Omega 1603 Constellation (Gold-Filled)
Omega's last and possibly most refined LED watch
The Omega 1603 Constellation was the last and some say, the most refined LED watch produced by Omega.
The Omega 1603 Constellation has understated but very modern styling. The TV shaped front bezel and case is a departure from Omega's other more boxy shaped digitals and is typical of watches of the early to mid 1970s. The case and bracelet feature a nice combination of brushed and polished finishes. As in all Omega Constellations, the case back is adorned with the beautiful and distinctive observatory logo. The 1603 Contellation is a mid sized watch, not too small and not too large. By today's standards, it would probably be considered on the small side, but the result is a watch that is very easy and comfortable to wear. The combination of all these factors along with the relative scarcity of this model make this a very appealing and sought after watch.
Omega never made any of their own LED watch modules and the module that orignally came with this Constellation was the Frontier 1603 module. The module that is currently in this watch is actually the earlier 1602 module, which features the dot style LED display rather than the more common segment style display. Although the later 1603 module featured a day of the week functionality which the 1602 lacked, most collectors prefer the earlier 1602 module because of the beauty of the dot style display. Unlike the Time Computer modules used in Omega's first LED watches, the 1602 and 1603 modules were made for other lower priced watches so it's sometimes possible to pick up a replacement module from an inexpensive watch at a very reasonable price. The only difference between generic Frontier modules and the Omega branded Frontier modules is the "Omega" name printed on the plastic carrier and the "SSIH" label printed on the quartz crystal housing.
One aspect of this watch that is not depicted in photographs but I find appealing is that the Frontier 1602 module has a lower refresh rate than other modules, probably around 30 Hz. This causes the display to have a subtle scintillating effect. If you wave the watch around in the dark, you can clearly see the slight flickering. If you've ever waved a string of LED Christmas lights around in the dark, then you have an idea of what I'm talking about.
The Omega 1603 Constellation was made in gold filled and stainless models. Today, they are both highly sought after by collectors. The stainless one in particular can fetch outrageous prices with decent pieces going for $1000 or more. In many ways, you could argue that these Omegas are overrated and overpriced since there is nothing particularly special about the module or case. However, they are undeniably nice watches with great styling and good build quality so given the limited availability of these watches, it is perhaps understandable how this watch can capture your heart. Watch lovers as a rule are not generally logical or even sensible.
This is a very desirable watch in worn, but generally good shape. For some mysterious reason, these Omega models seem to frequently be in generally worn or abused condition. This may actually be a testament to the stylishness and wearability of these watches. They are very comfortable and it's obvious that they were actually worn and loved instead of tucked away in a drawer. If you're looking for a very cool, rare, and stylish watch in good condition but that can actually be worn instead of tucked away in a display case, then this is the type of watch that you're looking for!
This is in good but not great condition. There are a numerous small scratches on the polished case sides, bezel and case back, as shown in the photos. Thankfully, the case is 80 micron gold filled, which allows for some refinishing, if that is desired. It still looks great!
Face / Hands: Excellent.
All LED digits and segments are complete and bright. Note that this is using a Hamilton 1602 module with a dot style display. Many of these watches were sold the later 1603 segment style display with day of the week. I replaced the module with the earlier (Hamilton) module because I like the dots better.
Crystal: Fair / Good.
The main problem with this watch is that the crystal is not in very good shape. The Omega logo is mostly worn off and there are three deep scratches towards the right side.
Band / Bracelet: Very good.
The bracelet is in worn but still very good shape. These bracelets were gold filled rather than gold plated so the plating is not worn through anywhere and it will take a bit of refinishing, if that's desirable. This is a complete bracelet that will fit a 7 3/4" to 8" wrist comfortably.
Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
All functions work perfectly. Digital quartz accuracy.