The Ω Project
During many years as a horological restorer and a teacher at the watchmaking school of Porrentruy it regularly happened that clients and friends came to me asking why I did not make my own series of wristwatches. Of course, this was an exciting idea, however, putting it into practice is another story because there are so many details to take into consideration in order to ensure the success and quality of such a project, not to mention large amounts of time, investment and patience.
The first step was a practical one: I had to find the best companies that would be willing to manufacture the small quantities I needed as an independent watchmaker; this was especially true of the dials, as they are central for the soul and character of any wristwatch. The life of the region where I was raised and live today has been home to watchmaking companies for hundreds of years, which was a great help in locating the best partners for my watchmaking adventure, but a major obstacle would still be the choice of movement. I envisaged a caliber with a top pedigree on several levels: as a timekeeper, with robust and well proven construction and if possible, possessing a real personality and preferably an historic background. Finding a handful of such calibers in Switzerland is relatively straightforward; however, to make my personal adventure successful I needed to find a larger number. Inevitably, the Omega 30mm calibers came quickly to mind as the perfect candidate for my project. This series offers a reliable, robust and precise movement, large enough in diameter and with a certain robust thickness and size allowing for a large winding barrel, a large balance and a classic Breguet overcoil. In this way the construction of the Omega T30 series of movements is ideal. When you dismantle a calibre of this type from the 1940s - 1960s, you will come across very few worn parts, as long as the watch’s owner(s) have taken care to have it oiled and serviced by a watchmaker from time to time.
A very good customer and friend offered to assist me in this quest and we divided up the search: he would look in Switzerland and I would look abroad. With incredible luck, two months later, I had about twenty test movements in my drawers with which to experiment and a large supply put aside for the project to launch. I decided that the finishing for the oldest versions, the 30T2, traditional finishing methods were the best, such as lapping, anglage of the bridges, combinations of polished and satin-finished surfaces, 5N rose gold finished bridges, blued screws and regulator index created ideal and visually very attractive aspects. My reasons for lapping the baseplate was to provide the whole caliber some visual depth perception which would also accentuate other components; it also allows more light into the movement which is visually very attractive.
Important for my project was the existence of superior expertise found in the immediate area; living as I do in the center of a watchmaking town filled with centuries of watchmaking tradition, I was able to find the best specialists for every detail that I desired concerning my dials, cases, engravings and even straps to complete my project. I am also proud to tell prospective clients that despite the relaxing of standards required for registration of a watch as ‘Made in Switzerland’, my timepieces, including the vintage calibers I use, are 100% manufactured and assembled here in the watchmaking heartland of Switzerland.