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This weeks favourite watch!
Well, favourite until the next one comes along!
The Constellation was released in the 1950's almost as a scientists watch (a cheaper rival to Rolex' Milgauss model perhaps). It retained the styling of the Omega 'dress' watches yet mostly contained specially designed and built 'chronometer' rated movements built to retain incredible accuracy regardless of the conditions the watch was subjected to.
-----To pass the chronometer test procedure, a wristwatch is tested at various temperatures and pressures for several days. Timed against TWO flawlessly accurate Atomic clocks, if the watch gains more than 6 seconds or loses more than 4 seconds in a 24 hour period it fails, and is then either destroyed or stripped and re-built!
Every single movement is tested - not just random selections from a batch - meaning every Chronometer rated watch is guaranteed to be an incredibly accurate machine!-----
For the first three decades the watch underwent several slight transformations, with slight alterations to the dial and case shape along with a handful of new movements (some exclusive to the Constellation and never used in other models).
During this time, however, it retained the original look of a standard dress watch.
In 1984 Omega took the Constellation back to the drawing board and released an all new version of the watch; the Manhattan (pictured).
This model has an integrated bracelet (attached to the case), a solid bezel with deep engraving of numerals, sapphire glass and a very distinctive look with two 'claws' either side of the case at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions which used to hold the glass in place on early models and is now just there for the style.
It's a very eye-catching look and makes the watch unmistakable as Omega.
I have had two of these watches now , though sadly not an 18ct model as shown in the photo - mine have both been steel, one a standard battery powered model with date, the other a similar model but a twin sub-dial Day/date model.
They model has been available in case sizes of 24mm (ladies) 33mm (mid-size) 35mm (formerly the full-size watch) and 38mm (current full-size). Both of mine have been the slightly older 35mm models.
The Constellation is a really nice watch to wear. The slim case and bracelet made up of lots of short links rather than chunkier bracelets with few large links (oyster link) make this very comfortable, though personally I find it a little bit bit light as I like to feel some real weight on my wrist. The 38mm might be a bit heftier but I've never tried one. :-(
The sapphire glass (discussed in other watch reviews) means I can throw this on whether I'm on a night out or off to work as it's almost impossible to break, scratch or damage in any way. Coupled with this, the case 'claws' actually act as protection for the glass too as they take the brunt of any scrapes.
The bracelet is steel with some polished links and some brushed. The problem there is that the polished sections are like mirrors and show every slight blemish. It's a pity because otherwise this is a very rugged watch that I never have to worry about. Next time it's in for a service I'm considering having the whole bracelet brushed (satin finish) as I have done with some other watches. I'd recommend that to anyone who doesn't particularly look after their watches...
The battery life with these is quite short. Where most quartz watches will run for up to 5 years I find these watches drain a battery in 18 months to 2 years which can be a pain. As I have a few watches (understatement!) I often don't realise the battery has died until I come to wear it!
Automatic versions are available, but are quite a lot more expensive (usually twice the price of a battery model).
Both my current watch and my previous one have had the champagne dial (off-gold). There are lots of other options, with black, blue, silver and white dialed versions out there.
This is one of Omegas most popular lines, and along with the De-Ville models probably makes up their current line of dressier watches. New models are horrendously expensive, with a standard entry level mens watch weighing in at £1700. Steel and gold watches are hovering around the £5000+ mark and the solid gold watch is an eye-watering £22000!
They are wonderful watches though, and aside from not being a certified dive watch they do just about everything a person could need, still combining dressy looks with rugged features as the originals did.
As mentioned before, my watches are almost always bought second hand as I far prefer vintage watches to modern (along with the prices!) Expect to pay £500 for a really nice condition ten year old model in steel, £700 for a two colour model and (if you're pushing the boat out) maybe £4000-£5000 for the solid gold version second hand. Still a lot of money, but it's an 80% saving on a new one and worth it IMO.
I can't really mark the watch down on their RRP as despite me thinking they are overpriced, that's the direction the Swiss watch market is taking. It wouldn't be fair.
Other than that little gripe, I can't really fault the watch!
Therefore, it's another 5 stars for Omega!
Hope this inspires someone to go and buy one, they really are a great watch and looked after correctly (service every 6-8 years on battery watches, every 3-5 years on an automatic) it should last a lifetime.