Why the OMEGA Wrist-Chronograph Limited Edition is Worth 130,000 Swiss Francs
During a festive and retro evening aptly named “A Night at the Museum”, Omega presented a limited edition of the first Wrist-Chronograph launched in 1913. Here’s why it’s important.
There are moments where time seems suspended. On a recent warm summer night, Omega guests were chauffeured by vintage cars to the Omega museum in Biel-Bienne. Surrounded by historic pieces from the iconic manufacture, our evening was punctuated by speeches from our colleagues about the rich history of Omega. We were then introduced to a very special limited edition.
Building the suspense
Obviously, everyone was impatient to know which watch was going to be introduced at the end of the night. Some thought we were brought to the Museum to see the brand re-launch Elvis Presley’s watch which Omega bought earlier this year at Philipps Auction. But no, the surprise had to be something else. Which Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO and President of Omega, confirmed by inviting his guests to discover a watch that converged from all four corners of the world to see the light of day at the Omega Museum.
Unveiling an unexpected treasure
The instrument was carefully hidden within a powerful safe placed in the center of the reception area, this was not a simple creation, but yet a powerful Wrist-Chronograph mono-pusher!
Sized at 47.5mm and cased in white gold with lines that echo those of the historically important first Omega wrist chronograph launched in 1913. At first glance you could see, the inspiration for this watch was the first-ever Wrist-Chronograph. The resulting watch is adorned with a round case with hinged bowl lugs. Limited to just 18 pieces with a manual wound 18 lines ‘18CHRO’ caliber.
Ok, but is it worth 130’000 CHF?
Indeed, that’s quite a round number. But if you think about it, it’s more or less equal to a timepiece with a high complication made with extreme care and passion. In this case, the idea was not to make something new out of the old or give a lifting to a series of 18 pieces found at the bottom of a drawer. But yet, to open a new page in the history of the collection by daring a construction approach that is completely original. One which gives life to original – but also to complex chronographs everywhere. For this, the watchmakers did not go through new old stock movements found in an old closet, but instead retrieved movements from original heritage timepieces within their vaults at the Omega Museum.
How was the Wrist-Chronograph Limited Edition Made?
A team of specialists focused on the construction starting with ancient plates and bridges with modern components such as the stunning “Grand Balancier bi-metallique” and pallet forks. But all in all, apart from these above-mentioned elements, all the components have been remanufactured from the originals, according to contemporary standards.
Therefore, plates and bridges have been reworked and embellished according of today's Haute Horlogerie standards. Before being polished, gilded, beaded and angled one by one by master craftsmen, the project management team chose to remove the old rubies set in brass cabochons and replace them with high quality synthetic rubies. Watchmakers set out hunted in their respective locations, once the jewel holes were perfectly calibrated, they were then milled. The craftsmen then rewelded the wheels of the barrel intended to receive the new mainspring which guarantees a power reserve in line with today’s expectations.
They have also adapted a new hairspring, pinons and screws, all re-cut so that each component complies with the specifications defined by the high standards of the Manufacture. Materials like steel springs have been reworked, chamfered, satin or black polished.
Thanks to this work, the movement keeps all characteristics of a 1913 heart, but also reveals the expression of today’s know-how of the Artisans. Because nothing is too beautiful, the reference 18” CHRO carries all the necessary security to guarantee a long life and a perfect precision. Up to and including, pendulum incablocs to protect the movement from shocks and vibrations
Making a legendary movement even better
In the end, each totally new heart was hand worked by master watchmaker. Him or her received a finished dial and movement, made in the old fashion way, but with modern technologies. Each “Grand Feu” enamel dial went to a furnace set at extremely high temperatures which bonded the enamel to the plate. This process was repeated numerous times until reaching the perfect pure white color desired.
We should note that the support disc is no longer made in brass or copper as was done in the past but in steel. And sub dial counters were cut with high-pressure jets of water. Then, in accordance with tradition, these meters were set and adjusted to their positions. Once this “face” is finalized, watchmakers set the hands on the dial and sub dials.
Adorned to last and astound
The 47.5mm case is made out of white gold, which is more durable that the 1913 version. Additionally, the crystal was changed to sapphire. To keep a “vintage” look that is so likable, the leather strap delivered in a handcrafted leather trunk, especially made for this timepiece, is easily changed thanks to a unique strap changing tool included in the box.
In the end, this marvel of balance and history got a brand-new crown and a chronograph pusher and Sedna gold Colum wheel which allow to measure short periods of time on a 15 minutes counter. Rare and unique on the Omega history these chronographs each take hundreds of hours of meticulous work to be worthy of counting them among the most beautiful of timepieces out of Omega.
Unlike other maisons known for their complicated watches, Omega offers demanding enthusiasts a watch nearly perfectly made. After all, Omega is a manufacture whose logo is formed of the last letter of the Greek alphabet.