WITH THE OMEGA SPEEDMASTER SKYWALKER X-33 SOLAR IMPULSE LIMITED EDITION
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.