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Feature: Why Omega Shouldn’t Have Killed Off This Watch

Omega has never been averse to flexing its creative muscles and taking bold design risks—unlike its rival Rolex, which makes only tiny, incremental tweaks to existing models and seems to launch a brand-new watch about as often as general elections are held in North Korea.

Omega is like the mercurial boy band member who is the first to leave the group, get a load of ‘meaningful’ tattoos and do a stint in rehab before finally sorting his life out, whereas Rolex is the sensible one who listens to his financial adviser and studies the stock market backstage at gigs.

The third-generation Dynamic line by Omega included a retro-style chronograph. Image:Bonhams

The third-generation Dynamic line by Omega included a retro-style chronograph. Image:Bonhams

That said, the brand has looked a tad square in recent years. A bit less prone to loosening its tie and lowering its inhibitions as it used to be. To find a collection that shows Omega at its, er, ‘grooviest’, we have to go all the way back to its Dynamic range of watches, sadly discontinued but still widely available on the vintage and pre-owned market.

The last generation of the Dynamics were charmingly retro, standing out in a dazed and confused, post-quartz-crisis world. Modestly sized and accessibly priced, they featured unorthodox fonts not found on any other watches. The chronograph version even looked, dare we say it, a bit like the revered 1940s and 50s chronographs made by Longines.

But before they came along, the Dynamic line had already established itself as the range where Omega threw off its shackles and got quirky—and unsurprisingly, it first reared its head in the swinging 60s.

Dawn Of The Dynamic

Launched towards the end of the 1960s, the first Dynamics reflected their space-obsessed era, where the Moon landings became reality and Star Trek was a pop-culture phenomenon.

Their UFO-shaped cases and concentric dials struck a note with a younger audience and they became extremely popular, with some contemporary sources claiming they were Omega’s best-selling model during the late 60s and early 70s.

The first-generation Omega Dynamics in the 60s were very much of their era. Image:Bonhams

The first-generation Omega Dynamics in the 60s were very much of their era. Image:Bonhams

Omega kept them affordable by offering either three-hander time-only models or ones with a date aperture at 3 o’clock.

Though discontinued in 1979, a small quantity of new-old stock was discovered in a Swiss warehouse in the late 1990s and each watch, complete with original “Corfam” perforated leather strap, went on sale for just £295.

Up until around ten years ago you could still pick up a first-generation Dynamic in excellent condition for less than £300—that’s almost impossible now.

Into Hibernation

By 1979 the Dynamic was beginning to look dated rather than futuristic. Quartz watches bearing digital LED displays became de rigeur among younger buyers and even James Bond wore an LED quartz watch. The Dynamic was therefore retired before making a brief return in 1984.

These second generation models had a quartz movement and a revamped look—round cases rather than oval, but retaining the concentric dial.

Some featured an asymmetric bezel that was thicker at the top than the bottom and with a peculiar sloping case so the watch was angled towards the wearer for better legibility.

The design didn’t seem to grab the public in the new Swatch-dominated landscape, however, and the Dynamic II, as the second line was understandably called, was once again removed from the Omega catalogue.

Why The Dynamic Shouldn’t Be Dead

When Omega brought back the Dynamic for the third, and presumably final, time in 1997 it had a completely new look. And, to these eyes at least, they seem to have got so much right this time.

One of the very last Omega Dynamic designs before they pulled the plug.

One of the very last Omega Dynamic designs before they pulled the plug.

It bore no resemblance to the previous Dynamics of the 60s and 70s. But what it did have in common with its predecessors was that it had distinctive aesthetics that owed little to any previous watches by the brand. It was Omega throwing caution to the wind and offering something different.

You could also say it was ahead of its time with its neo-retro styling, including mushroom pushers (on the chronograph version), lozenge hands, a 38mm or 36mm case and lumed numerals in a slightly idiosyncratic font.

They were automatic—run on an adapted ETA movement—and came in a similarly styled chronograph and non-chronograph version, but it was the two-register chronograph with black dial that stood out.

Placed alongside Omega’s most famous chronograph, the Speedmaster, the Dynamic made its Omega sibling look a little formal and uptight. It also offered Omega aficionados a slightly cheaper alternative that harked back to the chronograph golden age of the 40s and 50s.

Bring It Back!

So why did they dump it? Possibly because Omega’s chronograph range was starting to look a little crowded.

By the turn of the millennium, Omega was starting to pump out umpteen variations of the Speedmaster, while there were also Seamaster chronographs and even dressy De Ville chronographs in rose gold. Larger watches were also on the rise and perhaps Omega thought the Dynamic might lose its vintage appeal if it was beefed up to the max.

This model sold at auction at Bonhams for a bargain £480 in 2008. Image: Bonhams

This model sold at auction at Bonhams for a bargain £480 in 2008. Image: Bonhams

And perhaps around this time it was decided that Omega’s Swatch Group stablemate Longines was going to be the brand that took care of the mid-range retro segment with its heritage editions.

Whatever the reason—or reasons—it signalled the end of the game for the Dynamic and it was consigned to the Omega archives. Well, for now at least. After all, the very name Dynamic suggests new ideas, energy, progress... Who’d bet against it making a third comeback in some way?

It’s something we’d genuinely love to see.

Looking for pre-owned Omega finance? Click here to shop now

Looking for a pre-owned Omega watch? Click here to shop now