Keeping Time for the Tokyo Olympics

Keeping Time for the Tokyo Olympics

The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 as a reimagining of an ancient Greek tradition that had been banned 1,500 years before by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Fourteen nations and 241 male athletes met in Athens, Greece, for the inaugural event, which was an enormous success.

At the 1932 Olympic Games hosted in Los Angeles, Omega was invited to be Official Timekeeper for what has become “the greatest show on earth”. For the occasion, Omega created a split seconds rattrapante chronograph, a pocket watch that was resurrected in 2007 when Omega rediscovered a store of unassembled movement kits at its headquarters in Biel. Sports technical director of the 1932 Games, William Henry, wrote of Omega’s contribution: “It is impossible to contemplate the wonderfully successful Olympic Games without recognizing the part played by Omega in this great international event.”

At the 1932 Olympic Games hosted in Los Angeles, Omega was invited to be Official Timekeeper for what has become “the greatest show on earth”.
At the 1932 Olympic Games hosted in Los Angeles, Omega was invited to be the Official Timekeeper for what has become “the greatest show on earth”.
In 2007, Omega created a split seconds rattrapante chronograph inspired by the historic 1932 pocket chronograph.
In 2007, Omega created a split seconds rattrapante chronograph inspired by the historic 1932 pocket chronograph.

The Technology of Timekeeping

Over the years, Omega has brought greater precision, innovation and tools for athletes, coaches and sports analysts to study performances and more fully understand the victories achieved at these spectacular sporting events. The speed with which results could be reported to waiting spectators also continued to improve, bringing us ever closer to real time.

Omega will arrive at the Tokyo Olympics with 400 tons of equipment including public scoreboards, sport-specific scoreboards, 200km of cables and optical fiber.
Omega will arrive at the Tokyo Olympics with 400 tons of equipment including public scoreboards, sport-specific scoreboards, 200km of cables and optical fiber.
In 2010, Omega came up with an electronic starting pistol to overcome the problem of sound dynamics for races.
In 2010, Omega came up with an electronic starting pistol to overcome the problem of sound dynamics for races.
Introduced in 2016, the Scan’O’Vision Myria was the most advanced photo finish camera in Omega’s history
Introduced in 2016, the Scan’O’Vision Myria was the most advanced photo finish camera in Omega’s history.

In 1932, Omega brought 30 chronographs to perform their function as Official Timekeeper. In 2021, the watchmaker will arrive with 400 tons of equipment including 85 public scoreboards, 350 sport-specific scoreboards, 200km of cables and optical fiber, and a host of positioning cameras and sensors that will record nearly every aspect of every performance.

Throughout history, Omega has continued to bring enhancements that help judges understand the full story of an athlete’s performance and to ensure a fair and accurate race for all participants. In 1984, for the Los Angeles Games, Omega created electronic starting blocks that were sensitive to pressure and that measured an athlete’s force 4,000 times a second. This allowed the judges to catch even the smallest of false starts. For the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the brand came up with an electronic starting pistol to overcome the problem of sound dynamics for races. Connected to speakers positioned behind each racer, the electronic pistol ensured that each participant would hear the start simultaneously and pulsed a light to start the timing.

The first Omega photo finish camera made its appearance at the London Olympics in 1948. This began an era of electronic timekeeping assistance that aided the judges with optical sensors that far outperformed the human eye for accuracy. Debuting at the Rio Games in 2016, the Scan’O’Vision Myria, the most advanced photo finish camera in Omega’s history, records up to 10,000 digital images per second to create a composite photo to determine rankings and times for each event, and settle even the closest of finishes. Combined with the photocell, a beam of light that replaces the traditional line of tape and instantly records the moment the finish line is breached, the results of a race can be determined in seconds with great accuracy.

The 1948 Summer Olympics of London were a turning point in Olympic timekeeping.
The 1948 Summer Olympics of London were a turning point in Olympic timekeeping.
Omega photo finish camera made its appearance at the London Olympics in 1948.
Omega photo finish camera made its appearance at the London Olympics in 1948.
The Omega Swim Eight-O-Matic from Melbourne, 1956.
The Omega Swim Eight-O-Matic from Melbourne, 1956.
The Omegascope at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics in 1964
The Omegascope at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics in 1964

In the water, new challenges were presented as optical dynamics and the splashes of the athletes greatly obscured visibility. In the 1956 Olympic Games of Melbourne-Stockholm, Omega introduced the Swim Eight-O-Matic, the first semi-automatic swimming timer. The timer was triggered at the sound of the pistol, and the swimmers stopped their times by pressing a touchpad. For the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the innovative Swimming Light Show will reveal the results at the end of a race with lights mounted on the starting blocks displaying a single dot for the winner, two dots for second place and three dots for third place.

