F1 inspired styling and Swiss precision get revved up in some of the raciest watches on the market

  • WatchEast
  • June 9, 2020
  • Comments Off on F1 inspired styling and Swiss precision get revved up in some of the raciest watches on the market

With the introduction of a new, state-of-the-art facility in Bienne this past year, Omega doubled down on 170 decades of innovation and excellence in Swiss watchmaking.
Truly, the brand takes its name from an industry first: a serially produced movement that allowed the era’s watchmakers to make their own repairs using supplied parts, instead of — as could have been the case — fashioning their own.
Although this may not seem such a big deal today, when industrialised calibres (most of these produced by Omega’s parent company, Swatch Group) are the overwhelming standard, in 1855, when Louis Brandt first developed his breakthrough motion, it was unheard of. Brandt justly known as his game-changing idea”Omega” and afterwards rebranded the business in its honour.
This would have stood as a historic footnote whether or not the brand lived. But it did. And how. In short order, the business began timing sporting events (leading, in 1932, to its role as official timekeeper to the Olympic Games, a function it retains to this day) andin 1929, produced the Armature shock-resistant watch, the starts of a dedication to robustness that in due course could lead into the world-beating Seamaster and Speedmaster watches of this post-war era. However Omega was especially favoured by Allied pilots because of its robustness and accuracy, receiving particular commendation from the commander of Allied forces, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who afterwards paid a personal visit to Omega’s headquarters in Bienne to invite its watchmakers.

Omega watches

For the part, Omega watches used the hard-won intel it garnered throughout the war to generate the watch that would seal its reputation: the Seamaster, a self-winding, waterproof”civilian” version of the wartime CK2129. Launched in 1948, it goes on to help specify the”tool watch” market and now enjoys a decent”bandwidth” of willing wearers — from James Bond to the Duke Of Cambridge.
Exactly the exact same season, Omega revolutionised another arena of critical timekeeping, when it introduced digital timing to the London Olympics, linked to a camera that went to capture the first ever”photo finish’ in what would otherwise have been a”dead heat” from the mens’ 100 metres.
Marking its success in another arena of rivalry, in 1952 Omega established a slimmed-down Seamaster set it dubbed Constellation, in recognition of the eight stars that surround its crest, representing its eight wins at Kew Observatory Chronometer tests. But it was the launching of a”trilogy” of professionally inspired watches five years afterwards that would seal the brand’s reputation.
Made to overcome the specific challenges of reliable timemkeeping on land, sea and in the air, the Railmaster was the first commercially accessible watch able to withstand magnetic fields of around 1,000 (today 15,000) gauss, the updated Seamaster 300 greatly enhanced the depth to this beautifully submersible timepiece could voyage and the Speedmaster swiftly outmanoeuvred its earth-bound origins as a sport chronograph by getting what’s now known simply as the”moon watch”. Beginning in 1962, when astronaut Wally Schirra wore his very own Speedmaster aboard his Mercury spacecraft, Omega would play a key part in Nasa’s shuttle programme.
In 1965, Nasa certified the Speedmaster for all 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 if the Sixties were to represent something of a purple patch for Omega, another couple of decades would toss up issues of a larger ordinance than the most highly decorated Swiss manufacture could survive. From the late Seventies, the mechanical watch industry was nearing extinction, driven by the rise of quartz (a technology Omega had aided ideal ). In 1983, a management consultant and industrial troubleshooter named Nicolas Hayek bought the firm, forming the Swatch Group in the process. The success of his novel survival strategy — a plastic-covered quartz timepiece aimed at a mass audience — will guarantee not only the survival of Omega however, finally, a dozen or so more important Swiss and German brands. But 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, and also the signing of supermodel Cindy Crawford as a brand ambassador. Both connections have outlasted others in their respective fields, with the next generation of the Crawford clan, Presley and Kaia Gerber, joining the ranks of Omega ambassadors at 2017.