The 20th century, the OMEGA century.
Great wars, adventure and technical progress.
When the demand for wristwatches sky rocketed with the Great War, and Omega got it right by supplying caliber 13 watches with a white enamel dial to the signal corps of the American expeditionary forces
that fought alongside the Allies in 1918.
In 1933, the crews of the hydroplanes of Marshal Italo Balbo (the Italian Air minister) were equipped with Omega wrist chronographs during the Rome-Chicago raid
. Omega became the official supplier to Italian Aeronautics
Between 1939 and 1945, the British Government ordered over 100,000 of Omega’s waterproof steel watches to equip the Royal Air Force
. In 1948 this model developed into the Seamaster.
In 1965, NASA chose the Omega Speedmaster chronograph after rigorous selection procedures. On March 23rd, the Gemini 3 mission astronauts, Virgil Grissom
and John Young
were wearing Speedmasters.
In 1968, the Omega Speedmaster Professional played part in the Plaisted Expedition to the North Pole, (enduring 44 days at an average -52°C), the first successful polar expedition since Peary’s achievement in 1909.
July 21st 1969, Neil Armstrong wearing an Omega Speedmaster at the moment he became the first man to set foot on the Moon
. The Omega Speedmasteraccompanied the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab
and Shuttle space missions and achieved six lunar landings with total reliability. The Speedmaster Professional (renamed in 1966) played a major role during the Apollo-Soyuz
link-ups of July 17 1975 where it was on the wrists of both the Americans and Soviets. In the final stages of the Apollo Vlll mission the Speedmaster enabled pilots of the damaged module, left without controls and out of contact with Houston Texas, to establish exactly when the fire had broken out, gauge how long the engines would burn, and land safely back on Earth – and achievement that won Omega the celebrated Snoopy Award
, the highest distinction conferred by NASA
Also in 1969, five Omega instruments - two GMT clocks and three chronographs - were installed in prototypes of the supersonic Concorde
|Seamaster 600 watch to Commander Cousteau|
In September 1970, Omega delivered a series of watches to Commander Cousteau
for the Janus operation
. Three divers were to spend eight days exploring the depths of the Gulf of Ajaccio, wearing the new caliber 1002 Seamaster 600 (known as the Ploprof, for plongeur professionel, or professional diver). This professional’s watch had a single piece (mono-hull) case, screwed down bezel protected by a bolt at 9 o’clock, and a bi-directional lunette with a screwing system controlled by a big red button (which earned it the nickname “the camera”). The watch, which COMEX tested at –263 meters, gained the world record for deep sea diving water resistance. It was also tested at –1370 meters, but the crystal became deformed, blocked the hands and stopped the watch, though the mono-hull case resisted the massive pressure at that depth without exploding.
In 1974, the Marine Chronometer (caliber 1511) was ratified as marine chronometer, the only wristwatch ever to have won this distinction.
In 1976, four megaquartz 32 Khz Seamasters crossed the Atlantic
solo, fixed to the masts and keel of Ambrogio Fogar’s catamaran
and Paolo Mascheroni’s sloop
In 1978, once again, NASA chose the Omega Speedmaster Professional as the official watch for the Shuttle program
. The first flight was on April 12, 1981.
In 1980, the French Navy issued on-shore personnel with the Omega Megaquartz 4,190 MHz (1525 caliber) a ratified marine chronometer with high frequency quartz at 4.19 million oscillations per second, for high precision of minus 1 second per month.
On November 4th, the famous French diver Jacques Mayol’s
apnea descent (without aqualung) off the island of Elba was validated at –101 meters; he wore an Omega Seamaster 120m (caliber 1337).
On July 25 1988, the Seamaster Professional 200 meters caliber 1111 took part in the IFREMER Faré mission, during which the French scientific submarine Nautile dived 4,400 meters below sea level in the mid-Atlantic to install the first link of a channel to monitor seismic shift.
In Hamburg on June 30th 1989 the space agency NPO Energija
chose the Omega Speedmaster Professional as official watch for its Soviet cosmonauts
In the same year, on December 13, Reinhold Messner
(the first mountaineer to scale all 8000 on the planet), embarked on a new challenge wearing an Omega Speedmaster Professional on his wrist: a 2,500km expedition across the Antarctic by foot.
In 1999, Omega began to manufacture a George Daniels
invention, the co-axial escapement, a mini-revolution that would eliminate most of the friction in the traditional recoil escape.