The watch above is not the Omega Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Edition. For their most recent horological salute to “amateur” athletics, OMEGA gussied-up the full-sized Seamaster’s dial with laser engraving, slapped a semi-transparent Olympic logo on the back and called it good. It isn’t. It’s lazy. Last time ’round, with their Olympic Games 2018 watch (above), OMEGA nailed it . . .
Before we begin, know this: OMEGA made 2,032 examples of the 2018 watch, in each of the Olympic Rings’ five colors. Although I rarely do math in public, I make that 10,175 Olympic watches. Did they actually produce that many? OMEGA ain’t sayin’. But there are still plenty of new-in-box models floating around on the gray market. Nothing succeeds like excess, right?
That’s certainly the case for the new-for-2020 Tokyo model, based as it is on OMEGA’s 41mm Seamaster. Thankfully, its 2018 predecessor measures a relatively demure 39.5mm. It looks even smaller. Credit – or fault – the dial’s design. With Arabic hour markers arranged inside a black inner dial sitting inside railroad track indices, the eye is drawn away from the totality of the watch face, towards its blackened heart.
At the same time, the 2018 Olympic Watch’s perfectly round, silver-tone stainless steel case and bezel are restrained to the point of invisibility. The lugs are as subtle as you wanna be, if you wanna be really subtle. All of which makes the Olympic Watch’s sticky-outy crown that much more of an item. It’s vaguely reminscent of an onion dome from Mother Russia, squashed down a bit and striated. Da?
The watch’s basic design riffs on the OMEGA stopwatch used at the Montreal and Innsbruck Olympic Games in 1976. That’s the year twenty-nine countries boycotted the summer Games, protesting the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to ban New Zealand for touring South Africa. Anyway, the [Kumbaya] black-and-white OMEGA Seamaster Olympic Games 2018 Edition is the ’76 stopwatch’s Mini-Me.
I’m trying to organize a boycott of the new 2020 OMEGA Olympic watch for the crime of obscuring the Swiss watchmaker’s stunning caliber 8900 movement, in defiance of the United Nations’ International Taste Police ban on pointless pandering. (Recently seen on the Breitling Norton.) Contrast that dog’s breakfast with this:
Not only does the 2018 OMEGA Olympic watch offer an unobstructed view of its Master Chronometer caliber 8806 movement, the anodized aluminium ring gives you an easy way to cheat if your trivia team needs to know what Olympic Games happened when and where, from Los Angeles 1932 to Los Angeles 2028 (the dates of OMEGA’s past and future chronometric contribution to the Olympic Games).
The OMEGA Seamaster Olympic Games 2018’s engine is COSC certified to run within -4/+6 seconds a day and it’s resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss (take that Rolex Milgaus). The little OMEGA’s Rhodium-plated movement – decorated with Geneva waves in arabesque – boasts a free sprung-balance with a silicon balance spring It’s shock and water resistant and automatic winding in both directions, so feel free to dance this mess around!
OMEGA’s use of color for the 2018 Olympic salute is its most endearing characteristic. The caseback’s Olympic ring of fame matches the word “Seamaster” on the dial, the thin ring surrounding the minute indices (in 20 minute increments for pulse reading), the sweep second hand, the tiny Olympic rings at the bottom of the dial and, best of all, the gently tapering, perforated leather strap. Combined with the black and white dial, the colors pop.
The OMEGA Seamaster Olympic Games 2018’s biggest downside: it’s not a sports watch. (Where’s the chronometer Kenneth?) I’d no more subject this watch to Krav Maga Class than I’d take my AMG GT off-road. Even so, I credit OMEGA for making a distinctive commerative everyday/dress watch. It’s too bad they made so damn many; the company probably thinks it was a failure. It’s not. The OMEGA Olympic Games watch deserves a gold medal.
OMEGA Seamaster Olympic Games Edition 2018
Price: Between $4k and $5k new-in-box
Case: 39.5mm, brushed and polished stainless steel, Limited Edition number engraved on the side of the case
Case thickness: 12mm
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflectivetTreatment
Caseback: Color-matched anodized aluminium ring displaying all cities and years from OMEGA’s Olympic Games participation
Movement: COSC-certified automatic OMEGA Master Chronometer caliber 8806, resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss
Power reserve: 55 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Water resistant: 60m
Band: Micro-perforated color-matched leather
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Design * * * * *
Based on OMEGA’s ’76 Olympic stopwatch, it’s a small-looking watch with a funky retro vibe. Great use of color (tied to one of the Olympic rings). The ring detailing the Olympic cities isn’t as gimmicky as it sounds, and the caseback reveals the OMEGA movement in all its restrained but elegant glory.
Legibility * * * * *
Black and white works just right.
Tactility * * * *
Not the world’s most solid feeling thing, either in-hand or during winding.
Comfort * * * * *
The joy of a small, lightweight watch with a high-quality leather strap.
Overall * * * *
One of the limited number of OMEGA Limited Editions that makes sense. Should the 2018 Olympic watch have been sportier or added a chronometer? Yes. Is it a comfortable, accurate piece with a style all its own, well worth owning? That too.