HEADING INSIDE THE OMEGA MUSEUM ISN’T JUST A WALK THROUGH THE HISTORY OF OMEGA REPLICA WATCHES – IT’S A TRIP THROUGH THE HISTORY OF THE LAST 160 YEARS
From the outside, it’s not the most auspicious of buildings. Stoic, solid, Swiss – the Omega Museum looks like many of the buildings around it in the industrial town of Biel/Bienne (one of those where the French and Swiss German-speaking parts of the country meet), but then you step inside and there to greet you is a lunar rover, not one of the three – it’s safe to assume – that got left on the surface of the Moon.
Omega is alone among watchmakers in that it can lay claim to being the maker of the first replica watches worn on the Moon. As is well documented, when Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the Eagle in July 1969, he was wearing an Omega Speedmaster, a watch NASA had certified as space-ready in 1965 and equipped its Gemini and Apollo astronauts with. A visit to its museum is a glorious reminder of this – and of many other Omega achievements besides.
Omega has been James Bond’s official replica watch of choice since GoldenEye in 1995. Watches worn by Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig are on display in the museum
As our genial guide reminds us, Omega was founded in 1848 by Louis Brandt, not in Biel/Bienne but to the west in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the cradle of Swiss replica watchmaking. Initially, his company had no one brand name – as we now say – instead making watches for its various international distribution networks with dial names to suit: Patria (in the UK and US), Celtic, Labrador…
It wasn’t until 1894 when, under the headship of Brandt’s sons, that the Omega name first appeared. They made a pocket watch calibre called the 19 ligne that was awarded a patent for a perfected timing, winding and setting system. They decided the dial should carry the name Omega because it was, in a way, the be-all and end-all of calibres – or the Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet. In 1903, the name became official and the Omega brand name came to life, making it, according to the brand, the only watch brand named after its most important historical product.
Omega has been present at some of history’s most iconic moments. This is the case back of the watch worn by JFK during his first presidential speech
Stories like these come flooding out as you move from case to case in the museum. In one case there’s the gold watch JFK wore for his maiden presidential speech on 20 January, 1961. Opposite that are cases housing Omega replica watches sale worn by Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig while filming James Bond. There’s a case with instruments designed for and supplied to BAC and Aérospatiale for use in the development of Concorde. And there’s all manner of Olympic timing equipment developed by Omega on show – some of it fantastically nostalgic in light of the hi-tech machines Omega has introduced at recent Games.
Omega has been involved in Olympic timekeeping since 1932
Then there’s a room devoted to Omega’s technical innovations, from its use of hard metal in the 1970s, through to the adoption of the George Daniels Co-Axial escapement into the Omega collection at the end of the last century, right up to more recent material innovations – Liquid Metal, Sedna Gold, Ceragold, Omega’s silicon Si14 balance wheel…
But the highlight is the area devoted to Omega’s role in space exploration. Thomas P. Stafford’s Speedmaster is there, as worn on the Gemini 9 and Apollo 10 missions; so is Donn F. Eisele’s Replica Omega Speedmaster, worn on Apollo VII; and the Omega Gordon ‘Gordo’ Cooper bought in 1957 to wear when he was a test pilot has a case of its own, too.
The Omega Museum is full of Space Race memorabilia, including Thomas P. Stafford’s Speedmaster, worn during NASA’s Gemini 9 and Apollo 10 missions
The Omega Museum opened in 1984 and claims to be the oldest watch museum devoted to a single brand in the West, and is home to 4,000 watches. It is a treasure trove of landmark developments that demonstrate why Omega is considered one of the world’s most innovative, trusted replica Omega watch brands.