Forums Latest Auctions Members

Omega Megaquartz; The Children Of The Revolution

  1. Tom Dick

    Tom Dick and Harry Oct 7, 2012

    Posts
    1,357
    Likes
    3,558
    Finally chaps I thought you might appreciate this:

    I am mad keen on Vintage Quartz watches from the early 70’s, especially Omegas. In my time collecting (about three years now) I have owned most variations of the wide range of quartz watches Omega produced during the period.

    The 1970’s really was a time of revolution in watch making, the emergence of quartz was like the industrial revolution of the watch world, before the day of mass produced Asian (and Swiss) quartz movements. It was a time of massive change, the sky was the limit in terms of development and IMHO no Swiss company embraced this like Omega.

    A quick scan of any of the 1970’s sales catalogues produced by the company (can be found at http://www.old-omegas.com ) will reveal the breadth and range of Omega creativity, they really were ground breaking! Fresh from the huge success of the ‘Moon Watch’ and cash rich, they invested huge sums of Money in R&D, working in partnership with 15 other Swiss companies to create the Beta21, the first Swiss production quartz movement launched in 1969 and used by such lofty names as Omega, Rolex, Patek to name but a few.

    The thing quartz (at the time) brought to the marketplace was accuracy, even most modern chronometers vary by some 3-5 SPD, these early quartz watches varied by around 5 seconds per month!

    In the 1970’s quartz watches where far from the cheaper more cost effective alternative they are perceived as today, they were in fact quite the opposite, early quartz were considerably more expensive than auto’s or manual winds and where very much the top f the range of the Swiss companies and the movements where like early steam engines, a cacophony of micro technology mixed brass main plates and gears and cogs working in union to drive the hands

    At the same time Omega where working (with others) they where also working on a secret quartz project, investing monumental sums of money in the pursuit of the most accurate wrist watch ever, with a remit to create a watch with an accuracy of circa 1 second per month.

    In 1970, at the Basel Fair Omega previewed the cal 1500 Elephant, a marvel of technology and a watch that had an accuracy of 1 second per month or 12 seconds per year!

    This really was like wandering in to a car show and seeing a genuine working hover car, it was inconceivable to many at the time that a wristwatch could have accuracy like this! The prototype watch is on the top row left in a silver case with round dial:

    [​IMG]

    Above is the best image I have ever been able to get of one of this first run of prototype watches

    The original cal 1500 was produced in a rumored 5 examples, in a very distinctive case in either gold or silver. The movement (nicknamed the Elephant or Mickey Mouse because of the twin battery compartment) was the result of two years of development by some of the greatest minds in early quartz technology.

    A year later it appeared on the market as the caliber 1510 and shortly after 1511 Marine Chronometer, boasting an accuracy of 1 second per month and cost the same as a very good family car, they where the absolutely top of the range of Omegas models, cost far in excessive of any of their other watches, including their other Electroquartz and Megaquartz 32Khz lines (which had an accuracy of 5 SPM)

    [​IMG]

    When I first laid eyes on the 1510 version of these watches I was smitten, being a 70’s child I was enamored by the style of the watch, unlike the prototypes it was a huge rectangular case with integral SS or Shark skin (occasionally crocodile) bracelet, which is much more akin to the fashion of today!

    The watch was available in a number of dial variations, most commonly and probably famously the ‘Stadust’ a deep blue dial with hand laid aventurine crystal, which shimmered, like the night sky when in sunlight! There were also a couple of other variations, the Puprite dial, an electric blue dial which again appeared almost metallic in sunlight and the waffle dial, a dark tone plain dial with a waffle print effect. Of the 1000 1510’s made between 100 and 200 where solid 18K gold, available in either Stardust or Puprite variations, with a price tag that at the time would buy you a new Porsche!

    At the same time Omega produced the Marine Chronometer, running effectively the same movement but under cal 1511 but certified by the Beacon Institute as a Marine Chronometer, to this day the only wrist watch official hold this title, each watch being rigorously tested over a 6 week period and being certified with an accuracy of at least one second per month

    I finally acquired my first 1510 about two years ago now, the watch went to Omega official vintage restorer in the UK (http://www.swisstimeservices.com) who are the only company (including Omega) who still service and warranty these watches, after 8 weeks and an (at the time) mind bending service bill of over £500 this beauty came back to me:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And, as they say; ‘so it began’

    In the last three years I have owned over ten of these special watches, I have also added to my collection a completely mint cal 1511 Marine Chronometer (again only 1000 where made) a watch that really was a destiny purchase, originally sold at Nidds and Sons of Grimsby (my home town and the shop I purchased my first Omega from, a quartz Bond when I was 21) on the 19th of July 1977, the day I was born, here she is in all of her post STS serviced glory:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have long hankered after getting a full set of these watches, I owned a Puprite a few years ago and stupidly sold it, but then about a month ago lady luck shined, firstly from our very own Victor Boyd, who sold me his very original Waffle dial the same day as I managed to purchase a virtually crack free NOS dial (these dial are notorious for cracking very badly), fresh back from a complete service and overhaul at STS I am really pleased; it is a more understated and I guess wearable version of the Stardust, and the only one i have personally seen that didn't have a badly damaged dial:

