Omega and the Empire of Indexes

Only some “unique watches” can explain why Swiss watchmaking was so successful and why it would be even more successful.

Months ago, there were photos and two news stories in front of me. Both news were important, but I gazed at the photos. They were all wonderful but somewhat familiar sights. But I boggled at one of these photos. Despite the months that have passed, this photo both surprises me, makes me happy and makes me think for a long time.

However, in this extraordinary photograph, there is nothing but two hands and two minute hands. It may be a situation that will be cool for those who are not fans of watches and Omega, but now I don’t think about them. These are trivial matters now. My problem is the resolution of the photo. I searched curiously. In the press room, I took a deep breath when I realized that the image was 20 megapixels. This abundance of megapixels means a resolution to easily make a poster. Because I want to frame this amazing photo and hang it on the wall.

Still, I can’t help but wish it had 100 megapixels, I’m eager to see all the details in this exciting photo! Just seeing is not enough, I want to tell what I saw. My friends, who see these modest hands and look very similar to each other like twin brothers except for cosmetic differences, will surely wonder what it is.

I know how to begin. I will say, “There are 65 years between the hour and minute hands in this photo.” Then I will come to the subject I want to say, there is also the vision of Omega in this photo, yes, but more importantly, take a good look at the photo, there you will see Switzerland.

In this photo, apart from the hands; heritage, respect, continuity, spirit of progress, intelligence, culture, clean design, passion, the art of protecting the good, endurance, praise for mechanical art, sense of wonder, civilization, knowledge, experience, perseverance, love… Which one should I count? It seems endless to me. There is even the cool air of Switzerland in this photo.

There is no need to explain the reasons at length, perhaps the second news contains economic data and is about the country these needles belong to. Also, seeing a country in a watch is not a unique view for me, years ago Asaf Hâlet Çelebi said in his famous poem “Sidharta”, “I see a huge tree / in a tiny seed”.

I didn’t know if the subject was getting longer because it was an exciting photo, it seems to me that I just wrote the first sentence of the article. I want to go to the news right away, but since the hour and minute hands blew my mind, it would not be possible to go right away. First, let’s talk about Omega. Although, the first news was about the watch that these hands belonged to. Because Omega is one of the brands that represents Switzerland.

Similarly, Roger Federer, the “retired Excellency” of the tennis world, was storming the court, each time stubbornly maintaining his winning spirit, while also representing Switzerland. While he shows that he is not a spoiled but a master athlete with every move, Omega shows a similar attitude in watchmaking and will never retire. Sometimes the iconic Moonwatch model is too prominent and seems to overshadow the beauty behind it, but whatever. Whenever I think like this, the love of Omega predominates, and I agree with them. Moonwatch is a legendary watch and cannot be praised enough.

Of course, no one knows Omega, and it occupies a special place between an independent watch company that produces only a handful of watches a year and industry giants that produce more than a million times a year. Omega alone has the potential, charisma and much more to sum up a country.

And one of the first innovation news of 2022 was given by Omega again. This is the first of the news I mentioned at the beginning of the article. In the first month of the year, Omega announced its own “new” watch, the Speedmaster Caliber 321, with a unique white gold (Canopus GoldÔ) case. Reinterpreting a cult work is a practice that has a place in both art and watchmaking. Although from afar it features the first Speedmaster of 1957, the Caliber 321 is a “new” model and a cultural monument that carries more than meets the eye.

We can recognize a watch from afar and tell what it is, but what makes a watch good or bad is mostly hidden in the details and mechanism, not in its general design. When the Speedmaster Caliber 321 model was first introduced in 1957, it brought a new breath to chronograph watch production. Designed for professional race car drivers, Speedmaster offered convenience in terms of use as well as an easy-to-read design.

The Speedmaster Caliber 321 was also the first watch in the world to have a tachymeter scale on the bezel instead of the dial. The tachymeter scale was a practical way to measure the speed of the vehicle. Moreover, the Caliber 321 was tough, accurate and water resistant. The new Caliber 321 has all these features, but it also includes some innovations that can only be in 2022. These innovations include refinements and design elements that differ in detail that show why Swiss watches are successful.

Although the Speedmaster Caliber 321 looks like the first watch produced in 1957, it is not obvious at all, but it is a symbol of the Omega philosophy, the brand’s corporate stance and the innovative struggle that adds value to production. I think this symbol is very important because it is the indicator and key of a vision that is not easy and always goes forward.

I read an interesting quote somewhere, then got curious and searched for its source, and found it in Scientific American, January 2, 1909. An article evaluating the technological developments of the previous year (page 6) has the following sentence at the beginning of the article: “The fact that no improvements have been made to the radical character of the car during the last year suggests that the car has reached the limit of its development in practice.” The automobile, however, was still in its infancy. However, there have been people who have shared similar ideas for watches at historical intervals, and it cannot be said that the value of mechanical watchmaking is still known enough. However, the world would be an extremely boring place if it were left to those who think that there is nothing to be discovered and that there is no such thing as innovation.

A significant improvement, the material has changed, as those that look simpler and more sparkly than the hour and minute hands are made of Omega’s own white gold alloy. As we move to the clock, we see more changes. High contrast indicators make it easy to read. The legendary caliber 321, with watch arts applied on the dial and bezel, and the movement 65 years ago, was reconsidered in 2019 and revised while preserving its original design. Here is a timepiece that carries the past, but stands much further ahead.

It is obvious that Charles Duell, the President of the US Patent Office, does not think like what Omega said in 1899, “There is nothing new anymore. Everything that can be invented has been invented.” And for the very reason, he can add something new even to an old model. And so, Omega always produces brilliant “precious” watches or rather personal works of art. It can be described as “personal” because every timepiece that appears to be similar to each other and comes out of the same factory, the same machines and the hands of the same craftsmen gains a “new sound” and “new feeling” unique to the person who wears it over time.

As for the second news: The Swiss Watch Industry Federation has announced the export figures for 2021. Although there were problems due to the pandemic, the return to pre-pandemic in September 2021 and the performance in the last quarter of the year brought the best annual results for the sector ever: 22.3 billion CHF (Swiss franc) or 24 billion dollars. This result is 2.7% higher than in 2019 and represents an increase of 31.2% compared to 2020. The figures are almost equal to the legendary 2014 record.

Well, if you are wondering which countries these watches went to, we see that the USA comes first with 3 billion CHF, followed by China with 2.9 billion CHF. For some reason, Hong Kong has been segregated, yet it ranks third with a whopping CHF 2.1 billion. Japan is fourth with CHF 1.4 billion, the UK is fifth with CHF 1.3 billion, Singapore is sixth with CHF 1.2 billion, and Germany is seventh with CHF 1 billion. The United Arab Emirates ranks eighth with CHF 995 million. It is followed by Italy and South Korea with similar figures. 12th on the list is Spain with 341 million CHF. Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands with similar figures are at the bottom of the list.

“We actually don’t need watches anymore,” a friend of mine said. He may be right, we don’t need watches that show the time, we need watches that show us the enthusiastic spirit of art, make us feel good and change the world with us.

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