Welcome to Watches You Should Know, a biweekly column highlighting important or little-known watches with interesting backstories and unexpected influence. This week: the Omega Suveran.
Military watches are plenty cool for their utilitarian design, hard use case and often limited production, but they're not the only subset of horological wares deserving of historical interest.
The Omega Suveran ("Sovereign" in Swedish) is one such watch that deserves a closer look by the collector community — and indeed, anyone with a glancing interest in the Second World War. This interesting model, produced by Omega exclusively for sale by the Swedish government, was used to partially fund the country's economy during the war. That's right: it's a sort of like a horological equivalent to war bonds.
Available in numerous dial configurations, the Suveran was housed in a roughly 35mm anti-magnetic stainless steel case with a screw down back, which bore either the "SUVERAN" signature in a startlingly modern typeface, or the words “ANTIMAGNETISK, VATTENTAT, STÖTSKYDDAD ("anti-magnetic, waterproof, shockproof"). Powered by the manually wound, 15-jewel Omega cal. 30T2 PC AM, a version of the vaulted 30T2 with the addition of Incabloc shock protection, it was a highly attractive, simple workhorse of a watch.
Different dial designs included black, military-style faces with blocky Arabic numerals; white dials with Roman numerals and a dressier aspect; black and white "tuxedo" dials; and numerous others. (They would, of course, have featured radium on luminous models.) Most seemed to have featured pencil hands, though perhaps a few used leaf hands. All featured a sub-seconds display within a sub-register at 6 o'clock and shipped, most likely, on a plain leather strap.
Most references have a ref. number of 2400-X (i.e. 2400-1; 2400-5, etc.) and a production date of between 1943 and 1945. While exact production quantities are unknown, production is certainly fairly limited considering the use case, which was exclusively for the Swedish government. Prices have certainly increased in the past several years with the increasing mania for both vintage and military watches, but the fact that you can obtain such a fascinating (and unique) bit of horological and WWII history for between $1,500 and $3,000 — that isn't necessarily a military watches meant for soldering — is pretty darn cool, if you ask us.