Beijing is the 30th time Omega was named official timekeepers of the biggest competition in the world.
Beijing 2022 will mark a special milestone for Omega as the Swiss brand celebrates its 30th occasion as Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games.
For exactly 90 years, the Swiss watchmaker has been a leading name in sports measurement, recording the dreams of the world’s best athletes, and continually developing the technologies that every result depends on.
In fact, when Omega began its role in 1932, the company fulfilled its task with just one watchmaker and 30 stopwatches. This year in Beijing, the operation will entail a team of 300 timekeepers and 200 tonnes of equipment, proving just how much this vital role has grown, and how the standards of excellence have been continually pushed. Today, Omega delivers a level of precision that is almost unquestionable.
Of course, Omega also has valuable experience in Beijing. In summer 2008, the brand arrived as Official Timekeeper, witnessing one of history’s most memorable Olympic Games, while also enjoying a spectacular welcome from the host city.
Here are other milestones in Omega’s partnership with the biggest competition in the world:
1936: First Olympic Winter Games
Omega officially timed the Olympic Winter Games for the first time. With a single watchmaker and 27 stopwatches, the brand fulfilled is role admirably, measuring every moment at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The brand had already been chosen as the first ever Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games when the summer events were contested in Los Angeles in 1932.
1948: Electronic era
The watchmaker’s photoelectric cells were used at the Olympic Games. This technology automatically stops the clock on the finish line of races, replacing the unreliable capabilities of the human eye. During the summer events that same year, Omega also introduced its first Photofinish Camera at the Olympic Games, changing the face of timekeeping forever.
1956: Starting gates
This was the first time that Omega introduced starting gates in alpine skiing at the Olympic Games. Making their début in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the gates signalled the beginning of each run. As soon as the athletes passed through, the OMEGA Quartz Recorder was triggered.
1964: Time on Screen
Omega was able to superimpose the times of Olympic Games performances onto the bottom of television screens. This was all thanks to a new piece of technology known as the Omegascope. Never before had spectators outside the venues been so quickly and well-informed about the events taking place. From this moment in Innsbruck, the concept of “real-time” sports reporting had arrived.
1968: Providing statistics
Thiswas the first year that Omega introduced “Integrated Timing” at the Olympic Games. With events taking place in Grenoble, Omega was able to supply the press, media, television channels, judges and the general public with additional information about athletic performances as well as in-depth statistics. Furthermore, the updated Omegascope could also now superimpose complete competition details onto TV screens, including athlete names, live times, final times, intermediate times and speeds.
1980: Displaying live rankings
Omega introduced its Game-O-Matic technology. The system could immediately calculate and display an athlete’s ranking as soon as he or she crossed the finish line in alpine skiing events. It featured its own data processing equipment and met all of the expectations of the Organizing Committee in Lake Placid that year.
1992: New Photo finish camera
A new Scan’O’Vision system was introduced in Albertville. Photofinish cameras had been used at past Olympic Games, but this updated technology could now digitally measure times to the nearest 1/1000th of a second. The improvement in precision was astounding and heralded a new chapter in the science of timekeeping.
2006: Wearable technology
Omega introduced special transponders worn by athletes. Primarily used in the new team pursuit event in speed skating in Turin, the transponders were worn on the ankles of competitors and were able to send and receive radio signals, allowing OMEGA to capture specific time measurements.
2010: Electronic start pistol
This yearsaw the arrival of the new Electronic Start Pistol in Vancouver. Instead of using a traditional gun, OMEGA introduced a streamlined, futuristic device composed of a flash gun and a sound generation box. When the starter presses its trigger, three things happen simultaneously: a sound is “played”, a light flash is emitted and a start pulse is given to the timing device.
2014: Whistle detection system
Exciting new technologies in Sochi included the arrival of the Whistle Detection System in Ice Hockey. This was worn by officials, and the microphone allowed them to speak to the scorekeeper on the timing bench. The system also stopped the clock as soon as it detected the sound of a referee’s whistle. This would happen at least half a second faster than any timekeeper could manually achieve.
2018: Brand new era
In PyeongChang, OMEGA welcomed an exciting new era of motion sensor and positioning systems. In certain events, the timekeeper can now measure a full range of athlete data—from the live speed of an alpine skier to the live height of a spectacular ski jump. With this technology, it becomes clear where an athlete won or lost their event and gives spectators a much greater understanding of the sports they’re watching.