Review: Omega Speedmaster Ultraman
You’ve probably never heard of tokusatsu, but you’ll know it when you see it. Think of a man dressed in an awkwardly fitting rubber lizard costume, stomping on cardboard buildings and shooting crudely composited lasers out of his eyes. Godzilla is easily the most famous example, followed closely by the hit TV series Ultraman—and this is the Omega Ultraman limited edition.
You’re probably thinking what everyone else is thinking when this watch was first announced—Omega has gone too far this time. There’s been Apollo limited editions, James Bond limited editions, Michael Schumacher limited editions and those all make sense—regardless of sheer volume—but Ultraman? Surely someone’s going to get fired over this one.
While we digest that thought, let’s go back to tokusatsu. It’s the Japanese method for ‘special filming’ that’s responsible for the quirky, live-action style that, in comparison to the visually incredible CGI we have today, is both amusing and charming. There’s just something special about two men dressed as monsters having a brawl that’s been lost with computerised perfection.
So, Ultraman, a 1966 spin-off of the kaiju monster-themed Ultra-Q show from Godzilla creator Eiji Tsuburaya, sees the vaguely named Science Patrol—part of the Scientific Investigation Agency no less—fighting a new monstrous foe every episode. But despite the Patrol’s significant armament and overzealous enthusiasm to use it, the monsters always prevail.
This would of course be disastrous, were it not for the Patrol’s secret weapon: Officer Hayata, who after crashing into a mysterious orb and essentially being possessed by its alien occupant, the 40-metre tall, 35,000 tonne Ultraman, inherits the ability to turn into Ultraman—albeit for three minutes—thus becoming able to defeat whatever otherworldly foe kicks off next. And so began an alliance between Earth and the ultrabeings of Nebula M78 a billion lightyears away.
Doesn’t really clarify what Omega has to do with any of it, however. In any case, Ultraman ran for 39 episodes over the course of a year and was extremely successful, kicking off a domino effect of shows that spread into every corner of the Ultraman universe. There was Ultra Seven, The Return of Ultraman, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Taro, Ultraman Leo, The Ultraman, Ultraman 80, Ultraman: Towards the Future, Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman Gaia, Ultraman Neos, Ultraman Cosmos, Ultra Q: The Dark Fantasy, Ultraman Nexus, Ultraman Max, Ultraman Mebius, Ultraseven X, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey, Ultraman Retsuden, Neo Ultra Q, Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Ginga S, Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb, Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle, Ultraman Geed and Ultraman Orb: The Chronicle.
It’s to 1971’s The Return of Ultraman that we turn next, where young racing drive Goh Hideki sacrifices his life saving a boy, a dog and some pigeons from the collateral damage caused by a scuffle between two monsters. The Monster Attack Team, the successors to the Science Patrol, recruit Goh, who goes on to save them by dropkicking a skyscraper-tall lizard in the face.
The Omega connection will, at this stage, still be lost on you if you were never a fan of Ultraman, but if you were, perhaps there might be a little tick of a memory gnawing in your brain—and that’s because the Omega Speedmaster was the watch worn by the Monster Attack Team, customised with a bright orange chrono seconds hand to match their uniform.
Despite the absence of space monsters during the Apollo missions, the Speedmaster seems an appropriate choice, and it’s with this Ultraman limited edition of 2,012 pieces that Omega chooses to celebrate its tokusatsu connections.
On the face of it, there’s not much to give away the Ultraman theme of this watch. There’s the orange second hand, of course, a colour scheme carried through the hour markers, the ‘Speedmaster’ insignia, the tachmetre, the NATO strap and the stitching of the additional leather strap.
All very tasteful for a watch based on a 60’s TV show, it has to be said; it’s only in the details that Ultraman is to be found. The chronograph minutes, for example, are highlighted from one to three—a useful countdown for Ultraman’s limited period of transformation. And the running seconds hand, a little wider than the original, is shaped like the beta capsule used to summon Ultraman.
You have to dig deep for the last nod to the cloud-bothering interstellar giant, however, because buried deep within the Monster Attack Team table-shaped box is a strap-changing tool—also shaped like the beta capsule—that has a UV torch at one end. Shine the torch on the Speedmaster’s dial and bam, there he is, Ultraman—in orange, of course.
Okay, so like the Ultraman show itself, this watch isn’t to be taken too seriously, and thankfully it remains, to the uninitiated, as quite simply an attractively appointed Speedmaster. To the fan, however, it’s a fun, silly, charming addition to the Ultraman universe. Watch our hero fly … off the shelves!
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