The name OMEGA doesn’t always resonate with vintage. It is however a known fact that in 1913, OMEGA released its first wrist-chronograph (perhaps the world’s first). It was a ground-breaking design that epitomised the brand’s pioneering spirit and contributed to forever altering the watchmaking industry.
The brand returned to that pivotal period, renovating 18 original movements from the era for a truly unique collection and dubbed the “First OMEGA Wrist-Chronograph Limited Edition.”
105 Years In The Making
Each of these 18 Limited Edition versions is equipped with an original 18″ CHRO calibre. These are the renowned movements that were utilised in OMEGA’s first wrist-chronographs, which were introduced in 1913, and each one has historical significance.
The treasured calibres have been tastefully reconditioned by the professionals at OMEGA’s Atelier Tourbillon and given a brand new lease on life after being retrieved from original timepieces within the vaults at the OMEGA museum.
Favorite of the Military
OMEGA has carefully followed the historic look of an OMEGA wrist-chronograph from 1913 for the exterior design of the 47.5 mm timepieces, with classic details like the riveted leather band and the white enamel dial with blued “Empire” hands and hollow Arabic numerals.
During the First World War, this particular design was popular among military men. The easy-to-read dial design and 15-minute counters drew aviators in particular, making it suited for the most difficult missions.
Touches of the Present
OMEGA’s finest cutting-edge materials have been used in the Limited Edition design, including 18K white gold for the casing and 18K SednaTM gold for the crown and pusher. A hatched caseback, which can be flipped open to reveal the movement hidden behind sapphire crystal, completes the classic design.
Each 18″‘ CHRO movement took hundreds of hours of painstaking craftsmanship to complete. The restoration and modernization took place in OMEGA’s Atelier Tourbillon, and all of the machines utilised were original, ensuring that the watchmaking remained historically accurate.
Each of the 18 movements was distinct in its own right. Because each of the little parts had their own specific characteristics, the watchmakers had to start with different calculations and analyses for each movement’s refurbishing.
For each movement, new components and blueprints were created. The watchmakers calculated which replacement pieces were needed and made them according to their calculations.
As part of the quality control procedure, the new parts were thoroughly inspected. The cutting-edge camera system was able to take precise measurements to guarantee that each part was up to grade.
ASSEMBLING AND ADJUSTMENTS
The watchmakers had to confirm the depth of the wheel penetration on each unique component before making the initial modifications. They were able to obtain a thorough understanding of the gear system’s requirements as a result of this.
They were able to use a topping tool to round off the teeth of the wheels and establish perfect engagements between the gears after completing a precise inspection. The 3/4 bridge was then built to double-check the depth of the gears once this phase was completed and the wheels were now precisely aligned. The original OMEGA logo can easily be seen in the photos. The original serial number was also kept and can be seen on the mainplate, however, it was re-engraved for enhanced legibility.
OMEGA had to make sure the new gems fit perfectly because they were used in the movement. A Jig-Borer was used to bore or re-bore all of the holes on the mainplate and bridges in order to accomplish this. The new jewels had to work in tandem with the existing pivots. As a result, the pivots were burnished with a Jacot tool.
A beautiful white enamel dial enhances the overall impression of this exceptional timepiece. However, it may come as a surprise to learn just how much attention to detail and dedication were required to obtain the desired result.
“GRAND FEU” ENAMELING
To begin, the dialmaker sifted powdered white enamel onto an individual metal plate, much like a baker. The “Grand Feu” technique started with the dusted plate being heat-treated at an exceedingly high temperature in a furnace to adhere the enamel to the plate. This technique was repeated several times until the enamel reached the desired height.
THE DISPLAY: “PETIT FEU”
The process began with a plate that was engraved with the watch’s display to set the numbering and markings on the dial. The engravings were then filled in with black enamel, which was smoothed over the plate.
A silicon stamp reached down at this point and picked up the black enamel display from the plate, transferring it to the white enamel dial. The dial was then baked again to blend the colours. The red enamel on the dial was created using the same procedure.
A high-pressure water jet was used on the main dial to cut through the enamel and create exactly sized holes for the subdials. The edges were next refined and chamfered with metal tools coated in diamond powder paste, while the edges were polished with wooden tools. The subdial counters were made using the same techniques as the main enamel dial. Four counters were made from a single enamel plate, which was cut out with water jets and filed down to their exact size.
THE CASE OF WHITE GOLD
The gleaming case of this timepiece is made of 18K white gold. It went through a number of steps to ensure that it was as exquisite and well-crafted as possible.
THE BOX FOR PRESENTATION
Each chronograph comes in its own handcrafted leather trunk. Two additional leather straps in novonappa gold and burgundy leather, as well as unique strap-changing tools, a loupe, and a travel pouch, are included in this artisan box.
OMEGA is known for its classic chronographs, which have been trusted in settings as diverse as the ocean and space throughout history. They not only have a rich history, but they also represent the finest levels of quality, functionality, and craftsmanship in the watchmaking industry. Today, an OMEGA chronograph is unquestionably a jewel that every watch collector should possess.