THE LOST LINES

Omega has four main watch families today that are well known to everyone interested in the brand: Seamaster, Speedmaster, Constellation and De Ville. Each of these already has quite a legacy and are dealt with in their own dedicated sections of this website. Through the years, though, there have been other highly regarded watches that were in lines whose time came and went. They perfectly represented their eras and worthy of attention. In their time, they were brilliant expressions of one of the strongest watch brands the world has ever known. They continue to fascinate collectors and watch experts around the world. Take a look at a selection of what we refer to as the lost lines . . . can you see their influence on some of the contemporary watches in our collection? Do you have one of these stored safely at home? If you are of a certain age, some of them are bound to bring back happy memories .

The Louis Brandt by OMEGA Collection

In 1848, watchmaker Louis Brandt founded the company that would, by the end of the 19thcentury, be known as OMEGA. In a fitting tribute to the founder, OMEGA named a collection of luxury watches after him that appeared in the catalogue twice, first in 1984 and then again in 1990.  

The collection was launched for the World Congress of Omega’s general agents held in Interlaken in the spring of 1984. It was made up of exclusive handcrafted complicated mechanical watches. Its water-resistant cases were fitted with scratch-resistant sapphire case backs that revealed a finely engraved and meticulously fitted movement. The line was characterized by fine detailing: its winding stem and the tongue of the buckle were in gold set with diamonds. Each watch in the collection was numbered.

The second generation of the Louis Brandt collection was launched in the autumn of 1990. There were date, chronograph and perpetual calendar models. All the watches were automatic and had 18 Ct gold cases. There were deluxe versions that were either skeletonized or delivered with a sapphire case back.

Both generations of the Louis Brandt Collection were tributes both to the company’s founder and to Omega’s tradition of superb craftsmanship.

 

The Ranchero collection  

In 1958, Omega created a watch line it called Rancheros. It was inspired by the Railmaster, the Seamaster 300 and the arrowhead hand of the 1957 Speedmaster so there was no mistaking its lineage. The watch encountered resistance in Spanish-speaking countries from potential customers who were put off by its name that means “ranch hand” in Spanish. As a result, the Rancheros, were discontinued and are quite  rare today. Ironically, this scarcity has led to high prices in the vintage watch market and the once modest Ranchero has become quite the collector’s item.

The name had a short revival in 1976 but only in Belgium. Omega’s general agent there had hoped that an entry level model would stimulate what he felt were sluggish sales of Seamasters. The revival was short lived and the Ranchero is destaned to be one of the most famous of the lost lines.

 

The Cosmic

In 1947 Omega introduced the “Cosmic” Moon Phase wristwatch. It was the brand’s first calendar watch to display the time and the date with its hands and day, month and moon phase in windows. It was available in different sizes and a range of dial finishes. In 1951 there was also a square version of the Omega Cosmic this version would go on to inspire the 2002 watch in Omega’s Museum collection.

 

 The Sapphettes

The Sapphettes line (Saphette in French) was a small watch for women that was first launched in the American market in 1954. It’s success was such that the decision was taken to launch it worldwide the following year. The Sapphette line would enjoy global success for more than twenty years.  

The name refers to the watches’ sparkling crystal that lent it such a unique look. Facetted like a diamond solitaire, the crystal was cut sapphire – scratch resistant, unbreakable and clear. This design was ofthen immitated by other brands at the time.

In 1995 a 40th anniversary collection was created to honour one of the brand’s most popular fashion lines.

Over the course of its production life, the Sapphette collection was widely varied with some very unusual case and bracelet shapes and  was an important part of Omega’s product palette for the better part of a generation.

 

The Emerald

The Emerald line was inspired by the designs that Andrew Grima created for Omega and introduced in 1971. Grima, who was arguably his generation’s foremost jeweler, counted Queen Elisabeth II among his clients. The Emerald line is distinguished by the generous proportions of its emerald-cut crystals of precious stone, quartz or mineral glass. Initially, the pieces were reserved for the top of the Constellation range but as the Emerald line was extended, were  increasingly seen in the De Ville line and to a lesser extent, the Genève collection. The Emerald line was only produced at OMEGA until 1973 but it left a lasting impression. In fact Today, nearly forty years later, if you see one it proabably has the name of another well know fashion brand. Though a lost line at OMEGA these watches remain a "Premiere" collection today showing just how good the design was.

 

The Dynamic

First created for the Prix de Ville de Geneve in 1965 the line was launched to the public in 1968, the Dynamic line lived up to its name.  The elliptical case shape was conceived to work with the anatomy of the wrist. The crown was integrated into the case so that it would not disturb the fairly aerodynamic flow of the line of the watch. The design of the dial was consistent with the clean functional aspects of the watch.

The straps, made in one piece from a porous synthetic material called Corfam, had “breathing holes” and were widened near the case for a secure hold on the wrist. A watch’s owner could easily change the Corfam straps and metal bracelets with a key that came with the watch. In fact this watch was such a success that more than 1,000,000 examples would be sold between 1968 and 1972.

In 1984, Omega launched the second generation of the Dynamic. They also featured interchangeable straps and had a case and dial that were angled up, in the words of an advertisement of the day, “for time-reading convenience, off-centered for the pleasure of owning a watch unlike any other.”

A final generation Omega Dynamic was presented in 1997. It was inspired by the aesthetics of the watches delivered to the British forces during World War II. The 1997 Dynamic line was intended to appeal to younger Omega buyers and was available in two versions: standard with a central seconds and or as a chronograph. They were presented on brown, yellow or red leather straps or a stainless steel bracelet.

The Omega Dynamic line appeared in catalogues in three different decades. Each generation was designed to attract new young customers to the brand and the first two generations in particular more than achieved that goal.

 

The Geneva

This line, created in 1953, was made as an homage to our workshops in Geneva where OMEGAs best regulators were working. The regulations of the Geneva Observatory stated that a brand must be present in the canton of Geneva to compete in the observatory trials there, so as the undisputed masters of the timing trials in Switzerland OMEGA naturally wanted to show their dominance at all observatories and as such opened a workshop there in 1917. The line would see several evolutions and would represent 60% of the brands production by 1970. The line was finally discontinued in 1979 as the law in Geneva stipulates that a brand must have a presence in the canton of Geneva to include the word Geneva or any variation of on the dial.

 

 

A line of luxury watches distinguished by their high quality finish and complicated movements.
The Louis Brandt by OMEGA Collection, 1984 and 1990
 
The 2nd generation of Louis Brandt watches included several skeletonised versions such as this example with perpetual calendar.
Louis Brandt 2nd generation, 1990
 
Created first in 1958 as the "little brother" of the Railmaster, the line was relaunched in 1976 only for the Belgian market.
The Rancheros, 1958 and 1976
 
The original Cosmic had triple calendar and moon-phase indication and was the inspiration for the 2002 Museum collection watch.
The Cosmics, 1947
 
This version of the original Cosmic was the inspiration for the Museum collection, watch number 2 in 2002.
OMEGA Cosmic, 1951
 
First launched in the US market in 1954 and then worldwide in 1955. In 1995 a 40th anniversary collection was created.
The Saphettes, 1954 and 1995
 
This design for this line of watches with distinctive emerald-cut crystal was sold to Chanel in 1981.
The Emerald, 1971
 
Like the original, this watch allowed the owner to easily change bracelets and thus the look of the watch easily.
Dynamic 2nd generation, 1984
 
This generation of Dynamic watches was inspired by the watches made for the British military during the Second World War.
Dynamic 3rd generation, 1997