Omega S.A. is a Swiss luxury watchmaker founded in 1903 by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was formerly known as La Generale Watch Co. until it changed its name to Omega in 1903. In 1984, the company officially became Omega SA and is now a subsidiary of The Swatch Group.
When founders Louis-Paul and César Brandt both died in 1903, they left one of Switzerland’s largest watch companies — with 240,000 watches produced yearly and employing 800 people —In the hands of four young people, the oldest of whom was 23-year-old Paul-Emile Brandt.
The economic difficulties caused by the First World War prompted Paul-Emile Brandt to work towards the amalgamation of Omega and Tissot in 1925. This eventually led to their merger in 1930, which resulted in the formation of the SSIH Group in Geneva. Under the leadership of Brandt and Joseph Reiser from 1955, the SSIH Group continued to grow, acquiring, or creating around fifty companies, including Lanco and Lemania. Lemania was known for manufacturing the most famous Omega chronograph movements.
In the 1970s, SSIH became Switzerland’s leading producer of watches, ranking third globally. Omega outpaced Rolex in sales despite the latter’s higher perceived value. Omega was known for its innovative and professional focus, while Rolex was famous for its mechanical pieces and branding.
Omega watches have a rich history as timekeepers. The British Royal Flying Corps used Omega watches for its combat units in 1917, followed by the U.S. Army in 1918. Omega was also the official timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932 and is currently the timekeeper for the America’s Cup yacht race. In 1969, NASA during the Apollo 11 mission even used Omega watches. Additionally, Omega was a major partner of the 2022 Winter Olympics.