3 Interesting Facts About the Olympic Games’ Official Timekeeping Device

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A Brief History

The Summer Olympics are less than a year away, and the whole world continues to prepare, each participating country readying its athletes for those two weeks of sports events. In the same way, the various committees involved in the whole affair are slowly preparing for their roles in this international multi-sport event.

Those watching may see just the obvious factors that go into this sporting spectacle, from the torch-carriers to the parade of athletes and the events that follow. But one of the factors that make the Olympics what they are goes largely unseen, and that’s timekeeping. In fact, timekeeping is a big part of the Games.

Think about it: when you and your coworkers are asked for the time, you may give slightly different answers, based on what you see on your watches or on your mobile phones. Even if the difference is just 30 seconds, in the Olympics, that could lead to a world record remaining unchanged when it should have been broken.

That’s why, since 1932, Omega watches have been the official timekeeping device used in Olympic events. In light of that little tidbit, here are a few interesting facts you might or might not have known about this brand of watches.

Digging Deeper

The Company Changed Names A Few Times

Omega is one of the best-known luxury watch brands worldwide, but it wasn’t always known by that name. The brand was first known as La Generale Watch Co., founded by Louis Brandt in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. Later, when Brandt’s two sons joined him, it became known as Louis Brandt & Fils.

As Watchtime mentions in an article focused on the brand, the company produced a new movement called the Omega caliber in 1894. It proved highly successful thanks to how easy it was to repair and how accurate it was. The company included the movement’s name in its next name change: Louis Brandt & Frere – Omega Watch Co.

Now, it’s known by another name, which is simply Omega SA.

It Was the First Watch Worn On the Moon

Omega Seamaster watches first became involved in space exploration when a group of astronauts went looking for timepieces they could use on program flights. A year later, engineers hired by NASA tested equipment for astronaut use, using brutal tests that would determine just how sturdy the equipment was.

Of the three watch brands tested, Omega emerged the clear winner and was declared fit for any and all manner of a manned space mission. Less than ten years later, Buzz Aldrin followed Neil Armstrong from the Eagle and onto the Moon’s surface – and he was wearing his Omega Speedmaster Professional.

One Of Its Endorsers is a Fictional Person

Omega SA has quite a list of endorsers besides Buzz Aldrin. The list includes the likes of Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Phelps, Sergio Garcia, and the current face of James Bond, Daniel Craig. And surprisingly, that fictional character is one of Omega’s biggest endorsers.

As stated by the Swiss Swatch Group – of which Omega SA is a subsidiary – James Bond and his Seamaster have yet to part ways since 1995. You might have learned about this brand from this very spy, since the partnership is one of the most recognized.

The Seamaster Line Was Launched to Celebrate an Anniversary

The Omega Seamaster is the oldest line in Omega SA’s current collection, which currently includes the De Ville, Constellation, and Speedmaster lines. Interestingly, the Seamaster was launched in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary.

The Seamaster proved that not only were Omega-brand watches the most accurate of timekeeping devices but among the most durable, if not the most durable. In fact, a recent prototype model broke a record for depth resistance by going into the deepest part of the ocean – the Mariana Trench.

Takeaway

No matter who you’re cheering for at the Olympics this year, remember that the world records made and broken, not to mention the wins and losses at this multi-sport event practically depend on Omega watches – and with good reason.

With the brand’s adherence to its motto of accuracy for life and its apparent dedication to quality, its reputation and luxury status are well-deserved. And if you’re considering one for yourself or for someone you care for, it is definitely worth the investment.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Goldblatt, David.  The Games: A Global History of the Olympics.  W. W. Norton & Company, 2018.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Nick Webb from London, United Kingdom of Usain Bolt after 0.5 seconds, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.  This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on  by the administrator or reviewer File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske), who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the stated license on that date.

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Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland