches with parts supplied by a local craftsman. He sold his watches from Italy to Scandinavia via England, his main market. In 1894 his two sons Louis-Paul and César developed a revolutionary company production that allowed the components to become interchangeable. By 1903 the success of the "Omega" brand pushed General Watch Co. to transform it into a real independent company, and theOmega Watch Co. it was officially founded that same year.
Louis-Paul and César Brandt both died in 1903, leaving one of the largest and most important watch companies - with 240 watches produced each year and 800 employees - in the hands of four young people, the oldest of whom, Paul-Emile Brandt, had not yet turned 24.
Brandt was the great architect and builder of the company: his influence made itself felt throughout the next half century.
The economic difficulties of those years led him, from the beginning of the First World War, to work actively, up to the union of Omega with Tissot; Finally, in 1930, a single group was founded, SSIH, based in Geneva.
Under the joint leadership of Brandt and Joseph Resier's, from 1955, the SSIH group continued to grow and multiply, absorbing or creating altogether fifty companies, including Lanco and Lemania.
By the 70s, SSIH had become the number one watch manufacturer in Switzerland and the third largest in the world.
It also reached a very important milestone: Omega managed to outstrip its main rival, Rolex, in terms of sales, despite the latter selling its watches at higher prices. This rivalry between the two Swiss houses was seen as a competition for the title of "king of the Swiss watch brand".
Weakened by the severe monetary crisis and recession of 1975-1980, SSIH was bailed out by the banks in 1981. During this period, Seiko expressed a strong interest in acquiring the Omega, but in the end it all ended in nothing.
In 1985, after SSIH joined another group, ASUAG, the company was acquired by a group of private investors, led by Nicolas Hayek: renamed SMH, (Société de Microélectronique et d'Horlogerie), this new group has become, within a decade, one of the most important luxury watch manufacturers in the world.