As someone who very openly enjoys watches that many other people might not find as appealing, I pay particular attention to the series that many brands don’t feature on the homepages of their websites. The Omega De Ville Prestige collection, besides being a somewhat hidden gem within the larger sphere of Seamasters, Speedmasters, and Constellations, happens to fit this criteria.
The Omega De Ville series was born around 1960 as part of the larger Seamaster series of watches. It was, at the time, the continuation of the classic dress watch heritage the Seamaster had embodied since 1948, but one that had become less important since the launch of the first dive watch in the series in 1957. It was in 1967 that the De Ville collection became independent of the Seamaster line, and began to develop its own individual charm and heritage. These were watches that continued to be dressy, classic, and elegant, but now appealed to a much wider market of consumers through their interesting designs, variety of cases — including squares, rectangles, and ovals — competitive prices, and timelessness of their dials.
Today, the De Ville collection, like other Omega collections, is a much larger collection of watches, with a multitude of “sub-series” hidden within. The particular “sub-series” we’ll be covering is the De Ville Prestige collection—a group of watches that continues to represent what made the De Ville series so appealing since its launch as an independent model in ’67.
The Ref. 422.214.171.124.02.001 is the De Ville Prestige Co-Axial 36.8-mm. The watch, as its name indicates, is housed in a 36.8-mm case available in steel, yellow or rose gold, or two-tone (steel and yellow gold). Within resides the automatic Omega Caliber 2500— the very first Co-Axial movement available commercially (released in 1999), a historically important movement for Omega and a major contribution to the world of watchmaking.
On the two-zoned dial, there is the option for either gold, white, blue, or silver, with applied Roman numerals at each quarter-hour, and tick marks for the remaining points. At the 3 o’clock position resides a utilitarian date indicator with sword hands for the hours and minutes sweeping over it. The last feature to notice is the chain-link bracelet—a bracelet somewhat reminiscent of the “rice-bead” bracelets so prevalent on vintage Omegas. If you are on the hunt, Omega has this watch listed starting at $3,700, but it is possible to find it for much less at a dealer.
While in all possibility Omega might not have meant for this watch to be a tribute to the more historical De Ville lineage, it is the contemporary series’ classic and timeless designs that give it a somewhat “vintage-esque” feel. From it being one of the smallest Omega men’s watches, with an approximately 37-mm case (still at least a millimeter or two larger than the vintage pieces); to its understated dial; to its sleek, most likely vintage-Seamaster-inspired hands; to, finally, its chain-link bracelet (probably more resilient than the stretch-prone rice bead version) — this watch gives the impression that it has not forgotten what made the De Ville so appealing decades ago.
As you can tell, I like the modern Omega De Ville Prestige line. It is a collection far from the limelight that often graces Omega’s flagship collections, and, in my opinion, is one of the last holdouts, in a relatively affordable sense, of a classic watch meant to slip subtly beneath a shirt cuff. Some watches are underappreciated, some watches are understated; I feel that this watch happens to be both.
For our most recent article, in which I compare modern and vintage examples of the Breguet Type XX, click here.
Caleb Anderson is the Director of Outreach at the online vintage watch boutique theoandharris.com. Since starting at Theo & Harris, he has garnered extensive knowledge on vintage watches, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions within the field. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on watches, and a casual runner.