Omega was formed in 1848 by 23 year old Louis Brandt. He opened a workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and began to produce key-wound pocket watches from component parts supplied to him by craftsmen local to the area. Over time Omega became a very successful company, known for the mass production of pocket watches. However after the founders death in 1879, his two sons Louis-Paul and Cesar decided the company needed to make the next step and begin to manufacture the components for their watches in house.
This change was instigated as the brothers thought they were receiving parts which were of a low quality, and they could not rely on deliveries always being received on time. They soon perfected the process of mass production and within 6 years Omega began production of the world’s first mass-produced movement. The process of one person producing each individual watch was, for Omega at lest, over.
Like many of the major watch companies, Omega promotes their brand by sponsorship of major international sporting events. This has always been a part of Omega’s history, and can be traced back to 1909, when it handled the timekeeping for the Gordon-Bennett cup (an international balloon race). The company is also a pioneer in the field of event timekeeping. They provide both the timekeeping hardware and software for major international events in athletics and swimming. They not only time the events, but supply the “Scan’O’Vision” cameras used to determine the winner in photo finishes, provide the high speed video technology used in false start detection, and provide the touch pads used at the ends of the pool in swimming events.
Omega continues to innovate in the watch making industry. In 1999 they launched the first watch to feature a co-axial escapement. A co-axial escapement results in a watch which is more precise and requires less servicing, as there is less friction compared to a traditional escapement mechanism. This new type of escapement is considered to be the most important development in watch movements in the last 100 years.