Chuck Maddox’s Watch Blog

This page is a journal of my journey in the field of Horology, which is timekeeping. In other words, watch collecting. Which in my case is the collecting of chronograph watches. To contact me, email me at: cmaddox3@sbcglobal.net .

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Location: Chicagoland, United States

The Extremely wordy version of my Resumé is located here: http://home.xnet.com/~cmaddox/resume.html

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From 18 months ago: "a hint of ‘truth’” on the c.33xx...

From the “Things I find while looking for other things department” I bring to your attention a post that Tucker made 18 months ago... First is Tucker's post unadulterated with my comments:


Author: Tucker Topic: A hint of "truth"... [May 06, 2003 - 05:04 PM]

might be found in this post by Marcus Hanke on a UN forum, which describes the development of the Omega 3303 movement and touches on the 3313:

"...the Omega movement [3303] of the Seamaster [AC Chrono]: Being a designated premium brand within the Swatch Group, it was clear that Omega should go beyond its hitherto used ETA/Valjoux movement bases. The Piguet 118x, which was produced within the group, was an obvious choice. However, Omega always had a reputation of producing sportive watches for everyday use, and the Piguet movements were already infamous for being fine, but delicate. Therefore, Omega engineers teamed up with Piguet specialists, and created a new chronograph movement, based on the 118x's general layout. However, the new 'engine' was designed larger, in order to better withstand shocks. The subdial layout was changed into the more traditional configuration of the small second at 9, 30 minutes-counter at 3, and the 12 hours-counter at 6. Finally, it was designed from the outset to incorporate George Daniel's co-axial escapement, which is exclusively produced by Omega. While the actual movement production is made by Piguet, it is no doubt that the main development effort must be credited to Omega, and I think it is only just that Omega claims this movement as its own."

Maybe that description raises more questions for you than it answers, but I don't believe that the 3303 or the 3313 incorporate any elements of the Omega 2500 movement.


Next is Marcus's thoughts on the c.33xx movement interspersed with my comments...

“...the Omega movement [3303] of the Seamaster [AC Chrono]: Being a designated premium brand within the Swatch Group, ”

Sorry, I wouldn't use "Premium" to describe Omega's place within Swatch Group. Maybe Flagship, but the Premium groupmembers within Swatch are Bruget & Blancpain, not Omega... Quoting again:

“it was clear that Omega should go beyond its hitherto used ETA/Valjoux movement bases. The Piguet 118x, which was produced within the group, was an obvious choice.”

I disagree... To me it would seem more natural for Omega to team up with long time partner and develop either a new exclusive movement, or embelish an old one. Omega and Lemania have a long term (50 plus year) established track record of working well together and producing products that are the envy of the industry. Given some R&D funds and a mandate the sky is the limit (and maybe not even the sky is the limit) as to what an Omega/Lemania joint venture bring... Such a watch could be a new "Clean-sheet" endeavour or something based on a model that Lemania already has available:

This Eberhardt uses the rarely seen and nearly forgotten Lemania 5195 movement. It doesn't take much squinting to imagine the type of watch Omega could produce with this dial configuraton. Back to Marcus's thoughts:

“However, Omega always had a reputation of producing sportive watches for everyday use,”

And Piguet does not. Lemania does, but ...

“and the Piguet movements were already infamous for being fine, but delicate.”

Infamous? As in what we say next has happened before? Can anyone else read this last part as being fragile?

“Therefore, Omega engineers teamed up with Piguet specialists, and created a new chronograph movement, based on the 118x's general layout.”

In my opinion based does not have the same specific definition in this case as is typically used in the watch industry. Based in the watch industry means started from the same movement complete. In Marcus's usage, the 1185 was the BASIS or starting point from which the new design was created from. The c.33xx has about the same amount of commanality with the c.1185 as the Browning High-Power does the Colt .45 Automatic. Even though each product came from the same designer or firm (Piguet in the instance of the watches, John Browning in the case of the pistols) they remain very unique products and there is little or no commanality in parts between the old and new product.

“However, the new 'engine' was designed larger,”

As I mentioned in my article: The 3300 is not based on the 1185.

“in order to better withstand shocks.”

Considering the number of watches sent in for repairs, and the number of watches returned from repait with the claim cause of failure being "Shock damage" it seems that Piguet/Omega has failed in their attempt to produce a watch with effective shock protection.

“The subdial layout was changed into the more traditional configuration of the small second at 9, 30 minutes-counter at 3, and the 12 hours-counter at 6.”

Also mentioned in The 3300 is not based on the 1185.

“Finally, it was designed from the outset to incorporate George Daniel's co-axial escapement, which is exclusively produced by Omega.”

So the responsibility for manufacturing and assembly of the c.330x movement (non-CoAxial) is Piguet's not Omega. However, in the end Omega is responsible for the movemetns they place into their products.

“While the actual movement production is made by Piguet, it is no doubt that the main development effort must be credited to Omega,”

I don't know that I could make that statement based on what I know. I don't know how much input Omega had on the c.33xx weither it was complete, or suggestions... I can't go that far on the limb to assign design responsibility to Omega. Omega doesn't seem to have a very good record on internally designed chrnograph movemetns. And I'm referring to the ill-fated Omega attempt to build an in-house split-second chronometer-chronograph in the late 1990's before giving up and going with a Eta/Valjoux 7750 base.

“and I think it is only just that Omega claims this movement as its own.”

In the end they have to take the credit and or responsibility for this movement. For Piguet is not a company that the average watch purchaser deals with.



Where does this old post get us?

Well, a) It seems pretty obvious that Omega knew that the 1185 wasn't up to the rigors of everyday use like the estabished Seamaster and Speedmaster lines. The c.33xx is Omega's attempt to develop the concept advanced by the c.1185 Piguet into a viable sports chronograph with all that entails. b) It seems increasing more certain that Omega believed that they could design out the fragile-ness of the earlier c.1185 movement and turn it into a middle end movement they could compete head to head with Rolex's Daytona models. Unfortunately it hasn't been as easy to ruggedize and make reliable the 1185 derived movement as they had hoped. It seems (to me anyway) that they might have gotten better results taking a rugged and capable movement and tuning it to meet COSC requirements (like they did with the c.864 and c.1041 Lemania movements), than taking a fine but delicate movement and ruggedizeing it for everyday use.

Perhaps next time they'll take the other path... Hopefully they will learn from this. -- C


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