This past January at SIHH, Omega announced that it had created the world's first anti-magnetic watch movement that's resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss. Previously both Rolex and IWC were the only other watch manufacturers with anti-magnetic time pieces. But Omega's new Seamaster Aqua Terra (calibre 8508) is 15x more resistant than either one with a movement that's mostly made up of non-ferrous metals, as opposed to encasing the movement in an iron cage.
Last week in New York, Omega brought the piece over for US press to ogle. And so we sat down with Omega's Head of Product Development, Jean Claude Monachon, for a quick fire Q&A.
Gizmodo: How long has this movement been in development?
JCM: We started at Basel World in 2011, so more or less about 18 months. It's not a new movement, but we worked with a team [across the Swatch brand] to modify it and that's why it took us less time. A new movement takes between four to seven years.
Gizmodo: How many prototypes have you gone through?
JCM: The final version will be shown at Baselworld in one month. We're still testing different materials and we'll have the option to go into production just after Basel. Today we have more than 250 movements that we are testing with different materials.
Gizmodo: And will the final version be the Sea Master Aqua Terra? Will the movement end up in other models?
JCM: The first anti-magnetic watch to launch will be fitted in the Aqua Terra. By 2017, we plan to have all the mechanical Omega watches equipped with the co-axial calibre 8508 movement.
Gizmodo: What happens to a mechanical watch when it comes in contact with a magnet?
JCM: *Watch this*
Gizmodo: Compared to the Rolex Milgauss or certain IWC Ingeniurs, why make a movement that's 15x stronger? And could you have made it even stronger?
JCM: We had the right minds within the company to really go after the problem and find the solution. Ours also has a sapphire back. We're testing the watch this week in Switzerland with a magnet stronger than 15,000 Milgauss. It might work. We don't know, but we'll let you know at Basel.
Gizmodo: Can you elaborate on some of the non-ferrous materials and where in the movement they were used?
JCM: Uhh...this we can't talk about. We're choosing materials that are the most anti-magnetic. I don't want to make world records and not be able to make the watch.
[Hodinkee via Instagram]