The very first Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 36 mm Constellation was launched in 1952, which is five years earlier than the debut of the Speedmaster. The Constellation collection is known for its long history, but it has also been a pioneering platform for Omega, incorporating new technologies and calibers before other models. In recent years, you might remember the Globemaster featuring an in-house caliber 8900, which has antimagnetic properties up to 15,000 gauss.
We reported this new collection when it was announced, and you might find the watch not really newsworthy with its integrated bracelet design, which is flooding the market recently. However, you will start seeing the details that other manufacturers can’t easily replicate if you take a closer look.
The first things we should focus on are the new size options for this new collection. The entire lineup, which consists of stainless steel, steel and Sedna gold two-tone, steel and 18K yellow gold two-tone, fully Sedna gold, and fully yellow gold variations, is available in 39mm and 36mm case sizes. This translates to a grand total of thirty-nine references for this new collection. That’s a highly strategic move by Omega as a watch manufacturer, and it is something only a few manufacturers could ever pull off. The fourth-generation Constellation came in 35mm and 38mm, and Omega increased the case sizes just a millimeter each to modernize the collection.
Although the collection technically got bigger while the whole industry is trending towards smaller case sizes in general, I personally think these new size options are spot-on. 39mm isn’t too small or too large, and it is likely to appeal to many men with an average wrist size. If you actually look for a watch with an integrated bracelet in this particular size, you will find the selection to be quite limited. The 40mm to 42mm range is a lot more common, and that size could be a bit overpowering for some men. Those considering the Constellation are likely to be sporting a suit and tie a lot, and I think a watch that doesn’t cooperate with tight cuffs wouldn’t be the best choice for them. The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight pops into my head when I think about a 39mm watch on a bracelet, but that is a much sportier diver with a very different personality from the Omega.
Now let’s look at the 36mm variant, which is something of a rare sight in the men’s watch category today. However, here in Japan, I think there are plenty of watch enthusiasts specifically hunting vintage pieces in this size range. I’m sure there are people thinking 36mm is the perfect size for skinny wrists, and Omega is here to serve their needs.
Ultimately, I think the 1mm upsizing from the predecessor was a mere fine-tuning for modern times. In general, mainstream convention today is to categorize watches at or below the 35mm mark as a ladies’ model, and the new 35mm Navitimer that Breitling introduced recently was indeed mostly positioned as a women’s model.
In any case, this Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 36 mm is indeed designed with men in mind, and its ever-subtle ruggedness — hidden within the gorgeous details such as the new bezel that was slimmed down from the predecessor — actually suits men’s wrists just right.
Let’s talk about this two-size lineup. There aren’t too many brands that can pull it off. The real problem is the movement size, since you’d typically need a 26mm-ish movement for a watch at or below 39mm in diameter. An ETA 2892 base caliber (25.6mm) would fit the bill, but the lack of movement supplies from ETA could be an issue for many — there is a choice of using Sellita SW300, however. Watch brands are keeping a close eye on the Kenissi and Norqain collaboration ever since Kenissi announced in March that they’ve developed a new 26mm caliber.
Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 36 mm is making this size lineup possible by utilizing the in-house caliber 8800 (the gold models have the 8801 with gold rotor and bridge), which is used in women’s watches and divers with thick cases. This movement from 2016 is quite compact at 26mm in diameter, and like the cal. 8900 that I mentioned earlier, it is an antimagnetic to 15,000 gauss and chronometer certified Master Co-Axial movement.
Both 36mm and 39mm variants use the cal. 8800, and that would mean you’d be choosing the watch purely by its case size. Although the 39mm would be more in line with today’s market demand, I personally feel the 36mm hits the spot for me. It’s likely due to the dressy nature of this watch.
In the realm of integrated bracelet watches, you’d probably want the presence of a 39mm case if you were looking for a sport watch, and that would also let you enjoy the design details just a little more. That would be even truer for watches with an interesting dial execution. However, I personally think the Constellation is the type of watch that should be just peeking out under the cuff. I can easily imagine the details like the four notches on the bezel and the bracelet links calmly expressing their elegance, and I definitely think the 36mm can handle that subtlety better.
Speaking of subtle expressions, the new bracelet links exhibit that quality prominently. The bracelet retains the same cylindrical link design from the last generation, which acts as a hinge between the larger links of the same width. For this iteration, however, each side of the cylindrical link steps down in diameter, giving you an interesting visual effect of a trapped cylinder between larger links. As far as the wearability goes, smooth and rounded flanks of the links provide an excellent fit.
With the size, the movement, and all the exterior design considerations, the retail price of $6,050 in stainless steel on bracelet is quite an achievement. I don’t see many watches packing this much value for the money. In particular, the new bracelet punches way above its price bracket. I’d say this watch could well be the top pick in the integrated bracelet watch category under $10k.
As I stated earlier, this watch isn’t exactly a sport watch. Instead, it is filled with a dressier appeal through and through. The watch sparkles wherever you look — quite fitting for its namesake.
Although I focused heavily on the bracelet models here, the leather strap equipped counterparts are absolutely perfect as a dress watch. Thanks to the vast variations in the lineup, I’m confident you’ll find a model that tickles your fancy.