Omega introduces its new Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016

Omega has a long history of associations with events, organisations, and people of celebrity. In fact, one of its oldest associations is with the Olympic Games, for which it has been the official timekeeper since 1932. It’s an association that continues to date, and ahead of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, the Swiss watchmaker has released a new tribute watch, known as the Seamaster Bullhead ‘Rio 2016’.

The Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 (left) alongside its counterpart, the Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 (right).

The Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 (left) alongside its counterpart, the Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 (right).

The watch (reference: 522.12.43.50.04.001) is based on a design that first appeared in 1969 – the original was known as the ‘Rallye’, and because the case and pushers resembled the head of a bull, fans gave it the nickname ‘Bullhead’. It’s a nickname that has stood the test of time, and perhaps in a nod to die-hard-fans of these watches, Omega even deployed the name when it released three new references back in 2013.

Like its 2013 counterparts, the Bullhead Rio 2016 features a 43mm x 43mm steel case, and is powered by Omega’s automatic co-axial column-wheel movement, the 3313. The bi-directional rotating inner bezel also makes a return, while a blue perforated-leather-strap with contrast stitching is responsible for securing watch to wrist.

If you've been looking for summer watch, the Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 might be right up your alley.

If you’ve been looking for summer watch, the Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 might be right up your alley.

The watch’s connection to the forthcoming summer games is conveyed via the liberal use of the five Olympic colors across the dial, hands and strap. There’s also a stamped caseback that bears the logo of the Rio games, as well as the Olympic Rings (picture below).

Only 316 pieces of the Bullhead Rio 2016 will ever be made, which makes it more exclusive than its 2013 predecessors, as each of those three references was limited to 669 pieces. The number, as you’d expect, is of significance; ‘3’ highlights the number of times that golf has been included in the Olympic Games, while ’16’ signifies the year of the Rio games.

We reckon a transparent caseback would look out of place on the Bullhead. Agree/disagree?

We reckon a transparent caseback would look out of place on the Bullhead. Agree/disagree?

We recently spotted the new Bullhead in Omega’s Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall boutiques, retailing for AED 33,800 (USD $9,209). Like most limited editions, the Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 comes with a unique box and a limited edition certificate.

Our take

This is the second tribute watch that Omega has released to celebrate the forthcoming Olympic games – the stainless steel Speedmaster Mark II ‘Rio 2016’ (picture below) was released almost a year ago.

If you want a Rio 2016 tribute watch at a lower price point, the Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 is worth looking at.

If you want a Rio 2016 tribute watch at a lower price point, the Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016 is worth looking at.

For the most part that particular watch (reference 522.10.43.50.01.001) is identical to the reissued Mark II Speedmaster, the only differentiator on the dial is that each sub-dial is encircled in a different Olympic medal color (gold, silver and bronze). This timepiece, though also a limited edition, has a much higher production run of 2,016 pieces and is the cheaper of the two Rio watches at AED 24,000 (US $6,500).

As far as desirability is concerned, the Bullhead is a bit of a mixed bag. You see, Omega has a habit of releasing limited edition watches for each Olympic event, so while this Bullhead is limited to 316 pieces, there will be other Olympic watches down the line, possibly also sporting the Bullhead design. In short, the limited production run had no affect on us deciding whether we wanted the watch or not.

While this is a Seamaster, that blue leather strap is not designed to be taken into water for long periods of time.

While this is a Seamaster, that blue leather strap is not designed to be taken into water for long periods of time.

We had a quick look at the Bullhead Rio 2016 recently and, given the choice between it and the Speedmaster Mark II Rio 2016, our money is on the Bullhead. This is purely because the Bullhead is a distinctive watch on its own, and when you throw in the playful use of colors on the dial, as well as the blue leather strap with contrast stitching, it makes for quite a striking combination. In fact, we think it’s one of the best summer watches we’ve seen from Omega in years.

A word of caution however; while this is a Seamaster and is rated to be water resistant to a depth of 150 meters (500 feet), the strap is not meant to be subjected to constant water. We’re sure it’ll shrug off droplets, and will be able to take on the heat and humidity of Middle East summers for a year or two but we recommend against taking it in for a swim, or even a shower. If you plan to subject this Bullhead to water, we urge you to fit a rubber strap.

For more information about the Seamaster Bullhead Rio 2016 click here.

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