Throughout our history as Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, OMEGA has helped to capture some of the most remarkable sporting moments. With victory coming down to milliseconds, it has been their passion and duty to play a part in this illustrious event. As the Olympic Games have evolved over time, and athletes have become faster and stronger, OMEGA’s own excellence in timekeeping has also continued to grow.
Looking at the Olympic Games today, it is clear to see that OMEGA’s timekeeping has evolved to become a highly-sophisticated system that leaves no result in doubt. In London in 2012, OMEGA introduced three new pieces of “futuristic” equipment including new starting blocks used by sprinters and short-distance runners; the innovative Swimming Show that instantly ranks the top three finishers in the pool; and the high-precision Quantum Timer used in athletics and water sports that has an enhanced resolution of one millionth of a second. Added to this, there are even more devices now being used such as the laser and sound “starting pistol” with its bright red colour, and the OMEGA Scan’O’Vision MYRIA that captures 10,000 frames per second in a photofinish. Over 84 years, our reputation has been cemented by dedication and passion. For the athletes who compete at Rio 2016, every result is now in very safe and experienced hands.
On 26 occasions since 1932, OMEGA has fulfilled the prestigious role of Official Timekeeper at the Olympic Games. Under their watchful eye, records have been set and broken, history has been witnessed and legends have been made. No matter the year, the Olympic Games have always delivered a multitude of great moments in time.
Now, as the world’s attention turns to Rio de Janeiro, the brand will assume its duties for the 27th time. Surrounded by the colour and culture of this vibrant city, we will work with the enduring commitment and passion that has sealed our unrivalled reputation.
For an edition of the Olympic Games today, OMEGA sends around 480 tonnes of equipment, miles and miles of cabling and 450 timekeepers. This massive undertaking shows the effort that our brand is willing to exude in order to serve the dedicated athletes who are competing on one of the biggest stages of their lives.
Of course, it is not just these few weeks in which OMEGA gives focus. Throughout our history as Official Timekeeper, we have also been a leading force in researching, developing and mastering the technologies that record every second.
In the pool, they have developed many systems that make victory indisputable. These include the famous touchpads positioned at both ends of the swimming pool, allowing athletes to stop time with their own hands.
Out on the track, OMEGA has been responsible for the creation of the most famous devices used in precision sports timing, among them the Scan’O’Vision MYRIA photofinish cameras, starting blocks, false-start detection technology and high-speed video systems.
These Olympic Games in Brazil promise to be like no other. It is the first time that South America has hosted the largest and most famous multi-sport event in the world and, like everybody, the brand is expecting an unforgettable occasion. For OMEGA, there is also a true sense of pride. We know that whoever stands on the podiums in these Olympic Games will do so with the most precise knowledge of their medal-winning performance.
The Evolution Of Omega Timekeeping
As athletes become faster and stronger, OMEGA has also advanced its own strengths and abilities in the world of Olympic Games timekeeping. Three technologies in particular have seen a great evolution that proves just how far we’ve come.
New Timekeeping Technologies At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games
• Omega Scan’O’Vision Myria
Perhaps the most widely known sports timekeeping device used in athletics is the photofinish camera, the equipment set up at the finish line of sprints, hurdles and other races. Each runner’s image is captured by this device as he or she crosses the finish line and it is this information that the judges use to officially determine the champion of each race. The new OMEGA Scan’O’Vision MYRIA is a combination of a time detector and a chronograph. Its photofinish images are produced using a high-tech image-capture device that records up to 10,000 digital images of one vertical line per second. Improved light sensitivity means that images are of higher quality than with previous versions of the photofinish camera and thanks to its compact size; it takes less time to assemble and disassemble.
• New Omega Photocell Technology
Photocells have been an important part of “stopping time” since 1948. They are used to give an instant result at finish-lines and give racers and spectators a precise understanding of the winner’s recorded time. In most recent competitions, two pairs of photo¬cells have emitted beams of light across the finish line that halt time as soon as a competitor crosses. Today, OMEGA proudly introduces the next generation of this vital equipment. Instead of two photocells, there are now four, all integrated into one unit, and positioned on the finish line of the Athletics events. With four photocells in operation, more body patterns are able to be detected as they cross the line, and it will no longer be necessary to move the height of the cells for hurdle races. This means even more accuracy at the moment that matters.
