Omega is well known for its luxury sports watches, for beautifully made, resilient watches equipped with impressive Master Chronometer movements incarnated by models like the Speedmaster and the Seamaster. Fewer know that Omega can also do incredibly high-end watches, such as a tourbillon produced in its Atelier d’Excellence workshop. And the latest watch to emerge is absolutely mind-blowing. Meet the most complex watch ever produced by Omega, a timepiece that combines expertise in chronographs, chiming mechanisms, sports, the Olympics and a unique sense of perfection… We’re talking about the new Omega Chrono Chime models – Olympics 1932 and Speedmaster – and the new calibre 1932.
A truly impressive new movement
At the heart of these two new models is a movement, a mind-bogglingly complex movement and one that connects two important milestones in the life of the brand. Few might know that the first minute repeater wristwatch was made by Omega (at the time known as Louis Brandt) in 1892. Back in 1932, Omega also became the official timekeeper of the Olympics, bringing to the table some complex and precise split-seconds chronograph pocket watches. And when you combine both historical models, you end up with this calibre 1932.
Six years in the making and developed internally with the help of sister brand Blancpain, the calibre 1932 was built in Omega’s Atelier d’Excellence, where all high-end watches are made (tourbillon, historical pocket watches, the calibre 321). A display of the Atelier d’Excellence’s watchmaking prowess, this innovative movement introduces several new functions. For starters, the Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer calibre 1932 is a fully integrated chronograph and minute repeater and is produced not by layering, tinkering or fitting new parts to old ones but by fusing both functions into one watch movement. It is, in fact, the most complicated calibre Omega has ever produced. And it combines a split-seconds chronograph, a high-frequency regulator and a repeater device that can chime the elapsed times recorded by the chronograph – and not the current hours and minutes like a classic repeater.
The first challenge was creating a chronograph with 1/10th of a second precision, meaning it would need to have a 5Hz frequency. The problem was the Co-Axial escapement created by George Daniels was meant to beat between 3Hz and 4Hz. Omega’s watchmakers had to rework the whole design of the escapement to reach this higher frequency. A large barrel is fitted next to this regulator to provide a solid and stable source of energy.
Then come the truly complex elements. The Omega Chrono Chime is, first and foremost, a chronograph which pays tribute to the 1932 Pocket Watches of the Los Angeles Olympics. As such, these new watches needed to be split-seconds (rattrapante) chronographs. The movement is equipped with a modern combination of a column wheel and vertical clutch, with a monopusher architecture: one pusher for the start-stop-reset and an additional pusher for the rattrapante function.
Then the brand developed a new chiming system that “reads” the elapsed time of the chronograph with chime cams: one for the 15-minute counter, one for the tenth of the current seconds, and one for the second digit of the seconds. As such, 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. There are also many patented and innovative functions, including a magnetically regulated governor to regulate the speed of the repeating function and several security devices. Overall, the Chrono Chime required17 patents related to the function of the calibre 1932, its antimagnetic technology and the watch’s external parts.
To make it even better, the watch and movement have Master Chronometer status, meaning the calibre would have to withstand external magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss, requiring the use of 50 non-ferrous components. And this is now combined with true Haute Horlogerie decoration. The bridges and plates are made from 18k Sedna gold with an array of decorative finishings such as hand bevelling, mirror polishing, anglage on the hammers, laser ablation, and straight graining. And this movement comes in two very different watches.
The Omega 1932 Olympic Chrono Chime
The first of the two special edition models (not limited in number, just by production capacity) is an ode to the past and the 1892 and 1932 watches mentioned above. Shaped like a converted pocket watch with welded lugs, this 18k Sedna gold model combines several traditional techniques. The dial is Grand Feu white enamel with a 925 silver hand-made guilloché inner bezel and sub-dials decorated with an exclusive acoustic waves pattern.
The watch has a vertical layout for the chiming function and the sub-dials. The hammers, also in 18k Sedna gold, are visible dial-side with their large dimensions and superior decoration. They are fixed to the case body to produce maximum chime and are a nod to the bells used by Omega to signal the last lap at the Olympic Games. There is a further tribute to 1932 in the Arabic numerals and minute track in black “Petit Feu” enamel. The 18k Sedna Gold central hours and minutes hands are blued PVD, as are the sub-dial hands on the small seconds at 6 o’clock and the 15-minute recorder at 12 o’clock. The display includes a blued CVD central seconds hand and a red-varnished split-seconds hand for heightened legibility.
The caseback, engraved with the words Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, Co-Axial Master Chronometer and the watch’s number, reveals the nicely decorated and shaped movement. The Olympic 1932 Chrono Chime is 45mm in diameter with a 16.9mm height. It is worn on a brown leather strap with an 18k Sedna Gold buckle and includes a new Quick-Change patented system. The reason is practical: the special presentation box includes an additional leather strap and two leather cords, allowing the “timekeeper” to wear it as a discreet pocket watch or a stopwatch around the neck.
It is delivered in a walnut presentation box with a resonance plate made of spruce to amplify the precise rhythm, tone, harmony and length of each chime. The Omega Olympic 1932 Chrono Chime will be a highly exclusive model (about five movements a year at current capacity) and is priced at CHF 420,000 before taxes.
The Omega Speedmaster Chrono Chime
The other watch to come with the new calibre 1892 couldn’t be more different and holds the distinction of being the most complex Speedmaster ever produced. Inspired by the second-generation Speedy, the CK2998, it combines some signature Speedy elements – Alpha hands, straight lugs, DON bezel – with Haute Horlogerie touches.
This large 45mm x 17.2mm watch is made entirely of 18k Sedna gold with a matching “Nixon” bracelet. The dial is another exclusive for the brand and is made of blue aventurine “Grand Feu” enamel – a patented creation that combines aventurine glass powder with the classic enameling technique. This material is found on the dial and the tachymeter bezel. On this model, to respect the look of the Speedy, the movement has been titled to have a bi-compax layout. The 3 and 9 o’clock counters are Sedna gold and come with the guilloché acoustic waves pattern. The hour markers and hour/minute hands are in diamond-polished Sedna gold. Blued CVD sub-dial hands and a red-tipped dial hand add extra touches of colour to the display.
This highly exclusive Speedmaster Chrono Chime is not limited in number. The price is CHF 450,000, excluding taxes. It is also delivered in a walnut presentation box with a resonance plate made of spruce to amplify the sound of the chiming function.
For more details about these two impressive new watches, please visit www.omegawatches.com.