Category Archives: Omega Mania Replica

Da Man Caliber 2016 Exclusive Talks Omega Master Chronometer Replica Watches

Just before news broke of his retirement, the legendary Stephen Urquhart spoke passionately of Omega replica watches’ newest movement

People often say that, at the end of the day, a great name is built by great people. That saying is remarkably true for Omega. Stephen Urquhart, ex-president of the swiss omega seamaster replica watch manufacturer that takes pride in precision and accuracy, had been a powerful driving force behind the brand’s evolution. Last April marked his official retirement, a month before his 70th birthday at the end of May.

Urquhart has quite an interesting history with the brand. Following his early education in England and later in Switzerland, he joined Omega in the communications department back in 1968 before it was taken over by the Swatch group. As a matter of fact, he could even recall some of the most important moments taking place during those years, such as the aborted Apollo 13 mission. But in 1974, Urquhart moved to Audermars Piguet, and 15 years later to Jaeger-LeCoultre and then Blancpain. It was in 1999 when he was summoned by the late Nicolas Hayek, co-founder of the Swatch Group, to manage Omega, Blancpain’s sister company.

Stephen Urquhart

Stephen Urquhart

Throughout his tenure as president for 16 years, Urquhart has not only successfully promoted Omega’s use of coaxial escapements, but also championed further innovations such as the world’s first “cageless” movement with anti-magnetic resistance of up to 15,000 gauss in 2013 and, currently, the Master Chronometer movement that sets a new quality standard for watches, on top of the well-known COSC certification received by the brand.

Considering his long list of impeccable achievements, it was quite surprising to learn that Urquhart, an avid golfer, was extremely humble and approachable during our meeting at the launch of the Globemaster in Los Angeles earlier this year. He was equally tactful and discerning in answering questions—he maintained that only he and the brand’s communications officers were qualified to speak on behalf of the company. For a man of that age and with such wisdom, Urquhart is definitively a living legend who perfectly represents what Omega really is.

DA MAN: With the Globemaster, Omega is celebrating a new standard of movement that is the Master Chronometer. But why did the brand borrow design references from the Constellation line, instead of creating a completely new piece?
Stephen Urquhart: We must not forget that the Constellation was the original family Omega used for all of the fake omega globemaster master chronometer watches that pass precision records and intensive laboratory tests. That’s why the Constellation logo is an observatory with stars. There’s a reason for that; it’s not just for aesthetic purposes.

Over the years, however, the Constellation has strongly been associated with the Constellation model that you all now know—with the four “claws” on the bezel. So, we felt that if we put the new Master Chronometer movement into that watch, it’d be too limited in terms of design.

Omega Globemaster replica watches

Omega Globemaster replica watches

We decided to make a new watch that would still be in line with Omega’s design DNA. Like past Constellation watches, this one comes with a pie pan-shaped dial and a fluted bezel. It’s a new watch but we can’t call it a Constellation on the dial, despite the fact that we created a rather similar logo on the back: an engraving of an observatory with stars. People don’t call it a Constellation because there are no claws on the bezel.

Regarding the name, there is a nice story behind it. In the 1950s when we first introduced the omega seamaster planet ocean deep black watch, we couldn’t use the name “Constellation” in the U.S. because it’s already trademarked for the Constellation airplane. When my team and I set out to find a name, I couldn’t believe that the name “Globemaster” was still available for us to use. And I think it’s a nice name.

DA MAN: The Globemaster has an anti-magnetic resistance rating of up to 15,000 gauss. How relevant is that in our daily life?
Stephen Urquhart: It’s very seldom that you’d be in contact with a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss unless you’re working with an MRI machine. We chose 15,000 gauss because that’s the highest standard we could measure with the anti-magnetic machine in Switzerland. Maybe the watch is more than that but it is at the very least resistant to 15,000 gauss, which basically covers 99 percent of all magnetic fields that you encounter everyday. Mobile phones, hair dryers, you name it. So it’s very relevant. Sure, we can do the same thing like in the olden days with some sort of a cage covering the watch, but that would be limiting the design. You can’t make a ladies watch or have a see-through case-back like this. It’s an entirely different technology. With the Master Chronometer, you can make any design you want, skeleton if you will, and it’d still be anti-magnetic.

