This Watch is History

In the Nineteen-Fifties and Sixties, most Omega Constellations were marketed through jewellery and specialty outlets, and so when one encounters a bespoke, solid white gold Constellation that was made especially for the first ever dedicated Omega boutique, one’s pulse can be expected to quicken a tad.  Seen below is one of the rarest Omega Constellations ever made, so rare that I have only ever clasped my eyes on one similar, but not exact, example.


At 35 millimetres in diameter, this almost-pristine ‘montre bijoux’ piece was delivered in 1969 to Omega’s official Swiss distributor, Gameo, at a time when there was a growing interest in dress watches. While the style of lugs has rarely been connected to cases that housed 56x calibres, the design is very similar to the dress model 163.0001 powered by the ultra-thin calibre 712.


The Omega Museum identifies this model with the reference number 368.4098 -  the 3 prefix indicating watch head and bracelet were together from conception – and it has a calibre 564 under the dial.  It took the museum’s Charles Bernhard some time to pour through its Swiss distribution records originally maintained by Gameo to connect the number 7190 appearing on the inner case back with the reference number and indeed the history behind the watch. Four digit case numbers were exclusive jewellery designs normally reserved for high-end outlets that had enough clout to procure examples that were outside Omega’s normal range.


Gameo was the national Omega distributor in Switzerland. It's owner, Charles Bauty, is credited with opening the first single brand boutique in the world in 1964, selling only Omega watches.  His first Omega boutique was established in Geneva under the brand "Les Ambassadeurs", named after the CafĂ© Les Ambassadeurs on the Rue du Rhone that he purchased and converted. It's still there. He later established an exceptional boutique in Zurich in 1971. So, given it’s delivery date, I believe this watch was retailed through Les Ambassadeurs in Geneva.


It’s not certain if this piece was a one-off order for a specific client or was created as an Omega showpiece for Les Ambassadeurs,  but it certainly fits the criteria for what I term a ‘gloves off’ watch, where it’s perfectly acceptable to temporarily park one’s scruples and go into battle for it, Geneva Convention be damned!   It’s a true collectors piece

8 comments:

  1. Great detailing in the clasp as well

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    1. I agree. It's a finely executed piece :)

      Cheers

      Desmond

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  2. The lugs are different, but the general case styling is remarkably similar to my Cal 564 from 1966 with a recessed crown in stainless steel.

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    1. Yes, the case body looks very similar to a 168.004 or 010 case with substituted lugs. Diameter is 35mm too.

      Cheers

      Desmond

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  3. This watch look like the one my Father gave me. Can anybody help suggesting where to take it for cleaning and appraisal? I am in Orange County, CA. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Elena. I don't know anyone specifically in Orange County, but ABC Watchworks in LA has a good rep.

      It is better to opt for a non Omega service agent because the Omega service agents are both expensive and have a particular service regime that could affect the value of the watch.

      Cheers

      Desmond

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  4. Desmond Guilfoyle how do I contact you directly with questions about my 195? constellation ... I have done enough online research to realize YOU can probably help identify my dad's constellation from the 50's.

    if you have some time, I would like to hear your opinion ... please contact me ... thanks in advance.

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  5. Just post your email address. I won’t publish the post. I’ll contact you

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