Nov 10, 2023
A temporary exhibition celebrating the history and innovation behind Swiss watch brand Omega opens today, Nov. 9, at the Chelsea Factory in New York City. The showcase features watches of historic significance, as well as exhibits hailing the achievements of Omega since its founding in 1848.
Called “Planet Omega,” the exhibition includes vintage timepieces on loan from the Omega Museum in Biel, Switzerland—including the Omega Slimline that John F. Kennedy wore at his presidential inauguration in 1961 and a model worn onstage and offstage by Elvis Presley. There’s also a chronograph that was used to time the Olympic Games in 1932.
One display focuses on Omega’s achievements in space; its timepieces were selected by NASA in 1965 to be used on manned missions. This extraterrestrial legacy is a key part of Omega’s appeal today and underlies a massively successful “MoonSwatch” collaboration with sister brand Swatch.
“In the watch industry, it’s very important to be where there’s the traffic—to attract people to tell them about who we are,” Chief Executive Officer Raynald Aeschlimann tells Bloomberg in an interview this week. “The best way is sometimes to take a fantastic location and have it all explained, to be able to show it on an experience level so that you don’t only see the watch and listen to it, you just go through it.”
According to Aeschlimann, the US is Omega’s second-largest market, and sales have registered double-digit growth over the past five years. Omega’s biggest market is China, where it has been building a luxury retail presence since the 1990s.
“What we’ve seen through Covid is that it’s very important that we’ve developed not only in one single country or one single region,” Aeschlimann notes, citing New York’s importance as an “incredible, vibrant city.”
The exhibition will remain open to the public until Nov. 19.