About Omega Constellation Watches
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Omega watch company, the Centenary was released in 1948 as a predecessor to the Constellation series. This limited edition of only 6000 watches was designed with 18kt yellow gold in 33mm and 35.5mm versions, and it was the company’s first auto chronometer timepiece. The popularity of this stunning watch inspired Omega to create a new collection that followed along with similar refined characteristics as well as comparable superior quality.
Just a few years later, in 1952, the first version of the Constellation was released and sat proudly as the flagship for the Omega watch company for many years. With its name honoring the WWII jet, the Constellation was offered in yellow gold, rose gold and steel color. Three grade options were given for the original piece including the standard finish, the deluxe finish and the grand luxe finish.
Redefining the Constellation
The look of the early Constellation was refined, with hour hands designed in a diamond shape. Many of the different versions of this model were produced with embellishments that set them apart from their contemporaries. Dials, hour markers, hands, and logos rendered in gold were given details such as satin-brushed finishes, cross-hatching or other patterns—offering up a rich collection of discerning features.
Gerald Genta has been given credit for designing at least two of the Constellation watches. However, because he was a freelance designer, for years he participated in many of the design aspects but was not necessarily given full acknowledgment for entire pieces.
After starting with a caliber 35x bumper movement, by 1955 the Constellation family quickly began receiving the full rotor caliber 50x. Variations with or without the date were provided. 1959 again brought a new change in movement, progressing to the caliber 55x and 56x. As the Constellation continued to raise the standard for watchmaking and precision, the movements for the series were continually upgraded as technological advances were made.
Quartz Changes the Constellation
During the quartz era of the 1970s, Omega began coming to terms with its relevance as a classic watchmaker, as did many Swiss companies. The result was a departure from the dressier designs of the past and the release of new looks. Early on, the dial of the Constellation was often designed in the ‘pie-pan’ style in which the center circle of the face protrudes forward, but this faded away during this period in favor of updated details. For instance, the Integral, with a rectangular face and integrated leather band, gave off a different impression from the more traditional versions of the Constellation.
Even so, during that same era, Omega’s commitment to the Constellation’s precision made it the most exacting timepiece on earth. In fact, the caliber 1510 and 1516 movements from this time continue as the most accurate ever produced.
The 1980s brought the Manhattan, which bore the quartz caliber 1422 and eventually the auto caliber 1111. And though some find the design to be dated, its Mega quartz 2400 holds the distinction of being the only wristwatch to ever receive the title of Marine Chronometer.
Today, the Constellation line continues to impress as it moves with the times. Released in 2015, the Globemaster embodied Omega’s METAS certification process. While the current releases are unlike the classic Constellations from 50 years ago, the collection provides a modern take with Seamasters (for sports and diving) and the De Ville line (dress watches). And since Omega often releases their new designs in anniversary years, we can look forward to what might be one the horizon for the 175th anniversary coming in the next few years.