Energy. Sophistication. Storytelling. Passion.
These are the four words that sum up the ‘Night of Omega Firsts’ held last night at Vue de Monde in Melbourne. Hosted by Omega, in association with Time+Tide, it involved a literal journey through time. 12 watches of enormous historical significance dating from 1894 were laid out along the table and revealed one by one. The journey began, fittingly, with the ‘Omega’ Caliber 19, for which the company is named right up to the first Melbourne sighting of the ‘Grey Side of the Moon’.
The great majority of the timepieces were not only in Australia for the first time, but also ‘let out’ of the Omega Museum in Bienne for the first time, too. All for this ‘one-show-only’ in downtown Melbourne. It amounted to one small step for man but one giant step for the Australian watch community. The pieces were each ‘storytold’ by no less than the Omega Museum Manager, Mr Petros Protopapas, who was flown to Melbourne exclusively for the evening: “It is also my first time in Australia, I am very excited to be here!” Petros personally accompanied the precious timepieces and actually wore the 1994 Central Tourbillon on the flight over, to be sure it arrived safely.
Omega Australia must be applauded for their investment in our fledgling but rapidly growing Australian community of watch lovers. It was a ‘history-hungry’ audience with differing levels of knowledge but a common denominator that was obvious in the interstitial chatter; passion for watches and also for what they represent. It is a telling fact that many had flown in for the event at their own expense. Stories about their ‘First Encounter with Omega’ is what led them to the event and stories about watches in general abounded for the rest of the night.
The journey itself was wrapped in mystique, with each black box signifying the year of the model but nothing more. As the group of 30 collectors and enthusiasts were transported through time by Petros’ narrative each black box would be lifted to reveal a Perspex inner case with the glittering timepiece displayed inside. It was then lifted from its case to be passed around the room. “It is critical, absolutely critical that people can interact with and form physical connections with these heroes of history,” said Petros in a poetic flourish. His impassioned style held the room in rapt attention for no less than four hours.
“It is critical, absolutely critical that people can interact with and form physical connections with these heroes of history.” Petros Protopapas, Museum Manager, Omega
The impact of Petros’ passion and delivery cannot be overstated. Looking spry in a pair of braces with a patterned bow tie, he spoke with an almost alarming amount of energy. Certainly for someone who stepped off a plane from Switzerland barely a day before. He drummed the back of his chair for drum rolls, threw his arms wildly and fired questions at the audience. He was the best possible advertisement for a trip to the Omega museum in Bienne. If you are ever within a one-hour plane ride of the place, you simply must go. But check first if Petros is there, because he is the key to unlocking Omega’s history and bringing it vividly to life.
The official presentation concluded with an invitation for guests to convene with Petros in a corner of the room with all timepieces on display trays for inspection, selfies, wristshots and further questions. Petros also had several documents to hand, including a letter to Omega from NASA. Well, the invitation resulted in the most civilised free for all you can possibly imagine. Read: Petros was quickly mobbed.
The running of the program was as precise and on-time as the 1994 Central Tourbillon. And while the crowd had the opportunity to be well lubricated by local Australian wines, like an Omega Co-Axial Movement – George Daniels’ actual prototype of which was in the room! – most were too entranced by the wrist candy to need it. “I’m drunk on watches,” Executive Chef and budding watch lover Ben Cooper said. “But the best thing is I can still drive home.”
Lastly, a round of thank yous: To Erin Collins at Omega, who hatched this crazy plan with me and executed it with skill, flair and precision. To Megan Parker, the General Manager of Omega, for her belief in and support of Time+Tide and our community. To Gloss Creative, whose styling and attention to detail was outstanding. To the Time+Tide team of Felix, Hamish, DC and especially KD and Nice Bike, who worked like Trojans all night shooting and filming. To the Time+Tide friends and follwers that attended and filled the room with energy at the right times and respectful silence at others. And once more to Petros. The night hung on his delivery of these 12 timepieces. And boy, did he deliver.