BASELNEWS 2011New OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 9300/9301
The OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 9300/9301 is the dramatic next step in the revolution in mechanical watchmaking that started in 1999 with OMEGA's launch of the Co-Axial escapement. Not only does the new movement deliver superb timekeeping performance, it is the first of OMEGA's exclusive in-house Co-Axial calibres to incorporate a chronograph function.
The innovative column-wheel chronograph has 12-hour and 60-minute counter hands placed on the same subdial at 3 o'clock. This familiar arrangement of the hands, which recalls the hour and minute hands on the main dial, enables intuitive reading of the chronograph. It also has a central chronograph seconds hand and a small seconds hand on the sub-dial at 9 o'clock.
The two chronograph control pushers function totally independently – accordingly, there is no risk to the chronograph mechanism as a result of inadvertent manipulation. Like OMEGA's other in-house Co-Axial movements, the calibre 9300/9301 features a decorative pattern known as "Côtes de Genève in Arabesque". The movement's time zone function means that the hour hand can be set without stopping the watch, an especially useful feature for travellers.
It is also equipped with a silicon balance spring. Silicon is non-magnetic so it is not influenced by magnetic fields. This quality combined with the excellent resilient coefficient of silicon allows the balance springs, which are etched on a silicon wafer, to deliver improved chronometric performance. Silicon also has a very low fatigue influence and ages slowly. The outstanding reliability delivered by the combination of Co-Axial technology and the silicon balance spring is such that OMEGA delivers its Co-Axial watches equipped with silicon balance springs with a full four-year warranty.
OMEGA's Co-Axial escapement
OMEGA's launch of the Co-Axial escapement in 1999 put the horological world on notice. It was the first practical new watch escapement to be invented in some 250 years. The components in OMEGA's Co-Axial escapement differ considerably from those of the Swiss lever escapement which had long been the industry’s mainstay: it consists of a balance roller carrying a pallet and an impulse pin, an anchor with three pallets, and a three-level coaxial escapement wheel comprising the co-axial wheel, the co-axial pinion and the transmission pinion, with which it is connected to the intermediary wheel and the gear train.
The Co-Axial advantages
The main advantages of this design become clear when it is compared with the Swiss lever escapement.
With any watch escapement, energy must be transmitted to the oscillator; this energy maintains the oscillator’s frequency. The impulses in a Swiss lever escapement involve the wheel tooth sliding along the inclined surface of the pallet. This sliding movement generates considerable friction, making optimal lubrication vital if the escapement is to function correctly. In contrast, the OMEGA Co-Axial escapement transmits energy using lateral impulses. The smaller contact surfaces and the pushing motion, as opposed to the lever escapement’s sliding motion, significantly reduce the friction in the escapement; thus there is less wear and tear on the lubrication, resulting in longer service intervals.
Both clockwise and anti-clockwise impulses in a Swiss lever escapement are delivered indirectly from the escapement wheel through the anchor to the balance roller, resulting in an important loss of energy. The OMEGA Co-Axial escapement’s clockwise impulse is given directly to the pallet on the balance roller by the teeth of the escapement wheel. As a result, the Co-Axial escapement benefits from greater mechanical efficiency which ensures more stable precision.
The Co-Axial escapement and the free sprung-balance
The OMEGA Co-Axial escapement is used in conjunction with a free sprung-balance. The timepiece’s rate can be adjusted by modifying the moment of inertia of the balance wheel instead of changing the active length of the hairspring via the index. This adjustment is made with gold micro screws embedded in the circular balance wheel. This construction with the Co-Axial escapement and the free sprung-balance improves shock resistance and avoids disturbances.
While certain benefits of the OMEGA Co-Axial escapement will be readily apparent, others take more time to appreciate, including longer service intervals and an outstanding chronometric performance which will be maintained over a longer period of time.
A chronograph for the 21st century
The Co-Axial calibre 9300/9301 carries on OMEGA's commitment to the innovative technology it first introduced in 1999. With its column-wheel chronograph function, its outstanding reliability and a four-year warranty, it fulfils the promise made by English watchmaker George Daniels, the inventor of the Co-Axial escapement. He said that Co-Axial technology would "extend the popularity of mechanical watches into the 21st century and beyond."
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