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Omega has been the official timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932, with 2018 marking the Swiss watchmaker’s 28th time keeping score of the games. The brand has just announced that it will continue the legacy through 2032 to mark a full 100 years as the Olympic timekeeper. Over the years, timing the games has changed significantly, evolving from stopwatches in the ’30s to new technology developed this year that measures every moment of the race. In the Olympics, every second matters. Even more so for Malaysia, competing for the first time with figure skater Julian Yee and alpine skier Jeffrey Webb. Here is a brief history of how Omega has perfected its ability to tell who will take home the gold.
1. 1936 - Omega’s First Olympic Games
Just one Omega watchmaker arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to time the Olympic athletes, armed with 27 stopwatches to cover all the sporting events.
2. 1948 - Photoelectric Cell Equipment Is Introduced
In St. Moritz, Omega unveiled its newest invention: equipment that emitted a beam of light at the finish line that was designed to measure the athlete’s finish time to the nearest 1,000th of a second. Today, the beams rest just a few cm above the ice to monitor, even more closely, the instant the skater’s blade touches the finish line.
3. 1964 - Olympic Times Are Televised
Omega superimposed the game’s time across the bottom of television screens thanks to technology called the Omegascope.
4. 1980 - Game-O-Matic Technology Detects Alpine Skiing Rankings
New data-processing equipment allowed Omega to immediately calculate and display an athlete’s ranking once they crossed the finish line.
5. 1992 - Omega Introduces Scan’O’Vision Digital Technology
Time was measured digitally to the nearest 1/1,000th of a second. For comparison, the most recent model, called the Myria, captures 10,000 digital images per second.
6. 2006 - Speed-Skating Transponders Are Introduced
During the speed-skating games in Turin, athletes wore Omega ankle transponders for the first time, which sent and received radio signals that captured specific time measurements.
7. 2014 - Omega Introduces Ice Hockey’s Whistle Detection System
The new system allowed officials to speak to scorekeepers on the timing bench and stopped the clock at the sound of a referee’s whistle – a half a second faster than any timekeeper could manually achieve.
8. 2018 - Omega Will Use Start-to-Finish Continuous Measurements
In PyeongChang, Omega will now be tracking an athlete’s progress through sensor systems every step of the game, which means the athletes can now see where time was lost or gained during the event.