Co-Axial with Silicon Balance Spring - The One Escapement to Rule All?
Published Sunday, November 20, 2011 by Harry SK Tan |
One of the highlights of my trip to the Omega manufacture was the Co-Axial Assembly plant located up in the Jura District high up in the mountains. Spent half a day just learning and observing the whole assembly process of the new escapements in Caliber 8500 series. What struck me most was how labour intensive the whole process despite the use of high tech assembly line processes and use of RFID chips on each movement. Each Omega technician is tasked with one or two roles from the basic base plate all the way to testing. Expecting the assembly to be by robotics, the only time robotics are involved is inserting a few basic screws on the base plate and the transport of the movement through the whole assembly floor (click on the collage below to view it in a larger resolution).
The late George Daniels, inventor of the Co-Axial escapement crafted an escapement system intended to be more efficient and wear resistant. Now owned and perfected by Omega after years of testing which proves to be so reliable that it is the only luxury brand that provides a four year warranty on their new watches. Matched with a silicon balance spring the new escapement has provided the brand with a more consistent and temperature resistant movement providing accuracy that could easily match even tourbillons in the market today.
Has Omega discovered the grail solution to both reliability and accuracy? Based on their warranty promise as well as their statistical performance data of their Cal 9300 - it would seem Omega is confident that it has.
Here are two videos by Omega explaining how these two technologies are being harnessed for their watches today.
The Silicon Balance Spring
The Co-Axial Escapement
The one combination of the Co-Axial Escapement and Silicon Balance Spring is that caught my eye is the Calibre 9300 series found in the Seamaster Professional Co-Axial Chronograph. The version photographed below is the Titanium (Grade 5) with the "liquid-metal" bezel. The Grade 5 titanium allows it to be polished to a high shine like steel. The liquid-metal bezel is the fusion of metal onto a ceramic type compound making it extremely hard wearing and scratch resistant unlike other diving bezels that uses aluminium plates.
I am certainly enthusiastic about the achievements of the new Cal 9300 series movements. I just have to wait for Omega to release one with a 42mm titanium case to suit my taste.