Omega didn’t just concentrate on the Olympic experience for the athletes, judges and commentators. There were significant advances made through the years for the spectators, both at the event and watching from home. In 1964, at the Innsbruck Olympic Games in Austria, Omega introduced the Omegascope that superimposed the live times of athletes at the bottom of the screen, a revolution that had far-reaching effects across televised sporting events. For those lucky enough to attend the Games in person, Omega provided hi-resolution scoreboards capable of displaying pictures of athletes along with their national flags and competitive events, text, videos of live events, and near instant results.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that rocked the world. The event has only been canceled three times before: the first during World War I in 1916 and twice during World War II in 1940 and 1944. To be held this year, the Tokyo Olympics will feature 339 events in 33 sports, including six new events that will be making their Olympic debut. One of these is karate, a sport born in Okinawa, Japan, that has become a global sport. The karate competition will be hosted in the same facility that presented the first World Karate Championships in 1970: the Nippon Budokan.

As Official Timekeeper, Omega comes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a host of new technologies around motion sensing and positioning that give a comprehensive range of real-time data for coaches, analysts, commentators and spectators. Motion sensor tags in the start numbers will communicate to receivers around the courses for tracking live positions and speed, visualizing acceleration and deceleration, and measuring distance.

Swimmers will have new image tracking cameras around the pool that will track the movement of each swimmer to show live positions (not just at every turn) and their speed, acceleration and deceleration, distances between swimmers and number of strokes for a complete picture of victories.

Omega comes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a host of new technologies around motion sensing and positioning that give a comprehensive range of real-time data.
Omega comes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a host of new technologies around motion sensing and positioning that give a comprehensive range of real-time data.

At the beach volleyball fields, image tracking cameras will capture every moment of the action. There will be tracking of the ball to give detailed information about how each point was scored, including distances covered, speed of players and balls, jumps and height, and types of shots from smashes to blocks to spikes.

For Olympic gymnasts, there are exciting innovative technologies for pose detection that registers the complete movement of each athlete and gives adjudication information for the judges to examine detailed reviews of each athlete’s performance. These include the synchronicity of performers on the trampoline, horizontal displacement and precise pose tracking.

Even the equestrian athletes can expect new and more advanced image tracking tech that will follow the action. There will be laser detection to pinpoint the horse’s movements as well as the rider’s, allowing for breakdowns like distances, live and average speeds, time of flight over a jump, rider’s exact path around the course, and trajectory over a jump.

Similar motion tracking tags will be used in many other events like on bikes in cycling and on bracelets for open water swimming. In short, expect unprecedented data that will enable athletes, coaches and analysts to understand every moment of a performance and provide the full story in almost real time.

Four New Sports Watches from Omega

The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Tokyo 2020” has a polished blue ceramic dial distinguished by a laser-engraved Tokyo 2020 pattern
The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Tokyo 2020” has a polished blue ceramic dial distinguished by a laser-engraved Tokyo 2020 pattern.

Omega is releasing four new Seamaster models to celebrate the continued partnership with the Olympic Games in a clean pallet of  blue and white. Each watch features a certified Master Chronometer caliber approved by METAS (the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology) that is resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss.

The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Tokyo 2020” Limited Edition features a self-winding movement, the Omega 8900 calibewith co-axial escapement. The dial is the Aqua Terra collection’s first appearance of ceramic and comes rendered in the indigo and blue checkered pattern used for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic logo.

The watch has a date window at 6 o'clock and rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-LumiNova.
The watch has a date window at 6 o'clock and rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-LumiNova.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Tokyo 2020” Limited Edition features a self-winding movement, the Omega 8900 calibewith co-axial escapement.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra “Tokyo 2020” Limited Edition features a self-winding movement, the Omega caliber 8900 with co-axial escapement.

The polished stainless steel 41mm case is clean and minimal, featuring only the screw-down crown and allowing the blue of the dial and the structured blue rubber strap to capture the attention. The dial design is also clean with central-hand timekeeping and indexes filled with white Super-LumiNova. A date window holds the six o’clock position, and the rear sapphire features the Tokyo 2020 emblem and Olympic rings over the exposed rhodium-plated rotor and bridges with Geneva waves in arabesque.

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Tokyo 2020 Gold Watch features a polished blue ceramic dial, distinguished by a laser-engraved Tokyo 2020 pattern.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Tokyo 2020 Gold Watch features a polished blue ceramic dial, distinguished by a laser-engraved Tokyo 2020 pattern.
The caseback looks equally attractive with the exhibition sapphire crystals printed with the Tokyo 2020 logo, complete with a specially designed emblem made up of asymmetrical squares and rectangles.
The caseback looks equally attractive with the exhibition sapphire crystal printed with the Tokyo 2020 logo, complete with a specially designed emblem made up of asymmetrical squares and rectangles.