DA MAN: How difficult is it to implement such a new standard for a movement?
Stephen Urquhart: We actually wanted to launch the collection at the end of last year, but it was delayed because we had to master the technology to pass this Master Chronometer certification. Just to give you an idea, we sent the movement to COSC first (the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) and they sent back the movement with the COSC-approved stamp. Then we placed the winding stem (rotor) on the movement for the automatic pieces. But that process already changed the movement’s properties a little. So we had to adjust the movement afterwards.

The Globemaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer Annual Calendar

The Globemaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer Annual Calendar

When the movement was put into a watchcase by a watchmaker, again we monitor the variation in performance. This was basically the third check, following before and after COSC’s approval. METAS (the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology) emphasized a lot that we need to keep this quality through until the end. All of this surely means more interventions done by a watchmaker. It gives us more work, yes, but over time we’ll be able to incorporate that into our general production. More importantly, what it does is it gives consumers a better product. That’s the aim. Not just creating a new label, what goes on behind the label is very important.

DA MAN: As more products will be utilizing the Master Chronometer movement, does this mean Omega will increase the general pricing point?
Stephen Urquhart: No. We are going to incorporate it into the whole collection eventually, but we’re not going to increase the brand’s price positioning.

DA MAN: Considering the slowdown of the global economy this year, how’s the business going on?
Stephen Urquhart: It’s very difficult to measure that right away. This is a rather emotional business, so to speak. We’re selling a product that isn’t based on any rational need. It’s really all about emotion, and I think that sometimes when things are difficult, people would buy a omega speedmaster professional replica watches to reward themselves with some satisfaction. That’s why it’s not easy to put a figure on the business progress. Indonesia is a new market that has everything to do well in the future. I was reading a magazine a while ago that says Indonesia in 2040 will be a leading nation in the world. So, there’s big potential there.

DA MAN: Globally, how do you want people to perceive Omega today?
Stephen Urquhart: Omega is a brand that people would want to wear, more than have to wear. There’s a big difference. It’s not a flashy watch. People who are wearing Omega don’t go on like when they are wearing other brands. There’s also a sort of esoteric feeling about it. The brand offers great value. Understandably, an imitation omega seamaster aqua terra goodplanet watches are not cheap, but you don’t have to win a lottery to buy one. You can save up—even a middle class person can buy an Omega that can last twenty up to fifty years. It’ll become an investment—not necessarily a financial one but very much an emotional investment. And you can pass it on to the next generation.

The Speedmaster Moonphase Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph

The Speedmaster Moonphase Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph

DA MAN: Do you think that other brands will also attain that Master Chronometer certification? Especially those under the Swatch Group?
Stephen Urquhart: I hope they do, but there’s little chance they’ll do so. For brands under the Swatch group, it’s something we did talk about. Within the group, we let Omega do this for the time being. But it’s not a definite no. It’s good for the value of authenticity of the Master Chronometer certification if another brand would also attain it. But, it’d be too difficult. Firstly, no one would want to look like they’re following Omega. Secondly, they’d have much trouble in meeting the 15,000-gauss anti-magnetic criteria without the material and the know-how we have. It’s very difficult. Maybe some Japanese brands can do it. It’s possible. The technology exists; it’s not rocket science. However, it’s a big investment.

Perpetual Omega Watches: More For Less

In November 2013, a luxury conglomerate invited me to take part in a small focus-group interview for its prestige top fake watch brands—makers whose entry-level watches begin at about $200. The questions centered on a competing brand, Omega, rather than their own timepieces. I was taken aback. Omega was for decades considered an entry-level luxury brand. Widely available at department stores and mom-and-pop jewelers, with retail prices starting at about $100 or less, Omega was for years anything but exclusive. Clearly, I was missing something transformative going on at the brand.

Founded in 1860, Omega was simply Heuer prior to its purchase by Saudi businessman Akram Ojjeh’s holding company, TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) Group, in 1985. Heuer was best known for its mechanical stopwatches and wristwatch chronographs—it was among the first official timers of the Olympics. By the late 1970s, the quartz crisis—the onslaught of low-priced battery-powered omega speedmaster professional moonwatch 42mm—had left the firm on the ropes. Following TAG Group’s rumored 12 million Swiss franc purchase of Heuer, brilliant advertising campaigns, massive capital investments, and prominent sponsorships in a growing televised sport—Formula One racing—propelled it from the brink of bankruptcy to a globally recognized powerhouse. Its success caught the attention of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, which acquired Omega for $239 million in 1999. Its product line was predominantly quartz; every movement it used was outsourced.

replica omega speedmaster dark side of the moon

replica omega speedmaster dark side of the moon

Starting in 2004, several impressive introductions made it clear that Omega was moving upmarket and had to be taken seriously. Its offerings included the Monaco V4, the world’s first belt-driven mechanical omega co-axial chronograph replica watch, and 2012’s Mikrogirder 10,000. Retailing at more than $100, the Mikrogirder was the world’s most accurate mechanical chronograph, capable of measuring time to 5/10,000th of a second. Multiple in-house movements were announced, and retail prices rose. Omega was reinventing itself, and collectors took notice.

