May 20, 2024

Aesthetically, the Globemaster takes a lot of its influence from the 1952 Omega Constellation, which is probably not a coincidence, as well as the later “C-Shape”. While the ’52 Constellation was not Omega’s first chronometer wristwatch (that came from a limited edition 1948 model), it was the first time the brand offered a chronometer in a full production piece that anyone could buy. Thus, both the ’52 and today’s Globemaster have been used as vessels for the brand’s highest achieving movements.The Omega Globemaster has been hailed as one of the best new Omegas in a long time and it’s pretty easy to see why. It brings a very unique combination of dressy, vintage styling at just the right time while simultaneously heralding a new standard in Swiss movement making, the Master Chronometer.

For most collectors, the Globemaster name has little meaning, many believing it to be an all-new model. In fact, the Globemaster name is roughly as old as the Constellation itself, but it was actually the result of a trademark conflict in the United States. Today, the all-new Globemaster is so different from the current Constellation that it made perfect sense to give it its own name, although it is technically categorized under the Constellation umbrella. Because Omega couldn’t sell the Constellation under its original name, it was renamed the Globemaster until the conflict was resolved.

In fact, the Globemaster is informed by many classic Omegas, but in the end, I would argue that it’s an all-new watch. The hands, date placement, lume, and bezel, for instance, cannot be found on the 1952 model, but, to various degrees, throughout Constellations over the years.While the Globemaster is indeed inspired by the ’52 Constellation, it is by no means a reproduction of it. The influence is felt in two ways: the iconic pie-pan dial and the observatory medallion on the back.

We’ll address precisely what that entails in the movement section, but crucially, this means that the 8900 goes through both the conventional COSC testing, then goes on to another level of testing at the Swiss Institute of Metrology where, among other things, watches are tested for magnetic resistance. It has a more sophisticated symbolic meaning, but we’ll address that later. Here we should focus on the movement, the 8900. The 8900 is, on a functional level, a member of the 8500 family with one important difference: it’s the very first movement to be METAS certified.Here we can see the other major influence, the observatory medallion.

 Often, head-on photos of watch hands tend to be black because they reflect the camera. The shape of the markers is reasonably similar to those of the ’52, but the hands are totally different, instead taking their design cues from the later “C-Shape” Constellations of the 1960s. It reminds me a lot of the Grey Side of the Moon hands and it has almost a metalloid look to it.Thankfully, this vintage-looking model has been tastefully updated with plentiful luminous paint on the hands and markers. What is more interesting, however, is how dark the metal of the hands are. The original had dauphine hands and the new model has batons. I rather like it because it makes the hands really easy to see against the whitish-silver dial. Here, they actually do simply look quite dark from many angles.

 It’s relatively subtle here, but not as subtle as my photos may lead you to believe.Of course, it does owe its most noticeable feature, the pie-pan dial, to its predecessor. The lighting is so even in a light box that it can be hard to see the changes of the surface. Here, at an angle, you can better appreciate the gentle, but angular, slopes around the edge of the dial.

 It’s very uncluttered, and almost a tool watch in its simplicity and legibility.The dial of the Globemaster is quite austere, but I certainly wouldn’t call it boring.

 In that model, it was at 3:00, but I much prefer it here at 6:00, and I especially appreciate the abbreviated hour marker below the date. Dates weren’t offered on the Constellation until the release of the 1958 Calendar version. Also notice the star, really the only thing that signifies that the modern Globemaster is even part of the Constellation collection because, stylistically, it has virtually nothing to do with its bolder siblings. Unlike the original, it has no frame, but it is nicely beveled at least–it certainly doesn’t look like an afterthought.One major difference between this and the ’52 is the date, namely the existence of one. Even then, the placement and style of the date is different.

From a different angle, we can see that the hands are indeed silver in appearance.

In fact, the lume is so bright that I decided to compare it to my own Aqua Terra, a very contemporary sports watch and, in my non-scientific opinion anyway, the Globemaster is actually a little easier to see at night than the AT8500 is. An odd choice on such a dressy watch, but I really like it. The dial is very clean, but the slight blue hue of the lume even under indoor lighting gives it just a bit of color. From the initial photos we all knew it would have luminous paint, but I didn’t anticipate how bright it’d be. It’s very legible at night, and that shortened 6:00 marker makes it easy to orient in absolute darkness.The biggest surprise on the dial has been the lume.

