Omega collectors rejoice! This year, Omega decided to make a special 60th anniversary edition for each of these three watches releasing them as a Trilogy box set. However, each model can also be acquired separately. We had the chance to study these watches at Baselworld. Here is our analytical review.
The Trilogy begins
What does James Bond and NASA, the Moon and the Olympic Games, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and George Clooney or Buzz Aldrin have in common with Prince William? The answer is Omega, the brand used by James Bond since 1995, the first watch on the Moon, worn by Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission, the official timekeeping device of the Olympic Games since 1932; official timekeepers for the combat units of Britain’s Royal Flying Corps since 1917 and American Army in 1918. Even Amelia Earhart had an Omega 28.9 chronograph on the wrist and her navigator, Fred Noonan, wore an Omega Marine on the day they disappeared. Not to forget the famous Concorde plane was equipped with Omega’s instrument panel clocks.
The story of Omega begins in 1848, when a 23 years old gentleman, Louis Brandt sets up an assembly shop in his family’s villa on 51, Rue de la Promenade, La Chaux-de-Fonds, assembling key-wound precision pocket watches with parts supplied by La Chaux-de-Fonds watchmakers. In 1880, the Louis Brandt & Fils moves to Bienne, Switzerland and in 1885 to a workshop still in use by Omega today. The workshop releases “Labrador” – the first mass production calibre. Louis-Paul and César, the two sons of Louis Brandt, develop from 1895 an in-house movement, which they named the Omega 19 lines calibre. This movement had interchangeable watch parts and was produced under a rigorous production control. The Omega 19 lines caliber was so successful that in 1903 it was decided for the brand to wear the Omega name – in this way the Omega Watch Co was officially founded.
The first Omega Seamaster was released at the 100th brand anniversary and is the oldest timepiece in the current collection, but not a newcomer in the world of divers’ watches. In 1932, the Omega “Marine” accompanied Yves Le Prieur – the father of modern diving and Charles William Beebe – explorer and marine biologist on their explorations.
The Seamaster was designed to be an elegant watch with self-winding movements, robust, to fit in on “town, sea and country” and it was based on the waterproof wristwatches made for the British military at the end of the Second World War, in both standard and chronometer versions. In 1955, Gordon McLean reached a depth of 62.5 meters wearing a Seamaster in a dive off the coast of Australia – the first of many diving records for the Seamaster. Two years later, the Seamaster 300 in 1957 was released. This was the first so called “Professional” range of Seamaster watches, appreciated for their robustness, accuracy and reliability. It was hence the choice of famous explorers, military divers around the world, including the British Special Boat Service, among others. In 1963, during the “Precontinent II” experiments in the Red Sea, Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s team used Seamaster 300 to prove that divers could live, for long periods and without adverse effects, in a submerged saturated gas environment.
The Speedmaster Reference 2915, was introduced to the public in 1957 as part of the Seamaster collection, being a project between Omega and Lemania (back Lemania was one of Omega’s subsidiaries). The design team had the task to create a high precision, easy to read, sturdy and waterproof watch. It was the first to have tachymeter scale on the bezel as opposed to printed on the dial and the first watch with now standard layout of the three counters. The reference 2915, the “Broad Arrow” – as it is known today by collectors, had a clean dial with luminous hours on a black background, a matt finish stainless steel bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale. It had a chronograph seconds hand at the same level as the bezel so as to have the best legibility possible. The case was 200 feet / 60m water resistant – quite a performance for a chronograph of those days.
But the most known achievement of the Omega with the Speedmaster was to come later when it became the choice of NASA for use in space missions. And, in 1969 – the first watch to be worn on the moon on the wrist of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. To celebrate this, Omega released the all-gold Speedmaster Professional Deluxe and gave all the astronauts active in the US space program the first series. President Nixon, also on the list of people to receive one, refused the watch due to its high value, of course in the most polite way.
The Railmaster watches were, till 1957, pocket watches. For the frequent train traveler the importance of these watches’ precision were well known. Rail watches started after a tragic train accident in 1891,when wrong timing caused two trains to collide. The Official Railroad Office then imposed a standard for their chronometers a precision of 30 seconds per week in 1900 . The Omega Railmaster arose from this need for high precision, and became successful worldwide.
The OMEGA 1957 Trilogy Limited Editions
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of these three famous watches, Omega issues all three as a homage series, true to the originals. The watches are available as a set of three, comprising a Seamaster, a Speedmaster and a Railmaster. And also individually.
Of special interest, especially to purist collectors, Omega decided that these watches were true to the originals made in 1957 that they used digital scanning techniques together with the original drawings to bring the spirit of those years in the modern age.
The case, dial and hands
Each of these three models used a brushed and polished stainless steel case. The cases each have a different diameter, as it were during the day. But each case used slender and beveled lugs which are polished. Each watch is fitted with an updated steel bracelet featuring a retro-style Omega logo clasp. The tropical dial is present on all watches, having hour indexes, the broad arrow hour’s hand and Dauphine minutes’ hand with painted and specially aged Super-LumiNova to have the vintage look of those years. The look and the feel of these watches are meant to transpose you into another era, and they do a good job. The feel on the wrist is nice, with a warm, familiar look.
