Two sides of one body of Omega’s pioneering spirit
In the recent watch industry, if we talk about masters of technology and milestone works that show brand strength, then standing in the center of the stage should be the Omega (Omega) Speedmaster series chronograph minute repeater, Olympic 1932 chronograph minute repeater, and two. The Omega 1932 Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement, which is commonly used by the watchmakers, innovatively integrates timekeeping and timekeeping, and for the first time in the history of watchmaking, it has realized the minute repeater of the timekeeping time. In an interview with Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega’s global president and CEO, and Gregory Kissling, vice president of product development, we got some important information.
The design of the Omega Speedmaster Chronograph Minute Repeater was inspired by the second-generation Speedmaster watch CK2998. It was a well-known Speedmaster watch with great commemorative significance. On October 3, 1962, it became the first timepiece to accompany human beings in space. The new Speedmaster has a 45mm diameter case made of Sedna 18K gold, as well as a chain strap of the same material whose design is inspired by the famous “Nixon” bracelet. The bezel and dial using laser ablation technology are realized by filling the metal matrix with aventurine enamel glaze. The minute counter is at 3 o’clock and the small seconds counter is at 9 o’clock. On both sides of the small seconds dial there is a Sedna 18K gold hammer responsible for reporting minutes and seconds (reporting 10 seconds is completed by two hammers), revealing the outstanding identity of the minute repeater on the front of the dial. However, it is not any minute repeater we have seen before, but a groundbreaking work that truly integrates the timing and minute repeater functions-the minute repeater does not report this moment, but at least 1 second, at most 14 minutes and 59 seconds to tell the time. With a single press, the chronograph button is set at 3 o’clock, and the chasing needle button and the timekeeping button are set at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock respectively.
If the Speedmaster series chronograph minute repeater has an extraordinary and luxurious temperament, then the Olympic 1932 chronograph minute repeater is more classical and elegant. This 640-component timepiece can be worn as a wristwatch, or the strap can be replaced with a leather strap to transform the watch into a pocket watch, or hung around the neck as a stopwatch – just like in 1932 Omega became the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games for the first time, like the chronograph pocket watch that appeared at the Los Angeles Olympics. The white enamel dial is made using traditional craftsmanship, which means that both the front and back of the dial are fired from white Grand Feu enamel. Its timing display is the same as the first chronograph watch launched by Omega in 1913. The small seconds dial was moved to 6 o’clock, and the two hammers moved accordingly. There is a rattrapante button with a red ceramic ring at 11 o’clock on the case. Yes, this is also a rattrapante chronograph and a single-press chronograph stopwatch. The button is located in the center of the crown.
In the interview, Raynald Aeschlimann, the global president and CEO of Omega, shared that launching two works at the same time is not for commercial purposes, but just presenting the two flags of Omega to the world. He was referring to Omega’s modern design as well as the brand’s historical heritage. Through the following two details, we may be able to more intuitively feel the intention of “not for commercial purposes”: First, although the Olympic case and the Speedmaster case seem to be the same size, their internal volumes are not the same. The R&D department made special calculations to adjust and customize the length of their respective gongs. The other is on the small dials of the two works, both of which have “sonic” patterns decorated by hand-engraving-representing the high and low sounds emitted by the minute repeater function with two overlapping sine curves, and using traditional manufacturing The advanced craftsmanship in the watch industry is realized, bringing beautiful patterns with a sense of architectural lines. Both works are unlimited and each has an independent number, although the number of annual production is extremely limited. In the president’s answer, we further learned that the factory has received far more orders for Speedmaster chronograph minute repeater watches than for Olympic watches. “Because Speedmaster is Omega’s flagship product, it highlights the core of the brand and proves how enduring and timeless the design of the Speedmaster series is.”
Let’s take a look at the 1932 movement behind the scenes. In fact, the development project of the chronograph minute repeater is code-named “Calibre”. During the interview, Gregory Kissling, vice president of product development at Omega, revealed that the research and development of the chronograph minute repeater took 6 years. Potluck”.
