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  1. The GMT Master

    The GMT Master Chris @ ΩF Apr 13, 2011

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    Hey all,

    Thought I'd put some words down about Omega's biggest news this year, namely their brand new, in-house Co-Axial Chronograph movement, the cal. 9300/9301. It's quite a departure from their previous flagship chronograph movement, the cal. 3313, based on the Piguet 1285, namely that it has been completely designed around the Co-Axial escapement, rather than have it integrated into a pre-existing movement. Essentially, it's a worthy counterpart for Omega's other in-house movement, the cal. 8500, which, too, has been designed around Co-Axial. Given that the 3313 had gained a bit of an unfortunate reputation for unreliability in the online watch community, it gives Omega the chance to wipe the slate clean, and show the full capabilities of a Co-Axial escapement twinned with a column wheel chronograph. This is going to be the mainstay of Omega's chronograph range for a long time

    So, what's new? The most obvious thing is the way Omega are choosing to display the counters on the dial: changing from the industry standard three sub-dial layout, to a two sub-dial layout, reminiscent of chronographs you might find in the 1950s. However, this hasn't sacrificed the information provided on the dial: you still have continuous seconds, minutes, and hours. This has been achieved by the rather clever integration of the minute and hour counters onto the same subdial, essentially having it function as a 12 hour clock would. I think it looks great, and makes for a relatively clean dial as well - chronographs do have a habit of being a bit busy. Like the cal. 3313, the cal. 9300 displays the date at the 6 o'clock position, having the continuous seconds hand in the 9 o'clock position.

    The visual changes also happen on the finishing of the movement itself, with it getting the "Geneva waves in arabesque" finish also found on the cal. 8500. I think it really makes for a special looking movement, and is right up there with more 'exclusive' brands. Place a 9300 alongside a Rolex cal. 4130, and the Rolex movement will look downright dull by comparison. Omega is readily embracing display casebacks, and rightly so - it would be criminal to keep such a pretty movement hidden away under a steel caseback. If customers can actually see what's justifying the price increases, I think it will be more easy for them to adjust to Omega's repositioning in the market. As a sales technique, whenever I'm selling a cal. 8500 based model right now, the first thing I do is show them the movement, talk about it and get them enthusiastic. I've never seen anyone fail to be impressed by it, and I think the same will happen with the cal. 9300.

    The other significant change is the integration of the Si14 hairspring, Omega's answer to the question of reducing the effects of magnetism on movements. Whilst this is obviously beneficial for the maintenance of the watch, it also adds a layer of consumer protection as well: Omega are offering a four year guarantee on all watches featuring the Si14 hairspring. That's incredible - pretty much double what the rest of the competition are offering. It shows the level of confidence Omega have in their new generation of movements, I think it's going to help them make some real inroads into the higher level of the market they're aiming to compete in. Quality, quality, quality is the policy at Omega, and it looks like it's really paying off

    So, how can you get your hands on a model with one of these movements in? At the moment, it has only been announced for the new Planet Ocean Chronograph and a Speedmaster variant, presumably a replacement for the existing Co-Axial Speedmaster. Don't worry Moonwatch fans, the cracking Lemania based cal. 1861 is still here to stay. I think we'll see it in plenty of other models too, though, and has the capability to be the base for more complications as well. I'd personally love to see a manual wind version of it in a high-tech modern interpretation of the Speedmaster Pro - that would be a limited edition that would really grab my attention! I would think Omega would explore the extents of what's possible with the movement, so keep tuned for the next few years, and we'll see the 9300 in more models, as well as complication variants as well

    Hope you enjoyed this read, I can't wait to see the new models with this movement in person

    Chris
     
    Trev likes this.
  2. Trev

    Trev The Architect Staff Member Apr 13, 2011

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    As usual, an excellent read :thumbsup:

    I keep searching for real-world photos of the 9300, but I've yet to find anything.
     
  3. The GMT Master

    The GMT Master Chris @ ΩF Apr 13, 2011

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    Thanks Trev, told you I'd get round to sorting it it! :p We may have to wait until retail models start appearing, but I'm sure I'll get a few photos when I get my mitts on one :thumbsup:
     
  4. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Apr 13, 2011

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    I'd love to see a manual wind version, but rather than using it in a Speedmaster Pro (I don't think it'd be able to gain traction there among the purists) a new Hour Vision chronograph, manual wind, perhaps 7 or 8 days power reserve. That movement really needs to be on show in an HV case.
     
  5. rxpete

    rxpete Apr 15, 2011

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    Chris, Thanks for that post. I love the 2 sub dial lay out also. You're right, it's a cleaner looking dial. I never liked the original PO chrono but the new 2 sub dial version is beautiful.
     
  6. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Apr 16, 2011

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    Took me a while to warm up to it but now I really have to have the blue ceramic one, its just that I also have to have several other watches, and that puts this one slightly down the list, with the Speedy still in first ;)
     
  7. The GMT Master

    The GMT Master Chris @ ΩF Apr 16, 2011

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    Omega are spoiling us for choice at the moment! :D
     
  8. Robert-Jan

    Robert-Jan Editor of Fratellowatches.com Apr 19, 2011

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    Nice write-up Chris!

    Although I am not particularly agreeing on your statement that a Rolex caliber 4130 looks dull (except for its rotor), I think you are spot on with the rest of your comments.

    The only downside - if there actually is one- with this new caliber 9300/9301 (fancy version) is the sub-dial for both minutes and hours. Although I really like two-register chronographs, I prefer readability over 'features' like this that makes it harder to read the minute and hour recorder of the chronograph.

    When I did the interview with Urquhart (CEO of Omega) in Basel, he told me they would leave the Moonwatch alone, so I hope this includes the manual wind caliber 1861 (and slight variations) movement. My personal wish is that they switch on the old Lemania machinery to create 'new' caliber 321 movements and make a limited run of Speedmaster Professionals that could be compared to the 105.012 and 145.012 models from the 1960s.

    RJ