n the face of the current business slump, every watch brand is thinking carefully about its strategy for presenting products. Most have opted for virtual presentations, but Omega has made a point of physically introducing its models to the media in its various international markets by sending actual timepieces wherever possible.
However, Covid-19 made it necessary to split up the appointments: no more than three people at a time, with masks, gloves and hand sanitiser de rigueur.
Jean-Claude Monachon, VP Product & Customer Service, welcomed us to Omega’s headquarters in Biel. He pointed out: “While the release of some products that were already in the pipeline has been postponed, research and development of new products is proceeding quite normally.”
It’s easy to see how the pandemic has dramatically altered Omega’s launch plans – by delaying two major operations: the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the worldwide release of the next James Bond movie, No Time To Die. By the time the Olympic Games were finally cancelled and postponed, the production of the Tokyo 2020 special series was already in full swing.
“Fortunately, the International Olympic Committee has taken the decision to keep the name Tokyo 2020 even though the Games will (hopefully) take place in 2021,” says Monachon. The distinctive logos already affixed to the dials, and the special caseback engravings can therefore be maintained.
“The International Olympic Committee has decided to keep the name Tokyo 2020 even though the Games will (hopefully) take place in 2021.”
A very exclusive James Bond timepiece
As for the next James Bond movie, which has its own dedicated collections, the worldwide release will take place on November 11, 2020. This date is now definitive (distributors have reserved more venues than usual, given that each can accommodate only a limited number of spectators), allowing Omega to unveil a first Numbered Edition, available “in small quantities” only in its own boutiques. The price of CHF 51,700 limits access exclusively to the most affluent collectors.
- The Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Numbered Edition. Omega has been equipping James Bond with Seamaster models since GoldenEye in 1995.
The 42mm case of the Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Numbered Edition is made of platinum gold, with a platinum gold plate on the outside engraved with the edition number. The same exceptional material can be found on the polished and brushed buckle of its black leather strap. The black ceramic bezel is adorned with a raised diving scale in platinum, while the dial is made of black enamel, with the spiralling revolver barrel motif picked out in 18-carat white gold.
The timepiece is part of the James Bond collection launched by Omega last year. It comprises the number 50 hidden in the Super-LumiNova coating of the index at 10:00 a.m., in reference to the 50th anniversary of the film Her Majesty’s Service. Still on the dial, at 7 o’clock, there is the 007 logo on the white enamel minute track, as well as details in 18 ct white gold, including the hands, the markers and the Bond family crest at 12 o’clock.
Another reproduction of the Bond family coat of arms, this time laser-engraved and coated with platinum, is found on the sapphire crystal caseback. It’s also important to note the ultra-precise finish of the laser-engraved hands. The timepiece is equipped with the Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 8807 calibre, certified to the industry’s highest standards of precision, performance and magnetic resistance.
It is delivered in a special Globe-Trotter™ case, which is secured by NATO-inspired straps.
Omega made a point of physically presenting its models to the media in its various international markets by sending out actual timepieces wherever possible.
The Antimagnetic Central Tourbillon
Another exceptional timepiece, but at the opposite end of the watchmaking spectrum, is the Tourbillon De Ville Master Chronometer, whose most obvious visual characteristic is its centrally positioned tourbillon. This model is limited to 25 pieces, intended for seasoned collectors and sold at the price of CHF 155,300.
In 1947, Omega pioneered the first tourbillon wristwatch. The brand’s first central tourbillon was released in 1994, to mark its 100th anniversary. At the time, however, it was an automatic, with a winding crown at 3 o’clock, although adjustments were made independently using a separate wheel set into the caseback.
“We completely redesigned this central tourbillon because the wheel integrated into the case back was not ideal and could create a little confusion,” Jean-Claude Monachon explains.
- Omega’s first Central Tourbillon, presented in Europa Star in 1995.
- ©Europa Star 2/1995
The latest central tourbillon is thus now hand-wound. Certified Master Chronometer, it is antimagnetic for the first time; its ceramic titanium cage is capable of withstanding a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss (the equivalent of a large electromagnet). The tourbillon completes one revolution per minute, thus enabling seconds to be displayed (a prerequisite of the Master Chronometer certification).
