Why Omega Hosted Dinner on the Moon
The Swiss watchmaker built its own space capsule and lunar base inside a Texas aircraft hangar.
In honor of its continued commitment to space exploration and its legacy as the first watch worn on the moon, Omega turned a May 12 outing at Sugar Land’s Western Airways Airport Hangar into an outer space voyage. The black-tie celebration—which was attended by astronauts, prominent members of the Houston community, and industry guests from around the country—came complete with its own space capsule, gravel and rocks to recreate the lunar surface, and a cameo by Gravity star George Clooney.
While the Swiss brand's 2015 Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award timepiece commemorates 45 years since the Apollo 13 mission, when the astronauts relied on their Speedmaster watches to successfully return home, there wasn't a specific anniversary in mind for the dinner, said Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega. "It was simply about choosing a time that suited our partners and guests," he said.
Working with the in-house events and marketing team at Omega, Bureau Betak was enlisted to create the authentic look, feel, and sound of life on the moon in the Lone Star State. (Houston is home to NASA, after all.) Under the eye of production firm principal Alex de Betak, a 150-person team worked nearly an entire week to transform the 20,000-square-foot space for the event. Five truckloads of gravel, coupled with rocks of various sizes, were used to lay the foundation of the dinner floor; glitter was added to the mix for sparkle.
“For an event like this, our team was dedicated to representing our luxurious standards,” said Urquhart. “That goes right through to the smallest details such as the physical invitation.” Indeed, the invite itself was designed with the shape and look of the moon with wording presented in the style of a NASA transcript between astronauts and ground control. “This unique approach was all about giving guests an unforgettable experience, from the first moment to the last,” added Urquhart.
Some 300 guests converged on the suburban Houston hangar for the occasion. Greeted by a phalanx of female model staffers dressed in otherworldly garb, the attendees entered into a space devoid of natural sunlight and in through a tunnel surrounded by special light and sound effects. They emerged into the cocktail area, a specially built space capsule displaying both vintage and modern Omega Speedmaster timepieces, as well as videos and murals that chronicled the brand’s storied relationship with the space program. Prerecorded flight calls, meanwhile, served as white background noise, filling the all-white series of rooms with decidedly spaceship-like dialogue.
The journey from earth to the moon, or from cocktails to dinner, was signaled by smoke, sound, and light effects a la a take-off simulation, and ushered guests through a transition space to doors that revealed a full-scale “landing on the moon” tableau—or the anointed Omega Lunar Base. Details, from the charger plates to the levitating centerpieces to the globes peppered throughout, set the scene without being obtrusively thematic.
Despite not taking place in a city as grandiose as New York, Paris, or Hong Kong, the one-time event, with no plans to be replicated globally, certainly merited a considerable budget. For Urquhart, the focus was on making sure his guests experienced an event they'd remember for a long time. “While there are obviously budgets that we work to, an event like this is built around the experience,” he noted. “Because our history with space exploration is so integral to the brand, it of course deserved a celebration on such a large scale.”
As guests exited the hangar at the conclusion of the festivities, one final transition took place. Thousands of LED lights that had been placed throughout the exterior of the venue and the grounds—mimicking twinkling stars in the night sky—became visible.
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