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Iconic Omega watches (Part 3)

6 min read January 14, 2021

Iconic Omega watches (Part 3)

Omega Olympics poster 1932, photo credit

Even if we already mentioned a couple of Omega watches that made history, there’s plenty of stories to be told about Omega’s long journey through time. So let’s visit at least a few of them.

Omega and the Moon

Omega has always had a special kind of attraction with Space, but the Moon was its old friend too. Since 1962, when one Omega watch unofficially followed its wearer to its journey around Earth’s orbit, the idea of making Omega suitable for space missions was on. On October 3, 1962, three years before the Speedmaster’s official qualification for space flights by NASA, astronaut Wally Schirra boarded Mercury-Atlas 8 with his personal Speedmaster CK2998 (released in 1959) on his hand. This event seems to be the introduction to the love story between Space and Omega watches.

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First Man 2018 Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, photo credit

Since 1965, the Omega Speedmaster has been tested and worn by NASA’s astronauts, enduring rigorous temperatures and speed tests. For the Apollo 11 mission, a range of other brand’s chronometers were in the game, but only one survived the rough tests. The champion, Omega Speedmaster Professional, has been worn on many manned space missions before Apollo 11, including the first American spacewalk during Gemini 4 (reference 105.003). The Speedmaster Professional was equipped with a Velcro strap and planned to be worn conventionally inside the vehicle, but on the outside of the pressure suits during extravehicular activities, including the moonwalks.

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Omega Speedmaster Moon to Mars 7580, photo credit

The Apollo 11 mission astronauts were equipped with models referenced as 105.012 and its updated version, 145.012. Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong was the first to set his foot on the Moon’s surface, but he had left his Speedmaster in the lunar module as a backup, because of the malfunction of the lunar module’s electronic timer. Hence, astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the Moon with an Omega watch on his wrist. In 1970, Jack Swigert’s Speedmaster saved the day by timing the critical 14-second burn of the lunar module’s propulsion system helping the crew’s return from the Moon on the Apollo 13 mission.

Omega and Olympics

During the course of modern history, no brand was more involved in sports timekeeping than Omega. Besides its crucial touches in athletics, golf, sailing and swimming events, Omega serves as an official timekeeper for the Olympic games since 1932. This long journey has led Omega on the productive path of development in the field of the vital sports equipment that athletes used and relied on for decades.

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Omega Olympics poster 1932, photo credit

The first year that Omega served as an official timekeeper at the Olympic games, it provided 30 calibrated chronographs for the event. They were thought to be of unprecedented precision with their 1/10th of the second accuracy and split-seconds function, while other manufacturers' best accuracy was only around 1/5th of a second at the time. On top of that, Omega used an experimental camera called “Chronocinema” for exceptional cases, that could record times to the nearest 1/100th of a second.

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Omega's role as official timekeeper of the Olympic games Tokyo 2020, photo credit

The Winter Olympic games held in St. Moritz in 1948, as well as the Summer Olympics in London the same year, turned out to be a turning point in Olympic timekeeping, due to the inclusion of the Omega’s photo-electrical timing system called “Magic Eye” paired with the world’s first slit photo camera - the system that could finally replace humans in the timekeeping process.

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Omega photoelectric cells, photo credit

The Olympic Games held in Helsinki in 1952 brought new technologies such are Omega Racend Timer and Omega Time Recorder, as well as those in Melbourne, in 1956, that introduced the Omega Swim Eight-O-Matic, the world’s first semi-automatic swimming timer.

What followed are the decades of Omega’s advancements in timekeeping tools, such as Omegascope (Innsbruck, 1964), integrated timing system (Grenoble, 1968), Swim-O-Matic - electronic touchpads for swimmers and Omega Photosprint (Mexico, 1968), the first false start detection system (Los Angeles, 1984), computerized timekeeping (Seoul, 1988), Scan’O’Vision system (Albertville, 1992), etc.

Between 1996 and 2004, Omega took a step back in order to let other SMH Group brands take over the timekeeping, but it was restored to the role in Torino in 2006, remembered for bringing 220 tons of equipment to the event, along with debuting “Ankle Technology” for the skaters.

