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The Omega watch revolution

"IT IS POSSIBLE that no Swiss watches — not even the most luxurious diamond-studded ones — would be so highly valued if they did not have one specific quality: the ability to count every moment of human life with astounding accuracy over a period of many years, sometimes even centuries. Today leading experts are continuing to perfect their watches' mechanisms, so that they keep in step with time year after year, not lagging behind or outstripping it.

You would be profoundly mistaken to think that today's watchmakers are conservatives, resting on their past achievements. In actual fact they are innovators who, while relying on their wealth of experience, come up with more and more progressive ideas. Of course, really revolutionary discoveries are not often made, but recently Omega, after a lengthy joint project with the celebrated British watchmaker George Daniels, unveiled a unique system — a coaxial regulator, which achieves astonishing accuracy by reducing friction. This is made possible by the special construction of the pendulum lever, the adjoining cogwheels and the use of three ruby pallet-stones. The series' mechanisms need servicing much more rarely than ordinary ones — only every three years.

It has to be said that in the course of its 150-year history Omega has more than once proved to be a leader in the watchmaking business. It is sufficient to recall the exceptional mechanisms produced by the company's craftsmen, which subsequently became a byword for accuracy. Another confirmation is the fact that during the first half of the 20th century Omega pocket watches dominated the market, and few companies could compete in terms of quality.

 

But let us return to the brand-new mechanism in the De Ville Co-Axial series. The watch comes in two alternatives (18-carat gold and stainless steel); its classical lines are reminiscent of Omega's most successful models of the 1950s. In the middle of last century, it was easy to recognise Omega watches by their distinctive steel or gold bracelets; they consist of a large number of small links, intricately joined, giving them amazing softness and suppleness, comparable with a leather strap. For those who nevertheless prefer leather, the watches also come with a crocodile-skin strap on a gold clasp.

The gold watch looks most effective with a dark blue face, though there are less contrasting combinations. The thin strip down the middle of the hour and minute hands might appear at first glance to be a decorative feature, but it is made of a fluorescent substance, so you can tell the time even in pitch darkness. All the faces are covered by anti-glare sapphire glass, which is resistant to scratching or chipping.

The De Ville Co-Axial series has a standard automatic chronometer (Omega 2500 calibre), with a mainspring winding indicator. There is also a modification with a miniature second hand on a separate dial. All the watches work for up to 44 hours without winding and can withstand water pressure to a depth of 100 metres.

One could go on to list numerous other features of the De Ville Co-Axial series, but watches are still judged above all on their accuracy, and in this respect there are very few who can rival the art of the Omega craftsmen.

 

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