Omega’s pioneering spirit is undoubtedly fully reflected in this movement, which consists of 575 parts and has as many as 13 patents. According to Gregory, the project team decided early on to meet the high standards of Master Chronometer certification, which means that the movement needs to be able to withstand a strong magnetic field of up to 15,000 Gauss. For this reason, about 50 precision parts must be changed to non-magnetic materials. Such as silicon hairspring. Therefore, 7 of the patents are related to the timing device, and the remaining 6 are related to the certification of the Master Chronometer. The task is difficult, because for such complex and sophisticated timekeeping mechanisms, traditional methods often use iron components that can strengthen the hardness. Another major breakthrough lies in the design of the coaxial escapement system. In the past, 4 Hz was considered the highest frequency of this system. However, with the help of electroforming technology such as LIGA, Omega was able to produce extremely precise and tiny parts, breaking through the existing frequency. Finally, a tenth of a second timing display was successfully realized. This reminds me of the Co-Axial escapement system developed by the master watchmaker George Daniels. At the earliest, only 15-20 watches equipped with it can be produced a year. Now Omega has increased its annual output to 50,000 pieces, not to mention the fact that it has achieved a running frequency of up to 5 Hz and the function of telling the time for the first time. No wonder An Shiwen repeatedly mentioned that he believes that the Speedmaster series chronograph minute repeater and the Olympic 1932 chronograph minute repeater equipped with the 1932 movement “really embody the spirit of Omega”.
“This 640-component timepiece can be worn as a wristwatch, or by swapping the strap for a leather strap, transforming the watch into a pocket watch, or hanging around the neck as a stopwatch – just like the 1932 Omega became the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games for the first time in 2008, and it was like the chronograph pocket watch that appeared at the Los Angeles Olympics.”
For the minute repeater, the sound of telling the time is naturally the top priority of our attention. Gregory said: “When judging the quality of the sound, we pay more attention to the harmony than the sound intensity.” The movement material of the traditional minute repeater watch is brass, the gong is stainless steel, and the case is likely to be 18K Gold or platinum… three materials with different mechanical and physical properties are mixed together. This time, Omega’s case and single double gong are all made of Sedna 18K gold, and the unified material creates the most harmonious sound quality. And the screws made of Sedna 18K gold are used to fix the single double gong to the case instead of fixing to the movement as in the traditional way, which can increase the sound effect on top of harmony.
Dazzling products make people look up to. The average price of Omega products is usually around $5,000 to $10,000, and the prices of the two minute repeater chronographs are far beyond this range. But An Shiwen asks everyone to consider the complex technological breakthroughs and value creation behind the product, and then judge whether the pricing is fair. “We provide value far beyond the price itself, so these two watches are still very popular,” he declared proudly at the end of the interview.
Omega Global President and CEO
ELLEMEN: In the past two years, Omega has launched a variety of watches with complex functions, such as the central tourbillon watch and this year’s chronograph minute repeater. This seems to be somewhat different from the Omega in the eyes of consumers. What does the brand hope to convey to the market? information?
An Shiwen: I often say that there are two ways of thinking in making high-end watches. One is to use gold, platinum or diamonds to pile up the appearance of luxury watches, but Omega is another. We are unique, pioneering pioneers, and have a reputation for manufacturing sophisticated and complex movements, such as the landmark Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement created by extraordinary craftsmanship. From the bottom of my heart, I believe that this kind of innovation and ingenuity drives the success of the brand. For us, it is more important to launch a new watch than the inspiration and ingenuity behind it, so we are extremely focused and devoted ourselves to the art of watchmaking. It’s a love that’s inscribed in our genes, and a creed that defines who we are. So we don’t limit our vision to jewelry-set gold.
As far as the complex creations we launch are different from the products consumers know every day, we can take the Dom Pérignon Champagne King P2 series as an example-this old wine has only a few bottles, which shows the most outstanding quality of champagne, very rare. Through it, you can feel the brand’s pursuit of the ultimate quality, but this does not mean that the brand only focuses on this.
