Watch Re­view


The Snobby Runway - - Contents - Writ­ten by An­drew McNair

It’s not the first time Omega have latched them­selves onto an ex­treme pi­o­neer­ing ven­ture. James Bond is their most no­table ally, the Spe­cial Boat Ser­vice amongst oth­ers.

The high class watch spe­cial­ists love to team up with or­gan­i­sa­tions push­ing the bound­aries of hu­man ca­pa­bil­i­ties, they’ve been strongly linked with NASA for over half a cen­tury. You may even for­get that their main com­merce is watch mak­ing.

You’ll see ad­verts of men in ski-wear dan­gling out of he­li­copters, with a limited edi­tion Omega time­piece pok­ing out from un­der their bomber jack­ets.

When Omega col­lab­o­rated with the SBS they made just 500 watches for sale only to mem­bers of the Bri­tish Spe­cial Forces, with the SBS logo and ‘By Strength and Guile’ en­graved on the back.

They re­tailed at £2,500, though one man walked into a jew­eller to get it val­ued and had £10,000 cash set in front of him there and then. It was the same time­piece Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale.

Now Omega have turned eco-friendly, but they still re­tain their thrill seek­ing and in­spi­ra­tional spirit for Omegas new cre­ation, the So­lar Im­pulse. It’s the world’s first long-range so­lar pow­ered air­plane tasked with cir­cling the globe on one trip, without a drop of fuel. Pretty cool eh? Not only does this quite pos­si­bly mark the fu­ture of air travel, it’s Omega’s way of keep­ing the Speed­mas­ter fam­ily up to date on space ex­plo­ration. The watch is as pi­o­neer­ing and clean as the mis­sion. The Speed­mas­ter Sky­walker X-33 So­lar Im­pulse Limited Edi­tion. It’s pow­ered by the multi-quartz chrono­graph move­ment and, made from grade-two ti­ta­nium, is as light as the laces in your shoes.

It’s tested and qual­i­fied by the Euro­pean Space Agency, with the words ‘Around the World’ en­graved on the back, just to re­mind you where it came from.

It doesn’t look like some­thing you’d see on a millionaire busi­ness­man’s wrist though, more a sub­tle ad­mis­sion of wealth by a ca­su­ally dressed movie star, or a Red Bull spon­sored sky diver. Ei­ther way, it’s some­thing you want.

Run­ning it through your hands gives you a feel for its qual­ity, the cold­ness of the brushed ti­ta­nium cas­ing and the tex­ture of the polyamide NATO strap sends chills down your spine. That’s just your body re­mind­ing you that you’re hold­ing some­thing ex­cep­tional. In­side the case there are hid­den se­crets, while the ana­logue hands, coated in Su­per-Lumi-

Nova, which emits green light, point out hours and min­utes with class and style. Press down on the crown and the black face reveals dig­i­tal dis­plays sim­i­lar to that on a dash­board com­puter. Add that to the three dif­fer­ent time zones, a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, count­down func­tions, year and week in­di­ca­tions, three alarms, and all grey nu­mer­als omit­ted from the black back­ground.

It’s Mis­sion Elapsed Time (MEP) and Phase Elapsed Time (PET) give you a sense of what the watch was re­ally de­signed for. So if you’re a fighter pilot, you’re well in­formed, and if you’re the CEO of an ad agency, you’re re­minded of the des­ig­nated func­tion of the time­piece you use to track your lunch hour.

Turn it over, and you can bask in it’s en­dorse­ments. En­graved are the words ‘Around the World’, sym­bol­is­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of the So­lar Im­pulse mis­sion, and “Tested and Qual­i­fied by ESA” (the Euro­pean Space Agency), cir­cled around the in­dented Speed­mas­ter logo.

Omega says this is to ‘af­firm its re­li­a­bil­ity, pre­ci­sion and abil­ity to with­stand chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments.’ Re­ally I think it’s just to re­mind the holder of the time a pre­ci­sion that went into mak­ing the X-33, hav­ing it tested and de­vel­oped un­der an ESA patent li­cence.

I’m ok with that. Spend this much on a watch, and you want it to make you feel spe­cial. It’s priced at around £3000 which, con­sid­er­ing the tech­nol­ogy and pre­ci­sion that has gone into de­vel­op­ing this new gen­er­a­tion Speed­mas­ter’s, isn’t bad. It would prob­a­bly be a lot more from many other watch brands.

With a choice of bracelet ma­te­ri­als and bezel ring colours, you can tai­lor the time­piece for the oc­ca­sion you wish to be seen wear­ing it. If you’re con­cerned with the spec­i­fi­ca­tion and tech­nolo­gies it of­fers, they’re all there. If you’re stand­ing in awe of a cre­ation de­signed for space ex­plo­ration and the way it makes you feel when you’ve got it strapped to your wrist, there’s lit­tle other choice.

The spirit for ad­ven­ture lives in all of us, and we’d all love to be the one’s em­bark­ing on an ex­treme trip into the un­known. How­ever, for the time be­ing we can’t all get into outer space but, for now, we can cer­tainly strap a lit­tle me­mento to our fore­arm.

Wouldn’t you agree?


So­lar Im­pulse Pilots Ber­trand Pic­card and An­dré Borschberg.

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