Omega Seamaster Olympic Cross of Merit

Omega Seamaster Olympic Cross of Merit

Why We Love It 

Seemingly every other day, one of the major contemporary brands rolls out a limited edition of some kind.  With numbered pieces and special packaging and low production numbers, this approach sometimes leaves collectors and enthusiasts feeling a sense of manufactured scarcity and thus, fabricated importance.

This makes a truly rare watch — inherently rare because so few were produced — a very special thing.  The 1956 Omega Olympic Cross of Merit is one of those special rare timepieces; Omega only made about 100 in this configuration, changing design for both dial and case for the production watch. 

Despite some degradation to the Chinese lacquer seal, this special and rare piece is in lovely condition.  The solid 18k yellow gold case cradles the complex dial nicely, the faceted coffin markers and dauphine hands playing nicely off the sloping lugs and 10-sided crown.

The Story

In 1952, Omega was awarded the Olympic Cross of Merit for "outstanding service to the world of sports."  To celebrate its long run of official timekeeping, Omega produced the XVI, a special execution of the Seamaster to be unveiled at the 16th Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. 

Omega set forth to create a unique watch, enlisting the help of a revered Omega prototype maker Jean-Pierre Matthey-Claudet to construct a distinct case and dial.  For the case, Matthey-Claudet applied rarely-seen 'Frog Leg' lugs, and precious metal.  When he turned to the dial, he elected to use Chinese lacquer to incorporate the Olympic Cross of Merit seal at 6:00.  However, as the story goes, Omega didn't properly secure the rights to use the seal on the dial of the watches, resulting in only around 100 pieces being produced in 1956.

It's widely rumored that Seamasters were never retailed, but rather given away to executives, dignitaries and celebrities.  The production of the XVI commenced, but the seal was removed and replaced with applied roman numerals 'XVI.' 


SKU: AS02688

18K Yellow Gold case is approximately 34mm (excluding crown). Omega Reference 2850SC. Omega Caliber 471 Automatic movement. 1956.

Overall Condition: The watch is in good condition over all, with some signs of previous polishing throughout. The Chinese lacquer dial shows ultra-fine cracking throughout consistent with dials of this type. The Olympic Cross of Merit seal shows some degradation, particularly to the bottom two inlay panels; center Olympic ring is missing its inlay. Dauphine hands are in good condition; gold Omega-signed crown. Snap case back is lightly polished but shows some light scuffing from wear.

Includes one dark brown 18mm leather strap with contrast stitching.

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