I receive frequent communications from people who wish to purchase a vintage Omega Constellation with the intention of passing it down to a favoured son (or daughter). This is a thoughtful and admirable act that can encourage an interest by future generations in family history and add to the cache of family treasures.
Providing that a benefactor has delivered the first recipient a rich or happy childhood uncontaminated by major trauma or tyranny, an heirloom watch can act as a powerful anchor that propels the wearer back in time to savour shared and cherished moments.
In more egoistic terms, an heirloom watch is a way to be remembered. Let’s face it, most of us would like to be remembered fondly after we have shuffled off this mortal coil, and very few of us would like NOT to be remembered at all. As Mother Teresa said, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anyone”.
If you are thinking of buying a vintage Omega Constellation for the purpose of it becoming a family heirloom, below are some ideas about how to make it a truly cherished object:
- Go for a precious metal case if at all possible. Apart from being non-corrosive, gold or platinum adds extra allure to the treasure aspect of an heirloom.
- Choose the best calibre series. I recommend purchasing a watch powered by the mid-500 series of calibres: either a calibre 551, 561, 564, or 751.
- Aim for the most sought-after model. For example, a pie-pan dialled case number 168.005, a dress model 168.004 with factory welded rheinor gold bracelet, a 168.002 Grand Luxe, or a 168.017 C-Shape with milanese bracelet.
- Source a watch with original box and papers if at all possible. If not possible, research and acquire an authentic box from the period and seek an extract from Omega’s vintage archives.
- Consider having your name and that of your wife expertly engraved on the case back, along with the date you acquired the watch. While it may discount the value of the watch by about five percent, it increases its heirloom value and forever establishes a connection with the original benefactors.
- Consider documenting by hand on a piece of parchment the reasons for your choice of heirloom and add a portrait of the benefactors.
- Buy one or two parts movements in good condition over time so future watchmakers will have a source of parts if repairs are needed. Make sure they are housed in special containers and are packed in cotton or a material that will not corrode the plating on the movements.
- Consider having a wooden box especially fashioned to contain papers, watch box, watch, parts movements and any other memorabilia.
- Keep the piece in good condition with regular servicing (Around every five years)
Finally, Wear the watch as a special occasion or dress watch and encourage the intended recipient, with gentle reminders like “One day this will be yours”, to covet the piece. Hopefully, if you've done your parenting well the intended recipient will not consider bumping you off for the value of a watch!