It took Omega 7 decades to come up with a Constellation that finally made me swoon – Introducing the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41
I could start this review off like most other sites; all mechanical, no emotional. But the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 is a slightly more personal watch for me, given it’s one of the first 2020 releases that I would love to call my own. So let’s ignore the practical side, and instead, here’s more of an emotional review.
One of the reasons I co-founded Watch Ya Gonna Do About It website was because I was fed up with the snobby side of the watch collecting world. It was time for me to separate myself from the negativity, and focus on why I started collecting watches in the first place; call it the love for horology, or the notion that a wrist machine can go the distance of life’s journey, or the idea of owning something tangible that is worthy to be passed on to a dear friend or an offspring. And the very idea that a watch is to be passed on or cherished beyond belief, a watch that sees my trials and tribulations, successes and failures, means that it is in fact, a watch. A watch. A singular watch. Now of course as things often happen, I got carried away and started a collection. But I have never left sight of why watches were important to me; the concept of one watch that makes you, to put it simply, happy. And transferring this ideology to our website, my partner and I even created an entire Infographics section that details how and why, if at all, a watch is good enough to be either a seasoned collector’s grail watch or a newbie’s one perfect watch.
Why am I on this anti-snobbery rant about collections with just one or two watches? Because the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 is one such watch that can easily be someone’s ideal wrist companion for life.
If you don’t wish to read this review further for whatever reason, here’s the takeaway: if you are someone who cherishes the idea of owning for a very long time, a trustworthy, legible, anti-magnetic Swiss luxury watch for daily wear, and aren’t enamoured by the diving watch world, the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 is the perfect option. If not the best, after all taste is subjective, it’s pretty high up that ladder. It joins the dress watch pantheon where perhaps only Rolex’s SS Datejust currently exists. Maybe we can make space for some of IWC’s offerings, a Cartier Tank LC, or JLC’s Reverso Tributes. Increase the pricing by more than double and you can add Patek’s Calatrava or A. Lange and Sohne to the mix. Of course, if we were talking about the dive or the sports watch part of the industry, this list would be non-exhaustive.
Bottom line is, the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 is pretty freakin’ amazing.
Do I Like It Personally?
Something I really admire about the watch industry is that there is something for everyone. Given that looks are subjective and people’s tastes vary substantially, a particular watch could be someone’s treasure while someone else’s trash. And that’s okay. If we all liked the exact same watch, the industry wouldn’t survive. And this brings me to my appreciation of the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41.
It took Omega 7 decades to come up with a Constellation that finally made me swoon. That’s right, swoon. The very first Constellation model was launched in 1952, and as I am confessing here, I never really took a liking to this Omega collection of watches that not only is extremely popular in the East but has also seen various changes and revamps over the decades. Even the revitalised look in 39mm diameter from earlier this year left me a bit cold and underwhelmed. But then the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 was just announced and much to my own surprise, I have found myself falling in love with them.
They currently have a whooping 239 watches/variations in their vintage catalogue and some 522 watches in their present catalogue. And I think immensely liking only a couple from 761 options is saying something.
A Very Brief Context
Lots, and I mean lots has been written about the history and background of this watch. Many other websites and blogs have covered the history of the Constellation, especially Desmond Guilfoyle’s Omega Constellation Collectors blog site. So I won’t go into much detail here, but would still like to briefly place the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 into some context.
The new Constellation is technically a descendent of a defunct model called the “Centenary” that came to life briefly in 1948. This model was released to celebrate Omega’s 100th anniversary and offered its customers the brand’s first chronometer-certified wristwatch with an automatic movement. Known for its precision, it was a success for the brand and led to the first of its kind release (in 1952) where any brand had ever created a family of watches that consisted solely of certified chronometers.
This first generation of Constellation watches was known for pie-pan dials and looked fairly different from the current Constellation range. An interesting aspect to note is that these initial models inspired the now existing Globemaster collection, both being marked by the raised central area and sloping peripheral chapter ring. The first generation models upon release were categorised according to their finishings: the base model was made available in steel or gold; Constellation Deluxe was all about gold being only available in gold and its dial featured applied gold indexes; and the top end Constellation Grand Luxe was available in both gold or platinum.
Various other iterations later, including quartz models, flat dial versions, and designs by Gerald Genta because why not, in 1982 the Constellation Manhattan watches were introduced. These barrel-shaped case watches were designed by a young designer called Carol Didisheim. Though numerous further takes have been incorporated including the Double Eagle version from 2003, the present-day Constellation collection is very similar to these 1982 versions, marked by the iconic four screwed ‘Griffes’ or claws, the half-moon facets on both ends of the case, and the indexes on the bezel.
This brings us to their update at the beginning of this year. Released in a larger 39mm case diameter, the new design featured polished and bevelled edges, slimmer bezels with redesigned Roman numerals, slimmer claws, a new conical crown, and integrated bracelet options. The architect in me would like to point out that the hands and hour markers were inspired by the triangular facets of the Freedom Tower in New York City.
The Watch(es) of the Hour
At this point it is safe to say that the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 has been 7 decades in the making.
