I’ve recently had the pleasure of purchasing my second Omega, a silver dial Globemaster reference 126.96.36.199.02.001. I’ve been attracted to this watch for a very long time. At every visit to an AD or Omega boutique I would eyeball the Globemaster in its cabinet, ask the sales staff to let me try it on, and think to myself, “one day…“. That day has finally come, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on this timepiece with you all. Since this watch has been available some years now and reviews about it are plentiful, I won’t bore you by going over all the technical specifications. Instead I want to share my subjective impressions of this watch and explain why it has earned a place in my small collection.
Omega is a brand with strong connections to many different areas of human endeavour. There’s NASA and the space race, the Olympics, sporting affiliations in sailing, golf, athletics and swimming, ocean exploration, cinematic sponsorship like the James Bond franchise, and philanthropic work through Orbis International and the GoodPlanet Foundation. Whichever of these pursuits resonates with you, Omega has a watch to match.
The Globemaster is different. It caters to none of Omega’s affiliations or marketing partnerships. It wasn’t worn on the moon, nor is it on the wrists of prominent sportspeople as they compete on the world stage. And it certainly doesn’t earn a smile of approval from the likes of Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. What makes the Globemaster so unique is that it doesn’t derive its identity from anything other than Omega’s own history. Rather than celebrating Omega’s participation in the achievements of others, the Globemaster celebrates the achievements of Omega itself.
As I wrote about in my History of the Omega Constellation, the Globemaster inherits its name and signature design elements from the golden era of pre-quartz Omega watchmaking. The Constellation was born as a certified chronometer in 1952, and it was the recipient of Omega’s highest-performing movements of the time. It honoured Omega’s eight world records for chronometry at Observatory Trials via an emblem on the caseback, depicting 8 stars surrounding an observatory tower. Befitting this heritage, the Globemaster was the first collection to introduce the Master Chronometer standard in 2015. The observatory emblem has returned in the form of a medallion set into the sapphire display caseback, its 8 stars now repurposed to symbolise the 8 tests conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology during Master Chronometer certification. Much like the Constellation before it, the Globemaster was intended as a flag-bearer for Omega’s most advanced movement technology.
Unlike vintage reissues that mimic a specific reference from the past, the Globemaster borrows design elements from Constellations of the 1950s (the pie-pan dial) and the 1960s (the bezel fluting, baton hands and C-shape case) without being a direct facsimile of any one watch. In so doing, the Globemaster channels a period of history whilst being entirely new at the same time. The pie-pan texture is subtle on the silver dial Globemaster, conveying a hint of the luxe decadence early Constellations possessed without allowing it to dominate the clean and legible aesthetic of the watch. The Constellation was intended as an elegant yet practical everyday watch for discerning gentlefolk who demanded accuracy and reliability as well as good looks. The Globemaster reinvents this purpose for the modern era, classically styled and debonair yet utterly grounded in no-nonsense, pragmatic watchmaking.
The feature that best exemplifies this ethos is the tungsten carbide bezel. Omega has taken a decorative element typically executed in white gold and made it practical via the clever use of modern materials. The polished tungsten is just as reflective and eye-catching as white gold, but ten times as hard and virtually scratchproof. This allows the bezel to act as a shield for the watch case, able to absorb any chance collisions and come away unscathed. The fluting is narrower and less pronounced than the bezel of a Rolex Datejust, with which the Globemaster is often compared. It lends the watch a hint of sparkle, without drawing too much attention to itself. Much like the rest of the watch, the bezel is luxurious in a restrained way, quietly exuding sophistication without distracting the wearer from the clear communication of the time and date.
Omega describes the dial as “opaline silver” and the hands as “blackened”, but neither accurately portrays how they appear in the real world. Under most lighting conditions the dial appears plain white, but under close macro you can see that the surface isn’t uniformly one colour; it is subtly textured and flecked with tiny grains of iridescence, much like fine white sand on a beach. This texture reflects and diffuses light to create a soft silvery glow that seems to permeate the dial irrespective of the presence or absence of any external light source. The hands and dial appliqués likewise are not a plain matte black as you might expect from the brand renders. Rather they are a dark gunmetal grey in a high polish, which manage to be both metallic and reflective while still providing high contrast against the dial. The inner edge of each index is faceted where it meets a point of the dodecagon in the raised upper section of the dial, a pleasingly precise detail that only reveals itself under close inspection.
If there was one notable weakness of the Globemaster, it is the factory supplied bracelet. The butterfly clasp lacks any form of fine-adjustment, so getting the right fit can be tricky. The end-links that attach the bracelet to the case flare out beyond the lugs, extending the normal lug-to-lug span of 46mm out to a more unwieldy 51mm. Some owners have commented that the inside edges of the bracelet are painfully sharp and have had to file them down in order to wear the bracelet comfortably. Moreover, I just think the silver dial Globemaster looks better on a strap. The rather austere dial needs some texture and contrast from a strap to really bring it to life.
Thankfully with a lug width of 20mm, aftermarket straps are easily sourced. I like to lean into the 100M water resistance of this watch and pick straps that aren’t afraid of getting wet, whilst retaining the smart looks of the Globemaster. I wrote about some great options in my article on Classically Styled Straps with a Difference, most of which I’ve bought to wear with my own Globemaster and feature in the images in this review.
When award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne OBE became a brand ambassador for Omega, he chose the Globemaster as his favourite timepiece. In an interview with Men’s Folio Malaysia he discusses why this particular watch amongst Omega’s huge catalogue stood out to him the most:
“For me, there’s something about the design. It’s incredibly beautiful; it has a classic quality to it. It derives from a watch that Omega made in the 1960s. And it has a mixture of a very modern but classic appeal to it. It means, for me, I can kind of wear it with anything. So that’s probably why I love it.”
He then elaborates on his thoughts about traditional watches in general:
“Having seen my dad wear them, there’s certainly a legacy element to timepieces; they’re substantial things. Personally, I don’t like watches to be overstated or ostentatious. You want to feel a weight and a history to them. In a subtle way, it makes you feel stronger having a decent watch on.”
Eddie’s sentiments about the Globemaster echo mine in many ways. Its style recalls a more dignified era, without being so buttoned-up that it feels out of place when paired with casual attire. A sense of history is present with the Globemaster, a connection to a time when mechanical watches were essential items and the pursuit of accuracy was still relevant and commendable. This identity is reinforced with the Globemaster’s strong emphasis on technical prowess, imparting a confidence that the watch will be able to handle anything life throws at it. As someone who fancies himself as an old fashioned man with modern sensibilities, the Globemaster fits my personality perfectly.