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The edge on the rotor will have an obvious loss of plating. The inner side of the case back will have a characteristic circular trace on it. However, if one part has an almost yellow gold color, and the other one has a deep, dark copper tone, you can be sure they didn’t leave the factory together. Another example of frankenising is using parts from Tissot counterparts in movements, which the two brands shared. I’ve seen rotors from the Tissot transplanted in an Omega. The movements were also constructed to a view with providing great durability and accuracy and were produced in various iterations – one of the highest grade versions of the 19‴ caliber was fitted with, in addition to a bimetallic balance and blued steel overcoil balance spring, a snail-cam fine regulator, and 19‴ movements would go on to become leading performers in their category in the Observatory time trials.
Please don’t buy a vintage watch, let alone an Omega, without having a look at the movement.
If you ask the seller for pictures of the movement, and you get a response like “I can’t” or “I don’t have the tools” or just a plain “no”, it’s best to just skip that one.
Omega movements, from the 1930s and 1940s, usually have the calibre number under the balance.
From the late 1940s on, the number was located on one of the bridges, usually the same one as the serial number. In pocket watches from the early 1900s, you can find it on the dial side of the baseplate.
This was in 1894 still something of a novelty – though the first patent for keyless works allowing both functions through a single crown had been granted in 1845, by Adrien Philippe (who would with Antoine Norbert de Patek, go on to found Patek Philippe) the field was still very much open to experimentation, with a patent granted for the system used in the 19‴ caliber in 1894.
The caliber was referred to as the Omega caliber – the Greek letter Omega is the last of the Greek alphabet, and was chosen as a fitting name for the 19‴ family of movements as they were intended to be the last word in accuracy and reliability, in watchmaking.
It was one of the very first Swiss watch movements that was designed to be produced on an industrial scale, on a recognizably modern production line, with, most significantly, completely interchangeable components.
This meant that anyone with access to parts, anywhere in the world, would be able to quickly service or repair any Omega 19‴ caliber.
The one thing that’s known to go wrong with these movements is the axle of the rotor. You can often spot them by an inconsistent tone of the plating throughout the various components. As long as you follow the basic rules of identifying the movement, and you keep the possible issues that are mentioned above in mind, you’re in the clear.
When it wears out, the rotor will start rubbing against the bridge on which it sits (upper bridge for automatic device), and against the case back. Of course, some parts will change color due to the different solutions they were cleaned in during a service.
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