Omega Museum

24 Oct. 2009

Some 10 souls gathered at the Ecluse restaurant in Biel/Bienne for lunch (actually the 11th showed up about an hour late, and had a sort of meal anyway). The food and chat were excellent and cheap, followed by a post-prandial stroll of ca. 15-20 minutes to the Omega museum.

Brandon Thomas, the American curator who was hired by Nick, son of Nicolas Hayek, about 18 months ago, opened the museum especially for us and provided a very knowledgeable 2-hour tour of the story of Omega which was just delightful.

The museum houses some 1’800 items (of the more than 20’000 in the various storerooms in the Biel area, for which Mr. Thomas is also responsible). Some of oldest pocket and wrist examples were on display (well-lit and carefully indexed), as well as some of the most expensive. There were two presentation watches in adjacent cabinets, each auctioned off at ca. $500,000 – the prices Omega paid for them at the auctions. Many railway watches were shown, and watches formerly owned by dignitaries, presidents and dictators of various countries. Not only is Omega the second-largest watchmaker in the world, it is also the leading timekeeper (including the Olympics and for NASA spaceflights).

Time was getting on, and only a few dared to complete the day by perusing the Twanner Trüelete, the wine and handarbeit festival just down the road (tracks) from Biel – a nice way to cap the pleasant outing to Biel/Bienne.

Howard Hornfeld