The Omega Globemaster – Omega's new vision
Last March's presentation of the new Omega Globemaster collection in Basel caused quite a stir, the manufacturer had organized a special night at the fair but, until the very last minute, it had not let any news about it leak out. At the event Stephen Urquhart unveiled a new range of watches symbolizing much more than just a new collection for the brand and much more than a new model of timepiece for the entire Swiss watchmaking industry.
The first general reaction to the new collection was an aesthetic association of the Globemaster to similar Rolex timepieces (i.e. the Day-Date with the fluted bezel), which caused the attention to be moved away from the Globemaster's real features. Despite the many positive aesthetic aspects of this timepiece its pros are definitely more technical and they are at the basis of this new Omega project.
In the last few years Omega has started repositioning itself upmarket and it is not a big mystery that it aims at reaching Rolex's position. It is well known that, in the marketing department of the manufacturer from Biel, the brand from Geneva seems to be the right competitor to match and overtake both from a brand imaging and production point of view. The fluted bezel is part of Omega's history too and the Omega Globemaster is basically the aesthetical merge of two different models, one from the 50s and the other one from the 60s. Thumbs up to Omega for bravely reintroducing an aesthetic detail of the brand's history that easily exposes them to shallow and superficial remarks about the Globemaster's appearance.
Let's start taking a look at this product as a whole (case, bracelet and dial) and let's forget, for a moment, about its movement. The Omega Globemaster's collection definitely stands out when it comes to product quality: the case making, or what I call the “style at the service of perceived quality” (like the elongated lugs for instance) and the precise couplings between parts are simply outstanding. To get a full idea of what I mean, let's take a good look at the Globemaster with bracelet and let's notice how the bracelet fully integrates with the case; from the lugs up to the invisible folding clasp sporting the Omega logo, this timepiece seems seamless. A watch, which has been thoroughly planned up to the smallest detail and that proves that the project's targets (i.e. design, product, process quality and so on) were challenging from the very beginning.
The second most striking feature about this collection is its “Master Chronometer” certification. I will not go into details about that but I simpy want to quote Nick Hayek's words (CEO of the Swatch Group): “This new certification process for watches will benefit the entire industry, not only in Switzerland but also in China and Japan and in all those countries with a history and tradition of innovative watchmaking. More importantly it will also benefit the consumer and that is an extraordinary thing”. This quote is a strong reaffirmation of leadership and the Omega Globemaster is the means used by the brand to achieve this important result .
The first part of the quote is a message dedicated to the brand's competitors and it can be translated into something like this: from now on, when it comes to the best Swiss tradition of chronometric precision, we will be the point of reference and we shall soon prove it (a message directed to the manufacturer from Geneva), we will also be the brand that everybody, within the watchmaking industry, will have to look up to and that includes those manufacturers from the emerging markets (keep in mind that China is not just a source of components but of watchmakers too) and those “threatening” competitors from Japan (whether you like it or not brands like Seiko and calibers such as the Hi-Beat, the Spring Drive technology and certifications for divers like the ISO really are the best in class you can find on the market and Horbiter has been among the very first if not the first European magazine to examine in depth the new rise of Japanese watchmaking.). Nick Hayek's speech is also a clear message to end customers: we will offer you only the very best and a new way of interpreting your relationship with our brand.
Going back to Omega's main competitor and keeping in mind that no-one would buy a Rolex watch simply for its assuming “Chronometer” writing on the dial (it is definitely not one of the main reasons why one would purchase a watch like that, at least in Italy) there's no doubt that this new certification is a big step forward in watchmaking that greatly diminshes the meaning and value of the COSC certification, something that, sooner or later, the manufacturer from Geneva will have to deal with. Only time will tell how the brand will decide to act. The majority of people buying luxury watches have not fully realized yet what the real meaning and value of a Master Chronometer certification is, like for instance, producing a caliber that can withstand every measurable magnetic field without the need of any additional protection.
These personal evaluations make me wonder a few other things about this brand: what will the impact of the Omega Globemaster on the other collections of the brand be? I'm not talking about adopting the Master Chronometer certification for the other collections also (sooner or later that step will take place anyway) but more about the general message out there. Logically, from a brand and standardization point of view, the Omega Globemaster technologies should be soon extended across the entire production too, however, not all the collections are suitable to adopt this kind of technology. A classic example of this non-suitability is the classic Speedmaster collection (Moonwatch and First Omega in Space); this collection, sooner or later, will have to get upgraded anyway because it is the brand's flagship and it could really help to boost the current brand's repositiong on the market. In light of this what about designing a modern 321 caliber featuring the Master Chronometer certification and introducing a new series of ISO 6425 certified divers (something that they still don't have in Geneva but that they have in Japan already)?
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter