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OMEGA’S PROUD OLYMPIC GAMES TIMEKEEPING LEGACY

On 30 occasions since 1932, OMEGA has fulfilled the role of Official Timekeeper at the Olympic Games. We are also proud to record the extraordinary performances at the Paralympic Games and Youth Olympic Games. In all events, from start to finish, it’s our duty to capture every thrilling second and result. What a challenge. What an honour!

TIMEKEEPING TECHNOLOGY’S RELENTLESS EVOLUTION

A lone Swiss watchmaker arrived in Los Angeles in 1932 with 30 split-second chronographs. Now, a team of timekeeping professionals is supported by up to 450 tons of equipment but the goal remains the same: to deliver flawless timing to the world’s finest competitors.
An olympic games legacy begins

Sports Technical Director William Henry wrote, “It is impossible to contemplate the wonderfully successful Olympic Games without recognizing the part played by OMEGA in this great international event.” A partnership had begun.

Olympic Games Timekeeping

Olympic Games Timekeeping

9 great historical moments

Every edition of the Olympic Games has memorable moments but some truly stand out.

OUR HISTORIC OLYMPIC GAMES ADS

OMEGA’s Modern Timekeeping

OMEGA’s timekeeping systems are at the forefront of cutting-edge equipment and sport-specific innovations. These are just some of the technologies you are likely to see at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Electronic Starting Pistol

The problem with traditional pistols, is that sound travels slower than light, meaning that the athletes in the furthest [READ_MORE] lanes would hear the start later than everyone else. While closer athletes heard it first. Today, OMEGA’s solution is an electronic pistol that is connected to speakers positioned behind each racer. When the trigger is pressed, a sound is “played”, a light flash is emitted and a start pulse is given to the timing device. This system is the fairest way to give every athlete an equal start.

Starting Pistol
Starting Pistol video
Starting Pistol

Athletics Starting Blocks

As well as having integrated speakers, the starting blocks in athletics are also enhanced with built-in sensors that [READ_MORE] measure an athlete’s force against the footrest 4,000 times per second. The detection system instantly sends the force measurements to an on-site computer so that the starter can visually see any false start. The rules of World Athletics fix the minimum reaction time at 100 milliseconds (a tenth of a second). Any reaction which takes place below this limit is considered to be premature and places the runner in a false start situation.

Starting Blocks
Starting Blocks video
Starting Blocks

Scan’O’Vision MYRIA

The Scan’O’Vision MYRIA is the most advanced photofinish camera in OMEGA’s history. Placed on the finish lines of [READ_MORE] sprints, hurdles and other races, it is able to record up to 10,000 digital images per second, producing a composite photo that enables judges to determine the official rankings and times of each event. The images from the photofinish camera are now a famous sight at the Olympic Games, and prove just how close some races can really be.

Scan’O’Vision MYRIA
Scan’O’Vision MYRIA video
Scan’O’Vision MYRIA

Photocell Technology

Remember the traditional tape that was stretched across the finish line of races? Since 1948, this has been replaced [READ_MORE] by photocell technology, which emits beams of light instead. As soon as the winning athlete crosses those beams, their winning time is instantly recorded. OMEGA now uses four photocells on the finish line, all integrated into one unit, allowing more body patterns to be detected. While this gives OMEGA an immediate finishing time, the official time is always taken from the photofinish camera.

Photocell
Photocell video
Photocell

Swimming Light Show

An innovative light system called the Swimming Light Show features lights mounted on the starting blocks at the end [READ_MORE] of the pool. When a race is over, a single large dot indicates the athlete that came first, two medium-sized dots show who came second, and three smaller dots of light confirm the third place finisher. It’s a perfect way for athletes and spectators to instantly see the outcome of a race.

Light Show
Light Show video
Light Show

Swimming Touchpads

At the end of a swimming race, the famous touchpads positioned at both ends of the pool allow swimmers [READ_MORE] to “stop the clock” by exerting a pressure of between 1.5 and 2.5 kg (3.3 and 5.5 pounds). Because of these touchpads, swimming has long been the only sport in which competitors can stop their own running time. It’s the most precise way to measure time in this challenging sport and OMEGA was responsible for first introducing the technology at the Olympic Games in 1968.

Swimming Touchpads
Swimming Touchpads video
Swimming Touchpads

Quantum Timer

Mechanical stopwatches are a thing of the past! Today, OMEGA counts the seconds on its Quantum Timer, with an enhanced [READ_MORE] resolution of one millionth of a second. Driven by a micro crystal component imbedded in the timer, the resolution is 100 times greater than previous devices and, with a maximum variation of only one second out of every ten million seconds, it is five times more accurate.

Quantum Timer
Quantum Timer video
Quantum Timer

Hi-Resolution Scoreboards

OMEGA’s hi-resolution scoreboards display not only text and live information, but also animations, athlete pictures [READ_MORE] and visual imagery. Using modern effects, winners’ names, results and their nation’s flag are boldly displayed, adding to the drama, thrill and excitement of each event.

Hi-Resolution Scoreboards
Hi-Resolution Scoreboards video
Hi-Resolution Scoreboards
“OMEGA has evolved, developed and implemented many of the most famous timekeeping technologies in sport.”
THE OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

Get set for a summer of sporting action as OMEGA fulfils the role of Official Timekeeper at Paris 2024.

See more