Catching Up With: Omega President Stephen Urquhart

Omega President Stephen Urquhart
Shortly after finishing a press conference at Omega’s new boutique in Stratford’s Westfield mall on Monday, Omega President Stephen Urquhart sat down to talk about the London Games.

His company has been the official timekeeper of the Olympics since London last hosted the Olympics in 1948. He also lived in London for a period, so he was particularly excited to be back in the city.

What difference does it make for Omega’s business to be in a developed market rather than in China, an emerging market?

URQUHART: As [IOC President] Jacques Rogge said up there today, each Olympics is so different. What we’re doing here is basically what we did in Beijing. In Beijing, we had a pavilion in the park. Here we have this incredible store, which is fantastic because everybody coming to the Games will come through here through the tube as they call it.

How will the Summer Games be different here?

URQUHART: For a developed country to in fact develop an area (as London has with the East End) is amazing. When Beijing does that, it’s normal because Beijing is in constant development, but (to do that in) an area in a city that is 2,000 years old (is amazing). This whole area here was destitute 10 years ago — nothing. And yet you walk around Westfield Shopping Mall and it’s unbelievable. Hopefully, it will continue.

How will that make this Olympics different?

URQUHART: Here in London everything is nearby. In Beijing, everything was far away. Once a day you were stuck there (at the Olympic Park). There was nothing else there. Here we can have a shop. We can be in London in relatively short time. The environment is different.

Why did you put the Omega House in Soho?

URQUHART: I remember as a young man, I lived in London for a little while, and Soho was very special. It was the place to be with all the coffee bars and the singers were there who became famous afterwards. Soho is special for London. We found this house. The location is great.

How will you spend your time here?

URQUHART: All our guests — Nicole Kidman, our astronauts — start arriving Thursday. Every other night we have a very important function at the Omega House. The rest of the time, I’ll try and see some sport and enjoy London. There are worse places to spend two and a half weeks.

What event are you most looking forward to?

Obviously, the opening ceremony. It always sets a benchmark. In terms of sporting events, it’s tough to pick just one but swimming has a very special place in Omega’s history. Let’s see what Michael (Phelps) can do. He’s four years older. I’m feeling confident.
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