Inside Omega’s Certificate of Authenticity With The Brand’s Heritage Department
Knowing the intimate story of your vintage watch is a privilege that Omega’s Heritage Department makes possible. Today, let’s follow my 1943 Omega WWII military pilot watch ref. UK 2292 through the authentication process to discover its incredible history.
Not many watch brands have the rich history Omega has. The 20th century was a prolific time for the brand. One could even argue that, out of all the brands at the time, Omega introduced the most varied number of references and collections.
Consequently, the brand’s Heritage Department guards Omega’s bountiful legacy and aids clients with their collectible Omegas. From the “Extract from the Archives” to the Certificate of Authenticity, the brand offers a variety of support and services to customers, and a dedicated team stands ready to research your vintage Omega.
With the help of Petros Protopapas, Omega’s Head of Brand Heritage, let’s understand the process of authentication and follow the story of my 1943 Omega WWII military pilot watch ref. UK 2292 from the Allied forces to my collection.
A Living Legacy
One result of the quartz crisis that began in the mid-1970s was that more than a few brands closed or were sold. The knock-on effect of that situation was the loss or destruction of brand archives. But in 1894, even before its official founding in 1903, Omega had already startted to take excellent care of its archives. With the brand using them as a tool to understand the past and plan for the future.
Then, in 1983, Omega opened the world’s first mono-brand watch museum. From the beginning, Marco Richon and the museum team answered collectors’ requests for information. As Petros Protopapas remembered, “I was a collector at the time, and I was looking for a difficult service part. I wrote a letter to the museum, and a few days later, I had a letter back from Marco Richon with the small non-findable component in a box.”
Furthermore, Omega was also the first brand to introduce an online service that permitted customers and collectors to obtain an “Extract from the Archives” with information about when their watch was produced. But that process, available for CHF 120, doesn’t include a physical inspection of the watch in question, nor does it involve an in-depth search of the archives. That is why the brand established its process of authentication
My World War II Omega UK Military Pilot Watch Ref. UK 2292
In the early 2000s, I had the chance to acquire a military pilot watch ref. UK 2292 – one of the first-generation watches that Omega provided the Allied forces in World War II.
Then, in 2018, as Omega was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the launch of the Seamster in 1948, Watchonista produced a series of five videos about the Seamaster’s origins. In the series, I spoke with Petros Protopapas and learned about the WWII military watches the brand produced and the precise requirements Omega needed to meet when making them.
Moreover, I learned how the making of these military references led directly to the brand’s development of the avant-garde, modern tool watch. But perhaps more importantly (to me, anyway) was that I knew more about the UK 2292. And while I didn’t have any specific information about my personal watch, I wanted to learn more.
Inside the Authentication Process
To learn the complete history of your vintage Omega and be sure that all parts are original, you should take advantage of the Certificate of Authenticity program. All owners have to do, according to Omega, is “present their vintage timepiece directly at OMEGA’s HQ in Switzerland or to a participating OMEGA Boutique in their country.”
If you’re hesitant to leave your watch at a boutique, don’t be. Omega Boutique teams are trained to handle customer requests about vintage pieces. As Protopapas pointed out, “It’s a big responsibility to take care of a client’s collection piece and to make him confident in giving us the watch and confident of all the attention we will give to it during all the process.”
Once you entrust your piece to a boutique, the team there will walk you through a detailed permission form that spells out all of the inspections you will or will not allow done. Once that is completed, your vintage watch will be shipped to Omega’s Heritage Department in Bienne, Switzerland.
I didn’t go to an Omega Boutique to begin the authentication process. I had the privilege of taking my UK 2292 directly to the Heritage Team in Bienne and followed the whole process from the inside.
How It Works
First, a watchmaker who only works on heritage pieces opens the watch to identify the reference numbers. The watch is also inspected to guarantee it is in working condition and that all the parts are original. At this stage, if service is needed, Omega will suggest it to the customer. If some components are not original, the review process ends here as only pieces with all their original parts are eligible for the Certificate of Authenticity.
If all the parts are original, Petros Protopapas’ Heritage Team will then begin researching the original qualities of the vintage watch in question by availing themselves of the brand’s extensive archives.
The main parts of the archives are accessible on microfilm, and we found the production order for my watch. This kind of document is a real gold mine of information. It had the entire production process until its shipment documented there, including all the watchmakers and employees involved in the process.
The production order included: the reference number (UK 2292), the legendary calibre 30 T2 SC (SC for seconde centrale), the movement number, the client reference number, and the production’s start and end date. Production of that watch ended on July 20, 1943, and delivered to Goldsmiths & Silversmiths in London, which were contracted by the UK Ministry of Defense, which, in those dark days, was called the Ministry of War.
All the information discovered by the Heritage Team is summed up on the Certificate of Authenticity, including details that are of particular interest. For example, my certificate notes that, due to the wartime rationing of steel, a metal alloy of aluminum, copper, magnesium, and manganese (called duralumin) was used for the case of my UK 2292.
Receiving Your Authenticated Watch
Once your watch comes back from Omega’s Heritage Department, you will receive it in a cool neo-vintage red Omega box used only for heritage pieces.
For only 800 CHF (including shipping), you will know everything there is to know about your authenticated vintage Omega. In my case, knowing how my UK 2292 is linked to history adds a whole new dimension to an already intriguing piece.
For more information, visit the Omega website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)