- The hand affixed to the cage allows easy reading of the seconds.
The sapphire crystal caseback reveals the Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 2640 calibre and the 3-day power reserve indicator. Its bridges and mainplate are made of 18-carat Sedna™ gold (a patented alloy of gold, copper and palladium created “to guarantee the particularly exceptional durability of the case’s pink gold lustre,” according to Omega), and bevelled by hand, as one would expect for such a high standard of finish.
- The classic and refined back of the double barrel movement that equips the Central Tourbillon.
The central band of the 43 mm case, as well as the logos on the buckle and crown, are made of Canopus™ 18-carat gold, a white gold alloy that is distinguished by its brilliance, whiteness and longevity. The lugs, bezel and case back are made of Sedna™ 18-carat gold, and the watch is mounted on a black leather strap
The sunburst dial is also made of Sedna™ 18-carat gold, but treated with black PVD. Each watch is handmade by a handful of dedicated watchmakers from the brand’s Tourbillon Workshop, who spend almost a month on each timepiece.
The Constellation aims to recapture men’s attention
The Constellation, born as a chronometer in 1952, owes its name to the star at 6 o’clock and the eight star index markers on the dial, in reference to the eight precision records obtained in observatory competitions. But it did not yet have the claws that would make it famous. These were added in 1981, before their designer, Pierre-André Aellen, Omega’s product manager, died in a tragic accident.
“On September 2, 1998, the Swissair McDonnell Douglas MD-11 HB-IWF, en route from New York to Geneva, sank in the Atlantic Ocean near Halifax. All of the 229 people on board perished, among them Pierre-André Aellen, former product manager at Omega. Tragically, the brilliant inventor of the Constellation Manhattan watch lost his life. As Pierre-André Aellen told the story, it was while shaving in front of his mirror, which was fixed to the wall by a set of claws, that he imagined a watch whose aesthetics were combined with technical needs. Watch crystals are either inserted or glued in, but why not hold them in place with claws, like his mirror! His idea was immediately made a reality, with the artistic support of Carole Didisheim. The claws were screwed through the glass from the underside of the case, and waterproofing was provided by a simple O-ring gasket embedded in the caseband, in direct contact with metallic minutes track under the glass,” explains the website of La Société des Amis du Musée Omega.
- A Constellation model from 1982
- Société des Amis du Musée Omega
The “Cindy Crawford effect”
- Cindy Crawford, as she appeared in Europa Star in 1996. The “Cindy Crawford effect” was immediate and far-reaching, and a certain Jean-Claude Biver had a lot to do with it.
- ©Europa Star 3/1996
Cindy Crawford left a lasting impression on the Constellation’s image. When you think of this collection, you think of Cindy Crawford. The watch, now one of Omega’s flagship products, has become essentially a women’s timepiece. It was an international success, and it must be said that the beautiful Cindy Crawford did her bit, as our colleague Malcolm Lakin was able to testify in our pages in 2001. What a pleasure it is to re-read these “Ten Best Moments of the Horological Year” (see right-hand column)!
- ©Europa Star 1/2001
After a preliminary trial in 2019, a men’s offensive is on the way in 2020. With eight references, the 41 mm Constellation is an unapologetic bid to transform the largely feminine image of the watch, while remaining faithful to the same spirit: a dress watch with a touch of restrained sophistication.
- Constellation Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41 mm with blue dial. Steel - Sedna™ gold on leather strap.
As part of this operation, the famous claws of the Constellation have been literally melted (they are made of Liquidmetal™) into the ceramic bezel, and coated via electrolysis with a thin layer of gold PVD.
“The inserted claws of the Constellation 42 mm are purely decorative and identity-related. They no longer ensure waterproofness, as they did in the original Constellation,” explains Jean-Claude Monachon.
- The Liquidmetal™ claws of the Constellation 42 mm
On most models, the bezel is made of polished ceramic, in the style of the Constellation Manhattan, the original from 1982, which was fitted with a brilliantly clear sapphire crystal. Only one model in the new collection features a stainless steel bezel with blackened Roman numerals. The other watches have a ceramic bezel with Roman numerals in Ceragold™ or Liquidmetal™.
- Constellation Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41 mm. Steel on rubber strap. Textured grey dial.
