Omega Seamaster (1948)
René Bannwart is considered the father of the Omega Seamaster line. The man who would later found Corum had begun building Omega’s design department in 1940. This was new. At that time, sketches for new models were usually drawn by draftsmen in watch-case factories. Bannwart’s decision set Omega on a new path that other brands would soon follow. To celebrate Omega’s 100th anniversary, Omega sales director Adolphe Vallat asked Bannwart to develop a sporty, robust and waterproof wristwatch. Bannwart felt that Vallat wasn’t giving him enough time, so he presented one of his case designs with the comment “much too clunky.” To Bannwart’s surprise, Vallat was delighted. The result was the Seamaster family. It had its origins in Omega Replica Seamaster Watches supplied to Britain’s Royal Air Force in World War II. The 1948 civilian version of the pilots’ watch had a water-resistant case (to 50 meters), a screwed caseback with lead gaskets, a reinforced crystal, a silvered dial, and polished and riveted Arabic numerals. The version with small seconds, which was also available as a certified chronometer, contained the new automatic Caliber 28.10 RA RG-343. The model with a central seconds hand was the 28.10 RA SC-350.
Omega Constellation (1952)
Omega began using the name “Omega Replica Constellation” in 1952 to denote its officially certified wrist chronometers. The premier model was powered by Caliber 28.10 RA SC PC RG AM (nicknamed the “352”), which first appeared in 1945. This caliber wound itself via a unidirectional hammer-type winding weight. It also featured an indirectly propelled central seconds hand. The 28.1-mm-diameter, 5.4-mm-thick movement passed the official chronometer tests with flying colors. Its sturdiness, reliability and precision prompted Omega to produce the Constellation in large numbers. This model was also Omega’s first serially manufactured wristwatch chronometer.
Omega Speedmaster (1957)
The Omega Replica Speedmaster Watches, destined to become the most famous chronograph in the world because of its use by NASA for the Apollo program, was introduced in 1957. But the Speedmaster story really begins in 1943 with chronograph Caliber 27 CHRO C12, developed by Jacques Reymond. Born into a long-established family of watchmakers, Reymond had joined Omega’s subsidiary Lemania in 1942. The “CHRO” in the caliber designation stood for “chronograph,” the “27” referred to the movement’s diameter in millimeters, and “C12” denoted the additional counter for 12 elapsed hours. Further developed by Albert Piguet in 1946 and christened by Omega with the shorter name “321,” this movement was the smallest of its type at the time. Credit for the Speedmaster case design belonged to a group at Lemania, including designer Claude Baillod, prototype-maker Georges Hartmann and machinist Désiré Faivre. The watch’s salient features were a black dial, luminous hands, a tachymeter scale, water-resistant case, screwed back and domed Plexiglas crystal. The diameter was originally 39 mm. A 40-mm version with the tachymeter scale on a black background along the flange appeared in 1960.