It’s safe to assume that Omega was the Swatch Group’s star last year in 2013. 2014 and beyond are also looking promising, but we can confidently conclude that Omega has done an excellent job of remembering and celebrating its history while also looking forward. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss is a timepiece that combines both of these viewpoints. When we look at it, we see a sturdy vintage Omega clock with a heart that practically predicts the brand’s future. Let’s look at one of the most anti-magnetic mechanical timepieces on the market.
The Omega Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon was also released last year in 2013. This is something I bring up for two reasons. The first is that the Dark Side Of The Moon’s popularity and hype just just beat out the 15,000 Gauss in terms of consumer and media attention. When Omega published them in the same year, they were well aware that this would happen. The second reason I bring it up is that, while ceramic (the case material of the Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon) is not magnetic, Omega did something unique with the 15,000 Gauss when it came to dealing with magnetism.
Let’s take a step back for a second. What’s the big deal about magnetism? Traditional mechanical watch movements are generally made of metal, the majority of which is ferrous metal. That means they’re vulnerable to magnetic fields, which are more common than most people realize. Magnetism can harm a watch movement in two ways, both of which you should avoid. Because the balancing wheel is impacted by the force, magnetism might first entirely damage the accuracy of a movement. This means that interacting with magnetic fields can render a mechanical movement nearly ineffective in terms of precision. Magnetic fields, on the other hand, can cause the metal in your watch to become magnetized. This will ruin your watch movement until it can be demagnetized by a watchmaker (if even possible in the situation). As you can see, when it comes to mechanical watches, avoiding magnetism is usually a good idea.
Normal mechanical timepieces are anti-magnetic to some extent, but not significantly. They can withstand up to 90 Gauss. To guard against magnetic fields, traditional anti-magnetic timepieces had an iron shield around the movement. These provide protection up to 1,000 Gauss, which is adequate, but they do preclude a watch with a view of the movement. Unless they worked around an MRI machine or in some form of aviation or industrial capacity, it’s unclear when or how most individuals would come into touch with greater magnetic fields, but it may happen.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss timepiece (yes, the “>” is part of the official name, but we’ll just call it the “15,000 Gauss” for short) was born in this way. However, the story goes deeper than Omega just opting to make a single extremely anti-magnetic watch to compete with the Rolex Milgauss (that uses a more traditional anti-magnetic shielding technology). What the 15,000 Gauss symbolizes is a significant step forward in the evolution of Omega clocks, which will begin slowly in 2014 and continue over the next many years.
Yes, the anti-magnetic movement technology used in the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 15,000 Gauss watch will be used in all Omega movements built in-house by 2017. (the promised year by Omega). It will be a gradual rollout, and the 15,000 Gauss clocks are the first of their kind, commemorating what Omega has been diligently working on for some years. What is their system’s secret? There is no such thing as a magnetic shield. The key is that the movement isn’t magnetic because it’s made of non-metallic or non-ferrous metals.
When it comes to the materials used in the new in-house produced Caliber 8508 automatic movement, Omega is keeping a tight lid on all the specifics. It is, of course, based on the 8500 movement family, but it contains some unique components. Omega even had aBlogtoWatch sign a letter vowing not to open the watch because the components' data were being secured.
We do know some things, such as silicon’s non-magnetic property, which is utilised in the 8508 movement. The balancing (hair) spring is made of silicon. Another new material employed in the 8508 is Omega’s Nivagauss, which is used to manufacture the majority of the movement’s staffs as well as a few other small parts. The movement also contains at least two other unspecified non-magnetic metals or other components. The nature of these materials may be kept a secret by Omega, but the movement is not. While we haven’t compared the caliber 8500 and 8508 movements side by side, they look to be extremely similar in appearance.
The point is that Omega has developed a technique that allows it to have a nearly completely anti-magnetic movement without making significant sacrifices. We can now have movements that are not only immune to practically all magnetic fields, but also non-shielded, visible, and equipped with a date indicator pane. The 8508 movement, of course, features a Co-Axial escapement, a 60-hour power reserve, and is COSC Chronometer certified.
If you’re wondering whether or not this is something you’d find cool, the answer is yes. Magnetism is an unseen and quiet killer of watches, and even if it does not harm your timepiece, the accuracy of your mechanical watch has most likely been influenced by magnetism at some point. The 15,000 Gauss is a dressed-up Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra with a banded black and yellow seconds hand and a yellow ring of peripheral minute numerals to demonstrate their point. There’s also a lot of “> 15,000 Gauss” branding on it.
The name > 15,000 Gauss will not be used on future anti-magnetic Omega timepieces. That is particularly noteworthy for this model’s launch, as it is evident that many people will have no idea what it represents. In some ways, it’s a dig at Rolex, whose comparable watch moniker translates to “1000 Gauss” (Milgauss). While the yellow and black color scheme may appear weird at first, the watch is really attractive on the wrist, with a sporty twist. If Omega was attempting to create a watch for modern-day mechanical scientists, they have once again succeeded.
I don’t believe the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra warrants a lengthy description. It’s one of Omega’s dressier sport watches, yet it’s still really attractive. It has a width of 41.5mm and wears on the larger size due to the wide lug constructions. The steel case has a mix of polished and brushed surfaces, as is typical of Seamaster cases. Vertical lines run across the dark face.
Most Omega Seamaster models have excellent dial legibility, and the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra collection is no exception. It actually looks a lot like classic Seamaster models, albeit in a somewhat different style than the Planet Ocean line. Having said that, in a separate language, “Aqua Terra” means “planet ocean.” That is essentially what this model range is about: a similar personality expressed in a different language. Because the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra is more of a dress watch than a sport watch, Omega only gives it a water resistance of 150 meters (rather than 600), and it isn’t a real diver because it lacks a rotating bezel.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 Gauss is available in two models. The ref. 220.127.116.11.01.002 on a steel bracelet is reviewed here, along with the ref. 18.104.22.168.01.001 with a brown leather strap — however I prefer this and most other Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra models on a bracelet. If you’re looking for anti-magnetic technology, this is a strong piece with amazing technology. The real question is whether you should acquire one. Although this is clearly a desirable characteristic, with Omega gradually incorporating what makes the 8508 movement unique into other Omega movements, it can be difficult to know when to act.