OMEGA – Time to Kill Cash Cows

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OMEGA Seamaster selection

TTAW commentator James H writes: I’m so glad someone has finally gone the hard yards and counted the Seamaster SKUs! (The OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300m Has Lost Its Way). It was always something I’d meant to do, but pesky things kept getting in the way. Shucks, life . . .

OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300m

Omega’s bloated catalogue is both grotesque and fascinating in equal measure. Now (after 1 year’s swotting) I’ve got to the bottom of it, yet enlightenment alludes me. One of my more pointless achievements. And I only own one Omega.

How in God’s name is anyone new to the brand/watch world meant to navigate the ranges? I imagine 90% of newbie visitors (not the ones engaged in the above Sisyphean task) click off pronto presto and collapse blearily into the unchallenging designs and easy range of Rolex. Ha ha, there’s a shock in store for them if they want to buy one, of course. But they don’t know that yet, right?

This is a common Swatch brand problem – check out Longines, Blancpain, Breguet. Good watches all. Crazy, convoluted, bloated ranges. The new Longines CEO has made it his main task to slim down their range, so it seems this obesity is recognised as a problem.

Limited Editions

I think it’s down to two main factors. Firstly, Limited Edition models. The gimmicky LE watches stay buzzing around the range for years after launch. Want to buy a 2014 Winter Olympic Planet Ocean (I exaggerate) – well I’m sure you still can. There are 10s of them, let alone the weekly release of another colour-deaf commemorative edition for something you never knew existed.

But the main problem is core model variants. No one enters the watch buying world thinking “I’m really hankering after a malachite green, modern reinterpretation of a 1950s skin diver.” Yet there it is, another SKU. Who signs off on this crap?

OMEGA Caliber 8800

Omega can make great watches. Their movements are now segment leading (we’ll conveniently exclude Grand Seiko from that segment). Their fit and finish is superb. But their design can seem disposable, more Nike than Patek. The variety stocked (necessarily) by ADs make them look cheap on the shelves. Excusable for £150 G-Shock, not £5.5k Omega. You can feel the depreciation leaking out of the display case.

Omega seem to avoid classic design like the plague. This fashion forward perversity makes the watches look cheap and importantly, like there will be a nicer one out next year. Or month.

Speedy Tokyo

There is only one classic Omega – the Speedy Pro (and even that they divvy into too many variants). A big success for them. So why no classic, tool style PO, AT, S300? Get rid of the gaudy crap that doesn’t sell and these would fly. In the West. Emerging markets are different. Russia and Brazil can’t get enough 44mm blue and orange meteorite commemorative editions.

OMEGA Seamaster Diver 30mm Black Black

The SMP is different. Odd ’90s styling, hockey puck proportions (surely the Black Black should be called “The Puck’”, functionless gimmicks. But it sells. Loads. No accounting for taste. Or the power of Gen X, Goldeneye fantasy. Yeah, it needs a lead pill (or a serious redesign), but who kills the cash cow? Patek Phillipe. There’s your answer.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A year or so ago, I had the means and opportunity to purchase an Omega or a Tag Heuer Monaco. I went with a Grand Seiko GMT instead.

  2. FWIW, Omega is like Mclaren – lots of editions, lots of focus on the “new”. If you like them, like I do, it’s great because you can buy NIB watches for 30-40% off if you wait a year.

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