Vicariously enjoying the games of the XXXI Olympiad
As I watched the qualifying swims for the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday night, I wondered—not for the first time—what it would be like to attend the Rio Games.
I had a pretty good idea. Two and a half years ago, I spent three days at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as a guest of Omega, the Swiss watch brand that has served as the games’ official timekeeper 27 times since 1932. I am well aware of the incredible privilege and access that Omega affords its visitors. And as a longtime lover of Rio de Janeiro—I first visited the Cidade Maravilhosa in 1998 and returned for a fifth time in 2009, to join hundreds of revelers on Copacabana Beach as the city was named the host of the games of the XXXI Olympiad—I am no stranger to its charms. My FOMO (fear of missing out!) was kicking in big-time.
So I did the next best thing: I scrolled through photos posted to the #OmegaHouse hashtag on Instagram, and fantasized about hobnobbing with the Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne (an Omega ambassador), Prince Albert of Monaco, and the beautiful people of Rio at the brand’s temporary headquarters inside Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim on world-famous Ipanema Beach.
Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim
Eddie Redmayne signs the Wall of Fame at the Omega House on Ipanema Beach
“This house means a lot to us,” Raynald Aeschlimann, president and CEO of Omega, said in a statement that appeared in my inbox while I was stalking the opening night celebration on Instagram. “A lot of passion and spirit has gone into making Omega House a wonderful destination for the Olympic Games and the perfect place to celebrate our role as official timekeeper, which is such an important part of our brand.”
Omega president and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann and HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco
With a few hundredths of a second separating the finalists in various men’s swimming events (among all the other competitions that pivot on timing), it’s easy to understand the mission-critical role Omega plays at the Olympics. Viewers of the games will discover that the brand’s logo is ubiquitous.
But less obvious to anyone not entrenched in the watch business is the array of themed timepieces that Omega rolls out for its biannual moment in the Olympic spotlight. Check out its Rio 2016 limited editions below and let me know in the comments which one you like best!
Omega’s Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 Limited Edition features a lacquered black dial bearing a wave motif inspired by the mosaic design of Copacabana Beach’s iconic sidewalks.
The distinctive case of Omega’s Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 Limited Edition dates from a 1969 timepiece used by rally drivers.
The Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 model features bronze, 925 silver, and 18k gold rings around its subdials, in homage to the Olympic medals.
P.S. For more Olympic-jewelry-themed reading, check out this engrossing post on The Adventurine about the designer behind the Olympic medal for the Summer Games.
(Photos courtesy of Omega)