It started with a conversation. Two guys shooting the breeze. One of them, the Omega Museum Director, Petros Protopapas; the other, a publisher of content about watches — me. We were in Sydney, at the launch of the Australian flagship boutique in Martin Place, which is incidentally the largest Omega boutique in the world. I remember it was a beautiful summer’s day that was on the verge of becoming a midsummer night’s dream, starring Cindy Crawford and a harbourside mansion.
An idea was forming about staging a “night at the museum”, at the Omega Museum, in Biel, Switzerland, opposite the ever-expanding Omega manufacture. Perhaps it was the cinematic ring to the name, “night at the museum”, but it caught the ear of Omega President Raynald Aeschlimann. Or that we’ve done two similar events in the past. First, the ‘Night of Omega firsts’. And then, ‘Her Journey Through Time‘, both starring Petros, who is an electric, eclectic M.C. “We should do this,” Mr Aeschlimann said. “We should definitely do this.”
True to form, 18 months later, we did indeed. This time last week, to the minute just about, Omega invited a small number of international media, collectors and guest-speakers — around 30 in total — to the Omega Museum for an event that was unlike any other. It combined a 1910s – 1920s dress code with a TED-style collection of speeches before an unveiling of a watch, the ‘First Wrist Chronograph Limited Edition’ – also unlike any other I have seen, combining a 95-year-old movement with a ‘new’ case and modern finishing techniques. It takes 700 hours to complete, and is housed in a trunk made by a Parisian artisan that is rumoured to cost more than the price of a new Speedmaster to construct.
The event concept changed shape a number of times, but landed on the ways that history can propel evolution, with each speaker highlighting William Faulkner’s quote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” There were examples from Omega appearances in the movies, from Andrew Grima’s designs, and from the story around the acquisition of the Co-Axial escapement.
It all took place over a long, decadent dinner that ran into the dusting off of crates of 50-year-old Chartreuse and Armagnac, the bottles’ labels flaking to the touch. My creative writing professor at Melbourne University always urged us to ‘show, don’t tell’, so I will let the video talk from here. There will be more about the speeches in a separate video, starring yours truly as well as Jack Forster from Hodinkee, Wei Koh from Revolution, and Nick Foulkes, whose work is published in Vanity Fair and the Financial Times among others. My thanks as always to Petros and Raynald for continuing to be an idea-powered leadership team who make exciting things happen in the watch industry.
The First Omega Wrist-Chronograph is limited to 18 pieces and is priced at $120,000 CHF. For more information, contact us.