The Omega Constellation is one of the most well-known watches today and throughout its 70 year history. However, this flagship has seen numerous references and designs. To better navigate the reference jungle I've put together this guide - to not loose track of how much the constellation has evolved. This here is our first attempt to bring a little order, starting with the first ~20 years and blueprints (the "Pie-Pan" era) of this timeless idea called the Omega Constellation.

August 16, 2022

Omega Constellation Reference Guide - The Pie-Pan Era

  


Marcus Siems     Marcus Siems @siemswatches
    Collector, Author, Data Analyst


 

Reference Jungle The Omega Constellation is one of the most well-known watches today and throughout its illustrious history. However, looking back on 70 years of this flagship numerous references as well completely different designs have come up. You easily loose track of how much the constellation has evolved. This here is our first attempt to bring a little order into the reference jungle, starting with the first ~20 years and blueprints (the "Pie-Pan" era) of this timeless idea called Constellation.

 

It's not just a Royal Oak anniversary year that we are celebrating in 2022. The Omega Constellation is celebrating its 70th birthday. Born in 1952 and kept in production all throughout the years the "Connie" is a true flagship of the brand[1-4]. But if we compare the appearance of this horological giant over the decades we see quite a lot of variance.

Unlike other collections like the Speedmaster or Rolex's Datejust, where the core design features stayed more or less intact, the Constellation collection changed its general appeal drastically. From the dial layout, to hand-styles and even case-shapes you could find almost every possible variant you can imagine.

 

Several variants of the vintage Pie-Pan Omega ConstellationA clear design framework but so many variants... Most Pie-Pan Constellations have the dauphine hands, center-second, dog-leg lugs and the automatic movement in common. Yet there's date vs. no-date; dial textures; domed vs. classic pie-pan; stick, baton, arrow and trapez hour markers; steel, yellow and rose gold; and so much more variance. Photos @goldammer.me

 

So, what is an Omega Constellation? What defines this collection if not the appearance? It's the strive for precision. One thing all Constellations have in common is their Chronometre status, a level of precision and accuracy beyond normal standards. As such this collection is more an idea, a promise to the inclined enthusiast that these pieces will tell you the time, the right time, and in a very distinguished way... it doesn't really follow a default design.

Nevertheless, design is an extremely important factor for us and for the love of (vintage) watches in general. I believe if you can understand a design you can value and cherish it more completely. The Constellation is the brands signature for precision, a figurehead that needs to be cased properly. Thus, this guide is an attempt to define what comprises the Constellation design and tries to show where it varies.

 

1960s vintage Omega Constellation Pie-Pan 168.005 in handA classic 1960s Constellation 168.005 ... but what makes this iteration a "classic"? Photo @goldammer.me

 

Part 1. The Pie-Pan Era

The earliest examples of the Constellations hit the market in 1952. Those were Chronometer-Class watches with quite distinct design elements. A very recognizable detail is the dome-shaped dial. On these dials, the outermost area between the hour marker is split into 12 facets. A very unique look and the reason this style is under collectors most famously known as the "Pie-Pan" dial.

Yet there are other very common features. The hands are almost exclusively "Dauphine" shaped, the pieces are round, the movements are automatic with center-second, the crowns are mostly faceted, and we find a very unique lug-shape often referred to as "dog-legs". A lesser known feature is also that these pieces could come in three different finishing levels: "standard", "de Luxe", and "Grand Luxe".

 

The References

Over the course of these first couple of years Omega did actually use three different numbering systems. The classic 2-letter 4-digit system prior to 1962 and the more modern 3-digit dot system from 1962 to 1988 and an overlapping 5-digit period between 1958-1962[5-6]. So here's a list of the more common references of the Pie-Pan era*:

 

Ref. Avail. Dial Marker Date Lugs Variants
2852 1952-62 Pie-Pan Arrow / Diamond No curvy Honey-Comb dials, 3-6-9-12 Numerals
2943 1958-62 Pie-Pan Arrow / Diamond Yes curvy Domed dials, trapez or "onyx" marker
14381 1958-62 Pie-Pan / Domed Stick No dog-leg 14900; flat dial
14393 1958-62 Pie-Pan / Domed Stick Yes dog-leg 14902; flat dial
167.005 1962-70a Pie-Pan / Domed Stick No dog-leg .002 Grand Luxe; .004 short lugs; .010 gold-capped
167.008 1962-70a Pie-Pan / Domed Stick Yes dog-leg see above

Table 1. List of common Omega Constellation references from the "Pie-Pan" era, their key design features and some of the known variants. a approximate availability

 

1960s vintage Omega Constellation 14393 with onyx markersThis is where it gets tricky: As you can see not all watches that can be counted to the Pie-Pan family have a very pronounced pan-shape. This ref. 14393 shows an almost flat dial without any sector-texture. Photo @goldammer.me

 

The Numbers

 

Here, we can have a more quantitative look at this design archetype and its features. With data from over 500 Constellation watches gathered from Chrono24[7] we can make a first estimate to how common these pieces in all the variants are**.

