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Those in search of a great vintage sports watch that’s both subtle and conservatively sized have a rather endless list of options to consider. At the 36 mm mark, there are many options, including Rolex’s wildly iconic — and for good reason — Ref. 1016 Explorer, though at the same price point, there are arguably more interesting acquisitions. If in search of a truly rare and unique sports watch of a previous era, look no further than Omega Ranchero.
Following the success of the manufacturer’s Railmaster and Seamaster tool watch lines, the Ranchero was first introduced in 1958 as an all-around, everyday watch of sorts, though still built to the same tough standards. Beneath the stainless steel caseback Omega fitted the same hand winding Cal. 267 found in some of the Railmaster and Seamaster models, and the case remained waterproof, though most noticeably, the Ranchero received a much thinner case, that was better suited for occasional wear in more formal situations.
Design-wise, the Ranchero is nothing short of glorious if vintage Omega is what does it for you. Inspiration was clearly pulled from what are now regarded as some of the most beautiful sports watches of all time — the Speedmaster, Railmaster, and Seamster of the late 1950s — as the Broad Arrow hands, arabic numerals, and case architecture would suggest. All the defining features of this era of Omega, paired with dimensions that allow for easy wear under a cuff.
Despite an impressive build quality, stunning aesthetic, and pleasing proportions on the wrist, the Omega Racnhero was not exactly a successful venture for Omega at the time of its release. Given that its name roughly translated to “ranch hand,” the watch was not met with success in Spanish-speaking markets, which led to its eventual discontinuation shortly after its release. Because of all this, the Ranchero now represents one of the rarest sports production watches in history, with just a single year production run.
While its production run may have been short, it was not short enough to not be studied and analyzed today. Examples were produced with a number of different dial signature variances, including those signed Ranchero, those signed just Seamaster, and the coveted double-signed versions. In retrospect, this seemingly nonsensical idea to brand a single references in three different ways can likely be chalked up to the fact that the resistance that came as a result of the Ranchero’s original name caused Omega to effectively experiment. These experiments may not have proven fruitful for Omega, but they have certainly made for a compelling, top tier reference for study and enjoyment today.
In today’s market, examples are now awfully few and far between. Not even great examples, but any example for that matter. As such a rare reference, it’s not often that a Ranchero of any sort will surface, though when one does, and it happens to be the most desirable variant in excellent condition, heads of note will certainly turn. It’s the type of watch that on the wrist will likely go unnoticed by most, but those that know will know, earning it a true sleeper status in the eyes of important watch collectors worldwide.
For the dedicated vintage Omega collector, sports watch aficionado, or time-only enthusiast, the Ranchero is by all means an horological must-have. This particular example in our inventory is nothing short of absolutely stunning, with sharp case lines, and an honestly aged dial and handset featuring the original radium compound. Click here for more details.