Olympic blingathon | 7.8.12

For decades watch manufacturers have vied with one another to be the official timekeeper of the Olympic games. Two of the names most associated with the games are Longines and Omega….it’s hard to have missed the fact that Omega were chosen for London 2012. Digging around in my ephemera section I came across a 1950s Omega brochure that quietly demonstrates how proud the company was to be chosen for the games.

Extract from a mid 1950s Omega watch catalogue

Omega was chosen for its first games in 1932. In 1952, the watchmaker became the first to use electronic timing in sport. There’s an interesting history of Omega’s involvement in the Olympics on their website.

Of course in the pre-quartz, pre-electronic days of modern timekeeping, the importance of the watchmaker was all important. The mechanical stop watch below is typical of chronographs that were used for timing athletic events – this particular example dates to the mid 20th century. The calibrations are for 1/10 of a second with two full revolutions of the dial to each minute and a subsidiary counter for counting minutes elapsed in 30 second increments. To achieve a 1/10 second display requires the use of a fast beat mechanical movement with 36,000 beats per hour; the typical BPH of a mechanical wristwatch is 18,000 (the beat being each oscillation of the balance).

Image © Sotheby’s Geneva.

Forgetting the timekeeping aspect for a moment, my prize for some serious Olympic bling goes to Longines for its limited edition gold and diamond-set hunting cased watch which was issued to important Olympians and Olympic supporters at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics:

Longines limited edition LA Olympics commemorative watch, 1984 Image © Sotheby’s New York, 6th December 2011.