Things I look out for when buying an Omega C-Case Constellation
Like many fans of Omega dress watches, I started pining after the Constellation Pie Pan - the coveted dog-legs lug, no date, cross hair dial'd with its original bead of rice bracelet.
Above: Here's the watch. I had to scroll quite far back on my Instagram feed to find it too.
And now, 13 Constellations on, that variant is actually one of my least worn of the lot, the other being my gold capped, honeycomb, two-tone, arrowhead. I found it to be too dressy and hard to go with most outfits that won't involve my getting drenched in my own perspiration. The former has too thin a profile, its own understatement being its downfall.
What really struck, a balance with me were the C-Cases, so named because looking head-on the case resembles a mirror image of 2 "C"s. Their bigger and more "every day" case design allows them a place among my t-shirts and shorts, as well as a less formal work day.
Above: A smattering of my C-Case collection.
Not to think of them as sports watch hybrids though - in their blunt curves and simplistic approach lies a detail that cemented their place in the Omega catalog upon their launch in 1964. They were loved - I speak from my personal experience after owning six of them.
In this article, I try to explain why, and what you might want to look out for when shopping for a C-Case.
Let's start off with the obvious shall we? A good case would have sharp lines, each edge straight and clearly distinct from the next surface when viewed under a loupe. There is actually a nice chamfer from the top to the side.
The finishing on a C-Case is well designed - a circular brush follows the circumference of the case top, sloping down to a polished chamfer before graduating to a light brushed finish on the side. The back of the case, as well as the screw-on case back, is polished to a shine, sans for the stamped Omega Constellation Conservatory medal.
The lines the side of the case is also interrupted to create a notch for the crown - one more of these design choices that impresses me, rather than having the crown stick awkwardly out flat along the side of the case.
Above: The details on the case, seen (badly) through a loupe.
The icing (literally) on top of this watch design cake is the bezel. The C-Case comes with two bezel variants - a fluted bezel in solid gold and a stainless steel smooth bezel (someone correct me if the flat ones are also gold).
The cuts on the fluted bezel are very fine and pronounced, a classier step away from the daring 90-degree gouges on a fluted Rolex Datejust. These are my preferred C-Case bezels of choice, my only smooth bezel variant one with a signed Turler dial.
Speaking of Dials
The Omega C-Case Constellation comes in several dial variants, each with their own accompanied hand sets. I of course, speak from experience and ownership. There are tonnes of scholastic deep dives into the many different variants that a more enthusiastic learner might be interested in.
As far as I know, there are the gold, silver, grey, and fume dials in a C-Case. I have in my possession a dial that's more champagne than silver, but I think it's just an aged silver dial.
The gold and silver variations also come in a type of linen texture, one where it's more of a cross-scratching than lines in a single orientation.
Above: The linen pattern on an Omega C-Case Constellation.
The non-textured gold and silver dials are in matte, and come across in more of a dome shape than the linen ones. The grey dial that I own has a sunburst. The fume is in a reddish-brown sort of hue, the likes of which I have ever only seen on photo.
Above: The onyx strips on Omega Constellations (C-Case or not) are applied on, and can come off over time, as you can see from the one here.
Text is stamped in white or black over each dial. Viewed under a loupe there is a certain weight to the letters, and each is clean and crisp with a slightly rounded feel to them at the top. This is probably only visible under 60x magnification. Text stamped on solid gold dials are darker in color and appear bolder in their strokes; while these can easily be mistaken for de-dials, a closer look will reveal the intricacies of authentic Omega stamp quality.
On each of these expertly made dials are the indices, and these can range from single slim lines to thick chamfered blocks like you see in the grey dial variant above. The thicker indices all have a small dot of lume at the edge, and these are characterized by the "T" stamped along with the "Swiss Made" at 6.
As far as I know, the 60s C-Cases were all day and date. The single date variations came in the 70s, where the C-Case took a turn towards a more "generic" design with the flattening of the case, reduction in bezel width and an overall more industrious appeal.
Now that segues perfectly into finding a matching hand set for the dial. The general rule of thumb I go by is that the thicker the indices, the thicker the hands should be. And if the dial has lume, the hands damn well have lume. The thinner hands will have no lume, and is painted black through, not in the same kind of application as the onyx.
My favourite variant of the hands is the slim skeletonized with black painted bodies and lume at the top. Some of the black paint is known to crack over time.
The seconds hand is as long as the minute one, barely reaching out to the printed hash markers at the edge of the dial. You will find some that are shorter, a result of being trimmed due to rust or tarnish at the edges. I think those are fine, as long as it's not a brutish decapitation without an attempt to file it down so it ends with a sharp taper.
Bracelets, Crystals, Box and Papers
These are nice to have, but since the times would not have been kind to the formers, and most C-Cases were sold with leather straps in the past, I wouldn't be too hung up about having them, nor pay a hefty premium for one either.
And there you have it! my user experience guide on the Omega C-Case Constellation. Hope you find it a worthwhile read. Feel free to drop me a message over the website if there's anything else you need me to cover.
Also, if you looking for more of such in-depth guides to collectible time pieces, I've found Vintage Watch Inc. a valuable resource. The author has written some pieces on vintage Seiko Chronographs (the Kakume, Pogues and UFO to name some) and even some cult Russian classics.
Head over to https://vintagewatchinc.com/ to load up on your WIS'dom.