Omega traces Olympic milestones as Vancouver Games loom
Source: ©The Moodie Report
By Mary Jane Pittilla, Brands Editor
Omega Speedmaster 5-counters Chronograph (44.25mm)
As the 2010 Winter Olympics loom, Swiss watch brand Omega has looked back on 74 years of official timekeeping at the event.
As the giant Omega Countdown Clock in Vancouver marches towards the Opening Ceremony on 12 February, Omega’s professionals are preparing for the competition where, for the 24th time, the Swiss specialists will serve as official timekeepers at the Olympic Games. On 12 March, they will play the same role at the Paralympic Games.
At Omega’s first timekeeping assignment for the Olympic Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 1936, a lone Omega technician brought 27 stopwatches which were used to time each event.
Some 70 years later in Turin, Omega deployed 208 professionals – 127 timekeepers and 81 data handlers – armed with 220 tons of equipment.
Omega will exceed these numbers at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics as it mobilises the largest timekeeping contingent in the history of winter sport.
Omega began its Olympic Games timekeeping tradition at the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games. In addition to its prominent Olympic Games role, the Swiss brand has been behind many technological developments in sports timekeeping.
The Vancouver Games will take place over a 17-day period beginning on 12 February. More than 5,500 Olympic Winter Games athletes and officials from more than 80 countries will make it the largest Winter Games ever.
The Paralympic Winter Games, for which Omega is also Official Timekeeper, start on the 12 March and will continue for ten days. The Games’ organisers anticipate that the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games will attract 1,350 athletes and officials from more than 40 countries.
The Vancouver 2010 Games will attract an estimated 3 billion television viewers worldwide. More than 10,000 members of the press are planning to attend and it is projected that the vancouver2010.com website will be visited 75 million times.
Message from Omega's President
The case back of this Seamaster Diver 300m 'Vancouver 2010' Limited Edition is embossed with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games emblem
Omega President Stephen Urquhart has spoken about Omega's long-standing partnership with the International Olympic Committee, following the extension of the Swiss watch brand's contract with the IOC through 2020.
This is his message in full:
"When we recently extended our contract with the International Olympic Committee through 2020, we had a chance to reflect on how things had evolved since 1932, the year that Omega became the first company ever to be entrusted with the timing of every Olympic event. Prior to the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games, timekeepers had brought their own stopwatches and the final results were often subject to dispute and negotiation.
"In 1932, a lone Omega watchmaker took 30 split-second chronograph stopwatches from Bienne to Los Angeles. He was charged with teaching the judges how to use the devices. At that Olympic Games, new world records were set in almost every discipline and the IOC praised Omega’s contributions to the Games. The Sports Technical Director for the Games wrote of Omega’s stopwatches: 'They were highly satisfactory in every way and their obvious accuracy was the cause of considerable comment among the officials.'
"In Vancouver and Whistler, Omega’s equipment and manpower commitments bear little resemblance to the 30 chronograph stopwatches in Los Angeles – more than 200 timekeepers and data handlers will be responsible for some 250 tons of equipment and many miles of cabling – but the aims will be the same. Omega will proudly deliver flawless timekeeping to the world’s greatest athletes at the highest-profile event in all of sport."
NEW OLYMPIC GAMES TIMEKEEPING TECHNOLOGY IN VANCOUVER AND WHISTLER
The Vancouver 2010 limited-edition features white lacquered dials and red-anodised aluminium bezel rings
Each medallist in every event at the Vancouver Games will have had his or her results measured and displayed by Omega, the world’s most successful sports timekeeper.
At every Olympic Games, Omega’s timekeeping and data handling professionals arrive equipped with tons of equipment. Every Games features some technological premieres.
Among the equipment which will have its Olympic Games debut in Vancouver and Whistler is a new Electronic Start System which guarantees that the athletes will hear the starting signal at the same time.
In addition, Alpine skiers at this Olympic Games will start their runs through a new starting gate called 'Snowgate'. New technology ensures that the starting pulse is generated when the 'wand' (or 'bar') is at precisely the same angle for every competitor.
In figure skating, Omega Timing’s high-definition judges’ scoring system will be in place. The new system aims to provide an increase in quality thanks to the high-definition images.
In the cross-country skiing events in Vancouver, Omega will use the Omega Universal Tracking System based on global positioning system (GPS) technology to track the locations of the athletes throughout the race. This will allow the timekeepers to measure the distances between the skiers at any time during their races.
OMEGA SEAMASTER DIVER 300m 'VANCOUVER 2010' LIMITED EDITION
The white dials recall the snow which will play such an important role in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
The Seamaster Diver 300m 'Vancouver 2010' Limited Edition watches have been developed to commemorate the Winter Games in Vancouver and Omega’s long relationship with the Olympic Movement.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300m 'Vancouver 2010' Limited Edition is being produced in 41mm and 36.25mm versions, each in a release of 2010 numbered pieces and featuring the Omega Co-Axial calibre 2500.
The watches feature white lacquered dials and red-anodised aluminium bezel rings. These bold contrasting colours aim to recall the Canadian national flag. The white dials are also reminiscent of the snow which will play such an important role in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The watches’ connection to the Games in Vancouver is reinforced by the coloured Olympic Rings on the counterweight of the red-tipped, rhodium-plated chronograph seconds hand. Their hands and indexes are coated with white Super-LumiNova which at night or in limited light conditions casts a soft blue reflection.
The Seamaster Diver 300m 'Vancouver 2010' Limited Edition is equipped with professional diving features: it has a uni-directional rotating bezel, a helium-escape valve and is water-resistant to a depth of 300 metres.
The case back is embossed with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games emblem which is called the 'Ilanaaq', the symbol of the Olympic Winter Games. It represents the figures made of piled stones which the Canadian First Nations people created to serve as greetings to anyone moving through their territories. The emblem’s name, Ilanaaq, was taken from the word for 'friend' in Inuktitut, the name given to the variety of Inuit languages spoken in Canada.
The case back is engraved with the limited-edition number (0000/2010).
OLYMPIC GAMES TIMELESS COLLECTION
Each watch in Omega’s Timeless Collection is said to have an innovative connection to the Games. The six models feature either Omega’s five counters (or subdials) positioned on the dial in the shape of the Olympic Rings or a remarkable counterweight on the central seconds hand, which is colourfully made up of the five Olympic Rings.
Each of the watches is equipped with Omega’s Co-Axial technology and all are COSC-certified chronometers.
The Timeless Collection is designed to complement the Seamaster Diver 300M 'Vancouver 2010' Limited Edition watches which have been created to commemorate the Olympic Winter Games’ return to Canada.
HIGHLIGHTS OF OLYMPIC GAMES TIMEKEEPING 1932 TO 2010 AND BEYOND
Comprehensive coverage of Omega's milestones in Olympic history is provided by Craig Lord’s article, “A Brief History of Timekeeping” in the book Great Olympic Moments in Time.
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