Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Is this a Seamaster or a Speedmaster?

As humans, we've come a long way. But what is particularly amazing about our journey is how much we have conquered in the last 200 years. From horse and carriages to space travel, from transmitting messages in Morse code to email, from navigating at sea with only the help of a mechanical clock to global positioning systems accurate to the centimetre, all that in just a couple of generations. It is no wonder that we take technological changes for granted.

Our ability to record and reproduce voice with high fidelity dates back to the early 60s which is not really that long ago. The credit for hi-fi goes to Yamaha. (Neither of my three youngest assistants knew what hi-fi stood for because they simply don't remember pre hi-fi times). We only achieved the ability to measure and display 1/100th of a second with a wristwatch in 1988. And the credit for this goes to Omega.

In 1988, Omega released the legendary Seamaster Polaris. It was powered by quartz movement calibre 1670. The electronic calibre is equipped with a microprocessor integrating 50,000 transistors, allowing for the first time ever the display of 1/ 100th of a second by means of a hand, and with perfect readability. The memory is also able to register up to ten simple, additional, intermediate, final, lap, and total times. It was the perfect watch for timing sporting events at the Olympic Games in 1988, held in Calgary and Seoul.

Omega Polaris was the first watch designed for nerds and in a way, the first 'smart watch'. It takes plenty of intuition to familiarise yourself with all of the stopwatch features that Polaris offers. With all due respect, it wasn't a watch for a common man.

What was also revolutionary about Polaris was the case and bracelet. Polaris was offered in two versions, stainless steel and gold as well as titanium and gold. And I vividly remember the day when I saw Polaris in the window of Jeweller Wempe on the Koenigstrasse in Stuttgart. If only I could afford it!

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