Another important feature of the Globemaster is its new movement, or perhaps more precisely, the new movement certification. The 8900 (or 8901 in the solid gold versions) you see here is the very first calibre to receive “Master Chronometer” certification. But what the heck does that mean?

Well, I’m glad you asked (great question by the way). The Master Chronometer certification is best explained as a two-step process. The first step you’re already familiar with: COSC movement testing. Here, the movement is tested to COSC standards, just as any Swiss chronometer would be. Movements that pass that certification are chronometers, by definition, and if they make it into a Globemaster (or undoubtedly many future Omega models), they can then proceed to the second step: METAS testing. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of what precisely METAS testing entails, but there are some important differences between it and the COSC. First, to pass the second step, watches must be extremely resistant to magnetism. Because Omega movements have been gradually phased into the “Master Co-Axial” design, most Omega movements are already anti-magnetic, but this test guarantees it.

Another important difference is that the water resistance and power reserves are tested to achieve their stated specifications. The last major difference is that, like Grand Seiko, Jaeger LeCoultre, Patek Philippe and Nomos, all six positions are tested. I could probably write an entire article on the new test, but I believe that this is the most crucial information, put concisely, for watch collectors. Movements, as well as watches (as cased movements and the entire watch are tested in the METAS lab), that pass both steps get the Master Chronometer designation. Crucially, while only Omega is currently using this certification, it is, as far as I know, open to any Swiss watchmaker that wishes to pursue it.

But since we’re talking about the movement, let’s review some of the features that make the 8500 family, including this 8900, so effective. We’ll start by looking at the escapement, at least, as much as we can see from here. As you no doubt already know, Omega is the only production maker of the co-axial escapement, a design that is intended to reduce friction, and therefore wear, of the most crucial components in an entire mechanical movement. But there are two other designs here that are also very interesting. First, although difficult to see, there’s a silicon hairspring. Silicon hairsprings have a variety of advantages, but by far the most important for a Master Chronometer is their immunity to magnetism. Also note that I’ve illuminated the screws in the balance in bright red. The balance is said to be “free sprung”, which essentially means that it lacks a regulator. Regulators, devices that control the effective (as opposed to actual) length of a hairspring are very common mechanisms that make watch movements easy to adjust. However, many elite watchmakers like Rolex, Patek Philippe, JLC (for the most part) and recently Tudor have preferred free sprung designs because they tend to be more stable. All current-generation Omega movements (composed of two families, the 8500 and 9300) are free sprung.

Another interesting aspect of the 8900’s design is the double barrel mainspring. Mainsprings are the components responsible for storing energy in a mechanical watch, the mechanical equivalent to a battery. Virtually all watches use a single mainspring, although there are a variety of other movements from brands like Panerai, IWC and JLC that use two or even three mainsprings. Multiple mainsprings are generally used to increase the length of the power reserve. Omega, however, used a sophisticated arrangement of dual mainsprings which is designed to stabilize power delivery. This allows the 8900 to maintain nearly the same accuracy in the lower region of its power reserve as it did when it was fully wound. That said, the 8900 also has a very impressive 60-hour power reserve, about 50% greater than the industry standard. An interesting fact about the 8500 family is that not all its members have dual mainsprings. Smaller versions, designed for women’s watches (like the 8520, for instance), use a single mainspring.

Another interesting design choice is the decision to use a balance bridge instead of the far more common balance cock. The balance bridge is seen as the more resilient of the two designs, given that it is attached on both ends of the balance shaft. The balance bridge Omega uses has always reminded me of a bat for some reason.

The rotor seems unchanged from other 8500s, although it does look somewhat different because of the medallion above it (but not attached to it). The effect is kind of like on Rolls Royce wheels, with a floating RR in the middle. As is the case with other Omega movements, the winding is bidirectional, my personal preference.

Finally, we take a glance at the Nivachoc shock absorber. This, as far as I’ve been able to tell, is entirely unique to current generation Omega movements. I’m not sure if this makes the movements any tougher than, say, a Kif shock, but it is kind of cool that unlike even most elite brands the Omega has its own bespoke part. The only others that come to mind (although I’m undoubtedly leaving out some) are Rolex and Grand Seiko.

