This week in Newport, Rhode Island, the Volvo Ocean Race, sailing’s grueling round-the-world competition, pulled into port upon the completion of Leg 8 (of 11 total) for the race’s only North American stop.
Omega, the event’s official timekeeper, was there to greet the sailors and unveil a new watch that will be awarded to the winning team: The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black Volvo Ocean Race Limited Edition.
In a nod to the inaugural race in 1973, Omega will produce 73 pieces of the brawny 45.50 mm chronograph built to stand up to rigors of extreme sailing. The piece is also ready for deep dives with water resistance down to 600 meters.
The case is carved from a single block of robust black ceramic with red rubber covering the first 15 minutes of the ceramic unidirectional bezel. The rest of the diving scale is rendered from Omega’s proprietary Liquidmetal, a zirconium-based alloy infused with ceramic, making it three times harder than stainless steel.
The brushed black ceramic dial is appointed with 18K white gold indexes and hands, and the sub-dial at 3 o’clock features a red Volvo Ocean Race ring with the piece’s serial number and matching red hands and other accents.
On the case back, you will find the official Volvo Ocean Race logo and a clear sapphire crystal showcasing the high precision Master Chronometer calibre 9900, which passed eight demanding tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS). The winners’ watches are also available to the public for $12,200 but quantities are clearly very limited—73 in total.
“We wanted our winner’s watch to be as beautifully designed as the boats themselves, and also precise and robust to reflect the tough sailing competitions that the competitors face,” said Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega’s CEO, in a news release.
Omega’s new sailing ambassadors, Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, were on hand at the unveiling in Newport on Thursday evening. The two young sailing stars are competing on rival teams with Burling sailing for Team Brunel and Tuke for MAPFRE. If either wins, he will become the first to achieve sailing’s Triple Crown with victories in the Olympics, America’s Cup, and Volvo Ocean Race.
Omega’s legacy in seafaring watches dates to 1932, when it introduced the water-resistant Marine. The Seamaster collection made its debut in 1948 to mark the brand’s centennial with a design inspired by waterproof wristwatches produced for the British military at the end of World War II.
Likewise, the brand’s involvement in the sailing world has a long history that includes serving as the America’s Cup official timekeeper in 2000 and 2003 and its sponsorship of Team New Zealand, starting in 1995.
In 2017, Omega sponsored and served as official timekeeper for Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), which captured the trophy for the 35th running for the Auld Mug in Bermuda. Plus, Omega has been the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games 27 times since 1932 and has worked to perfect the timing of sailing events.
The brand even has history with the Volvo Ocean Race, formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, having served as its official timekeeper in 1993-94 and supplying watches to that year’s winning yacht, NZ Endeavour.