Cool games, hot watches
Face Value: OMEGA Olympic Special Editions, Old and New
With the Sochi Winter Olympics now well underway, OMEGA will be exhibiting the full extent of their horological prowess as they reprise their 82-year-old role as official Olympic timekeeper. OMEGA has long commemorated their connection to the Olympics by producing special edition pieces in honor of the games and their host city. Often serving as snapshots for a piece OMEGA’s lineup at the time of the games, these Olympic editions incorporate special coloring, dial and case back designs — and there have been plenty of great ones, including this year’s.
The 2014 Sochi Olympic pieces include two Seamaster Planet Ocean models and a special 18k gold tonneau watch called the Sochi Petrograd. Russian coloring is the name of the game with the Sochi Planet Ocean editions, which are available in 45.5-millimeter and 37.5-millimeter case sizes. The larger version offers a subtle nod to the Sochi games with blue, red and white markings in the fifteen-minute scale on its unidirectional dive bezel. Technologically identical to the standard Planet Ocean, this Sochi limited edition is powered by Omega’s in-house calibre 8500, includes a helium escape valve and is water resistant to 600 meters (2,000 feet). Finished off with a special Sochi 2014 case back, this Winter Games-themed dive watch is limited to 2014 units.
If dive watches aren’t your game but you still want to do Sochi proud, check out the Sochi Petrograd. Inspired by a vintage piece from Omega’s museum collection, the Petrograd is limited to just 100 units, all in 18k yellow gold with wire lugs and a burgundy leather strap. Like the Planet Ocean limited editions, the Petrograd incorporates Russia’s red, blue and white national colors into its dial design. Powered by Omega’s co-axial 2202 movement, and with the only direct reference to the Sochi games displayed on its case back, the Petrograd could make for an excellent everyday dress watch.
And how about those past greats? Travelling back nearly 40 years to 1976 we find the entirely cool Seamaster Chrono-Quartz Hybrid. Created as an unlimited edition made for the Innsbruck-Montreal summer and winter games, the Chrono-Quartz Hybrid is equal parts digital stopwatch and conventional three-hander, all combined into one glorious 1970s design. Powered by Omega’s 1611 quartz movement, this clever chronograph can display up to 1/100th of a second resolution on its twin LCD displays.
In 2010 Omega went full Canuck in designing a special edition for the Vancouver Winter Games. Fitted with a crisp white dial and a bright red aluminum bezel, Omega selected their popular Seamaster 300M Co-Axial dive watch and offered both 36- and 41-millimeter versions. With Olympic rings serving as the counterweight on the seconds hands and a special case back design that honored Canada’s First Nations people, it was a great watch; it was limited to 2010 units in each size.
Using the 1992 Albertville Games as a fitting excuse to flex their chronograph muscle, Omega created a special edition of the Seamaster Polaris Multifunction Chronograph. With 499 made for the public and a further 250 made for event sponsors, this advanced quartz chronograph featured 1/10th of a second resolution for measuring standard, split and net timing. Along with its flashy two tone case and bracelet, the Polaris also featured central chronograph seconds and minutes hands which simplified readings for lap and split timing.