Each Olympic Games saw Omega coming up with new technologies. What is worth mentioning is the new Quantum Timer (London, 2012), the latest generation of Scan’O’Vision (Rio, 2016), plus a range of wearable gadgets for skiers, skaters, snowboarders and ski jumpers.

As you can see, this is just a short resume of the story as Omega has a long relationship with the Olympic games. For those interested in digging more details about it, you may want to check this documentary.

Omega and Celebrities

Through the years, Omega has been loved by many celebrities and featured in a number of films. The brand has many real-life ambassadors including some of the mentioned names such as Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Cindy Crawford, Prince William, Eddie Redmayne, Buzz Aldrin, Roy Mcllroy, Kaia Gerber, Sergio Garcia, Liu Shishi, Michelle Wie and many others.

Ringo Starr sported Omega’s first-ever LED watch released in 1973.

Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Union president wore an Omega Constellation Manhattan, a 1982 model made of gold and steel, with claws holding the sapphire crystal.

And besides the 007 franchise, there are many films featuring Omega watches. For example, Tony Montana, Al Pacino’s character in the film Scarface, wore an Omega watch called La Magique on his wrist. Only 261 of these watches were ever made.

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Omega spokesperson George Clooney, photo credit

Both Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Bond scenes were used for Omega Seamaster TV commercials during the years. Daniel Craig also stars as James Bond in the new Omega Seamaster Diver 300m television commercial, showcasing the new model that will be featured in the movie “No Time to Die” (2021). Which, by the way, leads us to…

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Original James Bond's Choice Omega watch 1997

Omega Seamaster and James Bond

James Bond may be the most famous name to wear Omega Seamaster. The switch from a large, concurrent brand 007 agents wore beforehand happened thanks to a British woman, Lindy Hemming, who was in charge of the franchise’s costumes. She recognized the Omega’s history with special forces in the British military and saw it as more suitable for the British intelligence secret agent’s look.

In the Bond movies, the helium release valve, characteristic for Seamaster watches was often transformed into hidden tools such as a laser cutter and a remote detonator.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 42mm 007 James Bond Edition

Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 42mm 007 James Bond Edition, photo credit

The first actor who played Bond with a Seamaster on his wrist (Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300m Quartz, to be exact) was Pierce Brosnan in the movie GoldenEye (1995). In later films, Bond wore an Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300m Chronometer (Brosnan), Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean (Daniel Craig) and Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra (Craig).

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Limited Edition

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond Limited Edition, photo credit

For the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise in 2002, Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Chronometer was released, looking almost the same as the original model, except for the blue dial and 007 logo on the case back, along with the 007 sign on the clasp. Casino Royale premiere brought even more connections with the Omega: a mention in the film and a 007- special Omega Seamaster Diver 300m with gun logo on the second hand and the rifle pattern on the watch face, as a representation of the gun barrel sequence featured in the films. Another James Bond limited edition was released in 2006: the Seamaster Planet Ocean, produced in 5007 pieces. The model is similar to the one Craig is wearing in the film, with a few 007 add-ons.

Omega Seamaster James Bond Limited Series, Edition 2006

Omega Seamaster James Bond Limited Series, Edition 2006, photo credit

The films “Quantum of Solace” and “Spectre” also got their limited editions of the Seamaster divers. The latest Bond-Omega collaboration will show its light in the upcoming movie “No Time to Die” (2021), where Seamaster Diver 300m gets a new design, made in collaboration with Daniel Craig. Namely, it will be powered with Omega's Co-Axial Master Chronometer 8806 and it will be the first Seamaster with a Milanese mesh watch strap.

Written by M.H. , image sources as noted

Continue to read the Omega Watches Series

  • Part 1 - A brief guide to Omega watches and their legendary history
  • Part 2 - Omega Collections full of Heroic stories
  • Part 3 - Iconic Omega watches
  • Part 4 - Editor's top pick: Omega Seamaster

Continue to Read

Vintage Omega Speedmaster Mark 3


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