British Denison 18K Gold Constellations



From the advent of the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1944, and indeed before, some countries required solid gold watch cases to be manufactured within their borders.   France, Argentina, Brazil and the United Kingdom are amongst a group of countries that restricted the importation and free flow of gold and required gold cases to be manufactured in-country. It wasn't until 1971 that restrictions on the importation of gold cases were eased, allowing Swiss watch manufactures to export fully assembled solid gold pieces.

Records of Omega gold cases commissioned in Switzerland are comprehensive and accessible, however little information is available about ‘national production’ cases made to order locally for Omega agents in any of the countries mentioned above, and this has led to some confusion about the authenticity of locally cased Constellations and other Omega marques.

British Dennison Omegas are a case in point. Superbly crafted, these cases varied somewhat from the Swiss lines and have a different numbering system.  Fortunately, collector Andrew Romaine has taken up the challenge to plug the information gap by researching and documenting the production of British Constellations and other lines.  He has produced an essay (here) so as to share the fruits of his labours, for which we owe Andrew a vote of thanks!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Desmond,
    Just sent you a note about my Constallation Chronometer Cal 564 solid 18ct gold BA1685417. Not sure it actually posted. Please advise if you received it.

    Regards, Clive

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Clive

      The above message came through, however this is the only one I have seen

      Regards

      Desmond

      Delete
  2. Hi Desmond,

    In my collection I have a Cal 564 Omega Constellation Chronometer solid 18ct gold case BA168.5417 with self-winding movement no.24782743 on original Omega leather crocodile strap with original Omega 18ct gold buckle. All required Omega "signatures'' are in place including observatory. Additionally, the watch dial, hands and hour batons are 18ct gold too. Hands and hour batons have black onyx insets, at 12 o'clock the baton is as two placed side by side. It has the quickset date configuration. Case I believe was made by Dennisson of England. The watch is in absolute pristine condition, it has no marks or scratches. Only one previous owner who wore it for special occasions only. It keeps perfect time (I have owned it since 2009) and is serviced only by an ex. Omega employee.

    Fortunately, I have the former owner's original retailer's receipt dated 27.11.1968 for GB £167.00 and, the International Guarantee with seperate "You and your Omega" booklet both encased in the red Omega wallet plus seperate Omega envelope "CERTIFICATE OF HIGH PRECISION". The owner had an interesting life history. At 20 he joined the Colonial Forces on outbreak WW2, served in the North African Campaign and was seconded later to the British Army. When war ended he was appointed Inspector in the Nyasaland Mounted Police responsible for ceremonial duties. I have various photos including one of him accompanying the late Queen Mother inspecting the honour guard.

    I have two questions for you,

    1. At the bottom of the dial (below 6 o'clock) are the words "OM SWISS MADE OM". What does OM refer to?

    2. What would be today's market retail value of the watch as described above?

    Regards, Clive

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    Replies
    1. Hi Clive,

      The first question is easy to answer. The 168.5417 was the gold dialled version in this series. OM stands for "Or Massif", translated from French to mean the watch has a solid gold dial. This indicates that while Dennison made the case, the movement and dial came from Switzerland.

      The second question, not so easy. I am assuming that you have the domed dial version rather than the pie pan? Also, there are three essential value points for any watch apart from 'wholesale': Bricks and Mortar, Global Internet and Insurance Replacement. Papers and the original buckle add value, whereas the non-original wallet doesn't.

      All things being equal and the watch being properly described and photographed, I would expect the global internet value, that is the price that could be realised through an on-line global auction (eBay or any other format), to be in the vicinity of 4500 USD.

      Dennison cases are most collectible in the UK and perhaps listed on a UK-based watch sales forum it could attract a little more. I hesitate to think what a bricks and mortar outlet in the UK would ask for the watch because there is such variation in pricing often reflecting the avarice of the dealer. Insurance replacement value cited by a UK registered valuer of watches and jewellery would come in at about 9000 pounds.

      Cheers

      Desmond

      Delete
  3. Hi Desmond,

    Yes, I have the domed dial version and tear drop lugs. Also, an original Omega document wallet plus original Omega watch fitted box. Sorry if I gave the impression that the wallet was non-original. I note with pleasure the global internet value and insurance replacement value. I paid £900 for the whole package in 1999. An excellent investment.

    Very grateful for your expert help. I might yet get to Australia to visit relatives!

    Regards, Clive

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  4. Hi Desmond,

    In my last post waiting for your reply I omitted to say my Cal 564 is "Officially Certified". Was that important for your assessment? Also, is it possible to contact Andrew Romaine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My reply to your original post Clive is above.

      Yes, all chronometers are "officially certified" by Bureau Officiel in Switzerland.

      D

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  5. The omega constellation ended auction on ebay haven't stamp helvetia or egle or England.
    Do you think fake or genuine manufacturing in U.S.A not required stamp helvetia???

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/131509883236

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice that the case back also does not have the Constellation medallion on the caseback and the case back is actually a press-in instead of a screw-in.

      Little wonder that the price fetched for this watch is only about gold value, because in having this watch made into a 'jewellery' piece, the person who did it has robbed the watch of its originality.

      Regards

      Desmond

      Delete
  6. Dear sir
    Do you think omega constellation does not have stamp helvetia? I bought from ebay, I think made by manufacturing in U.S.A

    http://picture.in.th/id/ff1caa4ce1cdc30a33ba8289da617f56
    http://picture.in.th/id/9686ca66a05f6134fa8e23901327cd30
    http://picture.in.th/id/755e1b8d44c7e0cf2d35c920ee53d3fb
    http://picture.in.th/id/621d17fe070b05e113fc8cbf371d2019
    http://picture.in.th/id/10d62c047172db90e885e7520b6e4b31

    Best Regards

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is difficult to say where this case back was made. Theoretically, no Constellation cases were made in the US, they were all imported from Switzerland.

    The only marking that I can see on your case back is the gold purity mark, no Omega triangle, model number, Helvetia or other stamps. Countries that were permitted by Omega to manufacture gold cases were Argentina, Brazil, France, and UK. This case could have been made in South America, but I would still expect to see the case makers mark, such as Industria Brizilia or Argentina.

    Regards

    Desmond

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  8. Dear sir
    1. The OMEGA Constellation made in South America Brazilian or Argentina sold Local products or export other countries?
    2.I think on a back cap "IND. BRAS" = INDUSTRIAL BRAZIL.
    http://picture.in.th/id/9cc1193ece2e5728e0515a2efd15b8dd
    http://picture.in.th/id/a9b7004c7b7379db03bba567395d256f
    http://picture.in.th/id/6e05ab9226bd330a68dcfcc15e23ead7
    http://picture.in.th/id/c4cf12714079f3a6ee544e83395baa4e

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Usually not, because Omega would make sure that locally made cases only stayed in country of origin. So cases made in Brazil would not be exported to other countries.

      Cheers

      Desmond

      Delete