Omega is working on extending and improving the visitor experience to its headquarters museum in Bienne, Switzerland, so that people can fully immerse themselves in the historic story of the brand.
The company’s CEO Raynald Aeschlimann briefed journalists on plans for the museum upgrade, and the growing importance of promoting the heritage of Omega through products and storytelling.
“The idea is not just to have a one-sided experience where visitors walk through and look at famous watches and at Omega advancements in watchmaking, but to have a place where visitors can breathe the heritage of Omega, see the value of the brand’s past and learn all of the different worlds of Omega,” Mr Aeschlimann says.
Demand for vintage watches has never been stronger, with Rolex and Patek Philippe watches frequently commanding seven figure sums at recent auctions.
Eye-watering prices at auction also have a direct impact on sales of new watches because customers see the most popular brands holding their value better.
Buying historic watches for its museum therefore makes sense for Omega on two fronts. First, it secures an interesting exhibit; secondly, paying a substantial price in a competitive auction demonstrates demand and investment value for its watches.
That may explain why Omega spent $1.8 million last year on an 18ct gold watch gifted to Elvis Presley by his record company, the highest price every paid by the watchmaker for one of its own timepieces. “This is an important part of Omega’s past and it should not be locked in a safe, but shared with the world,” Mr Aeschlimann states. “We could have secretly bid on that watch, but we wanted people to know it was us bidding for it and why we were doing it,” he adds.
The 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon in July this year could provide a boost for Omega. The 1969 Apollo 11 mission astronauts wore Speedmasters, which is why it is still referred to as the Moonwatch.
“I believe that Omega is an inspirational brand because of many factors, including its status with NASA and the astronauts, its timing of the Olympics and more. As an inspirational brand, we need to hold ourselves to a higher level. Buying watches is an emotional purchase, and we provide that emotion with our rich heritage,” Mr Aeschlimann says.