The Omega calibre 750 movement was the first calibre to feature date and day of the week. The Constellation version, calibre 751 with 24 jewels and official chronometer certification, came out in the late nineteen-sixties.
The 751 has the same heritage as the legendary calibre 551 and has inherited the staying power of its famous cousin. It’s certainly not like some of the very recent Omega calibres that spend so much time in the workshop you’re lucky to get visiting rights for them on a weekend!
You’ll not have to cosset or pamper this old workhorse much, and it will amble along indefinitely at its comfortable 19,800 oscillations an hour if you have it serviced at intervals of four to five years.
Parts are usually not a problem for this movement if, on the rare occasion, they need replaced. Tens and tens of thousands of them were produced, and most savvy watch makers have one or two around from which they raid for spares.
Why, then, are they so relatively cheap? The answer is complex, but one of the answers is that the earlier constellation calibres 551, 561 and 564 have not yet reached prices that would require a second mortgage on the family home to pay for them. And so, the demand for calibre 751, while steady, is not overwhelming.
The watches featured in this post all sold recently in on-line auctions at prices ranging from US $350.00 to US 400.00. They represent excellent value, particularly if they come with an integrated bracelet or an original C Case bracelet, as do two of the examples shown here.
So, what do you do if you net one for such a price? The first thing you do is take it to your horologist/watchmaker and have it dissembled, cleaned and oiled. Make sure your watchmaker actually dissembles the watch and isn’t one of the Short-Cut Charlies who throw it in a cleaning machine without taking it apart first.
While there are some quite cheeky operators about, you shouldn’t really have to pay much more than $US 120.00 for a traditional clean and oil and it should be a bit less, still making your acquisition an extremely good buy.
If you’re buying from a bricks and mortar dealer, make sure you ask if, and when, the watch was serviced. Sometimes vintage watch dealers have a watch serviced, stick it in the window under lights and there it stays for quite some time. If the watch hasn’t been serviced in the preceding twelve months, chances are a combination of window light heat and immobility has dried out the lubrication and the watch will need servicing again.
So, how much should you pay for a good quality 751 at a bricks and mortar outlet? Using a base of US $400.00, add $40.00 for rent and services, $120.00 for a service (If indeed it has been serviced) an additional $100.00 for orthodontist bills for the dealer's children, and you arrive at a figure of around $660.00. Take $60.00 off the dealer’s margin (This is your haggling bonus) and you arrive at around the $US600.00 mark. If you pay more than $650.00 for a stainless steel calibre 751 at a vintage watch outlet, you’re edging towards paying too much.
(c) Desmond Guilfoyle 2006