Today's offering showcases this very rare and desirable Olympic XVI Seamaster with Cross of Merit dial created to commemorate the Summer Games of the 16th Olympiad in Melbourne, Australia.
For serious Omega Connoisseurs, this is a special opportunity to own one of the Holy Grail XVI Olympic Seamasters. And an even greater achievement is to have in one’s collection the rare so-called "pre-commercial prototype" version with the Olympic Cross of Merit on its dial.
While Omega has never said exactly how many Olympic XVI Seamasters were made, and the commercial version itself is a semi-holy grail watch, it is generally speculated that only approximately 100 watches were made with the Cross of Merit dial were produced by
Omega prototype maker Jean-Pierre Mathey-Claudet who also is known for making the prototypes for the famous 30mm caliber movement.
The Seamaster XVI was created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Omega being the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games. Beginning in the 1932 Los Angeles games, Omega watches were, and still remain, a fixture at the finish lines during the Olmpiads.
The emblem seen on the dial and back of this model is the Olympic Cross of Merit, which Omega received in 1952 for their outstanding technical support of the Games.
The Games of the XVI Olympiad were the first to take place in the Southern Hemisphere, which meant they were held in late November and early December - autumn for countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
The host-country Australians showcased their excellence in international competition, including swimmer Murray Rose's three gold medals and runner Betty Cuthbert's three gold medals.
Most call these "pre-commercial prototypes" suggesting that they were never available for sale and it is widely rumored that these were given away to executives, dignitaries and celebrities, although the few that were made may have been offered for public sale.
It has often speculated that Omega changed to the standard version that only has the Roman numerals XVI on the dial and not the Cross of Merit because they didn't have the right to use it for marketing, but because both versions retain the cross on the case back that explanation seems unlikely.
Those who know me know that I am very reluctant to prognosticate about prices, but I believe the Cross of Merit dial editions are undervalued and could likely increase in value. They tend to sell for only about a 10% - 50% premium over the commercial version, yet are both far rarer and for more aesthetically interesting to my eyes. If the commercial version is worth what they have been selling for for the last decade or so, then it would seem these Cross of Merit versions are likely significantly undervalued.
We were fortunate to acquire this very rare and sought after example in all-original condition.
It Chinese lacquer dial, which has a thick original top coat finish, is untouched. It has a few places of loss of finish within the Cross of Merit - because it falls almost perfectly within the lines of the cross, to the untrained eye it almost doesn't appear unplanned.
Its dog leg case has distinctive lugs and the Cross of Merit emblazoned on the back. It has signs of polishing and spots of wear to the back - it presents in honest condition and looks nice on the wrist. It retains all of its original wording on the back.
Accompanying it are its Omega band and buckle.
Like usual, one of our watchmakers has disassembled it down to its last screw and cleaned and oiled it. We have also installed a new-old-stock Omega crystal. We have timed it in five chronometer positions, and it continues to keep quite accurate time.
For the finishing touch we have equipped it with a brand new crocodile strap and the original buckle making it ready for immediate enjoyment.
Included with the purchase is a one-year warranty on the movement and its function, a custom printed Connoisseur of Time Certificate of Authenticity, and a new timing certificate attesting to the watch's performance.
Photos of the inside available upon request.
Note For more information on this model and several illustrations, see Richon, M., Omega: A Journey Through Time, pp.282-283.
Country of origin: Switzerland
Serial no.: 14,726,097
Year built: c. 1956
Model: Ref. 2850SC, XVI Olympic Seamaster
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Automatic, Sweep Seconds
Designed for: Men
Case material: 18K Gold
Case markings (inside): Omega Watch Co., 750, Swiss made, 2850SC, 11423977
Case condition: It has signs of polishing and spots of wear to the back including a couple of pin prick indentations - it presents in honest condition and looks nice on the wrist. It retains all its original wording on the back.
Dimensions: 34mm wide (excluding crown - 37mm including), 41mm long lug tip-to-tip
Dial: Cream, large applied 18K gold "coffin" indices and special Cross of Merit emblem with Olympic rings in red, thick Chinese lacquer, signed Omega, original and untouched
Hands: Original, gold dauphines
Movement type: Cal. 471, copper colored, 19 jewels, straight line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock-absorber, self-compensating flat balance-spring
Movement markings: Omega Watch Co. Swiss, Nineteen Jewels, 471
Jewels: 19 rubies
Beat frequency: 19,800 BPH
Bands: 1. Crocodile, aftermarket fully stitched, padded, brand new and unworn. 2. Original and period Omega band with buckle in serviceable condition. We also stock a variety of others straps in various prints, skins, and colors. Please ask us if you're interested.
Width between lugs: 18mm
Crystal type: Signed Omega, correct, new-old-stock. We kept the original crystal which had grown brittle, and it will be included with the sale.
Serviced: Yes, one of our watchmakers has cleaned and oiled the movement and installed a correct new-old-stock Omega crystal.
Timing: Timed to precision on a state-of-the-art computerized system. We have timed it five chronometer positions - it is running very true for a watch of its age. Your watch is important to us, and we will take care of it for its lifetime. We provide the best after sale care in the business with an experienced team of watchmakers both of whom each have over forty years of experience and a large number of parts.
Warranty: 1-year international warranty. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Box/Papers: BOX - Connoisseur of Time watch presentation box; PAPERS - Custom printed Connoisseur of Time Certificate of Authenticity; New timing certificate
Returns: 7 days full refund. 100% satisfaction guarantee
We offer a 100%
satisfaction guarantee for all of our watches. If you are in any way
unsatisfied with the watch we will fully refund the purchase price anytime
within 7 days after the watch has been received. Our goal is to exceed our
client's expectations throughout the buying experience.
All watches are packaged carefully and mailed double boxed in specially
constructed, reinforced shipping boxes designed for high value items. All
watches are sent fully insured with signature required. Most of our domestic
shipping is done through FedEx. At times we will also use USPS Express Mail,
and we can accommodate most requests for your preferred carrier.
International shipments are sent USPS International Express Mail or FedEx.
The purchase price will be the declared value of the merchandise on any
required customs forms. The payment of all customs duties, tariffs, and
taxes are the responsibility of the buyer.
Also note that water resistance of vintage watches can no longer be
guaranteed and is not covered under the watch's warranty. We do not
recommend getting a vintage watch wet, even one that was originally designed
to be waterproof.