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Loupe Insiders: From secret watch-wearing to empowering events – why we loved the OMEGA Her Time exhibition.
March was a somewhat hectic month for watches, especially with Watches and Wonders 2023, so you may well have missed your only chance to visit the OMEGA Her Exhibition in London. If you did miss out, fear not, as we’ve got all the insights into the exhibition that celebrates women’s watchmaking.
First up, a bit of background to the exhibition. With a century of women’s watchmaking under their belt, OMEGA launched their first ladies’ watch in 1902, housed in a silver case and adorned with a floral design it was what was known as a ‘secret jewellery watch’ as women wearing watches was deemed unacceptable during this period. So, to ensure women got to wear their timepieces, OMEGA created pieces that looked like jewellery but had a small hidden watch inside, genius.
The 1920s and 1930s saw the popularity of OMEGA’s female timepieces continue to grow due to their impressive and often bold designs. Then in 1946, OMEGA continued its plight to defy conventions with the launch of the very first “Tubogas”. Launched exclusively for the French market and cast in 18k red gold, the watch designed by Maison Brandt Freres caused a stir with its innovative bracelet.
While the 1950s didn’t do much for female empowerment (advertisements often targeted stereotypes around traditional domestic duties), OMEGA continued to go against the grain focusing on glamour and personality and so 1955 saw the launch of the Ladymatic. Combining a winning combination of compact size with elegant good looks, the first Ladymatic also featured the world's smallest chronometer-certified rotor-equipped automatic calibre. The result? A far more superior watch than almost anything on the market and boy did it cause a sensation.
Previously visiting Milan, Madrid, Shanghai, and St Petersburg, the Her Time Exhibition came to London in March 2023 and of course, we jumped at the chance to visit and take you all along with us.
Set in a stunning Edwardian townhouse, with views over Hyde Park, when you stepped through the door you were hit by the light, bright and feminine décor (the anthesis of your typical gentleman’s club). Everything was the epitome of OMEGA with each minute detail considered, from the glassware, the array of candles - even down to the soap used in the bathrooms. A feast for all the senses, you could even visit a time-out zone with noise-cancelling headphones piping through relaxing sounds and giving you a break from the bustling reality of the busy capital city.
As you visited the ground floor, you entered a pop-up dedicated to showing the artistry of OMEGA’s ladies’ watches. From the “Medicus” watch, which debuted in 1937 (a timepiece made with nurses in mind thanks to its central second-hand) to other highlights including the Omega–Grima “Harvest” pendant watch from the 1970s designed in Britain by Andrew Grima (featuring an emerald facetted quartz crystal curling into an 18ct gold sheaf). Other timepieces on display included rarely seen Art Nouveau and Art Deco jewellery and watches and decorating the room was an array of new and vintage advertisements, each celebrating a moment in time as well the brand’s watches.
But this was more than just an exhibition space. A visit to the member’s club for a private dining experience continued to take you on a journey for your senses. Or, if the bar is more your thing, think aptly named cocktails that are just as good on the eyes as they are on your tastebuds.
And finally, just to reinforce the female empowerment theme of the exhibition, the brand also hosted a series of daytime and evening events to celebrate and inspire women while championing issues like health, wellness, career, and lifestyle.
The OMEGA Her Time exhibition was a stunning and enlightening celebration of women and watchmaking set in an amazing location. Learning that in their early days of watchmaking, women’s timepieces were hidden in plain sight within pieces of gorgeous jewellery, made this exhibition not only breathtaking but also insightful. The vintage pieces on display were enough to make your hairs stand on end and that same golden thread of OMEGA ran throughout every piece – the innovation, the beauty, and the exquisite detail.
The question on everyone’s lips? Where will this mesmerising exhibition be heading next? Sadly, OMEGA is yet to announce its next destination but we’re hoping to find out very soon because these spectacular events are not to be missed.