Financial takeover

Weakened by the severe monetary crisis and recession of 1975 to 1980, SSIH was bailed out by the banks in 1981. During this period, Seiko expressed interest in acquiring Omega, but nothing came out of the talks.

Switzerland's other watch making giant Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG (ASUAG - supplier of a large range of Swiss movements and watch assemblers) was in economic difficulty. It was the principal manufacturer of Ébauche (unfinished movements) and owner, through their sub-holding company GWC (General Watch Co), of various other Swiss watch brands including Longines, Rado, Certina and Mido.

After drastic financial restructuring, the R&D departments of ASUAG and SSIH merged production operations at the ETA complex in Granges. The two companies completely merged forming ASUAG-SSIH, a holding company, in 1983.

Two years later this holding company was taken over by a group of private investors led by Nicolas Hayek. Renamed SMH, Société de Microélectronique et d'Horlogerie, this new group over the next decade proceeded to become one of the top watch producers in the world. In 1998 it became the Swatch Group, which now manufactures Omega and other brands such as Blancpain, Swatch, and Breguet.

Omega'a brand experienced a resurgence with advertisement that focused on product placement strategies, such as in the James Bond 007 films; the character had previously wore a Rolex Submariner but switched to the Omega Seamaster with GoldenEye (1995) and stayed with the latter ever since. Omega also adopted many elements of Rolex’s business model (i.e. higher pricing, tighter controls of dealer pricing, increasing advertising, etc) which was successful in increasing Omega's market share and name recognition to become more of a direct competitor to Rolex.

Movements and the co-axial escapement

In 1999, with the successful own development of Calibre 2500, Omega made history by introducing the first mass-produced watch incorporating the co-axial escapement — invented by English watchmaker George Daniels. Considered by many to be one of the more significant horological advances since the invention of the lever escapement, the co-axial escapement functions with virtually no lubrication, thereby eliminating one of the shortcomings of the traditional lever escapement.

Through using radial friction instead of sliding friction at the impulse surfaces the co-axial escapement significantly reduces friction, theoretically resulting in longer service intervals and greater accuracy over time.

On January 24, 2007 Omega unveiled its new Calibres 8500[16] and 8501, two co-axial (25,200 bph) movements created exclusively from inception by Omega.