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Omega Geneve Dynamic steel w. Corfam strap 1968
Introduced in 1968, Omega’s oval shaped Dynamic is one of the most remembered watches from its period and stands out distinctly from those pieces manufactured by the firm’s competitors at the same time. Very much a style icon today, the Dynamic is so representative of the era in which it was designed. This is the ideal watch for the connoisseur with an interest in classic cars and fashion trends from the late 1960s, and its evocative modernist appearance will always provoke something of a love hate reaction from those seeing it for the first time.
Given that we now view this watch as something of a retro cult item, is in interesting to note that its oversized oval case was originally conceived as an attempt to create the most comfortable wristwatch possible. The vast majority of wristwatches produced since the World War I era had been designed to overcome external factors, for example the ingress of water, the presence of high magnetic field etc. The Dynamic was different in that its shape took into account the anatomy of its wearer, something that had never been given consideration before. Omega advertising at the time made great play of the oval case skirting the undulating wrist bone, the processus styloideus ulnae , therefore allowing the case back to seat firmly and flatly on the wearer’s wrist. While such florid medical jargon smacks of advertising spin, the reality is that the Dynamic was an immensely comfortable watch to wear over prolonged periods of time. Its rear case edges are perfectly smoothed and rounded, and nowhere to the back of the watch is there any angular component that could cause undue pressure to the wrist. Having worn Dynamics on and off for over two decades, we can state that from our personal experience, a more snug fitting case design has almost certainly never been produced, and it is actually very easy to forget that one is wearing one of these watches.
The Dynamic is a large watch, with an eye catching width of 42mm. It was designed as a basic concept in 1967 by Raymond Thevonaz, a classically trained architect, and then refined by Michel Cattin, the head of the Omega owned atelier ( this word being the one used within the Swiss watch industry to describe a workshop) Boites-Fabrication in Beinne. In keeping with the prevailing trend at the time, this case utilised extremely strong monocoque construction, meaning that the case body was machined as a one-piece unit from a solid block of steel. For servicing access, the movement was removed through the front of the case, this operation requiring a specially designed tool, part number 107, mention of which is made on the case back outer. A major advantage of this approach was the very effective natural waterproofing obtained, and when new, the Dynamic was guaranteed by Omega to remain hermetically sealed down to a depth of 30m.
This case type was patented in 1969 with the registration 529.376. Furthermore, the same year, the Dynamic won first prize for innovative industrial design in a major exhibition, DYBS, held in Bienne, on the 7th July to the 3rd August. What makes this award so interesting is that it was not a competition in anyway related specifically to the watch industry, but to manufacturers in general. The jury there chose the Dynamic out of a selection of two hundred and fifty competing products, stating its blend of pioneering aesthetics with genuine practical improvements as the reasons for their final unanimous decision.
The strap fixing system devised for the Dynamic was unique to this series, the strap having a circular cut-out through which a raised central area of the case back is passed. When this operation has been completed, a threaded retaining ring is locked down tightly, sandwiching the strap in place. This is extremely effective, but does bring with it the disadvantage that only those straps designed specifically for this range can be used. In practise, this isn’t such a problem, because demand for these watches as collectibles has led to a number of sources re-manufacturing facsimiles of the originals, but these do tend to be expensive. A replacement strap for the Dynamic, perforated in the original manner, will cost around £80 now, with new old stock examples still available from Omega agents at approximately twice this amount. As an aside, the original Dynamic straps were not leather, as is commonly assumed, but actually synthetic, manufactured from a material known as Corfam. Corfam was a high tech leather substitute patented by Dupont in the late 1960s, and was used here on account of its superb resistance to water and virtual indestructibility under most operating conditions. The original navy blue strap, fully signed “Omega Swiss Made” on its reverse side, that was supplied with this watch when new is still present and in superb condition. This is even complete with its correct stainless steel loop buckle, again fully signed with the Omega emblem.
The condition of the case here is almost perfect. If one looks closely enough with a jeweller’s eyeglass, there are the usual few tiny imperfections in places, but these must be expected on even the most carefully worn watch and are of very little significance. The case retains its original polish, this consisting of satinised sides and back and a very distinctive milled texture to the case’s upper surface, with radiating lines extending from the dial to the outer edge of the watch. Internally, this is a fully signed item, with the wording “Omega Watch Co, Swiss Made” being stated inside the case back.
A final personal observation to be made regarding the comfort afforded by this design relates to its recessed winding crown, this being entirely sunken into the case side. A tee shot when playing golf often means that the winding crown on a conventional watch causes discomfort to the wearer, sticking into his wrist when this is unavoidably bent backwards. The point of contact being increased to the much larger area of the rounded case side alleviates this problem entirely. Similarly, when typing, this style of watch is far friendlier that the norm, for the same reasons mentioned above. The winding crown here is completely original and fully signed with the famous Omega emblem.
