One of the most dramatic technological innovations in recent memory is the OMEGA Co-Axial caliber 8508. It 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 movement and solving a problem that has challenged watchmakers for many decades.
The mechanical movement is introduced in the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15’000 gauss, a 41.50 mm stainless steel Co-Axial chronometer presented on either a matching bracelet or a brown leather strap. It has a slightly yellowed lacquered black dial, sun-brushed from the centre and decorated with the distinctive vertical lines that define OMEGA’s popular Aqua Terra collection. The yellow transferred legend, “> 15’000 GAUSS” identifies the watch as a very special timepiece.
The technology developed by a team of ETA, ASULAB, Nivarox FAR and OMEGA Engineers 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. Even after exposure to a magnetic field greater than 15,000 gauss, the movement still performs at a chronometric level as defined by COSC.
Magnetism had been dealt previously with inner cases designed to limit the effect of magnetism. This approach with inner cases had some limitations 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, thus preventing the possiblility of a date window displlay.
Because the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15’000 gauss doesn’t need to be protected by an inner case – the movement itself is anti-magnetic – it has a transparent sapphire crystal in its caseback that allows full view of the Co-Axial caliber 8508. There is also a date window at 3 o’clock.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15’000 gauss is water resistant to 15 bar (150 metres / 500 feet). With the combination of its Co-Axial mechanical movement its Si14 silicon balance spring, it is so reliable that it is delivered with a four-year warranty.
Magnetism has always been an issue for watchmakers and magnets are now even 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.
With the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15’000 gauss, OMEGA has introduced innovative technology that will forever change the way the watchmaking industry approaches the ever-increasing challenges of magnetic fields.
Key steps toward the antimagnetic movement
In 2008, OMEGA unveiled its Si14 silicon balance spring. Silicon is an anti-magnetic element and the incredible stability and the resistence to any sort of environmental disturbance – including magnetic fields – was the first important step toward the development of an anti-magnetic watch.
Another factor that made the Co-Axial caliber 8508 possible was the creation of staffs and pivot points made from a non-magnetic material called Nivagauss™. These include the staffs from the balance whele, the pallet and the Co-Axial wheel.
The steel for the Co-Axial plates – including the pallet fork, the impulse pinion and the impulse wheel – was also replaced by non-magnetic materials.
Finally, the spring of the shock absorbers in the Co-Axial calibre 8508 is made from an amorphous metal.
These innovations in combination contributed to the creation and launch of the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8508 – the world’s first truly anti-magnetic mechanical watch movement.