Hugely ambitious project sees Omega celebrate its first ‘wrist chronograph’ by renewing 18 of the original movements held in it museum vaults for limited edition series.
by James Buttery
Limited editions can often be the laziest of exercises; a change of colour here, a new material there. Omega’s latest, to celebrate the company’s first chronograph wristwatch from 1913, is certainly not that.
The Biel watchmaker has placed the movement behind that original chronograph, the 18 ligne (40mm) CHRO calibre, at the heart of the new watch, completely rebuilding and modernising 18 of the 105-year-old movements to power a run of 18 limited edition chronographs.
The movements were sourced from watches held within Omega’s own museum in Biel, which means they are not some still-packaged New Old Stock (NOS) discovery from the furthest reaches of a remote storeroom, but vintage pieces which have already run for decades.
Once removed from their original cases – something that’s sure to set vintage purists’ teeth on edge in itself – the movements were completely refurbished by the watchmakers of Omega’s Atelier Tourbillon high watchmaking department.
Given the decades of use each watch has experienced, each had been rendered unique through wear and tear and had to be treated individually by watchmakers analysing the movements, measuring each component and calculating the necessary refurbishments and replacement parts where necessary. New holes also had to be bored into the mainplate and bridges in which to seat modern jewels.
Once the watchmaking was complete, the movement was sandblasted and then brushed for a lustrous, frosted effect while wheel recesses received perlage decoration. Bevelling was then applied to bridges, mainplate and all steel components such as the pallet fork, chronograph levers and reset hammer before being black polished.
A three-piece white grand feu enamel dial – inspired by the original watches – and a vast 47.5mm 18ct white gold case surround the movement (the diamond crown and chronograph pusher at the six o’clock position are in contrasting 18ct Sedna gold) before a hunter caseback engraved with a vintage Omega logo is pinned into place.
The ‘First Omega Wrist-Chronograph Limited Edition’ watches are presented in a handcrafted, lockable leather trunk with two additional straps, a loupe, strap-changing tool and travel pouch.
Raynauld Aeschlimann, Omega president and CEO, revealed the watch at a special ‘Night at the Museum’ event in Biel this evening. We’ll update with prices as soon as they are announced.
- Update: the watches will cost CHF 120,000 each and are, doubtless, all already spoken for.