    [​IMG]

    Then a few weeks later another Puprite dial fell in to my lap, she’s at STS as we speak having a complete spa treatment and I am sure the results will be stunning, this really is the rarest production variation of these watches and other than the one I have already owned I know of only one other, owned by a fellow forum member Toshi

    With these recent new purchases under my belt and my collection growing I set my sights on an 18K Stardust (other than the seven 18K Marine Chronometers, of which not even the museum has one) was the only model I now didn’t own! I was just about to fire a fellow forum member who I knew had one a begging email when I came across genuinely my holy grail on ebay!

    At first I didn’t believe my eyes, I thought it must be a scam as there was simply no way on earth it could be for sale! It as one of the five cal 1500 prototypes, presented in a gold case and for sale in Switzerland by a seller I had already dealt with over another Prototype Omega Hard metal I had bought a few weeks earlier!

    I fired him and email and after a lot of back and forth he confirmed to me he had bought the watch and my earlier prototype as well as some other parts from Jean Girrad-Othenin, the man who was responsible for the development of the cal 1500 and later 1510, 1511 and the later 1515 and 1516 models.

    The watch was listed as an auction and I made the commitment in my mind to go for it! After a few fellow forum members (you know who you are) graciously agreed to step back and give me a shot I put a bid of the maximum I could afford to spend and waited for the auction to end, I don’t think I have ever been so anxious about a watch purchase in my life!

    I had no delusions I would win the watch I fully anticipated it to go far beyond what I could afford and had every expectation that there was a likely hood Omega would step in and buy it for the museum as they only have a silver version in their display

    The day of the end of the auction came; I was at home with my folks helping my dad (who’s recently had a stroke) clear out the room in the roof! I resigned myself to not watching the auction end, I gave my laptop to my wife Esther with the instruction to let me nowhere near it and got on with the task in hand!

    After 6 trips to the tip, 7 trips to the charity shop I staggered out of the roof about 9:00pm, I sat down in the lounge and opened my laptop, logged on to ebay and with a heavy heart prepared myself for disappointment………………….


    My ebay loaded and I scrolled down to won, clicked the button and at the top of the listing was this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One of five Omega cal 1500 Elephant prototypes ever made and probably most significant (to me) watch purchase I will ever make, not only that but it came with two spare cases, one gold and one silver

    The prototype is now residing in Swiss Time Services (Omega Vintage UK) museum collection, the owner and I are close friends and I came to the conclusion that if:

    a) I wore it and damaged it I would be mortified
    b) If it stopped (which of course it might) I would be buggered
    c) It really does belong in a museum

    The watch is currently on display at STS so if anyone ever gets a change pop in and see it

    Hope you enjoyed the article?

    Cheers Tom
     
  2. dsio

    dsio Ash @ ΩF Staff Member Oct 7, 2012

    Posts
    18,310
    Likes
    13,377
    Very cool... you know one of our members here has a solid 18K gold version of the Stardust 2.4Mhz
     
  3. scottb

    scottb Nov 12, 2015

    Posts
    2
    Likes
    0
    Here's a question - I just bought for my son the 32 Kh silver round dial watch pictured above. In the sales piece you have included here it talks about the "Seconds Injector" and "Hour Change" systems. I can't find any info on those - I'd like to find out what those are?

    Great article, BTW, very informative and interesting.
     
  4. styggpyggeno1

    styggpyggeno1 ΩF Enforcer ....and thread killer Nov 13, 2015

    Posts
    3,287
    Likes
    33,981
    I share your interest in vintage HAQ watches ( I do like some modern HAQ also) and I really do appreciate your post. Thanks.

    It feels strange to get 20-25 "likes" for showing a standard watch in the WRUW thread when quality articles like this does not generate more. I hereby give you 100 likes from me.

    As you write -
    "In the 1970’s quartz watches where far from the cheaper more cost effective alternative they are perceived as today, they were in fact quite the opposite, early quartz were considerably more expensive than auto’s or manual winds and where very much the top f the range"
    - very true and not widely known or acknowledged today. Keeping the expensive part aside (not in itself a good measurement of greatness) - they were top of the range.

    I have yet to find my Omega megaquartz but here is an example of an, at the time very expensive quartz, that - if found - can be bought for very little today. Accuracy-wise it still outperforms almost everything.
    When new, in 1977, it was Seiko: s most expensive steel watch. Twice the price of a Grand Seiko. It cost 200 000 yen in 1977 which is about 2000 USD – today – what it was back in 1977, I do not know but it was very, very expensive. Eats Omega Marine Chronometers for breakfast... at within 10 seconds a year. ;);)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Edited Nov 13, 2015
  5. billyblue

    billyblue Nov 13, 2015

    Posts
    369
    Likes
    363
    Couldn't have said it better, another 100 likes from me, too!!

