QUAL­ITY TIME

Lead­ing the way with pro­gres­sive in­ven­tions, Omega proves it­self as one of the top play­ers in the watch in­dus­try, mar­ry­ing clas­sic style with cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy. By Cai Mei Khoo.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

Omega con­tin­ues to prove it­self as the in­dus­try’s top player

It’s cold and driz­zly in Basel, Switzer­land – so much for sunny days and day­time tem­per­a­tures in the mid-teens. You can’t quite rely on weather forecasts th­ese days but a lit­tle rain is no mat­ter at all. I’m stand­ing in front of the shiny, new ex­hi­bi­tion hall com­plex, de­signed by in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned Basel ar­chi­tects, Her­zog & de Meu­ron, whose alu­minium struc­ture beck­ons to vis­i­tors from around the world, in town for one of the most im­por­tant events in the watch and jewellery in­dus­try, Baselworld.

Ex­hi­bi­tion stands at Baselworld are not your typ­i­cal space – ‘stand’ is prob­a­bly not even the right word. We’re talk­ing two to three floors per ex­hibitor, with dif­fer­ent sec­tions or rooms for prod­uct dis­play, pre­sen­ta­tions, and in­ter­views. The Omega stand it­self is three sto­ries tall, dis­play­ing over 200 pieces from its watch and fine jewellery col­lec­tions, and also in­cludes a bar with cham­pagne and canapés for guests. Think of it as a huge mall for lux­ury watch and jewellery brands, show­cas­ing the lat­est and the finest of their cre­ations, and at Omega, there were quite a few of th­ese.

Known for its pi­o­neer­ing spirit, Omega has cre­ated a new al­loy, what it calls Sedna gold, its name taken from a trans-Nep­tu­nian ob­ject, and also the name of an Inuit god­dess who is said to live at the bot­tom of the Arc­tic Ocean. A creative blend of gold, cop­per, and pal­la­dium, the Sedna is an 18-karat rose gold, which means it has a min­i­mum 75 per­cent gold con­tent. The beau­ti­ful pinkish-red hue is a re­sult of the right pro­por­tion of cop­per, while the pal­la­dium en­sures that the colour will be par­tic­u­larly en­dur­ing.

A cou­ple of watches have been made with the Sedna gold – the Cons tel lat ion Sedna, a lovely limited edi­tion of 1,952 pieces to mark the year the Con­stel­la­tion line was launched, and the Lady­matic Di­a­monds and Pearls watch, which Omega ambassador Ni­cole Kid­man wore to the jury pho­to­call at the re­cent Cannes Film Fes­ti­val. Made just in time for this year’s Baselworld, the Lady­matic Di­a­monds and Pearls is a stun­ning jewellery watch that fea­tures a spec­tac­u­lar bracelet of 52 Akoya pearls, Sedna ‘pearls’, and di­a­monds scat­tered through­out.

“We’re def­i­nitely reach­ing out to a new type of woman with the Lady­matic,” says Stephen Urquhart, pres­i­dent of Omega. “Pre­vi­ously, you had women who ei­ther liked a smaller, more fem­i­nine watch, to whom the Con­stel­la­tion range caters to, or women who pre­ferred men’s watches. The Lady­matic is a beau­ti­ful watch that houses a fan­tas­tic me­chan­i­cal move­ment, geared to­wards a woman who’s in­de­pen­dent. Some­one of a higher level, not nec­es­sar­ily in­come-wise, but in in­tel­lect, some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates the finer things in life.”

First launched in 1955, the new Lady­matic watch re­de­fines grace and el­e­gance. Orig­i­nally one of Omega’s first self-wind­ing watches spe­cially de­signed for women, the new Lady­mat­ics are equipped with the brand’s leg­endary Co-Ax­ial

move­ment. Highly re­garded in the in­dus­try as one of the best me­chan­i­cal move­ments in the world, the Co-Ax­ial cal­i­bres are de­signed to pro­duce less fric­tion and greater me­chan­i­cal ef­fi­ciency, which means longer ser­vice in­ter­vals and bet­ter per­for­mance over time.

