Source: Omega Watches

Omega's 86-Year History of Incredible Olympic Watches

From cool and collectible to just plain odd, we dug in Omega's archives for this horological slice of Olympics history.

Since 1932, Omega has maintained its role as the “Official Timekeeper” of the Olympic games—for 26 out of 28 games, both summer and winter, to be precise—and as far back as the ’50s, commemorative limited-edition watches have marked the occasion. While the aesthetics of some have suavely stood the test of time, others are an interesting snapshot of a rather peculiar time in the world of fine watches. Each piece either is, or some day will become, quite collectible.

  1. Los Angeles 1932
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    Los Angeles 1932

    Omega provided 30 of these beautiful—not to mention accurate—stopwatches for the L.A. Olympic games, and few of the originals can still be found. Capable of timing 1/5th of a second, as well as a split-seconds capability for timing two events at once, this was as high-tech as you could get at the time. Since then, Omega has reissued 300 of these beauties (100 in yellow gold, 100 in white gold, and 100 in red gold, symbolic of the gold, silver, and bronze Olympic medals) that sold for a little north of $100,000.

    Source: Omega Watches

  2. Melbourne 1956
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    Melbourne 1956

    An 18K gold Omega Seamaster is the kind of thing you can stumble across at any reputable vintage watch shop, but examples from the 1956 Olympics are desperately hard to come by. Produced in two variants—one sporting the Olympic rings and the other simply an applied XVI in gold on the dial—less than 100 of these understated pieces are known to exist. Our friends over at Time & Tide stumbled across an XVI variant in Australia last year, but otherwise they seem to be very few and far between on the used market.

    Source: Omega Watches

  3. Mexico 1968
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    Mexico 1968

    Originally released in 1966, the Omega Chronostop has become quite the collectible; a regular one will run you about $2,500. Rather than acting as a conventional chronograph with subdials that tracked minutes, the Chronostop is used for short interval timing via its central seconds hand. Available in olive green, red, white and blue, the Mexico Olympic variants of the watch used the 920 caliber movement for an added date function, and each sported matching colored leather straps.

    Source: Omega Watches

  4. Montreal 1976
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    Montreal 1976

    Though most quartz watches are shunned by watch collectors these days, back in the 1970s they were covetable, cutting-edge tech. This is Omega’s first LCD display watch ever created, and given the layout of its digital chronograph display, its nickname of “the scoreboard” still stands to this day. Depending on its condition and whether or not the commemorative packaging is included, you'll be looking at a $1,200 to $3,000 investment.

    Source: Omega Watches

  5. Barcelona 1992
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    Barcelona 1992

    Released at a time when quartz-movement watchmaking was king, this pair of oddly-designed chronograph marked the Barcelona Olympics—one run of 499 pieces for collectors (left), and a slightly different series of 250 for other sponsors of the event. Nicknamed the Polaris, the steel cases sport patterned gold inlays, as well as gold center links in the case of the collectors’ model. Despite the gold flair, pricing would run similar to the Montreal watch above, due to the lower appeal of quartz collectibles these days.

    Source: Omega Watches

  6. Torino 2006
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    Torino 2006

    There are innumerable limited editions of the Omega Speedmaster out there, and on the scale from basic moon watch to neon yellow Schumacher edition, this release from Torino is by far on the more conservative end of the spectrum. A set of olympic rings acts as a counterbalance for the chronograph seconds hand, and a rarely-seen pulsometer inner indicator ring (seen in red) provides a punch of color against its stark white dial.

    Source: Omega Watches

  7. Beijing 2008
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    Beijing 2008

    Omega unveiled a significant collection of limited-release models for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, including this pair of Seamaster Aqua Terra chronographs. What's most fascinating is that one complete set—dubbed the "Omega Beijing 2008, Unique No. 8 Collection"—was sold for a whopping 888,888 Swiss Francs ($904,569) and included one of each of the 32 models, all being lucky serial number 8 of their series.

    Source: Omega Watches

  8. Vancouver 2010
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    Vancouver 2010

    For Vancouver, the classic Omega Seamaster received a bold refresh. Using a bright red bezel and white dial as a nod to the Canadian flag, this Seamaster looks nothing like its usual blue and black siblings. That said, it’s a tasteful execution that will stand out from the pack for years to come.

    Source: Omega Watches

  9. London 2012
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    London 2012

    Omega was an early adopter of the “vintage reissue” trend, and in 2012 the brand dug into its archives, taking inspiration from its first Seamaster from 1948—coincidentally the last time that London had previously hosted the Olympic games. The watch is beautifully executed with a compact 39mm case and applied indices that mirror the original design perfectly. The small production batch was limited to, surprise, 1,948 units.

    Source: Omega Watches

  10. Rio de Janeiro 2016
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    Rio de Janeiro 2016

    The watches of Rio brought out a little something for everyone—two out of three are a hit in our book. The Seamaster on the left with colored bezel markers is funky yet tasteful, and the Mark II Speedmaster on the right is such a clever play on Olympic medal colors that we are surprised the brand hasn’t done this sooner. Prices: Omega Rio Speedmaster MK II $6500 (limited to 2016 pieces), Omega Seamaster Diver Rio $4900 (3016 pieces), Omega Bullhead Rio $9,600 (316 pieces).

    Source: Omega Watches

  11. Pyeongchang 2018
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    Pyeongchang 2018

    The next Rio is just barely underway, and yet Omega has already debuted one of its limited edition timepieces for the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018. Probably the most subdued to date, this 3-hand date Seamaster lists the location and date of the event in Olympic colors on the minute track, and includes nominal decoration on its sapphire caseback. Arguably a tell of Omega’s concerns in an ever-worsening market, the brand clearly wanted to keep this piece as mainstream as possible.

    Source: Omega Watches

  12. Omega Olympic Official TImekeeper Collection
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    Omega Olympic Official TImekeeper Collection

    Released in time for Rio, but not part of the official collection, this set of three classic chronographs is a nod to the brand’s early Olympic stopwatches. Clean enamel dials and blued hands remind us of the 1/10th of a second split-seconds chronograph from the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles that Omega still has in its archives.

    Source: Omega Watches