European Travel Report (Part II) - The Omega Museum!
Posted By: Don Aldo
Date: February 4, 2007, 12:28 p.m. PST
I love visiting Europe whenever I can. I always wish I could bring back the food, the drink, and the architecture with meÖ but damned airlines would charge me a fee for the extra weight. But if I were to choose where I could live on the old continent, it wouldnít be England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, etc. etcÖ. no, it would have to beÖ the OMEGA MUSEUM!!!
If youíre familiar with the expression ìI felt like a kid in a candy store.î, then how about ìI felt like a kid in a candy factory and I indulged in very candy Iíd ever hope to eat.î While not terribly accurate, it does come closer to describing my experience atÖ the OMEGA MUSEUM!!!
As some of you know, Iím a self confessed Lemaniac and chrono-nerd so the photos I took just sort of, maybe, kind of, in a way, reflect that.
So without any further ado, here are the photos.
Surprise surprise, hereís a Lemania built Omega calibre 33.3:
Here are several variants on the 24 size Omega-signed Lemania calibres:
Hereís an example of how not to ship your Speedmaster (mm-hmÖ I mean, how not to ship a *cosmonautís* Speedmaster):
When I asked Herr Schneider why this inscription was on this caseback, I got a blank stare. Therefore, it is my assumption that this likely was a retirement gift for Mr. Albert Piguet from the Lemania watch company. As some of you know, Mr. Piguet helped design some of the calibres we know and love including the Lemania cal. 27CH (or Omega cal. 321).
Iíd never seen a spacesuit before!!
But Iíd seen that watch before!
The first watch in spaceÖ well not reallyÖ but close. The watch on the left is like the one that astronaut Walter Schirra wore in 1962 during the Mercury 8 mission. How do I know that this isnít Schirraís watch? The text, written in French, mentions how the real watch is actually being exhibited at the Space Center in Houston until 2005. I know, weíre 2007, so is this still the replacement watch or is it really Schirraís? My people are working on it and Iíll let you know asap, on the double.
The French language text also mentions how the watch was privately purchased by Schirra (therefore, not issued by NASA).
The watch on the right was worn by Richard Gordon on his Apollo XII mission.
The first Omega wrist chrono! Produced in 1913 (look out for the pusher at 6 oíclock).
I like this one, I like it a lot. This watch was worn by commanding officers and pilots serving under Italian Air Marshal Italo Balbo (likely on their transatlantic flights).
Aircraft chrono used in the 24 planes that Italo Balbo used in his famous Rome-Chicago flight in 1933 to commemorate Mussoliniís 10th year in power.
The display of submersible watches:
Nice chrono, and it beats the modern Breitlings in terms of legibility (ooh, low blow, low blow!):
Various chronos, the ones at the top right are likely equipped with cal. 321 movements, methinks.
Vintage chronos and I have no idea which calibre the movements happen to be (likely either the cal. 321 or 33.3)
This one made me laugh. Itís one of those modern-converted pocket to wrist watches. I pointed this out to Herr Schneider ñ that while the movement is likely completely authentic, the case dial and hands arenít. He shrugged and said ìmaybeî. I wonder if that information will have any impact (likely not, but my people are also working on this one).
Some Lemania bling bling! A 24 size Lemania rattrapante movement (signed ìOmegaî of course).
Like I said, a kid in a candy factory.
More 24 size chrono fun!
Bring it on!
As far as I know, this particular timepiece houses a 24 size movement. Now the standard size for a watch that houses a 24 size movement is roughly 65mm. This timepiece is about the size of a wall clock. As far as I know, this type of Lemania chrono was used by the Italian navy in the 1930s/40s.
If I could have fit this machine in my bag, I would have.
1976 Olympic 24 size timer, in that year the Olympics were held in my hometown as well as my girlfriendís ñ neat coincidence.
I donít know what this was used for. I should have looked it up in one of the printed guides, but I was so busy taking photos for you! In any case, I like it.
As per the museum, this is the largest Omega watch ever made:
BTW, almost every Omega calibre ever produced is on display. Here are a few:
Speedmaster variants (part 1)
Speedmaster variants (part 2)
I was very surprised to see this particular (and supposedly issued) wrist timer. No info was given on any caseback markings of any kind. Has anyone ever seen an example of this watch before? It houses a modified Lemania cal. 15CHT movementÖ how do I know this? I have an unsigned version of the same timepiece.
And hereís the movement:
Meanwhile, at the museumÖ. Hereís their RAF 53 Omega, which is also pictured on their websiteÖ but here it is without sexy lighting and Photoshop touch-ups:
Hereís a 6B/159 or HS/|\8 Omega (on a god awful strap!):
I like wristlets.
Hereís a modern yet fugly bling-bling remake of the 24 size rattrapante chronos (all itís missing is a diamond encrusted bezel):
On the left is what is likely a mini camera clock, at centre is a beautiful 1920s/30s pilot watch and at the bottom right is another pilot watchÖ Iím not sure whether this example is original or whether itís the modern remakeÖmethinks itís original:
Mark V non-lum British military pilotís pocket watch:
A wall of mini Olympic posters:
If youíre traveling to, or live in, the old continent do try and make a stop at the Omega Museum if you get the chance. You need to set up an appointment ahead of time. You wonít regret it. Stay tuned for Part III of the series when the Don takes you to ñ Pais! It may be the city of love, but there's also room for... the watch lover!
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