How Omega watches defined James Bond, the Olympics and even the moon landings review
In common with a number of historic brands, 2020 has been meant to be another momentous season for Omega. But then came Covid-19 along with the postponement of the latest Bond film, for which the brand had produced its first unlimited official 007 timepiece, followed by the dawning realisation that the Tokyo Olympics would need to be pushed into the next year — leaving the Bienne-based brand with a different wait its hands prior to resuming once again its official timekeeper responsibilities — a position its held since 1932.
And when it is not something every business could take in its stride, it’s probably not the first time Omega watches will have needed to concern yourself with world-class issues like these. As if to prove the point, the brand takes its title from an industry first: a serially generated movement that enabled the era’s watchmakers to generate their own repairs using components that are supplied, rather than — as would have been the case — fashioning their own.
For the part, Omega used the hard-won intel it garnered during the war to produce the watch that could seal its standing: the Seamaster, a self-winding, waterproof”civilian” version of the Deadly CK2129. Launched in 1948, it would go on to help specify the”tool see” market and now enjoys an admirable”bandwidth” of willing wearers — from James Bond to the Duke Of Cambridge.
Exactly the exact same season, Omega revolutionised another arena of critical timekeeping, as it introduced digital time to the London Olympics, linked to a camera that went on to capture the first ever”photo finish’ in what would otherwise have been a”dead heat” in the mens’ 100 metres.
Marking its achievement in a different arena of competition, in 1952 Omega launched a slimmed-down Seamaster set it dubbed Constellation, in recognition of those eight stars that surround its crest, representing its eight wins at Kew Observatory Chronometer tests. Nevertheless, it was the launching of a”trilogy” of professionally inspired watches five years afterwards that could truly seal the brand’s reputation.
Made to overcome the specific challenges of dependable timemkeeping on earth, sea and from the atmosphere, the Railmaster was the first commercially available watch capable to withstand magnetic fields of around 1,000 (now 15,000) gauss, the upgraded Seamaster 300 greatly enhanced the depth to this beautifully submersible timepiece could voyage and the Speedmaster swiftly outmanoeuvred its own earth-bound origins as a sport chronograph by becoming what is now known simply as the”moon watch”.
Back in January 1961, President Kennedy wore an Omega in his inauguration, and a couple of months afterwards delivered the famous speech where he announced,”This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” Starting in 1962, when astronaut Wally Schirra wore his very own Speedmaster aboard his Mercury spacecraft, Omega would play an integral part in Nasa’s space programme.
In 1965, Nasa certified the Speedmaster for many space assignments and extra-vehicular activity — and the same year a Speedmaster joined the world’s first spacewalk aboard the wrist of Gemini 4 pilot Ed White.
But when the Sixties were to signify something of a purple patch for Omega, the next couple of decades would throw up issues of a larger ordinance than even the most brightly colored Swiss watches fabrication could survive. In 1983, a management consultant and industrial troubleshooter called Nicolas Hayek purchased the firm, forming the Swatch Group in the procedure. The achievement of his novel survival strategy — a plastic-covered quartz timepiece aimed at a mass audience — will guarantee not only the survival of Omega but, finally, a dozen or so more significant Swiss and German brands. Nevertheless, it was at the field of marketing that it was to truly come into its own, starting with its debut on the wrist of Pierce Brosnan’s 007 in the 17th Bond outing, Goldeneye, along with the signing of supermodel Cindy Crawford as a brand ambassador. Both relationships have outlasted others in their various fields, together with the next generation of the Crawford clan, Presley and Kaia Gerber, joining the ranks of both Omega ambassadors in 2017.
Debuted in 1948 as a self-winding, watertight”civilian” version of the Deadly CK2129, the Seamaster has served Omega — and history — nicely. After hostilities resume next March, Omega will return on board once more supporting defenders Emirates Team New Zealand — and, for the first time, serving as the contest’s official timekeeper. To mark the event, Omega has released this special variant Seamaster Planet Ocean, complete with five-minute regatta”pre-start” period mark on the bezel and the AC emblem engraved on the sapphire case back. Omega will create 2,021 pieces out there. #5,650.