The various models of the Constellation 42 mm are equipped with the 8900 and 8901 automatic co-axial movements, featuring a silicon balance spring. They are Master Chronometer certified and approved by METAS (which means they are resistant to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss), and provide a power reserve of 60 hours. Prices range from CHF 6,000 to CHF 6,450, including VAT.
The Speedmaster 38 mm goes for gold
Omega is enriching its refined and subtle Speedmaster 38 mm ladies’ chronograph collection, which seems to have won a good share of the market in this segment, with new models in 18-carat gold, and yellow or red Sedna™, some of which have their characteristic narrow bezel set with diamonds.
To further accentuate the refinement of the timepiece, the cream silver or cream silver opaline dials, with their oval sub-dials, no longer play with contrast but remain tone-on-tone, underlining the pure simplicity of the design.
The Speedmaster 38 mm is available either with the famous tachymetric scale mounted on an aluminium bezel, or with an innovative double bezel comprising an aluminium section with an outer rim set with 90 cut diamonds.
- The oval surrounds of the subdials on the Speedmaster 38 mm set the subtle tone of the piece.
An aquatic Speedmaster
Omega is now closely associated with the Alinghi sailing team, which harnesses the power of sail and hydrofoil technology to achieve ever-greater speeds on water. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Alinghi was designed in close collaboration with Ernesto Bertarelli, founder and CEO of Alinghi.
As a reminder, the man who honed his skills on Lake Geneva achieved the sporting and technological feat of winning the America’s Cup with one of his boats on 2 March 2003. Alinghi became the first European team to win the race, and the first team to win it on its first attempt.
- Alinghi’s new TF35 catamaran, “flying” on its foils
The Alinghi Speedmaster is equipped with an 1865 calibre, a thin and light hand-wound movement, “ideal for crews”, which has undergone some transformations inspired by Alinghi’s new TF35 catamaran. Reminiscent of the interior of the ship’s carbon fibre hull, the plate and barrel bridge feature a honeycomb structure obtained by laser ablation. The same technology has been used to decorate all the other bridges with a carbon black pattern, also inspired by the material used to make the boat’s hull.
- The 1865 movement of the Alinghi Speedmaster
For the general colour code, Omega has drawn inspiration from the Alinghi logo, which is found in details such as the black and red perforated rubber strap and the 44.25 mm case in black zirconium oxide ceramic. The exterior design, with its tachymeter scale picked out in Super-LumiNova, also features the Alinghi logo on the red varnished on/off pusher.
- The Speedmaster in the Alinghi colours
Two of the watch’s subdials also deserve a closer look. At three o’clock, a four- or five-minute countdown timer has been added in red to promote precision on the water, while at six o’clock, the traditional subdial has adopted a new look. The sandblasted anodised aluminium disc bears the red Alinghi logo, a stylised letter “a” symbolising two boats ready to brave the waves before the start of a race. The logo rotates when the stopwatch function is activated.
Official Timekeeper of the America’s Cup
The 36th edition of the America’s Cup will take place in March 2021. Aboard their AC75s (a 75-foot monohull sailboat), the competitors will take to the waters of Waitemata Harbour off Auckland, New Zealand. For the third time, Omega will serve as Official Timekeeper of the event, and this is also an opportunity for Omega to pay tribute to its longstanding partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand. Initiated by the late Sir Peter Blake, a celebrated yachtsman, it has now been running for 25 years.
- On board the Emirates Team New Zealand boat, of which Omega is the privileged partner
On this occasion, the brand is launching a brand new edition of its Seamaster Planet Ocean, created specifically for the 36th America’s Cup. Presented on a structured rubber strap, this 43.50 mm stainless steel watch will be produced in an edition of 2021 pieces. It is distinguished in particular by its blue ceramic diving bezel, which incorporates white and red liquid ceramic elements to create a 5-minute race countdown.
On the polished white ceramic dial, we find the name of the competition at 6 o’clock. A special America’s Cup logo counterbalances the central seconds hand. The logo also features on the back of the watch, where the sapphire crystal of the case provides a view of the Omega Master Chronometer 8900 calibre.
- The commemorative back of the latest version of the Seamaster America’s Cup