The Art of Olympic Timekeeping: Omega

omega the art of olympic timekeeping

Omega has been The Official timekeeper for Olympics for the last 28 occasions. They have also been an integral part of the Paralympic and the Youth Olympics. The Olympics is all about being the best at the right time, same goes for time keeping. The difference between getting a Gold and a Silver is just a split-second, but the impact created lasts for a lifetime.What an honour it might be to capture moments that are worth four years of hard work and dreams! 

It all started when Louis Brandt, a Swiss watchmaker, arrived in Los Angeles with just 30 calibrated split-second chronographs. The ticking sound of the watches was music to the ears.

Capturing Olympic History: Omega’s Legacy Unveiled

In the 1932 Olympics, The chronographs were shipped in a suit-case on a ship and then taken in the train. Omega played an important role in this international event and a partnership between The Omega Watches and Olympic Games began. With every Olympic Games there were controversies and with every controversy came challenges. It was a herculean task to overcome these challenges and create the perfect timekeeping experience.

At the Berlin games in 1936, the great athlete Jesse Owens of USA won four gold medals and Omega timed these races perfectly. The games now became about margins, the difference between the gold and silver reduced. Accuracy was now the number one priority of timekeeping. The machines had to out-perform humans, there was no way time recording was possible with naked eyes and thumb to announce the winners.

Precision and Perfection: Omega’s Timekeeping Mastery

After years of work and testing at the 1948 Games in London, Omega introduced its photoelectric cell for the first time. Timekeeping was never the same after this move. Machines out did humans to record time with great precision and accuracy. This was the answer to all the controversies faced so far. The 1952 Olympics era started the Electronic era. It was now possible to print the results and record accurately to the nearest hundredth of a second. 

omega the art of olympic timekeeping

Even though  timekeeping became  accurate, controversies and close calls were still a part of it. The 1960 games in Rome marked one of the most influential controversies in Olympic timekeeping history as both favourites  America’s Lance Larson and  Australia’s John Devitt,  swimmed their hearts out. Everyone thought that Larson made it first, even the stopwatch recordings backed this but the chief judge decraled Devitt as the winner ruling out the time recorded as void.

Behind the Scenes: Omega’s Timekeeping Technology at the Olympics

It was clear Larson had reached before Devitt, as later there was a huge media outbreak with evidence but the decision remained unchanged. Devitt remained the champion but Larson had broken the record. It was for the first time in Olympic history that the runner up was faster than the Gold medalist. This incident brought the Omega team together to think about how this problem can be resolved.

And then in 1964, Age of Electronic Timing came in as Omega introduced the concept of real time in sports television. The numbers were superimposed on the bottom of the TV screen as it was recorded, this revolutionized timekeeping. The more accurate the timekeeping, the more precise the results and finer the margins. The impact of a  100th of a second can last a lifetime.

The Science of Split-Seconds: Omega’s Innovations in Olympic Timekeeping

Omega further created a scan-o-vision system that measured time nearest to the thousandth of a second and then  2010 marked a revolution in Timekeeping as the most awaited Pistol was launched which replaced the old pistol gun. Soon after which the Quantum Timer Herald was launched as a new generation of Omega Timing Products which can measure nearly to One millionth of a second. 

Omega has been the most successful and longest time keeper in the history of the Olympics. In the 2020 Tokyo Games as the World class athletes represented their  countries and competed against each other, Omega measured all the celebrated moments with accuracy and precision and recorded every dream come true for the 29th time in Olympics  history.