When most folks think of the Olympics they think of amateur athletes from around the world coming together in the spirit of good sportsmanship to pit their skills against the best-of-the-best for a shot at the gold. For die-hard watch aficionados, however, we think of OMEGA.
That’s right, we think of a watch company. Why is this? Simple, since 1932, OMEGA has served as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games a grand total of 25 times, which is a record unmatched by any other major watch manufacture and big responsibility when you consider that the difference between gold and not even placing can be measured in mere fractions of a second. To this end, OMEGA pioneered the use of “Magic Eye” photoelectric cells, which ushered in the modern era of sports timekeeping, thus allowing finishes to be accurately measured down to 1/1000th of a second. Not too shabby when you consider that we’re talking about late-40s era technology here.
But enough with the history lesson, let’s bring on the watches, shall we?
For 2012, OMEGA is releasing not one, but two commemorative watches, and if we may say so, both are destined for podium. First up is the Seamaster Aqua Terra Co-Axial Chronograph “London 2012″, which is available in either a combination of 18kt red gold and stainless steel or all steel. In both versions the traditional “teak” patterned dial is treated with a blue PVD finish and the casebacks sport the London Olympics logo. The size is a healthy 44mm — not too big, not too small — and the overall look and feel is pure class. Under the hood you’ll find OMEGA’s calibre 3313 automatic chronograph movement, which allows for aggregate timing up to 12 hours; more than enough for all you armchair would-be Olympic timers out there.
The second watch — the Seamaster 1948 Co-Axial “London 2012″ Limited Edition — hearkens back to 1948, which is not only the last time that London hosted the Olympic Games, but also the very year that OMEGA introduced their now-iconic Seamaster line. This watch clocks in at an appropriately retro 39mm and houses OMEGA’s exclusive caliber 2202 automatic movement, which, as with the caliber 3313 in the Aqua Terra, also makes use of legendary British watchmaker George Daniel’s novel co-axial escapement; in theory, this should cut down on wear and tear and extend service intervals. Again, as with the Aqua Terra, the caseback features a medallion emblazoned with the London Olympics logo, though this time it’s done in gold. The Seamaster 1948 Co-Axial “London 2012″ LE will be produced in a series of 1,948 pieces (yes, they’re really hammering home that “1948” angle).
Do we have a favorite? From where we’re sitting, it’s looking like a dead heat. (Where’s that “Magic Eye” timer when you need one?).
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