The key pieces on show at fake Omega’s touring exhibition and the brand’s innovative history

Nicole-Kidman
Nicole Kidman wearing a jewelled 1950s Omega “secret” watch

As a brand, Omega conjures up images of high adventure – the Speedmaster Moonwatch, or James Bond in a succession of sleekly sporty styles. Boys’ stuff, definitely (though women have been known to snap these up). Omega’s women’s offer, meanwhile, is popular but less flamboyant, majoring on round styles with impeccable movements, such as the Ladymatic or Constellation.

Nevertheless, a touring exhibition, Her Time, which landed in Paris during the city’s recent Fashion Week, was an eye-opener, revealing the depth of heritage Omega replica boasts in women’s watches.

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An art deco Omega watch from the early 20th century, now in the brand’s museum in Bienne

One person wise to this is Nicole Kidman, a long-term Omega replica brand ambassador. The A-lister is frequently photographed with a vintage cheap Omega strapped to her wrist: a delicate 1950s “secret” watch with a cluster of diamonds over the dial, or an Art Deco-inspired, diamond-style watch with a tiny rectangular case.

Both timepieces, like the exhibition replica watches, come from the archives at the Omega Museum, located near the company’s HQ in Biel, Switzerland. It is currently closed but will reopen in a much more immersive form next year – a must-see destination for replica watch fans.

The key pieces on show at the Her Time exhibition highlight Omega’s innovative women’s watch history, as Petros Protopapas, museum director and brand heritage manager, acknowledges.

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A gold Omega from the 1970s

“Few people know that from 1894 to 1935, over a third of Omega’s production was in women’s watches for a great deal for that time,” he says. “We wanted to show our ongoing commitment to women’s lives – Art Deco from the 1920s, the Medicus from the 1930s, which was specifically for nurses to read and take pulses with, or the original 1955 Ladymatic, which had the smallest rotor-equipped automatic movement in the world, and was chronometer certified.”

There were design surprises, too. Delicately enamelled pocket replica watches from the very early 20th century; 1940s gold watches from the brand’s French division (not unlike contemporaneous work from great Paris jewellery houses); strong, avant-garde, rectangular designs from the early 1970s, and unique items from British jeweller Andrew Grima’s 1969 About Time collaboration with replica Omega – large, gold watches often with the dial viewed through a translucent natural gem.

Constellation
The modern Costellation in steel and yellow gold, inspired by 1970s designs

Riveting though these pieces are, their influence on today’s Omega is indirect. “They remind us of originality and possibility,” says Petropapas, who points out that these qualities are found in different ways in Omega’s modern women’s watches.

In fact, as Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega CEO, notes, many of the replica watches on show are “one-of-a-kind pieces, made with very expensive designs and materials, but we have to consider what will sell on a large scale. If we replicated these styles in our full collection they might not represent the overall desires and demands of women.”

Another factor, of course, is that different styles are favoured by different markets. “In China and Asia, the Constellation and De Ville are still our best sellers for women,” continues Aeschlimann. “In Western markets they tend to buy bigger, sportier styles such as Moonwatches or the Seamaster Aqua Terra.”

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A vintage Omega poster, advertising its women’s watches

The Paris exhibition was launched by original supermodel Cindy Crawford, also a brand ambassador, who has now been joined by her two photogenic teenage children. Kaia (the season’s hottest model) and Presley (another successful model) Gerber are both ideal role models to persuade their generation that a good replica watch is more elegant and individual than a smartphone for keeping track of time.

Although, for now at least, the focus remains very much on women, rather than millennials. “The main influence on us in the future will be women themselves,” Aeschlimann admits. “We listen and try to give them a range of styles that fulfils their needs. We’ll continue to borrow from our heritage, but what we make now is for today’s woman and she is quite different from the past.”