Just two weeks away from the long-awaited event, Omega has announced two gorgeous gold watches in the Seamaster Aqua Terra Tokyo 2020 edition. Crafted out of 18k yellow gold, the two watches feature polished blue ceramic dials, which have been laser-engraved with a pattern inspired by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games emblem. The casebacks look equally attractive with the exhibition sapphire crystals printed with the Tokyo 2020 logo, complete with a specially designed emblem made up of asymmetrical squares and rectangles. While the 38mmm model is powered by the Omega Co-Axial in-house caliber 8801 (55h of power reserve), the 41 mm version is equipped with calibre 8901 (60 hours of power reserve). These are special edition, non-limited edition watches, which are delivered in a special presentation box.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean “Tokyo 2020” Limited Edition has a striking white on white colorway with just a pop of red to honor the Olympic host nation. The case is 39.5mm and features a white ceramic bezel ring with a Liquidmetal™ diving scale. The number 20 is filled with red ceramic in a subtle reference to the 2020 Olympics. The dial is white ceramic as well, with white-on-white indexes and hour markers. The only color on the dial is a varnished red dot that embellishes the lollipop central seconds hand, paying homage to the red sun on white field of Nisshōki, Japan’s national flag. Beneath the Tokyo 2020 logo on the rear sapphire, the Omega Master Chronometer caliber 8800 is visible. Paired with a white leather strap to continue the clean white color scheme, the watch arrives in a special presentation box and includes an additional stainless steel bracelet and NATO strap.

Limited to 2,020 pieces, the Seamaster Diver “Tokyo 2020” Edition features a polished white ceramic dial with a red-tipped central seconds hand to represent the flag of Japan.
Limited to 2,020 pieces, the Seamaster Diver “Tokyo 2020” Edition features a polished white ceramic dial with a red-tipped central seconds hand to represent the flag of Japan.
The watch is powered by Master Chronometer Calibre 8800
The watch is powered by Master Chronometer Calibre 8800
Presented on a white leather strap, the watch features a sapphire crystal caseback with the Tokyo 2020 logo in blue.
Presented on a white leather strap, the watch features a sapphire crystal caseback with the Tokyo 2020 logo in blue.

The Seamaster Diver “Tokyo 2020” Edition continues the clean, minimal design theme in a colorway of blue, white and just a hint of red. The 42mm stainless steel case features a blue ceramic bezel with white enamel diving markings. The white ceramic dial is laser engraved with a clean wave pattern in blue, and the blued indexes and hands are filled with white Super-LumiNova. The indexes provide a bit of personality with lines and dots for hour markers, while a single pop of red from the Seamaster logo livens up the dial. The mechanicals are the self-winding caliber 8800 under the Tokyo 2020 logo and Olympic rings of the rear sapphire.

The Seamaster Diver “Tokyo 2020” Edition continues the clean, minimal design theme in a colorway of blue, white and just a hint of red.
The Seamaster Diver “Tokyo 2020” Edition continues the clean, minimal design theme in a colorway of blue, white and just a hint of red.
The watch has a polished white ceramic dial with laser-engraved waves, along with blued indexes and hands, and ‘Seamaster’ highlighted in red.
The watch has a polished white ceramic dial with laser-engraved waves, along with blued indexes and hands, and ‘Seamaster’ highlighted in red.
The NAIAD Lock caseback reveals a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games emblem decorated on the sapphire crystal caseback.
The NAIAD Lock caseback reveals a Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games emblem decorated on the sapphire crystal caseback.

From that first Olympic event in 1932 in which 30 chronographs recorded the start and end times to a fifth of a second, to this year’s event in which the Quantum Timer will record to one millionth of a second, Omega’s continued role in bringing timekeeping technological innovations to Olympic events is a testament to its enduring success over the years. In fact, back in 2017, the brand had already inked an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to extend their global partnership to the year 2032, which would mark 100 years of Omega’s key involvement in the world’s largest sporting event.

Tech Specs

OMEGA SEAMASTER AQUA TERRA “TOKYO 2020” LIMITED EDITION

Movement: Self-winding Master Chronometer caliber 8900; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Case: 41mm; stainless steel; water resistant to 150m
Strap: Blue rubber or stainless steel bracelet
Price: USD 6,300
Availability: Limited to 2,020 pieces

OMEGA SEAMASTER PLANET OCEAN “TOKYO 2020” LIMITED EDITION

Movement: Self-winding Master Chronometer caliber 8800; 55-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Case: 39.5mm; stainless steel with unidirectional rotating bezel; water resistant to 600m
Strap: White leather, stainless steel and NATO fabric
Price: USD 7,450
Availability: Limited to 2,020 pieces

OMEGA SEAMASTER DIVER “TOKYO 2020” EDITION

Movement: Self-winding Master Chronometer caliber 8800; 55-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Case: 42mm; stainless steel with unidirectional rotating bezel; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: USD 5,600

OMEGA SEAMASTER AQUA TERRA “TOKYO 2020” EDITION

Movement: Master Chronometer caliber 8801with 55 hours of power reserve (38mm); caliber 8901with 60 hours of power reserve (41mm).
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Case: 38mm and 41mm; 18k yellow gold; water-resistant up to 150m
Strap/Bracelet: Blue leather strap
Price: USD17,800 (38mm); USD18,500 (41mm)

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