Hands-On With The Neo-Vintage Omega Constellation ’95
Finally, the Norwegian Fratello editor has an Omega in his collection, and true to my ethos, it’s a quirky one. While some of my articles are theoretical, chances are always high that they turn into real desire. And this was certainly the case with the Omega Constellation ’95.
I have had a conflicted and procrastinated relationship with Omega watches, and while it’s not a prerequisite at Fratello, I’ve never had a Speedmaster. As part of my pseudo-psychotherapy, I delved deeper into the subject a few weeks ago, reached a theoretical conclusion, and quickly acted on it for once!
To add or to consolidate?
This is an important question I keep asking myself, and it’s fraught with danger. This year, I have had a few long-term review watches on my wrist, including the dazzling Behrens × Chaykin collab, the CasiOak Black Metal Galaxy, and the Schofield B3. This has allowed for more time to consider my taste and reduced the urge to jump on a tempting pre-order hype. But writing the story on which Omega seemed my best choice, I sold two watches within a week while the hunt had begun. Yes, that’s right; I even managed to consolidate and found an Omega Constellation ’95 from 1997 in Japan through Chrono24.
Built like a tank
After unboxing the delightfully scruffy full set of boxes, I sniggered at the original guarantee card from the town of Surfers Paradise (for real) in Queensland, Australia. This alone made me realize that I might be on my way back to vintage love. I was very surprised as this ain’t no surfer’s watch, but then I got scared. This watch is seriously thin! In my slightly frenzied hunt, did I buy a quartz version? Measuring just 9.5mm from top to bottom, this is the slimmest watch I’ve got, yet the wrist feeling is weighty for its 36mm size.
It is, thankfully, a very slim automatic, fitted with Omega’s caliber 1120, based on the ETA 2892-A2. It’s a fairly bulletproof automatic caliber with low service costs. It was also chronometer-certified at the time, like most Constellation models. And yes, I do agree heartily with RJ that non-in-house is a good thing here. After debuting in-house calibers in the 2000s, they became bulky, while this is luxuriously slim.
Small but with a big personality
So this is a 36mm watch. Well, it is 35.5, in fact, and 36 at the charming polished claws. The length of the lugless case is 38mm, but it has a big personality thanks to the bracelet. It’s very different from almost anything else except, perhaps, the Breitling Rouleaux-style bracelet and it has no discernable stretch. Yes, pretty much none, and it is a 26-year-old watch. The 36mm diameter feels larger thanks to the cushion case and the over-22mm width of the bracelet where it enters the case. It tapers down eloquently to 18mm at the clasp with its gold logo, and do you know what? It’s a superb big-brand entry ticket to the hallowed game of integrated bracelets.
I get it. I understand the hype. The sleek feeling is one of exclusivity and solid comfort that just hits a nerve. But watch out because most pre-owned Constellation ’95 examples tend to have short pre-sized bracelets and no spare links. Thankfully, I found excellent help through Kölbel, a service-minded parts dealer on Chrono24. After I hastily ordered the wrong links, the team there even sent me a new pair before my returned ones arrived. You see, I like my bracelets to have that louche and loose ’80s fit. Big blow-dried hair is not included, but additional bracelets, yes.
Has my taste for (neo-)vintage been renewed?
Let’s run through my favorite details of this watch. My biggest reservation was the Roman numerals on the bezel, but I seem to love ’em. With applied indices on the dial, they simply become a decorative feature, and their execution is superb. The dial has a soft look of blue or gray depending on the light, like denim. And the surface pattern looks like an expensive suit fabric. The lume in the dauphine hands has turned a soft beige, and it all gels.
For now, I’ve got this Omega Constellation ’95 and my rare 1999–2000 Credor as my 10% vintage alibi. But I’ve been mighty surprised by their real-world accuracy and build quality. I’ve been in this game too long to suffer idiosyncrasies like a beautiful dial within a great case being held in place by a flimsy, uncomfortable, and rattly bracelet. And Robert-Jan, I am feeling the vibe of your two-tone Constellation collection, Don’t be surprised if one of those golden gems ends up on my wrist too. After all, I have two, right?
Fratelli, have I only made it worse for myself by enjoying older watches again? Or does it mean that I can find a new angle with which to consolidate my collection? Let me know what you think of this development in the comments.