 

Quantitative Guide to the vintage Omega Constellation Pie-PanFigure 1. Quantitative Guide to the Omega Constellation Pie-Pan. Showing the relative popularity - with respect to all Omega watches of the time - on the left, the distribution of case materials (middle left), dial colors (middle right), and hour markers (right). Data from Chrono24[7].

 

The Pie-Pan era lasted for round about the first 20 years of production.  Looking at how common these Constellations are in comparisons to other watches from the brand we observe that particularly with the introduction of the date-complication in 1958 the numbers strongly rise to about 15% of all Omega watches of the time. Overall, the Pie-Pan is most sought after from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s.

 

The Materials and Colors

From the get-go Omega's aspirations for the Constellation collection has been to manufacture a high-end mechanical watch for the connoisseurs. This becomes even clearer when we take a closer look at the applied materials. Most of the pieces - 43% - were produced in gold, 19% gold-capped or bicolored and 38% in steel.

 

stunning 1950s vintage Omega Constellation 2943 Date, rose gold on rose goldIn the 1950s this is the finest of the finest from Omega. A 1958 Constellation 2943 gold on gold. Just look at the immaculate finishing on the dial, the brushed center, the playful arrow/diamond hour markers... a metal-made dream come true. Photo @goldammer.me

 

The dial colors paint a similar picture. White dominates with 46%, but already close behind we see golden and silver dials with 26% and 19%, respectively. All color options often further feature golden hands and hour marker, adding to the exclusivity and the warm hue of these fascinating early references. 

 

The Hour Marker

The early "Connie" is classically depicted with arrow hour markers. This is indeed the case for the first references, yet as we've seen later Pie-Pan variants dominate the overall picture. Thus, the classic stick 66% and baton marker (with onyx inlay) 18% are the most prevalent alternatives. But the stylish arrow comes in third, about 13.5% of the pieces features this mesmerizing, and also my personal favorite, hour marker.

 

1960s vintage Omega Constellation 14902 with black dial The attention to detail is phenomenal. Omega's engineers and designers of the time crafted a well-constructed kaleidoscope incorporating every square-millimeter of the dial. Photo a Constellation 14902 with black dial and bracelet @goldammer.me

 

The Conclusion

Well... hopefully I gardened the (early) reference jungle a bit and disentangled some of the question marks for the potential buyer, admiring enthusiasts and vintage newbies. The Pie-Pan Constellation is a true classic of the late 1950s and early 1960s and carries a lot of its Zeitgeist. Originally envisioned to challenge Rolex's Datejust[1] it became its own success story. Modern watches might be more precise than the original Constellations but they can't beat the history started with this one archetype!

 

1960s vintage Omega Constellation 168.005 gold on gold with onyxConclusively... there are hardly any other more versatile and adaptable (vintage) watches from the middle of the 20th Century and in general. Dress it up or down, it'll always work! Photo a Constellation 168.005 gold on gold @goldammer.me

 

 

* This is only a rough first reference guide. We're open to suggestions on more fine-grained referencing systems. And I'd love to hear everything I missed... there probably is a lot.

** An important point to keep in mind with this analysis is that listed watches are most likely biased towards higher-value pieces. As such this might skew the distribution in terms of for example the material but also in general the amount of Constellations vs. other collections from the brand.

 

- See also our other Omega Constellation Reference Guides:

Pie-Pan Era (1952-1970)

C-Shape Era (1964-1978)

 

References

[1] Omega Constellation Pie-Pan 1963 - History & Design; Felix Goldammer, Goldammer Vintage Watches;

https://www.youtube.com/watch

[2] A History Of The Omega Constellation; Jack Forster, Hodinkee;

https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/stepping-out-from-the-shadow-of-the-moonwatch-a-look-at-the-stellar-history-of-the-omega-constellati

[3] In-Depth - Vintage Omega Constellation Watches; Robert-Jan Broer, Fratello;

https://www.fratellowatches.com/omega-constellation-watches/

[4] The Omega Constellation Buying Guide; Time & Tide Watches;

https://timeandtidewatches.com/omega-constellation-buying-guide/

[5] How to Identify a Vintage Omega; Michal Kolwas, Waha Watches;

https://wahawatches.com/how-to-identify-a-vintage-omega-2019/

[6] An Overview of Omega Reference Codes for Wristwatches; Old-Omegas;

http://www.old-omegas.com/omrefcod.html

[7] ~50,000 Watches + 500 Constellations from Chrono24, extracted 2020 Nov. 29th and Jan. 6th 2022; Karlsruhe, Germany;

https://www.chrono24.com/

And a special thank you to the almost limitless archives at Omega Constellation Collectors and the Collector's Square.

 

All rights on text and graphics reserved to the Author.

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