Rare French First Issue Omega Centenary


Any first issue 30.10 JUB Centenary model 2500 is uncommon because only 4000 pieces were produced. Factor in natural attrition through loss, wear, scrapping for gold value and the occasional ingestion by animals and you have a supply and demand equation that has seen the value of JUB Centenary watches increase substantially over the last decade.

For those who are not familiar with the “JUB” Centenary as opposed to Centenary calibre 333 models, the key difference is the jubilee calibre 30.10 RA PC JUB, an exposed spring bumper movement also known as calibre 331. The JUB calibre was the original offering to celebrate Omega’s centenary in 1948. The watch proved so popular that Omega continued producing the Centenary powered by the RG regulator version of the movement until the release of the first Constellations in 1952. (For a full review of the Centenary click here)



A fully French-cased 30.10 Centenary JUB, however, merits a description beyond that of “uncommon” and demands we venture into “R” word territory. The word “rare” as it applies to watches is flung around with such intemperance that even Donald Trump’s verbal ejaculations appear as models of semantic rectitude in comparison. This is why seasoned collectors, or even lightly seasoned collectors, immediately become sceptical when the word “rare” leaps from someone’s lips or keyboard. But “rare’ is the only description possible when applied to this French cased version.

Many thousands of the calibre 333 Centenary were produced, but, as mentioned, only four thousand of the Jubilee version left the Omega factory in 1948.  More than a third were exported to the USA, whereas in war-torn Europe - where economies had been devastated by the Nazi onslaught and subsequent allied invasion - money for luxury goods was not plentiful. Formerly large watch markets such as Italy, Britain, Germany and France had shrunk significanty. These markets didn’t collapse altogether, because of the willingness of occupation forces to spread around their discretionary income as well as much of their genetic material.



The case was manufactured in France owing to post-war gold restrictions, and, given the state of the French economy in 1948, I doubt whether more than 100 pieces of this model were produced. This is only the third example I have seen in thirty years of collecting.  Omega, France delivered this model to Hermes in Paris who may well have been the sole distributor for the model in France.  The stamp of the luxury goods house appears on the external case back.    



                                          Pictures courtesy of Andrew H and Triad Vintage Watch Company

2 comments:

  1. Hey Desmond!
    Big fan of the site and have been following for a while. I now am in a position where I need advice. Recently had my watch serviced and Tourneau sent to Manufacturer in Switzerland, I just want a full service but manufacturer is requiring a full service and dial replacement. Which is cost money through the roof. Would you be able to advise on alternate options? Maybe I can email you more specifics? I really just want the watch to tell time and I do want the vintage feel of the watch. I've heard of. Ifhtmare stories on dial replacements that take away the vintage feel of the watch.

    Thanks for any help

    J

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    Replies
    1. Hi,

      This is the problem with Tonneau and other agencies that are connected to Omega: they are instructed to send vintages watches to Bienne for, as you have discovered, very expensive, and not necessarily sympathetic refurbishments.

      I do wish Omega would get its head around the fact that collectibles demand as much originality as is possible and by going to town on a vintage Omega the collecting value is severely compromised.

      I would ask for the watch back, source an independent watchmaker nearby who can demonstrate that he knows his way around Omega vintage, and instruct him to clean, oil and regulate.

      Let's know how you get on

      Cheers

      Desmond

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