OMEGA has announced the creation of a watch that is resistant to magnetic fields greater than 1.5 tesla (15,000 gauss), far exceeding the levels of magnetic resistance achieved by any previous watch and solving a problem that has challenged watchmakers for centuries.
The movement was introduced at a press conference at the Cité du Temps in Geneva on January 17th by Raynald Aeschlimann, OMEGA Vice President and member of Swatch Group’s Extended Group Management Board. Mr Aeschlimann opened the press conference, welcoming the media and introducing Jean-Claude Monachon, OMEGA Vice President and Head of Product Development, Michel Willemin, CEO of ASULAB, Thierry Conus, the Director of Research & Development at ETA and Mathieu Oulevey, a Tribology and Materials engineer at ETA.
In his opening remarks at the press conference, Mr Aeschlimann gave credit to Swatch Group’s unique ability to benefit from the contributions of the best engineers and researchers from all of its brand and companies. He added, “All of the heroes are here – not only my colleagues from OMEGA but from ASULAB and ETA. It was only through their shared creativity and enthusiasm that we could introduce this important innovation to you.”
The technlogy developed by the team led to the first prototype of the movement, which has been fitted in an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra. Unlike other efforts to combat the effects of magnetism, the OMEGA movement does not rely on a protective container inside the watchcase but on the use of selected non-ferrous materials in the movement itself. Several patents are pending for the new movement.
Jean-Claude Monachon reminded the attendees at the press conference of OMEGA’s long history of technological innovation, showing slides of highlights going back to 1894. He went on to point out that magnetism has always been an issue for watchmakers, adding that magnets are now more present in our daily lives than they have ever been before. Watchmakers have to deal regularly with the issue of magnetism, as it is necessary for them to demagnetize mechanical watches whose performance has been compromised by exposure to magnetic fields, a problem that will be solved with the new movement.
He explained that G. N. Hayek, the CEO of Swatch Group, challenged OMEGA to create a totally non-magnetic watch and announced that OMEGA, with engineers, scientists and metallurgists from its sister companies had met the challenge.
Michel Willemin’s presentation focused on issues of magnetism in daily life. He gave members of the press a brief primer on magnets and magnetism and pointed out that the evolution of the strength of permanent magnets was a key motivation behind the development of the movement.
Thierry Conus explained how magnetism had been dealt with previously, including inner cases designed to limit the effect of magnetism. He pointed out the limitations of the approach including the facts they couldn’t handle the challenge of the increased strength of permanent magnets and that, from an aesthetic standpoint, they block the view of the movement. He then showed a short film showing how a conventional mechanical watch exposed to high levels of magnetism stopped immediately and dramatically lost its accuracy. The OMEGA prototype was subjected to even higher levels of magnetism (15,000 gauss) and continued to perform. Testing showed that the watch was as accurate after its magnetic exposure as it had been before.
A live demonstration was then made that offered compelling and conclusive evidence that OMEGA’s new >15,000 gauss movement is a landmark development in watchmaking.
OMEGA expects to present the technology at the Baselworld trade fair in April. The new movement, the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8508, should be introduced to the market in 2013.
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