Today a press conference was held to launch the Seamaster Apnea. Jacques Mayol, who was known as the "human dolphin" and who was instrumental in raising the sport of freediving to the level of popularity it enjoys today, passed away on 22 December 2001. OMEGA is now honoured to pay tribute to this great man and long-standing partner with the launch of a special timepiece that Mayol himself helped to design. The press conference attracted widespread coverage, with 70 journalists from magazines, newspapers and television. OMEGA representative Bruce Bailey spoke about the brand's collaboration with Jacques Mayol and there was also input from divers Mr Hitoshi Narita and Ms Saya Takagi.
Frenchman Jacques Mayol started his association with OMEGA in 1981, when he tested the new Seamaster 120 watch on his record-breaking free dive to a depth of 101 metres, beating by one metre his famous record of 1976 when he broke the magic 100-metre barrier. Diver Mr Hitoshi Narita, who had been a friend of Mr Mayol's for over 30 years, commented that "People who experience their human limits (as Mayol did through his diving) become more aware of and caring towards others". Ms Saya Takagi, the women's national record holder who came second in last year's World Championships and who is also a well-known actress, remarked that, "Diving enables you to become at one with the ocean and the planet as a whole. This watch is for someone who wants to experience the mystery of being at one with the sea and yet still to retain a practical awareness of time".
The Seamaster Apnea combines the robust qualities of the Seamaster with a unique apnea timing function. It has a robust stainless steel case with a unidirectional turning bezel marked with minute graduations for timing dives or other events lasting up to 60 minutes. A luminous dot at the 12 o'clock position on the bezel, together with applied luminous hour markers and luminous hands, ensures that the functions of the watch can be read off instantly and clearly in all light conditions. Furthermore, the seven circular apertures on the dial represent the special apnea timing function, for those who venture underwater without any breathing apparatus. When the start-stop pusher at 2 o'clock is pressed, the seven apertures on the dial successively fill with red each minute from left to right. Once the first seven-minute cycle is complete (and all the apertures are red), the colour successively reverts to the background colour of the dial (black or silver), allowing in total a 14-minute cycle to be timed. This 14-minute figure is important, since one 7-minute cycle would not be sufficient: the static apnea world record (holding a single breath for as long as possible without actually diving) for men is an astonishing 8 minutes and 6 seconds, set by Martin Stepanek of the Czech Republic in Miami on 3 July 2001. Furthermore, the first 14 minute markers on the bezel are marked in red, which means that by turning the bezel so that the luminous dot is in line with the minute hand, freedivers also have an instant view of the total elapsed dive time.
Jacques Mayol himself chose the dial colours of black or silver, as well as the colour of the apnea counter disk. He also chose the unique hour and minute hands, whose skeleton outline is interrupted to ensure that the apnea counter is not obstructed in any way. The Apnea is rounded off by the standard Seamaster quality features of scratch-resistant and anti-reflective sapphire crystal as well as a crown and case back that screw in to guarantee water resistance to 300 metres. The case back also features the characteristic Seamaster wave imprint together with Jacques Mayol's name and characteristic dolphin and man drawing. Powered by the self-winding OMEGA calibre 3601, which has a power reserve of 40 hours and a decorative finish of Geneva waves and circular graining, the Seamaster Apnea is available with a steel bracelet with safety clasp or a rubber strap with buckle.
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