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NEW YORK — Omega has a long history of being a pioneer in the watchmaking industry. The brand is credited with introducing the first industrialized movement in 1894, the first divers’ watch in 1932 and the first watch qualified by NASA for space missions in 1965.
On Wednesday morning, the company unveiled its latest innovation: the first anti-magnetic watch. The Seamaster Aqua Terra timepiece will be unveiled at the Basel watch fair next month and introduced to the men’s market in October. A women’s version will be offered in the future.
In a press presentation here, Omega president Steven Urquart was joined by a research and development team from its parent company, Swatch Group, to introduce the watch.
Magnetism has long been an issue for the watch industry as the force can wreak havoc on the internal components of a timepiece. The problem has been amplified in recent decades as stronger and stronger magnetic forces are used in everything from refrigerator magnets to handbag clasps. The solution for watchmakers has been to encase their movements in shields, but even that was ineffective when hit with over 1,000 gauss, the unit of measurement of a magnetic field.
Omega charged its development team to address the problem, and the result is a watch resistant to 15,000 gauss that uses non-ferrous materials in the movement instead of cases. Several patents are pending for the new movement.
The watches will retail for around $6,500, Urquart said, about the same price as other Omega watches. “Our goal is to offer this across the board,” he said, “So there won’t be a big price increase.”
The company plans on introducing the technology to every watch in its line by 2017.