Omega has announced the two most complex watches in its 174-year history.
At the heart of both is a new movement that allows them to chime the time. It took over six years to develop, required up to 17 patents and contains some 575 components.
Watches that can audibly read out the time are considered some of the most complex and hard-to-produce models in watchmaking. Known as repeaters, they are usually found only at the very top end of a luxury brand’s catalogue.
Omega, whose bread-and-butter is luxury sports watches, is not known for making them.
But buried in its history is the fact that in 1892, when Omega was still known as La Generale Watch Co, the sons of its founder, Louis Brandt, developed the first ‘minute repeater for the wrist’.
By adapting an existing pocket watch movement, they were able to make a wrist-size model that could chime the minutes and hours on demand. (The one-off piece is on display at the Omega Museum in Switzerland.)
The new watches pay tribute to this, and also bring together Omega’s expertise in chronographs, sports, the Olympics and world-class watchmaking. To do so, it worked with sister company Blancpain to combine a fully integrated chronograph with a minute repeater, the most complicated movement it has ever made.
The Calibre 1932 is a split-second chronograph movement that chimes not for the time, but for the chronograph measure. The repeater works on three sequences: a low note for the minutes, a double note for the ten-second digit and a high note for the seconds.
The first of the two watches links that first minute repeater model from 1892 with the pocket chronographs Omega used to time the 1932 Olympic Games, in Los Angeles.
The Olympic 1932 Chrono Chime has a rounded, polished case made of 18k Sedna Gold – Omega’s own rose gold alloy – and follows the pocket watch contours of the Brandt sons’ original model. It has three pushers and a 12 o’clock crown. The dial takes its cue from the 1932 Olympic chronographs and features 18k Sedna Gold central hour/minute hands in blue PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition, a thin layer of titanium nitride, a very hard metal compound). The sub-dial hands on the small seconds at 6 o’clock and the 15-minute recorder at 12 o’clock have been given the same treatment.
The dial is white enamel and features Arabic numerals and a minute track, also in enamel. The hammers, also 18k Sedna Gold, are outsized and fixed to the body of the case, a further nod to the bells used to signal the last lap at the Olympics, and other sporting events.
The arresting-looking and highly limited (production estimates are five-a-year) watch/ stopwatch can be worn on the wrist with an accompanying brown alligator strap. It comes in a walnut ‘music box’ presentation case specifically designed to amplify the sound of the chimes.
The second model rotates the new movement 90 degrees and combines it with Omega’s most beloved watch, to produce the Speedmaster Chrono Chime. The 45mm ‘numbered edition’, the most complex Speedy ever made, has an 18k Sedna Gold case, inspired by the 2nd generation Speedmaster, the first watch worn in space in 1962 – 60 years ago.
The dial, in blue enamel, features hour markers and hour/minute hands, again in Sedna Gold.
Although the movement is the same in both watches, the pushers are in different positions, with a chime at 8 o’clock and a split seconds at 2 o’clock. This watch is not limited, though will presumably have a considerable waiting list attached, and comes with the same bespoke walnut ‘music box’ to amplify its chimes.
Both models have an estimated price of around £400,000. omegawatches.com
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