Omega created the Dynamic as an avant-garde product to fit in with the progressive jet-set society of the 1960s, and deliberately designed it to stand apart from conventional staid watch making. Accordingly, this model was offered in a selection of distinctive colours and dial variants, the example here having a relatively conservative dark blue dial. Very important on any vintage watch that is to be purchased with an eye to investment, this dial is completely original and in almost perfect condition. The close-up photographs of this component show the tiniest few imperfections, but these are actually only flaws to the crystal that are virtually invisible to the naked eye. The dial beneath, even when studied under high magnification with a jeweller’s eyeglass, is effectively indistinguishable from that on a brand new watch. More than any other aspect of a vintage timepiece, the originality and condition of its dial will decide its value as a collectible, and one would have to look long and hard before a better Dynamic dial than this one was located.
The broad white hands, used exclusively for the Dynamic range, are totally original and in almost perfect condition. The full dial signature “Omega, Geneve, Dynamic” remains crisp and well defined, as does the wording around the outer bottom edge of the dial “T Swiss Made T”, this informing us that the luminous material present is based around the element tritium, rather than the radium based compound that we typically find on watches from the 1930s and ‘40s.
Our opinion is that the Dynamic is extremely well placed at present to be purchased for investment, and we can justify this carefully considered view. This retro look that typifies the chic products of the 1960s and ‘70s is very much in vogue at present, with the current collections by many of the Swiss luxury manufacturers including pieces that are inspired by this era. The modernist designer furniture from the same period is now immensely collectible, and even in the last five years, the Dynamic has come up from being an interesting oddity to being seen as an important stylistic milestone for Omega.
A very similar Dynamic to this one was included as lot 192 in the thematic “Omegamania” sale held by specialist horological auctioneer Antiquorum on 14th and 15th April 2007. This was in the same steel case, but had a two tone dial instead of the single colour variant here. The watch sold for 2596 Swiss Francs or approximately £1950 GB pounds. We have used the accompanying catalogue for the Omegamania event as the background for the photos here and if reminded to do so, we will happily photograph the relevant section for the enjoyment of this item’s next owner.
Probably most significantly of all in terms of its potential for increased value in the future, the Dynamic was unique and has an appearance and perceived identity that is quite different from any other watch. When a piece has a more generic appearance, it is less likely to stand out from other items made at the same time by a variety of makers. The Dynamic is instantly recognisable and therefore attracts attention, making it ideal as an identifiable model that can catch the interest of collectors. When new, despite their relatively high price, Dynamics were a strong seller for Omega, but today, finding genuinely good examples in totally original condition is actually surprisingly difficult. Based on our own experience as a dearlers over the last two decades, we would suggest that the Dynamic may well be one of those watches that every enthusiast will remember as being plentiful in the mid-2000s, but then becoming very difficult to source as a consequence of it being “discovered” by a new influx of collectors. We may well be wrong, but certainly the key elements are there to enable this transition to happen. These watches are of very high build quality, they have a stylised appearance that makes them both unique and interesting, and they contain genuine, in-house built Omega movements rather than the out-sourced ETA based units that the brand uses in its production today. Vintage pieces by Omega in general have been escalating in value dramatically over the last few years, largely on account of an increasingly widespread realisation that they have been woefully undervalued in the past and the evocative look of the Dynamic puts it in prime position to escalate in worth on the back of this demand. While the quantities of the Dynamic produced initially were too large for the watch to suddenly become worth thousands, we think that the potential is there for immaculate examples, the very best of the surviving stock, to double or triple in value in the next three of four years.
The price of this watch is £745 GB pounds, a figure at which it represents astonishingly good value. Its appearance is fashionably retro, without looking in the least bit kitsch or tasteless, and there is no reason whatsoever why a Dynamic shouldn’t be worn on a regular basis without any ill effects providing that routine servicing is performed every three or four years. This item is in every way the equal to the example that Omega has on permanent display in its factory museum in Bienne and included with a large colour plate on page 33 of their 1995 book “The Moon Watch”, acknowledging it to be one of the firm’s key models of the last century.
Quite understandably, we would normally expect historically significant pieces by any of the major houses to be expensive, and indeed, almost universally this is the case. Nobody would ever argue that the Dynamic wasn’t one of Omega’s landmark models, but for no obvious reason, its current value lags far behind others that fit into this bracket. At present, there are still enough of these watches in circulation for the buyer to have a selection to critically choose from, and prices are still low enough that the very best preserved examples remain affordable. Even totally original, really immaculate Dynamics, like the one here, can be sourced for less than the price of a basic entry level brand new Omega, and given that this low value clearly does not reflect their superb quality, in-house movement or individual appearance, it will be very interesting to monitor the worth of these watches over the next decade. Rather like a share issue that has gone unnoticed by the market, simply by quantifying its key aspects logically, we are convinced that the Dynamic has sound investment potential for the future, and in the meantime, it remains a wearable classic of its period that can be bought for very little expenditure.