Hot Take: The New Omega Constellation Gents 39mm
Finally, the Omega Constellation received some necessary attention! In 2018 we saw the introduction of the new ladies’ models, but now the gents’ version has also been updated. Officially, it’s Omega’s 5th generation of this type of Constellation (although I disagree with that and believe it to be the 6th). Let’s have a closer look.
But first, let me tell you why this collection means a lot to me (I also wrote it here on Fratello Magazine). It might surprise you to learn why I’m so excited about a watch that hasn’t been featured much here. The Omega Constellation is the first serious watch I ever received. It was back in 1998 when I graduated, and my mother knew I’d been deeply in love with this specific model for a few years. She gave me a Constellation from the ’95 collection and she bought a ladies’ model for herself. The Omega Constellation is a watch that has been in my family since the 1960s when my great-grandfather purchased a pie-pan Constellation. A few years later, in 1969, my grandfather also picked-up a gold Constellation, which inadvertently started a tradition.
Those models were entirely different regarding the design, of course. The entire constellation range enjoyed a serious shake-up in 1982 when Omega’s designer Carol Didisheim and Omega’s Product Director Pierre-Andre Aellen came up with the Constellation “Manhattan.” With the famous claws that pressed on the sapphire crystal becoming an iconic and indispensable aspect of the model, things would never again be the same for the Omega Constellation.
Omega Constellation Manhattan
The Constellation Manhattan received an update a few years later. Omega decided to get rid of the crystal over the bezel and to move the Roman numerals from the dial, onto the bezel. I would also say that these changes constitute the second generation of this Constellation, although Omega regards the Constellation ’95 as the second generation. The Constellation’95 was indeed a more rigorous update without losing the shape of the case and claws. The dials were fancier (with additional texture), and the movements were upgraded to the Omega caliber 1120.
In 2003, Omega introduced the Constellation ‘Double Eagle’ collection. More bold, more round. It wasn’t for me, in all honesty. The next update came in 2009, where the design was a bit sharper again, and the design a bit more toned down. Last week, Omega introduced a new series of Constellation. Perhaps the most mature version since the Constellation ‘Double Eagle’ in 2003.
Omega Constellation Gents 39mm
Omega changed a number of design aspects of this Constellation. Most important, I think, are the changes to the case, claws, and bracelet. The design has become a bit sharper, with a nice combination of polished and brushed surfaces, the use of beveled edges on the case and bracelet and slimmer bezels and claws. The conical crown is a new addition, and the hands and hour markers have also been given an overhaul. Reputedly, the hour markers received inspiration from the triangular facets of the Freedom Tower in New York.
Then, there’s the new bracelet (and the new straps). A leather strap isn’t exactly new for this Constellation (the 1990s “Manhattan” watches had a leather strap option). Today, however, it becomes more integrated today with the special end link. The bracelet on this Constellation has a new design as well. The edges are beveled, and you’ll find a newly designed center link. Also important, the bracelet can now be slightly adjusted to have a bit more give in it. That’s really useful at the end of the day or during hot summer months.
What I liked so much about the Constellation’95 seems to have returned. Dials with texture are a big plus for me. These new versions aren’t exactly the same as the Contellation ’95 from the ’90s. It’s possible they’ve been inspired by the dials of the Constellation C-case from the 1960s and 1970s. I really like the blue dialed version, with the Sedna gold case, but the silver/grey version is also very nicely done. In total, Omega comes up with 26 different configurations of the Constellation 39mm gent’s version. From all stainless steel to full gold (Sedna and yellow gold).
Prices go from €5,500 for the steel watch on a leather strap (the all stainless steel version is €5,700) to €30,000 for the full gold Constellation watch on a bracelet. The prices for all combinations are listed at the end of this article. In my humble opinion, a Constellation should always have a small touch of gold somewhere, and the bi-color models (steel and Sedna gold or example) are very pleasing for the eyes. These configurations retail for €8,500.
The previous 38mm Constellation for men were equipped with Omega’s in-house developed caliber 8500. The new references have the caliber 8800 (and 8801 for the gold models) movement inside. There wasn’t much wrong with the 8500 movement. In fact, it receives a lot of positive comments from watchmakers, but the caliber 8800 has a quick-set date (the caliber 8500 had an independent hour hand that needed to be used to advance the date) and is Master Chronometer certified by METAS. Being chronometer-certified is a must for any Constellation, in my opinion.
It once was their flagship collection that had the observatory on its case back (and a star on the dial) for a reason — accuracy. The star is still there, but unfortunately, the medallion with the observatory has been removed. You can still find it on the Constellation Globemaster series, though. Those models show a bit more resemblance to the early pie-pan Constellations but with contemporary looks and the latest technical specifications.
I am fully aware that the modern Omega Constellation might be one of the least popular Omega models outside Asia. Since the 1990s Omega is super strong in China and the Constellation ’95 and later iterations are very much appreciated there. Unlike in Europe for example, where you see them only once in a while in the wild. It’s about Seamasters and Speedmasters here, it seems. But despite my love of the Speedy, I do feel the scarcity fo Constellations is a pity. The Constellation is one of their oldest collections and it gets little appreciation by enthusiasts. It seems (from an observational standpoint only) that the models after the Constellation ’95 didn’t do well in Europe and the USA, compared to the Seamaster and Speedmaster collection.
I have to admit that the 1982 version is still my very favorite, followed by the Constellation ’95. It is partly based on nostalgic feelings, but I happen to like the design, especially when the design was a bit sharper (and thinner) in those days. The new Constellation looks very promising, and I can’t wait to give it a try on the wrist for a few weeks. My concern is not the design (at all), but the thickness of the watch. I hope that the new Constellation 39mm models for gents are a bit thinner than the two previous generations. More information via the official Omega website.