Watch Time magazine recently published an interview with Omega CEO Stephen Urqhart, which you can read here.
In the months leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, of course much of the focus is on Omega’s ongoing commitment to timing the Olympic events, and agreement that was recently extended to 2020. An interesting point Urqhart makes was that it’s likely in the best interest of the IOC as Omega is more than a corporate sponsor and has become an integral part of the process:
If we weren’t there, they would have to create a whole new structure. They’d need three, four, five other companies to time the games. It’s not like they could just find a new sponsor, like Burger King or something. They know our technique, they know our expertise; frankly, we’ve had a pretty faultless track record, thank God.
Though I’ve long been an Omega fan, the perpetual cynic in me that has become calloused against omnipresent product placement schemes had never really seen it that way.
Later in the interview the topic shifts briefly to another of Omega’s major marketing efforts, the longstanding assoication with NASA. What was more puzzling perhaps is what seems to be Urqhart’s or Omega’s ongoing preoccupation with an as yet unplanned mission to Mars. In fact, it’s downright mystifying as there are presently no plans whatsoever for any manned mission to Mars.
We’ve talked with them about their needs, maybe, for going to Mars, but we don’t know when that’s going to happen. Maybe they’ll need a watch that keeps time differently, because Mars has different time than Earth — a day is not 24 hours there. That would be an interesting and fun project. But I think for the moment their priority is not the watch, but how to get there. Mars is not going to be so easy.
It’s not at all clear why Omega remains preoccupied with this notion of a manned Mars mission. It wasn’t even clear when they were touting a supposed association with Mars when the Speedmaster X-33 was still being marketed on the retail market. It was still unclear when Omega released a special edition Speedmaster Pro with “From the Moon to Mars” printed right on the dial.
So either Omega knows something NASA doesn’t, or perhaps it’s time for Omega to drop the whole Mars thing because at this point it’s kind of beginning to get a little silly.