In an earlier blog post I gave a little nudge towards what I call my 'hate' for Omega. I should clarify this and I will do this in this rant/blog.
1. Reference numbers
For starters, reference numbers are a way to communicate the watch you want to buy or get repaired with the manufacturer and a way for us collectors to find out about things. Often ( yes I look at you Rolex) these numbers are quite short and built with some form factor that easy to learn and easy to remember. For example 1601 followed by the 16014 --> 16234 --> 116234 etc.
Well Omega had a fun system with just 4 digits prior to the 60's. Combined with 2letters that are quite easy to remember. These explain the material options. In the 60's they started with a combined 6 digit reference number. First 3 digits explaining key factors followed by what I personally see as a SKU without any meaning of life. Combined with what feels like 50 different material options.
After the 6 digits, they evolved into 7 digits. For some reason they gave these references moon stones and all the Clefairy's evolved into Nidoqueens with reference numbers the size of the moon. Most Omega employees that I know ( and frankly I know a few) have issues with these things as they are as long as the Bible. I know, all these numbers have some kind of a logical structure but you need to keep a code chart next to it to understand them.
Correct me if I am wrong, I would love to get roasted about this if this makes my life easier!
2. The movements
I am not going to say a single word about those 70's creations ( Cal 10xx's) that have the funniest rotors ever. I am going to rant about the 60's!
Example: the 565, great movement, great fun to work on, yet it feels unbalanced. Difficult to explain to someone who has never worked on a watch but the gear train of watch has to get fitted with a plate. Imagine a 3-D puzzle! It is exactly that! However on for example early 60's seiko and Rolex watches these parts flow into their place like a 2D puzzle. No poking about needed to get the bridge plate back in. On Omega, this is a whole other dimension of hell sometimes! Why? The train wheels are unbalanced in my opinion ( and the opinion of 2 ex Omega ads that are over 80 years old at the moment. You can not go into discussion with 80 year old watchmakers, sorry)
This unbalanced feel makes the watch harder to rebuild. Sometimes, especially in my younger days, parts would break when trying to rebuild it. Thankfully parts are easily obtainable and not overly expensive. On average servicing an Omega takes about 40% as long as it takes me to service a 60's Seiko.
Did I mention already that about every rotor axle I have ever seen on an omega is actually worn? Yes these wear out like crazy because people always miss their service date. Don't feel ashamed, nobody ever gets their watches serviced in time.
3. The brand went through a Schizophrenia phase.
The 90's were poppin, Omega was bought by swatch and got lifted to a new level of LUXURY. Yes you read that well, we all look at modern day omega as a high class luxury brand. This used to be different! Omega was a high quality watch back in the day but it was not anything near a Rolex. Nowadays they are fighting in almost the same price market. Sadly in the 'in between' period, omega did do some bad stuff. Quartz crisis hit deep, Omega dealers used to be on every corner of the streets and the old watchmakers dropped their brand. Either because they could not pay for it or they did not believe in them.
My parents for example were an AD in the mid 90's, Omega sales representative sold every quartz watch they had to my parents due to the fact that they were the only Omega AD in town. Plus our town was not that big, small cities= small wallets = no need for 18 kt automatic constellations. My parents did end up with a whole lot of Omega watches that were 'okay' quality, had 'luxury' price tags and had a terrible sales agreement forced by the swatch group. ( pls don't sue me swatch)
Exactly that, the urge to make sales on watches that should have been luxury, that were actually the worst quality Emega's ever made ( the 10XX movements don't exist in my mind sorry). There are exceptions here, like the Polaris where they did a super cool gold/steel combination. I am not biased because that was my first watch. Trust me.
Alright, the rant is out.
What do we remember about this? Nothing. Just nothing. Enjoy all the watches you can, every watch has a story both for you, me and the companies who made them. Sorry Omega, Love you x