During one of the get-togethers we organized, we came across this very special Omega Constellation that one of the guests brought in. Now, I have to admit that I have a weak spot for the Constellation. Not only the Constellation pie-pan models from the 1950’s or the recent Constellation Globemaster, but I also happen to like the Constellation Manhattan and Constellation’95. Some call this a guilty pleasure, but I don’t feel uncomfortable at all to admit this. Actually, I even own a Constellation’95 in gold & stainless steel.
This type of Constellation, that is still in production today and referred to as the Constellation Manhattan, celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. It was designed by Carol Didisheim and a patent was filed for it on the 26th of May 1982 (and published April 30 1985). The integrated bracelet wasn’t something new for the Constellation, as this was already done in the 1970’s, but the use of claws that pressed on the crystal, case shape and bracelet style were completely new.
Introduced as a quartz chronometer (Caliber 1431) and later on the Constellation was also fitted with automatic chronometer movements. Our friend and Constellation collector Desmond did an interview with Carol Gygax-Didisheim which can be found here.
The Constellation Manhattan was available in stainless steel, steel & gold and gold. Although US actor Robert Wagner advertised for the Constellation in the early 1980’s, the watch could be found on many famous people, including president of the Soviet Union Gorbachev. Even on recent images of Gorbachev you will discover his full gold Constellation Manhattan.
As always, many variations were made on the successful Manhattan design, but nothing really sticked except the original shaped Constellation as Carol Gygax-Didisheim designed. Mid-1980’s, the design changed a bit and the Roman numerals moved to the bezel (instead of the black bezel). Also, the claws lost its initial function and now only pressed on the bezel. You could see this design as the in-between model before the Constellation’95 was introduced, most famous for ambassador Cindy Crawford’s “My Choice” campaign.
One of the Constellation models at the time that deserves a noteworthy mention, is the Constellation ‘Star’ from 1992. Unfortunately I only found the ladies model, but there was a gent’s model as well, without diamonds on the bezel. The Constellation ‘Star’ from 1992 was only delivered to the German market, both with the blue lapis lazuli dial. This watch is noteworthy as it came with a diamond on the dial, which could be positioned at any location based on the client’s preferences. Furthermore, and this made it really special, is that the client could name a real star after his or her name (or whatever name the client wanted). This would be registered officially with the International Star Registry. Also, a star was named “Omega Constellation” already in 1991. The owner of the watch would also receive an official certificate with the position of the star (located in the Cygnus constellation) and the name of the star would be engraved in the case back of the Constellation.
Although that watch is worth a story on its own, today we talk about the gold Constellation that is considered to be the model in between the Manhattan and the Constellation’95. It is basically the same model as the Constellation ‘Star’ from 1992, but without the lapis lazuli dial etc. The Constellation with Omani Swords dates back to 1994.
Constellation Omani Swords
This Constellation, in full 18 carat gold, was produced in 1994 but is still considered the ‘Manhattan’ by Omega. Apparently, this name only changed in 1995 when the design became a bit more smooth on the edges. The main difference was in the dial design though and especially the hands. In 1995 the Constellation received dauphin hands (already featured on the ‘Stars’), changing the entire look of the face in my opinion. However, this 1994 ‘Manhattan’ has a gold dial with round hour markers and a printed minute track.
It shows the national emblem of Oman, consisting of a khanjar (dagger) inside its sheath that is superimposed upon two crossed swords. Adopted in the 18th century as the badge of the Omani royal family, it subsequently became the national emblem of the Sultanate of Oman.
As you can see, the caseback is original and instead of the usual ‘Observatory’ medallion, it now features a nicely engraved Omani Swords logo. The gold stamps can be found in the back of the case as well.
This was not regular production by Omega of course, but done on request for a client. Unknown is who this client was initially. There is no further history known on this piece or who it originally was sent to.
The Extract of the Archives (click here for our article on how these extracts are processed) show that it was delivered to Oman on June 16th, 1994.
Interesting to note is that the movement inside is an automatic Omega caliber 1109, the predecessor of their well-known caliber 1120. Based on the ETA2892-A2 movement, and decorated and finished according to Omega’s standards.
Later on, in 1999, this movement was equipped with a Co-Axial escapement and dubbed Caliber 2500. Besides this automatic movement, the Constellation also used thermo-compensated quartz movements for these models. The automatic models are bit thicker though, due to the dimensions of the movement. This reference 1100.10 Constellation in gold measures 35mm in diameter, without crown. A small watch, but still a bit larger than the 33.5mm quartz models from the early 1980’s.
It is a bit difficult to properly value a watch like this. A stainless steel Omega Constellation ‘Manhattan’ model with caliber 1109 has a price tag of around €900, while a gold & stainless steel model fetches a few hundred more. Currently there’s even a limited edition model available in gold and stainless steel from the 1990s with a transparent case back and special logo for €1250. Whether these watches are underrated or simply unpopular, fact is that these are really bargains if you are into this integrated design and can handle the relatively small size.There aren’t many out there for sale, but on Chrono24 you’ll also find a number of full gold Omega Constellation ‘Manhattan’ series. Currently, there is one reference 1100.10 on eBay with transparent caseback, complete with box and papers for a €7900 ‘Buy Now’ price. I am not sure whether the engraved Omani Swords logo would add some extra to the price of such a watch, perhaps only to those who have a special relationship with Oman.
Whether you like the special engraving or not, there are quite some Omega Constellation ‘Manhattan’ watches out there to discover as they were made in many variations. To me, and I’ve said it before a couple of times in other articles, I believe that certain watches should have a touch of gold. Whether it is a vintage 1980’s Rolex Datejust, a Cartier Cantos Galbee or an Ebel 1911, the Omega Constellation ‘Manhattan’ is definitely one of them.
*Thanks to Tim for some of the images of the Constellation ‘Manhattan’ Omani Swords. Thanks to Maria for modeling.
**We just got an update that this watch has been stolen last month from the rightful owner. Please be careful when this watch is being offered to you and get in contact with us and/or local police. Serial number is 49584614.