Magnetism affects the proper functioning of mechanical watches and has always been a technological challenge for the watchmaking industry. During a press conference in Milan, OMEGA revealed the secrets of a cutting-edge innovation that solves this problem.
This morning saw the official unveiling of the Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 gauss during a press conference held in Milan’s futuristic Palazzo Lombardia. OMEGA President Stephen Urquhart welcomed the Italian media and introduced colleagues Jean-Claude Monachon, OMEGA Vice President and Head of Product Development, and Michel Willemin, CEO of ASULAB.
President Stephen Urquhart opened the presentation with praise for the Swatch Group’s excellent abilities in reaping the benefits developed by the top engineers and researchers representing all group brands and companies. The request made by CEO G.N. Hayek to create a completely anti-magnetic watch was indeed a complex challenge and it led to astonishing results. Unlike past models, the new movement does not need a protective inner case to shield it from magnetic fields, but simply combats their effects by making the components themselves from non-ferrous materials, which means the calibre is far more resistant to magnetism than the average market product. Moreover, this innovation includes a transparent case back, one of the most important and popular features of high-end watches as they allow the beauty of the movement to be enjoyed in its entirety.
Stephen Urquhart added: “OMEGA has a long tradition in creating technologies that have driven development and innovation in the watchmaking industry. This timepiece is definitely a new milestone for OMEGA and the industry as a whole.”
After speakers presented studies to support the research, a demonstration was organised so the media could admire the new Co-Axial calibre 8508 movement. During the demonstration, guests were able to see how a simple magnet could stop a competitor’s mechanical watch, produced with a traditional anti-magnetic casing. Then the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss, fitted with the new OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8508, demonstrated clearly that it met the challenge and worked perfectly despite the influence of magnetic fields.
OMEGA Vice President Jean-Claude Monachon stressed that daily exposure to magnetic fields can easily cause a timepiece to acquire a permanent 5-minute delay every day. Magnetism has always represented a challenge for the watchmaking industry but nowadays new technologies, ranging from iPads to magnetic bag fasteners, mean it is increasingly present in daily life.
A new step to make the impossible possible
In 2008, OMEGA introduced an innovation that was crucial to achieving this new technological milestone: the silicon balance spring. As silicon is an anti-magnetic material with incredible stability and resistance to any environmental interference, including magnetic fields, it constituted the first major step towards the development of an anti-magnetic watch.
An additional factor that rendered the new calibre 8508 a reality was the production of screws and pivots in Nivagauss™, a new anti-magnetic material. The same material is used to make screws for the balance wheel, lever and coaxial wheel. The steel used for the escapement discs – including the pallet, the impulse pin and impulse lever – are all manufactured using anti-magnetic materials. Lastly, the shock absorber coil spring is made from an amorphous metal.
These were the innovations that contributed to the creation and launch of the new OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8508. With its Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss, OMEGA has introduced trailblazing technology that heralds a change in how the watch industry will address the growing challenges of magnetic fields in everyday life.
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