    Thank you very much for this write up, this is what I love about this hobby. Someone going very deep in appreciation for what he likes.
     
  6. al128

    al128 unsolicited co-moderation giverer Nov 13, 2015

    Posts
    2,205
    Likes
    2,005
    while I cannot relate to collecting quartzes, I applaud the fire and quality of your article ;-)
     
  7. styggpyggeno1

    styggpyggeno1 ΩF Enforcer ....and thread killer Nov 19, 2015

    Posts
    3,287
    Likes
    33,981
    Oh... sorry, HAQ = High Accuracy Quartz.
     
  8. Fredrik (Swe)

    Fredrik (Swe) Nov 19, 2015

    Posts
    296
    Likes
    3,920
    awesome post and awesome watch! Congratulations!
     
    marc m likes this.
  9. marc m

    marc m Jun 1, 2016

    Posts
    6
    Likes
    5
    i hope that this gets to you Tom. i just joined the omega forum. i am pleased that there are others that aappreciate these timepieces. i own a megaquartz 2.4 mhz with the aventurine dial in 18kt (case & band) which i purchased on ebay many years ago. it does keep exceptional time and i love it. Recently had a jeweler in Florida service it and replaced the crystal. i will try to take a photo and send it.. i also have a few older omegas, one which i inherited. it is a gold consellation bumper auto with original receipt purchase date i believe was 1948 in Brazil. cost as i recall was $420.00. that included a gold band. as i recall the watch and band were 18kt. i believe that it was what is referred to as a pie-pan. much better than rolex which i also collect. who timed the olympics and goes to the moon. rolex goes golfing and are shrewd at marketing.
     
    ahartfie and Foo2rama like this.
  10. Tom Dick

    Tom Dick and Harry Jun 2, 2016

    Posts
    1,357
    Likes
    3,558
    Marc

    Welcome to the forum and we would love to see your watches, the 18K Stardust is a remarkable watch, I finally added one to my collection a couple of years ago after 5 years hunting to find the right example, they are superb pieces! When new they were by far and away the highest price Omega available on the market (the 18K version) at in excess of £3000 in 1975...................

    Here is mine
     
    marc m and ahartfie like this.
  11. Tom Dick

    Tom Dick and Harry Jun 2, 2016

    Posts
    1,357
    Likes
    3,558
  12. sailor

    sailor Jun 2, 2016

    Posts
    462
    Likes
    749
    Seriously cool pen. The watch ain't bad either :thumbsup:
     
    marc m likes this.
  13. marc m

    marc m Jun 3, 2016

    Posts
    6
    Likes
    5
     
  14. marc m

    marc m Jun 3, 2016

    Posts
    6
    Likes
    5
     
  15. marc m

    marc m Jun 3, 2016

    Posts
    6
    Likes
    5
    Thanks for the note Tom. I would like to put a leather band on my megaquartz like the one you have on yours. could you tell me what width i need at the lugs (ie 22mm or ?). with the 18kt gold bracelet, which is hollow is to ""loud". YourMQ looks much better with the black band. i was told by an expert? that he could not find one.
    thk you sir
    marc m
     
  16. Tom Dick

    Tom Dick and Harry Jun 4, 2016

    Posts
    1,357
    Likes
    3,558
    Marc

    I may be able to help, I will drop you a PM

    Tom
     
    marc m likes this.
  17. marc m

    marc m Jun 7, 2016

    Posts
    6
    Likes
    5
    IMG_20160607_182244.jpg Hi Tom,
    hope this reaches you, a picture of my 2.4 Mhz gold omega. i am sorry about the quality. i love the watch but with the band the watch is a little too "loud" for me.
    i also have some pristine omegas that i will try to send you.
     
    BlueBoy, tyrantlizardrex and ahartfie like this.
  18. webvan

    webvan Jun 20, 2016

    Posts
    337
    Likes
    168
    A bit "loud" indeed for everyday use but at least you can put a leather band unlike some other 18k watches like some that have been posted here.

    As a matter of curiosity do you remember how much you'd paid for it on eBay ? I read stories that at one point you could pick up Omega 1510s for nearly nothing on eBay, would have been different for 18k versions of course.

    That's the type of strap you need with a GP plated N°27 deployant http://r.ebay.com/JXFKVX except this is the 1216 (18/28mm) version (for F300, 32Khz, Megasonic), the correct one is the 1215 (18/32mm) for the 2.4Mhz MQs. They do show up at good prices on eBay once in a while (~70 euros from Spain in 2013).

    [​IMG]
     
    Edited Jun 20, 2016