One wonders how it took so long for Omega to produce a watch with a red enamel dial – the company’s brand colour, no less! But at least it has reserved this company-first for something truly special: to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the 19-ligne caliber, the legendary movement that not only carved Omega’s name in the pantheon of watchmaking greats, it also gave this storied company its name.
From its beginnings as a workshop in 1848, Omega had always been focused on precision, but it was 1894 with the introduction of the 19-ligne caliber that thrust the company, with the rest of the Swiss watchmaking industry in tow, into the modern age. It wasn’t just remarkably accurate, or innovative – the system of winding and time-setting through a single crown that was perfected in the 19-ligne was ground-breaking in its day. More significantly however, the 19-ligne was the product of modern, streamlined, series production, with dedicated departments specialised in turning out particular components to very precise specification, in a production line. This scale and system of industrial production which has become the norm today was a first for Swiss watchmaking; it was efficient, and delivered such consistent high quality that for the first time, every component in the 19-ligne could be replaced without modification by any watchmaker.
The 19-ligne was a triumph of modern industrial production techniques, and such was its technical supremacy that it was named “Omega” by the company: the last letter of the Greek alphabet to signify the last word in precision watchmaking, as it were. In 1903, the company itself was renamed Omega Watch Company, by then the largest manufacturer of finished watches in Switzerland.
Omega has parts of the original 19-ligne movement that it will assemble into 19 complete movements. These are not for the aforementioned De Ville Trésor 125th Anniversary Edition. Instead, the latter will be fitted with the new Master Chronometer Calibre 8929, the first manual-winding Master Chronometer movement created by Omega.
The rest of the watch is steeped in classical watchmaking codes, not least the curved indexes, slim hands and box sapphire crystal, made superbly glamorous courtesy of the red enamelling that coats the dial and is used to fill the gold medallion on the caseback. In addition to the anniversary markings, the caseback also bears decorative engraving known as damaskeening which was used to decorate some of the original 19-ligne movements sold in the USA. The De Ville Trésor 125th Anniversary Edition is cased in 40mm yellow gold, matched with burgundy leather strap.