By Nick Augusteijn
On August 5th, renowned Swiss watch manufacturer Omega began its countdown to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the unveiling of the Rio Collection of limited edition timepieces and accompanying social outreach campaign that will see the company support 12 local action programs.
ON TRACK, ON TIME: While many of the world’s famous watchmakers frequently vie for official timekeeping gigs, such as Rolex in Formula 1, Rado in tennis, and Hublot in soccer, Omega takes the crown with a renewed deal to act as the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games for the 27th time. Jewels in the crown are the Speedmaster Mark II “Rio 2016” and the Seamaster Bullhead “Rio 2016,” both standout modern-day reinterpretations of some of Omega’s most iconic watches.
GOLD MEDALIST: The Speedmaster Mark II “Rio 2016” takes its design cues from the legendary 1969 original and stands out for its stainless steel case, which features both brushed and polished surfaces. The sub-dials represent the bronze, silver and gold medals. And yes, the gold sub-dial has a genuine 18-carat gold ring.
The caseback features the logo of the 2016 Olympic Games. A limited edition number reminds the owner of the exclusive nature of the watch; only 2016 will be produced.
RARE BREED: The Seamaster Bullhead “Rio 2016” is the more extravagant timepiece of the two, if only for the bullhead case design. Originally used by rally drivers to clock their sector times, the 1969 watch is among the rarest of Omega timepieces. Since the late sixties, three versions have made their appearance and only 669 watches have ever left the factory. The Rio edition will remain exclusive as well, as production will be limited to 316 pieces. The “3” refers to the return of golf as an Olympic sport for the third time in history and “16” marks the year.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The watch stands out for its brazen blue leather strap and multi-color stitching in black, green, red, and yellow. The Olympic color theme also returns on the inner bezel. Like the Speedmaster, the Bullhead’s caseback is stamped with the Rio logo and a production number.
GIVING BACK: Both timepieces are powered by Omega’s in-house developed co-axial movement, which uses the brand’s unique co-axial escapement and also features anti-magnetic technology.
Omega’s countdown to Rio isn’t just about watches. Every month until August 2016, the company will debut a new social action program for the people of Rio de Janeiro. The initiative kicked-off with the refurbishment of a support center for pregnant women and mothers in the notorious Costa Barros neighborhood, plagued by high crime rates and violence. The effort is backed-up with a social media campaign on Instagram, encouraging fans to upload a post of a heart symbol tagged with #omegavivario. For every post Omega donates 16 cents to the Viva Rio charity.