One on One: Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega CEO and President, Talks about Rio 2016 and the Precise Olympic Timing

Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO and President of Omega Watches.
Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO and President of Omega Watches.
Last week, we brought you the news about the incredible precision timing of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games by Omega, which has been the Official Timekeeper of the Olympics for years. You can read that story here. Now, we talk with Omega CEO and President Raynald Aeschlimann about what it takes to stay on top of timing the world’s largest sports gathering.

HT: What is the main message for Omega to get across to consumers via the Olympics?

RA: “ It is all about the emotion of being closer to the consumer and bringing dynamism to the brand. We have been the Official Olympic Timekeeper for 27 times before this one. This marks the 28th time. Sports are in our DNA, having key ambassadors is in our DNA and we want this message to be very clear to the consumer.

HT: How all encompassing is the timing of the Olympics?

RA: “Much of it is in the Guinness Book of records. How long we have been the Official Timekeeper and the millions of blocks of data that are recorded by Omega in these two weeks. This year we have 41 different categories of sports, so we have 41 world championship sports at the same time that we are timing. We must be 150 percent ready and precise. Our mission is for the athletes – we have to make them feel the precision is there so they are confident. We have to do this for the judges, so they are confident. Nobody is asking us or telling us to continually improve, but we have to. So we do a lot of training, just like the athletes, to be our best.”

HT: So how do you be that best?

RA: “We have to always come with new technology. Sometimes it is totally revolutionary and sometimes it is something new that helps. This year our newest camera takes 10,000 pictures per second in those last crucial seconds of track and field. Image that. 10,000 pictures per second just to make the end of the races absolutely clear. WE have three levels of sensors for track and field — just to be better because we want to be on the forefront of technology. There is no question about being more than 100 percent perfect. This is high pressure, but this goes back to our DNA, this pressure, this drive for precision. That is why people feel good when they buy our watches.”

Historic Omega 1906 pocket watch.
Historic Omega 1906 pocket watch.
HT: Do you feel people still think of the original Omega pocket watches that timed the Los Angeles Olympic Games back in the early 1900’s when they think of Omega?

RA: “We have such a history of early sports timing and some of the images of those early races and the pocket watch timing are really inspiring. So with this history, people do remember this white dial, the red accents. We are known for that and some customers still see the white dial of the Olympic chronograph as being the face of Omega. We are the brand of the chronograph, from the moon watches with the famous tachymeter to today’s watches. Bringing that past forward to today is part of our brand image and it makes us successful.”

Rio 2016 marks the 28th time Omega has been the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games.
Rio 2016 marks the 28th time Omega has been the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games.

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