The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia will gather the world’s top athletes with one aim in mind: winning gold. Once again, Omega continues its Olympic partnership and offers a golden opportunity as rare as receiving a gold medal on the podium. Their 18 K yellow gold Omega Sochi Petrograd 2014, limited to 100 pieces, not only celebrates the upcoming games, but also revives a historical Russian Olympic connection. Long after the victory celebrations have ended, the watch’s elite owners will continue to embody “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” the Olympic motto of “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.” Omega’s Sochi Petrograd is the perfect blend of Olympic nostalgia, cultural sophistication, and Russian pride. На здоровье!
Beginning in 1932, Omega has a longstanding history as the official timekeeper of the Olympics. William M. Henry, Sports Technical Director of the Los Angeles Games in 1932, praised Omega’s contribution, stating, “It is impossible to contemplate the wonderfully successful Games of the Xth Olympiad and the unprecedented athletic performances which featured the Games without recognizing the part played by Omega watches in this great international event.” Today Omega meets with the governing federation of each sport to create timing equipment specific to the needs of the competition. Just as Omega presents an annual limited edition Olympic watch or watches, they are also bringing new technological innovations to the Games. Their early contributions include: the world’s first independent, portable and water-resistant photoelectric cell in the 1948 London Games; the Omegascope, which in 1961 displayed athletes’ times on a television screen; the high-speed video cameras used for swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games, which settled the controversy in the men’s 100-meter butterfly; and the Quantum Timer of the 2012 London Games, which provided higher resolution and precision than before. These are just a few of Omega’s Olympic milestones, but they highlight the company’s forward-thinking development philosophy to constantly improve their accuracy in time measurement. The same thinking that accompanies the development of their watches.
The new watch’s eponym is the city in which its predecessor was created in 1915. That city was originally St. Petersburg, but in 1914 was changed to Petrograd because it was thought the name was more Russian, then became Leningrad in honor of Vladimir Lenin, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 became St. Petersburg again. Petrograd means “Peter’s City” and the name conjures a World War I Russia when Tonneau cases were popular. Ironically, the 1916 Summer Olympic games of Berlin were cancelled due to the war as was the then new winter sports week, which would give rise to the Winter Olympic Games.
The style of the Sochi Petrograd reaches back to its 1915 origins and recreates the Art Deco watch by borrowing from Omega’s 2004 Museum Collection watch. Collectors are alert for the 1915 model as well as the 1,915 pieces of the Museum collection. Omega originally made the 1915 watch for a prominent Russian leader, with other models coming to the Russian and Eastern Europe markets. Limited to 100 pieces, the Sochi Petrograd advances the collectability of its predecessors.
The Sochi Petrograd resembles the 2004 Museum Collection watch, but there are significant differences. The Museum Collection watch was rose gold instead of 18 K yellow gold. The Museum Collection’s numerals and hands are done in black, and the watch lacks the 24 hour track of the 2014 piece. The Sochi Petrograd’s small seconds sub-dial is square whereas the Museum Collection’s is round. Though the fonts are similar, on the Petrograd they are more robust, almost calligraphic. The greatest difference, however, is the movement. The Sochi Petrograd has a calibre 2202 with a co-axial escapement, giving it the definitive stamp of Omega achievement.
George Daniels invented the co-axial escapement in the 70s, the first major advancement to since the Swiss lever escapement. He offered his new movement to watchmakers, but only Omega was brave enough to buy it. In 1999, they presented the calibre 2500 at 28,800 bph, but then reduced the oscillation rate to 25,200 bph to incur less stress on the pallets and escapement wheel. Daniel’s design has a lever with three pallets (instead of the two in a lever escapement), which fits into a three level co-axial escapement wheel, isolating the locking function from the impulse. This design eliminates the sliding friction of the lever escapement as the pallets slide over the teeth of the escape wheel. It also eliminates the need to lubricate the pallets. The Sochi Petrograd’s Calibre 2022 utilizes the co-axial escapement and adds a special luxury finish.
The Sochi Petrograd’s historical styling is its most noticeable feature. The 18 K yellow gold case measures 32mm X 47mm X 13mm with a convex sapphire crystal. The bulbous Tonneau case houses a silvery-white dial with a distorted chapter ring that compresses the numerals at the center. The dial displays the hours in a 24 hour format with the AM hours in large black numerals and the PM hours in smaller red numerals inside the railroad track. The central hands are blued steel as is the small seconds hand in the sub-dial below at 6 o’clock. Together the colors red, white and blue correspond to the colors of the Russian flag. What self-respecting Russian oligarch would dare to attend the Games without one? To be sure, this is a dress watch destined to escape the cuff as glasses of vodka are raised and many a toast proclaimed.
The Tonneau case has a smooth angled bezel and a svelte, unobtrusive crown with a coin edge. It is water resistant to 30 meters/100 feet (3 bar). Holding the case is a burgundy leather strap complete with an 18 K yellow gold buckle. The watch comes in a special watch box and has a three-year warranty. The luxury of 18 K yellow gold gives the watch a brilliant appearance and a shine worthy of an Olympic medal.
Turn the watch over, and the logo of the Sochi 2014 Olympics is engraved on the closed caseback. Also visible on the right are the words “limited edition,” followed by the edition number out of a hundred. On the left, are the words “co-axial escapement,” a reminder of Omega’s technological advancement. Still, a transparent caseback to showcase the movement and its touted luxury finish might have been an appealing option. As it is, though, more gold means more gold.
Earlier this year, Omega introduced the Seamaster Planet Ocean Sochi 2014 Limited Edition, and it is representative of Omega’s lineage of limited edition Olympic watches. The Omega Sochi Petrograd 2014, however, is special and occupies a unique place for this year’s Winter Games. Its contextual significance to Russian history, Olympic history and Omega history ups the ante on its exclusivity. Collectors are connecting with various allusions, which all converge in this one watch. Though only one athlete can return home with a gold medal, surely all who compete are winners; but if we had to award gold, 18 K yellow gold to be sure, it would go to the Omega Sochi Petrograd 2014.