The latest additions come in 8 different variations, with my favourite being the reference 126.96.36.199.06.001 retailing for 9’900. This 41mm stainless steel model stands out due to a polished black ceramic bezel with Roman numerals in Liquidmetal™. It is the definition of understated elegance that’s got a great wrist presence but chooses not to scream. My second favourite is the reference 188.8.131.52.03.001, the two-tone version retailing for a higher 13’200 AUD. This stainless steel and 18K Sedna™ gold model features a polished blue ceramic bezel with Roman numerals in Ceragold™ and a sun-brushed blue dial. I usually find the combination of blue and gold tacky but the execution here by Omega is spot on elegant. The overall 41mm range starts at 8’925 AUD with the steel on steel bezel version and goes all the way up to 31’200 AUD for all gold models.
The dials show the functions of hours, minutes, seconds and date (at 6’o clock) on differing dial options. My favourite version features a beautiful silk-embossed rhodium-grey dial. The way its watch face is integrated with the case is a wonderful study in the execution of a monochromatic look. The polished black ceramic bezel with Roman numerals in Liquidmetal™ co-exist in harmony with the metal claws at 3 and 9’o clock. In my opinion, this perfect blend for the Constellation range is a new one; the reason why I have always disliked the Constellation range is mostly due to how these claws stood out too much for my tastes. But the execution here is spot on. Perfecting the monochromatic look, the hands, Omega logo at 12’o clock, Constellation star at 6’o clock, and facetted indexes are all blackened. These blackened aspects not only provide legibility to the dial but also work harmoniously with the steel grey case and black leather strap.
All of these versions are obviously Master Chronometer certified, which means they have undergone testing twice: first, the movement is COSC certified with precision criteria of -4/+6 seconds per day. Second, it is certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) with the criteria of 0/+5 seconds per day.
So like I said before, a watch that offers so many features and. Looks so good truly stands out to me as the ideal one watch.
The specifications below are for my favourite model, though they read the same for all steel and two-tone variations. The gold versions feature the Calibre 8901 which has a solid-gold rotor and balance bridge.
The movement — cal. 8900 — used is an automatic Manufacture movement with Co-Axial escapement that is approved by METAS and resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15’000 gauss. The movement features a free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring and two barrels mounted in series, with automatic winding in both directions. Through the display case-back, one can admire the special luxury finish this watch offers with rhodium-plated rotor and bridges.
It is worthwhile to note here that this new 41mm version is the only men’s Constellation option with this movement. The other 36mm and 39mm versions use the calibre 8800 family. This calibre in most ways is similar to the one used in the 41mm models — self-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement, certified Master Chronometer and approved by METAS, resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss — but offers a slightly lesser power reserve of 55-hours and doesn’t have the ability to change the hour hand independent of the minute/second hands.
Coming back to calibre 8900 family, the 29mm diameter movement has been in existence since Baselworld 2015 and is comprised of 39 jewels, beats at the frequency of 3.5Hz (25’200 A/h) and allows for a decent 60-hour power reserve. It is a trustworthy but relatively a very common movement in the Omega lineup, found in popular models such as Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M or the Aqua Terra 150M.
Even though the 41mm range gets a different movement, I wish for this new release, Omega should have released an entirely new calibre. It would have become a bit more special this way.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Personally, I really like the watch. But would I be buying it? That’s a tough one. As stunning as it is, I don’t think that this is a collector’s watch; in my opinion, it’s more for those who like to have just one watch. In that, it exceedingly shines.
One, it’s a stunner. The shiny ceramic bezel really manages to bring charm and elegance to the timepiece. The steel only version further brings in a fair amount of understated elegance. Then there’s the practicality side of things; a time only with a seconds hand — I just can’t personally wear watches without seconds hands, I need to see my watches ‘breathe’ — a date window, and the ability to change the hour hand independent of the minutes/seconds hand while travelling further boosts the eligibility of this release turning into a supreme example of a one-watch collection. Add to that the METAS certification, Omega’s 5-year warranty, a decent for everyday use 50m water resistance, anti-magnetic qualities, and the brand’s prestige, and what you get is one heck of a deal, all for less than 10K AUD.
So despite it ticking pretty much every box out there for the perfect watch, I still can’t see myself acquiring one anytime soon. And like I said, not because it’s not worthy enough, the reality is far from that; I think it’s a beauty that will grace any lucky guy’s wrist, but the collection I have, it just doesn’t tick any new boxes for me. Though if one day I did sell my watches and just wanted to end up with one, it would pretty much narrow down to either this or a Rolex Datejust. Given how hard it is to actually get your hands on the colour option one likes from a Rolex AD, it would eventually be the Omega option. Not because it is the second-best, but because it will actually be available at stores.
Of-course if it had any extra complications, say a fourth GMT hand, or a rotating bezel, then yes, I would be the first in line. That new shiny ceramic bezel to me screams a second-time zone, especially since the watch dial already has indices. Well, at this stage all I can do is swoon at the pictures and hope one-day Omega releases a similar watch but with added complications.
For more information on the new Omega Constellation Gents’ Collection 41 or any other Omega watches, please head to their website here. All images unless stated otherwise are courtesy ©Omega. All Right Reserved.