Explore the thought process and decision making behind what became my first Swiss watch...

Having graduated from university at the end of the previous year I now had my first proper job, (It’s in politics, I know, the least said about that the better) up to that point the watch strapped to my wrist was a Seiko 5 with a sunburst blue dial.  It was as they all are, a good one. It efficiently informed me how late I was for my lectures and held a boyish charm with how it caught people’s attention every now and then.

With my first job, I wanted my first Swiss watch, A message to the world that I was no longer a student.

I wanted a watch that was everything that I myself wasn’t but wanted to be. Firstly, on time, secondly smart but not like I’m trying too hard. It needed to be effortless, both in style and timekeeping. The watch I was lusting after was the Omega Constellation Globemaster. It was everything. The pie pan dial, the fluted bezel and the co-axial movement. “Globemaster” at the top of that dial. It spoke to me, that vintage feel of the Pan-Am Jet Age and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca thrown into a new release with modern proportions. It was the watch for a “citizen of the world”. The problem: Its £5k. That didn’t work for me. I decided to look vintage. I looked at the watches which inspired the watch that spoke to me.

The Omega Constellation C-Shape - Image Credit: Christopher Herman

The hunt begins...

After weeks of research reading blogs and looking across Chrono24 and eBay I bought the Omega Constellation C-Shape with a fluted bezel and day-date complication. It’s on the smaller side at just 34mm with the painfully irritating 19mm lug width, but I love it. It has this almost brushed cotton dial, which at first glance isn’t particularly special until you see how it plays with the light and the work that’s gone into applying each piece of the dial. I love the warm distortion the plexiglass brings when you turn the watch away from you.

Forgive me for shamelessly falling for Omega’s marketing but the plexiglass distorts in a manner that I like to imagine the crew of Apollo 11 witnessed as they left the earth’s atmosphere. I love its much-underappreciated Gerald Genta case which gives a subtle nod to the 1970s without making you jump into flared chords and dance to Abba.

The Omega Constellation C-Shape - Image Credit: Christopher Herman

It's not all good news though.

It certainly has its faults, the lack of water resistance means I’d sooner jump onto the central line in rush hour then get it near a single drop of water. The bracelet though comfortable and in relatively good nick for its age has hollow end links and makes a minor rattling noise every now and then and the end links themselves are a bit dodgy and there is occasionally a bit of a gap between the end links and the case itself.  The day-date has no quick set function, only a function that allows you to bump the date forward for those months that fall shorter than 31 days. There is no hacking. There is no lume on the indices and the lume on the hands is hit and miss. Oh, and that blasted 19mm lug width!

Much of this is a minor irritation at the very worst. It's part of the parcel of a vintage watch. Watchmaking has moved on since and I think the price reflects that.

Putting the advancement of horology to one side, without sounding overly pretentious, there is still space on our wrists for these vintage watches.

The money I paid for the C-Shape I could have got a high-end Seiko or a low-end Sinn. I'm personally happy I went for the C-Shape. What the C-Shape brings to my wrist is an understated elegance almost forgotten in time. By modern standards, it is a dress watch, or at least it is certainly dressier than anything in the current Omega range except perhaps the Omega Constellation Manhattan, ironically the watch of Mikhail Gorbachev.

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Versatility in abundance

In spite of its dressiness, it seems to go with everything from a dressing gown on a lazy Sunday morning to a navy suit for an important meeting on a Wednesday afternoon. It is from a time when men bought one watch and wore it until their final days. It has that unapologetic permanence to it, it is almost like a game of test cricket you cannot remember when it started and you have no idea when it is about to finish. With the C-Shape strapped to my wrist, whether that be on the bracelet or an aftermarket leather strap, it feels like it has always been on my wrist and that I couldn’t possibly take it off.

I am by no means a watchmaker, and I’m not someone who is overly interested in watch movements, yet I’m completely enamoured by pictures of these old Omega movements whether it’s the classic copper bumper movement that’s in those early Seamasters or the sophisticated chronometers in watches like mine. They all look spectacular and they’re obviously built to last.

The Omega Constellation C-Shape, on the whole, goes completely unnoticed, far more unnoticed than my Seiko 5, or SARB017. I think as a result it is something that only those who suffer from the dreaded watch acquisition disorder truly notice, as they’re trying to get a glimpse of what watch someone is wearing on the morning commute. That is a beautiful thing about wearing it as a work watch, it is not loud or brash. It isn’t screaming for attention. It isn’t shouting about how much it is worth. It is quietly sitting there, doing its job and if you spot it, it gives you a respectable nod and gets back to the job at hand.

I think with the fashion of bigger dive watches in gold, two-tone and bronze there is something wonderful with the subtlety of watch that allows its wearer to do the talking.