• New and improved scoreboards
The hi-resolution scoreboards that will be used in Rio de Janeiro have been re-designed and are operated by new software that enables them to display not only text and live information, but also animations, athlete pictures and visual imagery. Using modern effects, winners’ names, results and their nation’s flag can be boldly displayed, adding to the drama, thrill and excitement of each event. Not only is there consistency across all events, but the big moments such as records and medal winning performances will be highlighted like never before. A lot of time has been spent testing with different distances and contrasts to ensure visibility is at the highest level possible. It’s a great advancement from the amber and black displays used in the past.
• False start detection system
The starting blocks in Athletics have been enhanced with built-in sensors that measure an athletes’ force against the footrest 4,000 times per second. The detection system instantly sends the force measurements to an on-site computer and creates a “force curve” so that the starter can visually analyse the reaction in the event of a false start. This is all possible because of new software and enhanced communication technology between the starting blocks and the false start detection system.
• Golf scoreboards
As golf makes its return to the Olympic Games after more than a century, OMEGA is introducing a new scoreboard especially for the event. Placed at ground level on four dedicated tees, the scoreboards will be equipped with radar measurement systems. As a player tees off, information will be captured and then displayed to spectators so that they can closely follow the action. Along with the player’s name and current score, the scoreboard will show a live output of the stroke speed, estimated distance and height of the stroke.
• Archery targeting system
For the first time at the Olympic Games, technology will be used to record scores in archery events. Until now, the judging has been done solely by the human eye using a specialised scope. Now, OMEGA introduces a new target with a built-in scanning system. When the arrow hits the target, two scanners run lengthways and widthways to calculate the arrow’s distance from the centre point. The system has a 0.2mm accuracy which is impossible for the human eye to detect. It’s also fast, delivering results within 1 second from the moment the target is hit.
• Seamaster Diver 300m “Rio 2016” Limited Edition
Rio de Janeiro is a city full of life. It is the first place in South America to host the Olympic Games and the perfect location for athletes and spectators alike. Inspired by this dynamic spirit, OMEGA has created the Seamaster Diver 300M “Rio 2016” Limited Edition.
The timepiece is a combination of watchmaking expertise and unique craftsmanship. Beginning on the city’s famous beaches, we have taken the wave pattern from the mosaic design on Copacabana’s sidewalks and used it as inspiration for a similar style on the watch’s lacquered black dial.
The uni-directional rotating diving bezel is also black, this time made from black polished ceramic. However, what truly sets this feature apart is the lacquered numbers in red, green, yellow and blue. These represent the exuberance of Rio as well as the five colours of the famous Olympic rings.
Of course, the event itself has been commemorated in exquisite fashion. On the reverse side of the polished and brushed stainless steel case, the screw-in caseback has been stamped with the “Rio 2016” logo and engraved with an individual Limited Edition number.
Only 3016 of these pieces have been produced.
Other features of this timepiece are typical of the iconic OMEGA Seamaster 300M style. These include a date window at 3 o’clock, a helium escape valve at 10 o’clock, and polished facetted skeleton rhodium-plated hands coated in white Super-LumiNova.
Presented on a stainless steel bracelet, the timepiece is driven by the exclusive OMEGA calibre 2500 and is water resistant up to 30 bar (300 metres / 1000 feet).
• Seamaster Bullhead “Rio 2016” Limited Edition
As part of OMEGA’s Olympic Games Collection, the Bullhead Rio is a unique celebration of heritage, precision and sporting excellence. At first sight, it is instantly recognisable for its individual style and design. The blue leather strap links directly to the Rio 2016™ logo, and features subtle stitching along each side, coloured yellow, green, red and black to represent the iconic Olympic rings.
This colour theme is continued on the rotating inner-bezel, serving as a meaningful reminder of the unity and harmony that the Olympic rings signify.
The case itself has a true link to history and sport. This particular style was first released in 1969, and was used by rally drivers to time their laps. It’s highly appropriate then, that the spirit of speed has now evolved to exemplify OMEGA’s continuing association as the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games.
Like its predecessors, the Bullhead “Rio” also features a white dial, as well as a central chronograph seconds hand, and a 30-minute recorder at 12H. It’s interesting to point out, that the name “bullhead” was originally a nickname, coined by watch collectors who admired the shape of the timepiece, and concluded that it indeed looked like the head of a bull. There is no doubt that the qualities of strength and determination will be on show this year.
Built with OMEGA’s exclusive Co-Axial calibre 3113, and stamped with the Rio 2016™ logo on the caseback, this is sure to become an instant collector’s item. Before the first race is run, the winning standard in watch-making has already been set.