Inextricable are the names Lemania and Omega, never far apart over the past 100-odd years. The former was a small specialist maker founded by Alfred Lugrin in 1918 as Lemania-Lugrin SA to concentrate on the production of chronographs, at a time when everything from aviation and motor racing to military and sport requirements increased demand for this most useful of complications.
Lemania was not established, as one might suppose, on the shores of Lac Léman. Instead, it was located further north, in the village of L’Orient, in the Vaudoise Siberia, just to the east of where the Orbe empties its chill flow into Lac du Joux.
With economic troubles looming, Omega joined forces with Tissot in February 1930, allowing them to pool their technical strengths and their markets. Two years later, Lemania made it a triumvirate, gaining a seat on the board of Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère, or SSIH as the group was known – not to be confused with SIHH. This secured for Lemania the loyalty of one of its oldest customers, and one of the world’s strongest watch brands: in 1936, a half-million Omega watches were in production at any one time in the factory, and over 9 million of the company’s products are reported to have been in current use in that year.
Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet – each of the “Big Three” has been seduced by the goodness of the Lemania Calibre CH27, whether under the auspices of SSIH, Groupe Horloger Breguet, or indeed, Manufacture Breguet, as it has now become under the Swatch umbrella. The point is that the movement enjoys a history of considerable gravity, having survived one industrial onslaught after another – in fact, not just survived but thrived, garnering the respect of the industry’s leading producers.