The Seamaster 300 – 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Master Chronometer 39 mm
The bi-directional diving black aluminum bezel is set with a raised indication. It moves easily, in clicks, and makes one feel like wanting to play with it all the time. The bi-directional bezel was common in the 1950s, even for dive watches, although the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms already had a uni-directional bezels in 1952.
The bezel can be useful as a GMT function. The dial is matt black and oxidized. It comes with a recessed triangular hour markers and painted Omega logo. The crown is embossed with the original’s Naïad sign and the case back features a Seahorse engraving. These details were accurate to the ’57 model, and is a great plus for the vintage look. This is the only watch from the Anniversary Trilogy with 30 bars / 300m / 1000 feet water resistance.
The Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition 38.6 mm
The chronograph‘s tachymeter scale on the bezel was a bold move at the time, being the first of its kind. The 2017 model has the tachymeter font which matches the ’57 model original Speedmaster and the traditional “Broad Arrow” hand. On the upper side of the dial is placed the 3-dimensional vintage logo which together with the baton Super-LumiNova hours’ indexes and concave sub-dials create a beautiful depth effect. The chronograph remains highly legible (one of the key reasons it was selected for NASA’s space use). The case-back features the beautiful sea-horse engraved medallion specific to the Seamaster collection of that time, completes the nostalgic look.
The Railmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Master Chronometer 38 mm
The original background of the Railmaster was kept in the anniversary model: the antimagnetic double case can withstand magnetic fields up to 15 thousand Gauss as the Railmaster is designed for people who, by their daily work, need to be close to electrical fields. This watch is perhaps aestetically the simplest looking from the Trilogy. But only by look: it is practical and elegant. The engraved vintage logo and triangular indexes filled with the same aged Super-LumiNova gives it the vintage look of its brethen. The water resistance of this watch is limited to the 200 feet / 60m, the same as the Speedmaster.
The Seamaster and the Railmaster share the same movement – the Master Chronometer calibre 8806. This beautiful calibre is based on the in-house Omega 8800 calibre: automatic winding in both directions with a co-axial escapement and free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring. The movement is rhodium plated and finished with Côtes de Genève. The movement is also tested according to the Master Chronometer certification process as approved by METAS. The watches do not feature a display case back, so we were not able to examine the movement.
The Anniversary Speedmaster is powered by the Omega’s 1861 calibre: a hand wound movement with a 3Hz balance based on the Lemania 1873 (this is the same movement which serve as base for the Patek Philippe 5070 Chronograph and the TAG Heuer Carrera 1964).
Each of the timepieces of the Trilogy Collection can be acquired separately. A total of 3,557 pieces from each series will be offered. 3,000 pieces indivicually, and the rest as part of the Trilogy set. We think the logical choice for the collector will be the special Tilogy presentation box. The box is crafted in Swiss oak wood and engraved with the 1957 Seahorse on the lid. The front-plate reads “Trilogy 60th Anniversary, xxx/557”. The watches will also feature an engraving on the case back saying “LIMITED TO 557 TIMEPIECES”. To make everything even more interesting, the package includes a leather watch roll prepared for any situation: three extra leather and NATO straps, a useful wooden spring bar changing tool and a tube with additional spring bars, in case you lose or ruin any.
This Trilogy collection could be your only daily wear collection for work, free time or vacation. It could be your precious possession to leave as inheritance or just be a guilty pleasure. In any case, the watches of this 60 Years Anniversary Collection are not just beautiful toys, but powerful tools.
The OMEGA 1957 Trilogy Limited Editions Specifications and Price
The special Trilogy Limited Edition Box, Ref. L.E. 557, has a price tag of S$30,000 inclusive of GST; the individual prices for the watches are S$9,750 for the Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001 – Seamaster 300 – 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Master Chronometer, S$10,050 for the Ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.001 – Speedmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition and S$9,450 for the Ref. 184.108.40.206.01.002 – Railmaster 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Master Chronometer.
Calibre: Omega 8806 (Seamaster, Railmaster), Omega 1861 (Speedmaster)
Type: Automatic wound mechanical – Omega 8806; Hand wound mechanical – Omega 1861
Dimensions: 29mm diameter – Omega 8806; 27mm diameter – Omega 1861
Jewels: 35 – Omega 8806; 18 – Omega 1861 diameter
Power reserve: 55 hours – Omega 8806; 48 hour – Omega 1861
Frequency: 3.5Hz, 25,200 vibrations per hour – Omega 8806; 3Hz, 21,600 vibrations per hour – Omega 1861
Silicon spring balance
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds- Omega 8806; 30min/12h Chronograph, Hours, minutes and small seconds- Omega 1861
Material: Stainless steel
Dimensions of the case
Diameter: 39, 38.6, respectively 38mm diameter
Crystal: anti-reflective sapphire
Crown: Omega logo, mirror-polished surface
Case-back: screwed stainless steel with Seahorse engraved medallion
Water resistance: 30 ATM Seamaster; 6 ATM Speedmaster & Railmaster
Material: steel bracelet, NATO strap or leather strap
Buckle: Omega logo clasp or pin buckle in stainless steel.