Rais­ing the Bar

Omega has em­braced its Mas­ter Chronome­ter des­ig­na­tion with al­most 50 new mod­els this year. Sean Li ex­plains the method­ol­ogy be­hind the ground-break­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style -

We an­a­lyse Omega’s Mas­ter Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion

THE MAS­TER CHRONOME­TER IS ABOUT EN­SUR­ING THAT THE GROWTH OF THE WATCH­MAK­ING IN­DUS­TRY, AND OF OMEGA’S COL­LEC­TIONS, DOES NOT COME AT THE EX­PENSE OF QUAL­ITY AND RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY

What­ever it is that at­tracts you to fine time­pieces, you will want your watches to be as pre­cise as pos­si­ble. Watch­mak­ers have of­ten called on third par­ties, such as the Of­fi­cial Swiss Chronome­ter Test­ing In­sti­tute (COSC), to pro­vide in­de­pen­dent and un­bi­ased test­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. An­other you may be fa­mil­iar with is the Geneva Seal; it’s some­what dif­fer­ent be­cause it orig­i­nally ad­dressed pro­duc­tion method­olo­gies and spe­cific fin­ish­ing on me­chan­i­cal move­ments alone, but it has been up­dated re­cently to ad­dress func­tional test­ing as well.

Other en­ti­ties also ex­ist to pro­vide in­de­pen­dent test­ing, but Omega found that none of them were ca­pa­ble of test­ing and cer­ti­fy­ing the ex­treme anti-mag­netic tech­nol­ogy it in­tro­duced in 2013 with the Sea­mas­ter Aqua Terra >15,000 gauss. They are not set up to test to what ex­tent a move­ment can re­sist the in­flu­ence of mag­netic fields. Given that the new Omega tech­nol­ogy pre­sented a quan­tum leap over ex­ist­ing ap­proaches to mag­netic re­sis­tance, this pre­sented the watch­maker with a dilemma. While Omega was al­ready sub­mit­ting its move­ments for COSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, it re­alised

there was an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide clients with a new cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that would ad­dress not only mag­netic re­sis­tance, but also other func­tional as­pects of the en­tire watch.

It of­fi­cially an­nounced the Mas­ter Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in 2015 and pre­sented the new Omega Globe­mas­ter, which com­plied with the new stan­dard. It worked with the Swiss Fed­eral In­sti­tute of Metrol­ogy (Me­tas) to de­velop the test­ing method­ol­ogy, which ex­tends the usual pre­ci­sion test­ing to what it con­sid­ers re­al­world con­di­tions. The test­ing starts with a Cosc-cer­ti­fied move­ment, which is sub­jected at Me­tas to a 15,000-gauss mag­netic field. The move­ment is then fit­ted to its case and retested for mag­netic re­sis­tance. The test­ing con­tin­ues for 24 hours, after which the watch’s chrono­met­ric pre­ci­sion is once again ver­i­fied. The next phase is car­ried out over four days, with the watch placed in six dif­fer­ent po­si­tions and in two dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­ture zones, after which the av­er­age chrono­met­ric pre­ci­sion is recorded. Then

the power re­serve is tested to en­sure it meets the stated spec­i­fi­ca­tions for that par­tic­u­lar watch. An­other po­si­tional test is then car­ried out, but this one records the chrono­met­ric pre­ci­sion in each of the six po­si­tions. Then the testers re­turn to the power re­serve, this time record­ing the pre­ci­sion between 100 and 33 per cent of the re­serve. Fi­nally, the stated wa­ter re­sis­tance is tested.

To en­able each owner to fully ap­pre­ci­ate their watch’s ad­vanced cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Omega de­liv­ers each Mas­ter Chronome­ter with a card de­tail­ing how to ac­cess the full re­sults of all the tests on­line. The Mas­ter Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is not ex­clu­sive to Omega; Me­tas is a Swiss fed­eral in­sti­tute and the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is avail­able to any watch­maker that wants to sub­mit its time­pieces for test­ing. How­ever, given that a key com­po­nent is the ex­treme mag­netic re­sis­tance, it’s un­likely we will see many watch­mak­ers lin­ing up for this process any time soon.

Omega has de­clared that the ma­jor­ity of its me­chan­i­cal watches will be cer­ti­fied Mas­ter Chronome­ter by 2020. It’s an am­bi­tious goal, but one that Omega is pur­su­ing with speed; fol­low­ing up the Globe­mas­ter Mas­ter Chronome­ter from 2015, this year has seen the in­tro­duc­tion of six new Mas­ter Chronome­ter move­ments, rang­ing from an an­nual cal­en­dar (8922/8923), chrono­graph (9900/9901), chrono­graph with moon phase (9904/9905), a move­ment suited for div­ing watches (8800/8801), a small sec­onds (8704/8705), and a GMT (8906). These cal­i­bres have been fit­ted to 46 new mod­els across the Globe­mas­ter, Speed­mas­ter, Planet Ocean and Con­stel­la­tion col­lec­tions.

The level-headed, real-world ap­proach to the Mas­ter Chronome­ters is im­pres­sive. It’s not about the tremen­dously com­plex move­ments and daz­zling hand fin­ish­ing; Mas­ter Chronome­ter is about en­sur­ing that the growth of the watch­mak­ing in­dus­try, and of Omega’s col­lec­tions, does not come at the ex­pense of qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity.

The devel­op­ment of ex­treme mag­netic re­sis­tance is not merely an es­o­teric tech­ni­cal achieve­ment; we are sur­rounded by mag­nets in daily life, in ob­jects that we carry reg­u­larly in prox­im­ity to our watches. Watch own­ers have of­ten been caught off guard by plac­ing their watches on tablet com­put­ers, whose pro­tec­tive cov­ers are mag­net­i­cally at­tached. Air trav­ellers are re­quired to walk through at least one metal de­tec­tor—es­sen­tially giant mag­nets—when un­der­go­ing se­cu­rity checks. These are just two ex­am­ples of the mag­netic risks to me­chan­i­cal watches in the real world that chal­lenge lab­o­ra­tory test­ing regimes.

The Mas­ter Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion adds an aug­mented set of cri­te­ria that de­fines a new bench­mark in qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity be­fit­ting Omega’s stel­lar 168-year his­tory.

Sea­mas­ter Planet Ocean 45mm Chrono­graph

Con­stel­la­tion Mas­ter Chronome­ter Small Sec­onds

CHRONO MAS­TERS The Sea­mas­ter Planet Ocean GMT 43.5mm fea­tures a bi-ce­ramic black and white bezel ring—a first in the Planet Ocean series. Op­po­site page: 14 watches un­dergo test­ing at Me­tas as part of the new cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dure

MOON­WALK Pick up a loupe and find the foot­print of an astro­naut on the moon­phase of the Speed­mas­ter Moon­phase Mas­ter Chronome­ter Chrono­graph

DREAM DIAL The Globe­mas­ter Mas­ter Chronome­ter An­nual Cal­en­dar’s pie-pan dial is in­spired by the first Con­stel­la­tion model in­tro­duced in 1952 Sea­mas­ter Planet Ocean 600M Mas­ter Chronome­ter “Choco­late”

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