Photo: Ariel Adams
It is possible to launch a new product and have the world notice without creating some noise behind it. It just isn’t wise nor fun.The best products are combined with the best events and partnerships.
So leave it to Swiss know-how and the tradition of luxury to debut a new product with style and grace.
The setting is Capri, Italy in May 2011. Swiss Omega watches chose the ancient resort Island to officially debut their new high-end diving watch collection.
Click here for photos of the watches and Capri >
To mark the occasion Omega called upon man-on-the-moon Buzz Alrdin as well as a new partnership dedicated to awareness of ocean environmentalism. The Planet Ocean name will be associated with an open-copyright film (called “Planet Ocean”) that French filmmaker and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand will make with his organisation Good Planet. Omega will fund the production of the film that will be available without cost for educational use and all broadcasting organisations all over the World. Arthus-Bertrand’s last film “Home” has reportedly already been viewed by 500 million people.
Omega is already one of the most popular watch brands in the world. In addition to serving as the official timekeeper of the Olympics, they hold claim as maker of the watch worn during the 1969 moon landing. Their two most popular collections are the Speedmaster and Seamaster watches – with more recent emphasis on the formal and ladies watch segments.
Dive style watches are probably the most popular genre of sport watch. The general agreement is that only a few people who wear diver watches actually dive – but the reason for their success is what wearing a dive watch says about the wearer according to Omega CEO Stephen Urquhart. “It’s aspirational,” referring to the fact that people who wear such timepieces would like to engage in the activity their watches were made for, as well as communicate that fact to others.
Within the Omega dive watch Seamaster collection is a high-end sub-range called the Planet Ocean. Ironically enough there is another collection in Omega’s range called the Aqua Terra – that means the same thing. The Planet Ocean collection debuted a few years ago and became an international hit – being among the most popular watches searched for online according the World Watch Report.
Several years ago Omega decided that it wanted to make the Planet Ocean collection more than just a good looking dive watch, it wanted them to have some of the best mass produced mechanical watch movements in the world – especially in the chronograph (with stopwatch function) model. 2011 is a double whammy for the Seamaster Planet Ocean. Not only do the watches benefit from external upgrades, but Omega has fulfilled their own promise by releasing the Calibre 9300 – a totally in-house made and designed mechanical automatic chronograph movement with a list of features making it much more desirable than the alternatives.
The Calibre 9300 is more than a list of technical features that look good on paper but offer little real-life advantages. The movement offers accuracy, durability, easy time measuring, as well as advantages for those wears who frequently travel. As a serious watch lover and expert, I give the Omega calibre 9300 two thumbs up.
Placed in both the new Planet Ocean Chronograph and Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph, the Calibre 9300 is a top choice movement for watch lovers. It looks and feels good, and certainly helps you “feel the worth” of this watch. Asking a consumer to spend several thousand dollars on a watch that isn’t as accurate as their mobile phone can be challenging. It helps a lot when they look what is powering the watch and are impressed. Of course what all watch owners want is for people to be impressed with them when seeing whatever timepiece they have on their wrist.
The Planet Ocean is the kind of watch that typifies modern Swiss timepiece design. Elegant and attractive, it has a look steeped in functionality and tradition. Omega ensures that each new watch they design includes a bit of the so called “brand DNA.” The translation for this often ambiguous statement is that when people see the watch – they can immediately recognise it as an Omega.
At about 45mm wide – the size of the new Seamaster Planet Ocean certainly helps with visibility. Omega also offers a 42mm wide Planet Ocean as well as a smaller 38mm wide women’s model – but the chronograph only comes in one size, but both the smaller models have Omega in-house made movements as well (the calibre 8500 and 8520 movements).
The last time I saw these watches was a few month ago in Basel Switzerland at the year’s large Baselworld watch trade show. Here on Capri my experience with the timepieces is wholly different as Omega ensures a view in the watch’s “natural habitat.” Sitting on the rocks at the water’s shore, the “ocean” part of Planet Ocean really comes alive.
The Swiss have a reputation for being less than playful, but that isn’t always the case once you get to know them. Likely looking for an opportunity to do so, Omega hired a “professional mermaid” to swim through the famous Green Grotto of Capri to greet us with a new 2011 Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean as though it were being lifted from the depths. Loose connection to the watch aside, a woman in a mermaid outfit (homemade by the way) that can swim like a fish requires no need for a special occasion to appreciate.
Omega makes no secret about their aspirations to enter into new market territories with their timepieces. One of the biggest markets they are looking at entering more is fashion. Traditionally a performance and sport watch brand, Omega is working hard to get more people to notice their watches are pseudo-runway items. The Seamaster Planet Ocean is a stylish watch, and Omega wants women to notice it as much as men do. In addition to being offered in a 38mm wide size, Omega offers the Planet Ocean in white, in orange gold (a special gold alloy that Omega offers), and also models with diamond decoration on the bezels. For the right occasion, the durable trustworthiness of the Seamaster Planet Ocean watch can serve to enhance an outfit admirably – and women aren’t just limited to the 38mm wide sizes.
In the watch world Italy is known as a fertile test ground for new design as well as a birthplace of trends. The 2011 Planet Ocean launch feels appropriate in this venue, and Omega has proven to me that this isn’t just an “image watch.” The unfortunate reality is that not enough people have a deep understanding of mechanical watches to appreciate the merits of the internal and external technology of the Planet Ocean and its new movements. For those that know – they are more than satisfied. Paradise launch events such as this help awareness, and it makes me proud to know that Omega has a solid product offering with the entire Seamaster Planet Ocean collection this year.
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