1955 Omega Seamaster Caliber. 471 Ref. 2828

Omega 471 Feature

To polish or not to polish is a tough decision that is not made lightly. Proper case work is a delicate and time-consuming process that can enhance the appearance of a watch and bring a neglected or battered watch back to life. Unfortunately a generation of unscrupulous jewelers and watchmakers decided that force plus a polishing wheel equaled a polish job. The problem with this approach is that it removes too much material and deforms the original lines and case patterns. It also produces a horrific surface that is flat and shiny but reflects light in several different directions creating the dreaded “over polished” look. This most recent piece was an example of a watch that suffered bad polishing and then a rough wearer. The Seamaster logo and “waterproof” had been mostly polished out of the caseback, while the front was clearly the victim of years of abusive wear. Even with this history, its rose gold dial and hands remained very well intact and stand out as a great contrast to the life outside the case.

If you look at this full size image you can just make out the Omega logo that has been polished almost entirely out

If you look at this full size image you can just make out the Omega logo that has been polished almost entirely out

After a great deal of thought I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of vintage watches: collector pieces and wearer pieces. When buying and servicing collector pieces, the goal is to absolutely minimize your impact and preserve the originality of the piece inside and out. With wearer pieces the goal is to restore a watch to the best of your ability to its original beauty. While I am a strong believer that reluming and redialing ruin a watch, case work can go a huge way in really bringing a piece back to life for a wearer. I made the decision to let this one be until it goes to a new owner. That new owner can make the decision that makes them happy.

This Omega 471 is a great example of one of the first automatic calibers that Omega produced. It is a fantastic piece of history that deserved a new lease on life. Unfortunately the last person to attempt this believed that Omega parts are more interchangeable than Omega lets on. This led to a slightly more costly restoration, but it was entirely worth it.

After a full disassembly, cleaning, reassembling, and oiling the movement was running crazy fast (+180-230 seconds per day.) My first instinct was to start at the power source, the mainspring. I replaced the mainspring, but still the rate was incredibly high. Then I took a long hard look at the balance and just felt that something wasn’t right. I took out a Caliber 500 movement I had and found the hairsprings to be identical. It was then I realized that this wrong heart so to speak was the cause of the problem. After getting the proper balance and installing it I regulated the watch to +/-3 seconds per day in all positions.

The 470 and the 471 were the first two automatics that Omega produced

The 470 and the 471 were the first two automatics that Omega produced

Back together; it is stunning even in its unpolished state. The rose gold dial and hands are unique and are a beautiful contrast to the stainless case. Although small by today’s standards, it is a great piece from the early days of Omega automatics.

Omega 471 Dial Omega 471 Flat Left

Omega 471 Flat Right Omega 471 Side

8 comments on “1955 Omega Seamaster Caliber. 471 Ref. 2828

  1. Stuart1965 says:

    I agree with your conclusion of collectors and wearers. I think I am a wearer. I don’t enjoy having something vintage sitting on a shelf ( no offence to collectors who do). I feel things were made to be used. But I also don’t believe everything should be vintage, after all you don’t see me surfing the web on a commodore 64. But there are some items I feel have not really been improved upon so much that the character and craftsmanship of the past don’t meet or exceed modern quality. Watches, Razors, and pens, are among them ( and sometimes cars and ships). As a wearer I don’t necessarily want the grime of 50 years on my item, but I do think the scratches and character marks on the original bits and pieces are part of the charm, and mystery.

    • AMBwatches says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion! I tend to agree with you. While there are most certainly pieces that are meant to be collected and worn very gently, for the most part I am a fan of and try to work on watches that have character and show their history.

  2. MK says:

    Hello Aaron, I am still waiting for your next watch.

  3. This is nice, but I wonder if this may be a redial, the “seamaster” looks suspicious to my eye. I may be wrong, but to me it looks too much ink and the dial shows no patina at all…

    • aberlow says:

      You may very well be right. This piece was done prior to any real training of my eye for redials which are rampant among vintage omegas. Thanks for the comment!

      • stefpix says:

        Thanks – I enjoy your posts. I like Polerouters as well that is how I came to your site. I have a cal 215 like yours, mine is just gold plated. I’d like steel better, but I like mine too. I do also have a bumper Polerouter from 1955 the classic Genta design.

  4. Vintage Watch Addict says:

    Arron, I picked up a lovely watch like this one today with a cream ‘waffle’ dial and a 471 movement, which is a little stunner. Despite not habing a ‘bath’ for many years, its keeping great time, which is a testament to Omega’s brilliant watchmaking craftsmanship. It needs a new winder and a decent service, to bring it back to it’s Judy Dench graceful beauty. I never believed in ‘messing with nature’ and I’m not an advocate of polished cases and redials, as they can destroy a watch. I always enjoy your restoration blogs. Mark 😊 (The SA vintage Grand Seiko guy)

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