ELLEMEN: Omega launched two models this time, namely the Olympic 1932 Chronograph Minute Repeater and the Speedmaster Chronograph Minute Repeater. Is the purpose of launching these two watches to meet the needs of different consumer groups? What are the strategic considerations behind this decision?
An Shiwen: Rather than saying that the dials of these two watches are different, it is better to say that they have different styles. Since this is an Omega watch, in what way can Omega present this revolutionary new movement to the extreme? The Omega brand originated from the movement. Our philosophy and strategy are centered on the movement.
We want to present an amazing work, and at the same time, we want to convey the brand concept of Omega, and such a watch that can tell the time is very eye-catching, not only beautiful in appearance but also very technically difficult. The movement is the core breakthrough point of this watch. Nowadays, everyone wants to wear a super-class watch, and the minute repeater is naturally the best choice. And if you want to stand out from other products in the same price range, the exquisite and chic appearance is very important, because it reflects the brand DNA. We looked for inspiration and hoped to launch a product that is both iconic and historically significant, so the Olympic 1932 Chronograph Minute Repeater was born, which combines precision watchmaking skills with OMEGA’s historical connection with the Olympic Games.
Then we started thinking, why not create a new watch? Many collectors and even new customers flock to this watch. The Speedmaster Chronograph Minute Repeater has attracted many new customers, who believe that the Speedmaster model equipped with the 1932 movement is one of the most iconic products in the entire watch industry. The design of these two new watches also has special significance. For me, this is not out of business strategy considerations, but out of serving our two types of customers-one kind pays attention to the historical heritage of the brand, and the other favors Omega’s modern design. It can be said that they symbolize the two sides of the Omega brand.
Vice President of Product Development, Omega
ELLEMEN: We noticed that the new Olympic 1932 Chronograph Minute Repeater is numbered, but there is no mention of “limited edition”. why is that?
Gregory: Don’t confuse limited editions with numbered editions. The Omega Olympic Edition 1932 Chronograph Minute Repeater and Speedmaster Chronograph Minute Repeater are numbered edition watches, and indeed only a few pieces are produced each year, but they are not limited editions. We produced this watch and counted and numbered it from “1”, so this is a numbered edition watch.
An Shiwen: We also mentioned before that it is very important to be familiar with the numbers of the watches we produce. Just like in the past, every watch and every movement required the signature of the watchmaker. Numbering the watch gives each watch its uniqueness. Another interesting point is that the watchmaker will always remember the number of the watch he produced, such as the second, fifth or eighth watch. In addition, some collectors of Omega watches also want to know their watch numbers. And from a practical point of view, because both of our watches will be numbered, some customers will buy two watches with the same number, which is also quite valuable for collection. Simply put, numbers make watches more personal.
Gregory: Let me add that there are also customers who want to buy watches with their lucky numbers printed on them.
ELLEMEN: Regarding pricing, the two chronograph minute repeater watches launched by Omega this time are both expensive, and each Speedmaster costs more than 3 million yuan… Is it possible for the brand to launch a more affordable version in the future?
An Shiwen: Expensive is not the intention. To answer this question, we have to mention Omega’s brand philosophy: every year, we produce more than 500,000 watches with coaxial escapement systems, supporting our belief that we present customers with products of the highest quality. In this era, product quality and brand investment are as important as brand marketing, and I firmly believe in this. This is true of every successful brand that has gained a foothold in the market.
Most people start with ordinary styles, gradually try slightly more complicated watch styles, and then advance to high-complexity watches. Undoubtedly, the chronograph minute repeater can be described as a masterpiece of Omega, and it is a watch that best embodies the spirit of Omega. Our original intention was not to create a new and huge product line around the chronograph minute repeater. For boutique high-end watches with reasonable prices, we will never deliberately launch low-priced versions to cater to buyers, which is not in line with our brand philosophy. However, since we have developed this boutique watch supported by many patented technologies, we also hope to apply some of these technologies to Omega’s ordinary-priced watches, so that guests can get the same surprise.