If you want a Master Chronometer today, it’ll have to be in a Globemaster, but Omega has been pretty open with the fact that they intend to offer these in other models down the road. It’s not going to radically change how you view mechanical watches, but it doesn’t have to. When you buy a Master Chronometer, be it an Omega, or theoretically, another brand’s, you’re getting an enhanced guarantee, not just of greater stability, but of power reserve, water resistance and, of course, against magnetism.

The 39mm case is quite interesting as well. The most prominent feature is, of course, the fluted bezel, which has drawn plentiful comparisons to Rolexes. Not having been in the boardroom when the designs were discussed, I can’t say what Omega took its inspiration from when it gave the new Globemaster its fluted bezel, but I can say that Omega Constellations have been offered with fluted bezels since the 1960s, namely some of the C-Shape models from which this watch likely derives its hands.

The fluted bezel is also made to last. While the rest of the case is made from ordinary stainless steel, the bezel is made from ultra-hard tungsten carbide. That’s probably a good thing because it looks like it’d be a pain to polish. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the various gold models, which obviously use gold instead for the bezel.

The case isn’t precisely thin, but it is one of the thinnest 8500-based watches (excluding the hand wound Tresor, of course). I’ve seen this reported as 12.5mm thick from a few sources, although my own calipers measured roughly 12.75.

Despite its dressy looks and lack of a screw down crown, the Globemaster is still rated for 100 meters.

The 39mm size is pretty much ideal here. I’ve seen some reviews and comments where people wished it were larger, but I think on a dressy watch like this, erring on the side of smallness is the way to go. Actually, I’d probably have done this one in a 38, but this size is nonetheless a good fit. The watch is exceedingly comfortable.

By far the most interesting aspect has to be the observatory medallion. When I first saw photos of the Globemaster, I had assumed that this was actually just the central hub of the rotor, underneath the crystal. To my surprise, it’s actually the center of the sapphire crystal itself and can be touched. It’s a really interesting approach and another homage to the classic Constellation. The observatory medallion is based on the Geneva observatory and the 8 stars represent horological achievements.

The Globemaster is an interesting watch, in large part because it combines historic Omega models like the ’52 Constellation and the Constellation C-Shape with the most advanced movement the brand has ever made.

It’s even better, in a sense, because the historic tie-in makes so much sense. The original Constellation was the first full production Omega chronometer and the new Globemaster is the first Master Chronometer ever. There’s a certain symmetry to it that makes it feel like more than Omega simply capitalizing on the trend of “new vintage” high-end watches.

 Today it returns with the 8900 and is the first watch to be a Master Chronometer.The Globemaster, then, is less an all-new model than it is a return to what the Constellation line was intended to be originally. If you’re looking for a new-vintage dress watch, this is one of the most interesting out there. It seems odd now, but the Constellation began as Omega’s high-performance line of chronometers.

 Omega’s approach to movements is quite unique. Omega more closely resembles a tech company, constantly making their “processor” a little better year by year.The 8900, as is the case with every movement in the 8500 family, is exceedingly advanced. Omega is different, and is apparently dedicated to fine-tuning a current generation movement. Typically, a brand creates an all-new movement (which is itself rare) and then rides it for a good 10 or 15 years, adding complications here or there as needed.

 I’m also pleased that, unlike other similar watchmakers, like Rolex with their Chronergy escapement or Grand Seiko’s new 8-day spring drive, this isn’t some precious-metal exclusive that most of the fan base can’t afford.METAS testing is merely the latest in a long series of refinements. Being a “Master Chronometer” isn’t a game changer in itself. It’s a real, full production watch, available in both steel and gold, that you can buy today if you want. But it is a better guarantee than you had before they offered the certification, and a much broader certification as well, testing both watches and movements. It’s bringing the refinements to the person that was already an Omega customer. It doesn’t guarantee your movement to under 1 second per day or anything so extreme.

 I despise scratches on my watches, and this high-polished fluted bezel is going to be really difficult to clean up at home. More importantly, I think, is the use of tungsten carbide.Perhaps the most divisive aspect of the Globemaster is the fluted bezel. Some feel that it too closely resembles certain very popular Rolexes, although in fairness, fluted bezels on Constellations are about 50 years old. Thankfully, with its hardened composition, it will be far more scratch resistant than a stainless steel bezel.