New for the year are the bi-colour Lady­matic watches, which fea­ture a com­bi­na­tion of stain­less steel and 18-karat red or yel­low gold – a trend that is pretty big in watches this year. The dial comes in ei­ther deep brown or pure white mother-of-pearl that’s dec­o­rated with a su­per­nova pat­tern, with di­a­mond in­dexes and a date counter at 3 o’clock. Fem­i­nine and so­phis­ti­cated, the Lady­matic is def­i­nitely made for the woman with a taste for the finer things in life.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, the name and his­tory of the brand was more geared to­wards men’s watches, with the land­ing on the moon, Bond, and even the Co-Ax­ial move­ment – it’s a man’s thing,” says Urquhart. “But then Cindy [Craw­ford, Omega ambassador since 1995] and the Con­stel­la­tion changed all that in the mid-Nineties.

“I re­cently went for an Omega ex­hi­bi­tion in China where they show­cased all the ladies’ watches from the past and it’s un­be­liev­able how many Omega ladies’ watches there are,” he shares. “It’s a young, aes­thet­ic­sen­si­tive per­son who’s now buy­ing our prod­ucts. Some­one who’s more in­ter­ested in some­thing of last­ing value. We’re talk­ing to a new type of woman who’s more in­de­pen­dent.”

When asked about the re­newed fo­cus on the Co-Ax­ial move­ment, with the world­wide re­lease of a new 3D an­i­mated film about the move­ment, Urquhart says that Co-Ax­ial has al­ways been the main mes­sage. “It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to re­mem­ber that Omega is al­ways all about the move­ment,” he stresses. “We felt that the time was right this year as we don’t have the Olympics and there’s no Bond movie, ei­ther. The an­i­mated film places an artis­tic value to the idea of Co-Ax­ial and cre­ates an emo­tional in­ter­est. Through the film, peo­ple learn about Co-Ax­ial and from the Co-Ax­ial, and be­cause of it, we’ve man­aged to pro­duce a new cal­i­bre, the Omega Co-Ax­ial cal­i­bre 8508 that’s re­sis­tant to mag­netic fields greater than 1.5 tesla.”

Housed in the new Sea­mas­ter Aqua Terra 15000 Gauss, the stain­less steel watch is highly re­sis­tant to mag­netic fields, some­thing that’s al­ways been an is­sue for watch­mak­ers. “We’re con­stantly try­ing to ad­dress the ev­ery­day prob­lems of the watch,” ex­plains Urquhart. “Water­proof has been done, shock­proof has been done, and the next is­sue is anti-mag­netism. Not many peo­ple re­alise this, even my­self for that mat­ter, but when watches come in for ser­vic­ing, more than 50 per­cent of the prob­lem is due to mag­netism.” De­vel­oped by a team of engi­neers, sev­eral patents are pend­ing for this break­through move­ment which re­lies on the use of non-fer­rous ma­te­ri­als to negate the ef­fects of mag­netism. “The Co-Ax­ial cal­i­bre 8508 has long-term im­pli­ca­tions for the en­tire in­dus­try as it takes mag­netic re­sis­tance to lev­els far be­yond those pre­vi­ously achieved by any other move­ment.”

Ground- break­ing in­deed, Omega has cer­tainly pushed the de­sign en­ve­lope with its Baselworld 2013 launches, re­mind­ing us why it was the cho­sen brand for the first as­tro­nauts that were sent out into space. “We have an in­cred­i­ble prod­uct – a me­chan­i­cal wrist­watch – some­thing that no­body needs to­day but has been around for 250 years. The less peo­ple need it, the more they want it. It’s a unique prod­uct, watches. It’s a peo­ple busi­ness,” Urquhart muses.

“The prod­ucts we are pre­sent­ing in Basel re­flect Omega’s on-go­ing ded­i­ca­tion to qual­ity and in­no­va­tion and make a bold state­ment about the strength and in­ge­nu­ity of our brand.” It’s a state­ment that’s eas­ily worn on the wrist; just pick the Co-Ax­ial cal­i­bre of your choice.

The Omega stand at Baselworld

Ni­cole Kid­man wear­ing the Lady­matic Di­a­mondsds aand Pearls watch at thee 2013 Cannes Film Fes­ti­val ival

De Ville Lady­matic Lad Di­a­monds and Pearls w watch in 18-karat Sedna gold, gold Omega

Lady­matic watch in 18-karat red gold and stain­less steel, Omega

LEFT: A vin­tage Omega Lady­matic ad­ver­tise­ment, show­cas­ing the clas­sic brand’s time­less ap­peal. BE­LOW: Limited- edi­tion Con­stel­la­tion Sedna in Sedna gold, Omega

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