My foray into the world of vintage watches has been a rewarding experience that I cannot measure in words, and the watch that I will introduce you to today is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of vintage space-age design, and has rightfully earned its place as my favorite watch in my entire collection. Make no mistake; this is not your typical vintage grandfather’s watch. Omega has always been known for crafting some of the watch industry’s most colorful and funky designs. Not much is known about this particular watch, even after contacting Omega themselves they could not help me with any background or history on this rarity.
What is known is that they were produced around the early 1970’s for select markets around the world. There were two variations, however, one that featured a basic bezel and one that featured a rotating bezel. This Stingray has the rotating bezel which I find to be a bit ineffectual considering that this is not a dive watch and has no water resistant rating. Regardless of its cloudy history, I am extremely grateful that Omega made such a strange watch that I can enjoy today. At a time of history when the Nautilus and Royal Oak weren’t on the market, this is a design icon that predates the two of them. Everyone knows of Gerald Genta, personally, I would love to meet the designer who created the Stingray. Let’s take a deeper look at what exactly makes this so different.
Back in the 1970’s, funky and distorted case shapes were all the rage and the shape that you see with the Cobra is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It makes it very apparent as to how it received its moniker. Thanks to this curved and wavy shape, the watch is an absolute joy to wear on your wrist. Very ergonomic and comfortable, you may often forget that you’re wearing anything at all. The dial is something else to behold. The dial has a contrast of sunburst grey in the center, with a grey chapter ring that features recessed indices with black highlights. This gives the dial the perception of looking through the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Upon closer inspection you will see the date window which is framed with a fine white line for clarity since there is no magnification device on the crystal. Finer points of detail reveal the nicely aged lume plots in the recesses around the dial which will only continue to grow in beauty. The original white hands have started to take on a creamy color that will also become even more colorful as the years pass by.
The running seconds hand, originally stainless in sheen, is now becoming rusted by the sun that it’s seen over its lifetime. The bezel also shows its age in a haunting way. A favorite feature amongst collectors of vintage watches is finding the famed “ghost bezel”. It once featured a unique layout of numbers printed in black around the bezel, with the typical 15, 30, 45, and 60 indices being forgone in favor of every other number being used in the format of 05, 10, 20, etc. The bezel also features a coin edge on the outside which is a fantastic flair point for a watch like this. The bracelet has a steep taper that meets with concealed lugs on the case, ensuring a seamless fit and finish with the profile of the entire watch. The entire aesthetic of the Stingray is one of a futuristic view that never was, a glimpse into the future of the wristwatch, but the design and even the core principal of the wristwatch was about to be changed in another direction.
The Stingray Cobra featured two of omegas movements, the caliber 1480 and the 1481. One of the had a basic quickset date function while the other one featured a date change function that was operated by pushing the crown in towards the case. This movement beats at 21,600 vph, is automatic and features the basic quickset function.
In the world of vintage, there is something for everyone. This Omega certainly isn’t for everyone, but I think you would be hard-pressed to find a more unique design from any other brands of the time. Time will only tell where these will end up in desirability, but meanwhile, I will gladly enjoy wearing this piece year round. If retro design is something you crave in a watch, the Stingray Cobra has more than enough style to pass around. There is a reason this is my favorite watch in my collection, and I think that it speaks for itself beautifully.