At one of the most anticipated watch launches of the year, the OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss was introduced and demonstrated in front of a London audience at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in the heart of Mayfair.
The venue, founded in 1799, was a fitting place to present the world’s first anti-magnetic wristwatch. The Royal Institution has been home to a number of celebrated scientists, including Michael Faraday, who is remembered for his discoveries in electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis. The beautiful, iconic building is regularly used to share new developments in technology and science with the general public.
OMEGA president Stephen Urquhart welcomed guests and introduced fellow speakers Jean-Claude Monachon, OMEGA Vice President and Head of Product Development and Michel Willemin, CEO of Asulab.
Mr Urquhart pointed out that the presence of magnets in contemporary everyday life poses a significant threat to the precision of mechanical watch movements and announced the introduction of the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss, the world’s first completely anti-magnetic watch.
OMEGA has long been regarded for its commitment to developing innovative technologies as demonstrated by its revolutionary Co-Axial calibres. It was a logical next step that the brand would look for ways to deal with the influence of magnetic fields, a problem that has perplexed horologists for centuries. It succeeded with the watch, which is equipped with an exclusive new mechanical movement, the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8508.
Mr Urquhart explained that the challenge was met with the help of engineers, scientists and metallurgists from OMEGA’s sister companies in the Swatch Group, including ETA, Asulab and Nivarox.
What differentiates the watch from others that had previously been designated as anti-magnetic is the fact that it does not use a protective inner case. Instead, the movement is equipped with non-ferrous components, allowing the timepiece to resist magnetic fields in excess of 15,000 gauss approaching the levels generated by a magnetic resonance image (MRI) scanner. Watches with an inner case were only resistant to fields of up to about a thousand gauss.
In his presentation, Mr Monachon reviewed the brand’s historic highlights and pointed out that innovative movements have long been a part of its heritage – in fact, he said, OMEGA has created more than 175 of them in its long history. He added that while the brand is proud of its history, it is particularly excited about the future. The new movement, said Mr Monachon, was made possible through research not only in new technologies but also in new materials. He added that the creative use of silicon and other non-ferrous metals in the Co-Axial calibre 8508 meant that OMEGA was able to create a watch with a date window and a transparent crystal case revealing the exquisite movement, qualities not possible when an inner case is used.
The ubiquity of magnetic fields has become increasingly problematic, as everyday objects can have a dramatic impact on the performance of a watch. Michel Willemin, CEO of ASULAB, explained how items such as toys, handbags with magnetic clasps, fridges and laptops are among the things that have magnetic fields that could cause a watch to lose up to five minutes a day. Standard watches, which are only resistant to magnetic fields of about 80 gauss, are particularly affected.
Mr Monachon explained that in OMEGA’s service centres, watches whose performance has been compromised by magnetism make up a large percentage of the products returned for servicing.
The presentation concluded with an impressive demonstration of the new watch’s resistance to large magnets. After exposure, it continued to function perfectly when the other watches that were also tested had stopped. The demonstration proclaimed to the London audience that the OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss watch is positioned to revolutionise the watch industry.
OMEGA has also confirmed that will introduce the anti-magnetic technology across all of its Co-Axial watch collections from 2017.
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