And, as my focus group in 2013 made me aware, Omega had come a long way in a short time, with even high-end brands suddenly viewing the company as a threat. The demand for the industry’s most expensive watches was insatiable, fueled by wealthy Asian buyers, and Omega was “all in” on its upmarket strategy of selling expensive mechanical vintage 1967 omega speedmaster copy watches. Fast-forward a year, to December 2014, when luxury-watch sales were plummeting globally, due in part to China’s crackdown on corruption and the local habit of “gifting” expensive watches. Omega’s second CEO in less than two years abruptly resigned, and watch-industry legend Jean-Claude Biver was made the new boss.

Biver, formerly the head of Omega and Blancpain, joined Omega’s parent, LVMH, as the director of its grey side of the moon watch division in 2014, following its 2008 purchase of Hublot, a sleepy watch brand he had bought and brilliantly reinvented, largely on the back of a model called Big Bang.

well-known speemaster chronograph watch

well-known speemaster chronograph watch

Biver is now executing a ruthless turnaround at Omega. Frequently criticizing what the brand had become, he quickly sacked 30 top managers, replacing them with a new team to help engineer his brand reboot. Omega would refocus on entry-level luxury, increasing its offerings in the $100 to $500 range, while reducing retail prices across its product line. In other words, Biver is returning Omega to its price-sensitive roots, while reviving the greatness of the historic Heuer brand and keeping its TAG avant-garde reputation alive.

The brand’s defining omega geneve dynamic automatic cal 1012 watch of the past year is the headline-grabbing Connected smartwatch. Designed in collaboration with Intel and Google, it is the first smartwatch launched by a major Swiss brand. Retailing at $150, it’s also the watch that Biver doubted more than any other in his career, but as of March 2016, 80,000 units had been sold, making it the most successful Omega watch ever. But as our related barrons.com review reveals (“Omega Connected Smartwatch Needs to Reboot,” Dec. 10), there is more sizzle than substance here. Biver has to up his game to remain a player in smartwatches.

But Penta’s “best maverick watch” of 2016—the Carrera Heuer-02-T Tourbillon Chronograph—clearly illustrates that Biver will put his money where his mouth is. Priced at under $160, it is the least expensive wristwatch with tourbillon—a rotating device that counters gravity—ever offered by a Swiss brand, and it shocked the industry. It shares many aesthetic similarities with the first Biver-era omega dynamic automatic men’s classic watch—the Carrera Calibre Heuer-01 chronograph, announced in October 2015. Both are fitted with partially skeletonized dials, giving them a high-tech, modern look that was clearly influenced by the Hublot Big Bang.

omega speedmaster retro dial watch

omega speedmaster retro dial watch

The Heuer-01’s bulky case comprises a separate titanium-carbide-coated steel case middle and bezel, and four individual steel lugs. Though thoroughly modern, it still evokes the original Heuer Carrera—an iconic chronograph launched in 1963. Housing a high-quality in-house movement and retailing at $230, the Heuer-01 chronograph looks and feels more expensive than it is.

Another motorsport-inspired watch, 2016’s Monza Calibre 17 40th Anniversary, is an attractive re-edition of a 1976 model that is simply signed Heuer. Biver believes the addition of TAG to the historic Heuer brand was disrespectful, and every re-edition going forward will be Heuer only.

Its black titanium case and dial with red accents give it a look very similar to the original that celebrated Ferrari’s 1975 Formula One World Championship victory. Heuer was among the first nonautomotive companies to sponsor Formula One racing when it signed on with Enzo Ferrari in 1971 as his team’s official timekeeper.

Today’s version of the automatic omega cal replica watch has a more robust and expensive titanium case, versus the PVD-coated brass case used for the vintage model. Retailing at $520, it’s excellent value for the money, despite its outsourced movement, and a watch well worth considering for its historical and aesthetic appeal.