Written by Laura Rensing
It’s soon to be a proven fact: if you’re magnetized by Omega’s designs, you’ll no longer be able to blame their movement. It’s a new year, but Omega has already revealed a groundbreaking new first: the first watch in history that resists magnetic fields.
It sounds like a simple enough task, but the construction took the collaborative efforts ASULAB, ETA, scientists, metallurgists, and of course, the expert Swiss watchmakers at Omega to design a watch that would resist magnetic fields greater than 1.5 tesla– more than two times that of their closest competitor.
Revealed on January 17th in a Seamaster Aqua Terra, the movement is constructed out of non-ferrous materials. Non-ferrous metals don’t have iron in their chemical makeup (or at least extremely limited amounts), which makes for lighter, more corrosion-resistant materials. More importantly in this case, non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic.
Rather than crafting a cage around the watch to resist magnetic pull, thus weakening the accuracy of higher level movements, Omega’s straightforward approach has set them far ahead of their competitors. However, the idea is perhaps the only straightforward element in the design of the watch.
Because watches are traditionally made with ferrous materials, Omega and their team (including cutting-edge horological techies ASULAB and ETA who develop and improve horological technology on an international level) had to experiment with the classic ideas of watch making in order to craft an accurate nonmagnetic watch.
Though the antimagnetic watches are not available on the market yet, they are expected be available for the public perhaps as early as April 2013.
If Omega lives up to its promise, it will have broken the 50 year-long frustration for watch makers. Research into antimagnetic movements started in the 1950s, but it has been an issue that has plagued watchmakers for centuries.
Why the new push for antimagnetic movement? While most of us don’t sit around tapping u-magnets against our watches, designers at Omega have noted the increasing use of magnets in technology. The slight pull can gradually affect a timepiece’s accuracy.
As permanent magnets become more prevalent, watch accuracy will become more compromised. That’s not to say that your standard magnetic watch will come screeching to a halt any time soon, but it’s nice that Omega’s keeping an eye towards the future.