Although I could never personally pull off the gold watch on the gold band, I can still appreciate a piece for those who can. This 1966 Omega Seamaster De Ville Caliber 560 that I just restored is not my personal style on the outside but it is still a beautiful watch. The movement is another story. The Caliber 560 is an incredibly rare beauty that is the visual epitome of what I love about vintage Omegas. As a whole, this watch is a great original example of a vintage Omega that showcases all of the distinctive marks that one should look for when buying Omegas from this time.
Before launching into what I like about this watch, let me get some qualms with it out of the way. My first issue is with the metal band. My major problem with metal bands is that they show their age terribly. After a few years, the band stretches to become several sizes bigger than it was and looks saggy and worn. Furthermore once they are at this point of showing age they can rarely be replaced without looking odd against the watch head. My advice? If you buy a watch on a metal band, wear it for about six months to year and then lock it away and put on a leather, canvas, or nylon band. You will thank me later if you ever want to resell it.
My second issue with this watch is the unishell case (or more accurately the two-part stem.) Usually to service a watch you either unscrew or lever off the back to get to the movement. With unishell designs the movement is accessed through the crystal. It is then taken out with the removal of the annoying two-part stem and either lifting the movement straight out or the sliding of a movement lock. The problem with a two-part stem is not the removal but the winding and setting of the watch when not in the case. Other than these two issues however this movement is gorgeous and maintaining it was a fun task even if it was done at a tortoise’s speed (a balance complete for this watch costs upwards of $300 so slow and steady wins the race every time in watchmaking.)
The movement is an incredibly rare Caliber 560. I did not know it at the time (probably not a bad thing) but apparently there were only about 3000 of these movements made. The serial number dates this watch to about 1966. It has a very simple thin case with a big dial that is very 50s-60s. This was before the transition into more bulky and prominent cases of the 70s onwards. Once again, while not my style, I can appreciate its importance and its beauty inside and out.
When cleaning vintage Omegas it is always crapshoot as to whether the beautiful rose gold finish will come off in cleaning. To mitigate this risk, I usually start by washing a small part to see the effects. If the finish comes off, I set about cleaning the entire main plate and bridges by hand with some solvent, tiny swabs, sharpened peg wood, and my trusty Rodico bar (a tacky substance that removes oil, dirt, hair, etc.) Luck happened to be on my side with this one and I was able to ultrasonically clean the whole thing. Upon close inspection I found nothing wrong and set about reassembling the movement. When it was all oiled and back together (minus the rotor) I set about regulating it. Once it kept perfect time I then set the hands and the date, put the rotor on, and got the whole thing back in its shell.
One thing no once can fault Omega for is marking their watches. Most of these marks are obvious: Dial, Movement, Crown, Case, and Band. Omega however did not stop there. They also marked their crystals with a near imperceptible Omega logo. I was unable to get a view that showed it, but this one had it too. For anyone buying a vintage Omega be sure to ask the seller if the crystal is original or aftermarket generic.
Instead of replacing the crystal, I buffed this one out a bit. I opted to not polish the case because it would have looked different than the band. I wanted to keep the continuity and so I just used a rouge-less polishing cloth.
Back together with the band back on it looks like the 60s Omega it is. It is nothing extravagant but it is a well-made cleanly designed watch that will easily run for decades to come. Its rare Caliber 560 gives it a little secret that distinguishes it from other similar models. At the end of the day, I am glad I got the chance to be able to say I worked on a rare 560.