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: .

Location: Chicagoland, United States

The Extremely wordy version of my Resumé is located here:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A note from Time Flies on his Omega c.3303 failing...

I received this email from Greg Bxxxxxxxx (Time Flies) tonight...:
[note: because this is such a long email I have bolded the key parts]

From: Greg Bxxxxxxxx (Time Flies) [I've omitted Greg's email, contact me if you wish to get in touch with him

Subject: A note from Time Flies on his Omega c.3303
Date: July 29, 2006 4:48:17 PM CDT


Long time, no talk.

Well, here is another experience for your Blog or whatever. You are free to quote me anywhere -- on forums or wherever you find it useful. I don't participate in watch forums very much since I retired almost two years ago. I spend my time flying, fly fishing and working with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I have also been doing quite a bit of bush flying.

I took a chance -- against your advice -- but the dollars didn't mean that much to me. I don't mean it the way it sounds. Every penny is worth a penny. But, in the great scheme of things, purchasing an Omega Olympic edition Seamaster Chronograph with the c.3303 was sort of a 'cheap chance' when I look at what I spend owning and maintaining two aircraft!

I bought the watch in February of 2005. I wore it flying quite a bit and as an 'every day' watch on and off since I purchased it. I used the chronograph feature a lot, as does any pilot, even when not using it for flying. I time a lot of things. I have not had a single problem with the chronograph. Despite using it quite a bit, it has always reset properly and I noticed no other aberrations in its function. Three days ago, I noticed the watch seemed to lack power reserve and also felt the watch head wobbling on my wrist -- a more noticeable wobble than the old Valjoux 7750 characteristic wobble. So, I took the watch off my wrist and shook it a bit and you could feel and hear the rotor 'free spinning' with no ratcheting (winding) sound during or at the end of the rotor rotation. The number of rotor rotations was amazing ( maybe 20 or 30 or even more) with just a little shake of the watch head. Then I tested the power reserve and there is none with the watch starting from a dead stop (power reserve at zero after running down after winding). The rotor is not winding the watch and something has disengaged in that gear train. At least, it has a two year warranty. But, even if it is fixed, I will likely just put the watch in a drawer. I don't have time to fight Omega, which is a shame. But, I have other more interesting things to do and enough watches to wear.

As a side note --- I own a bunch of watches as you know, or assume. And, I have owned a substantial number over the years. The three most reliable mechanical watches I have owned, in terms of accuracy and being totally free of problems despite heavy use and being knocked around are my Speedmaster Professional, a Breitling Navitimer I bought about five years ago after Breitling made some pretty dramatic changes in manufacture (buying Kelek) and quality control, and the ultimate tough watch, for me at least, a Tutima NATO with the wonderful Lemania 5100 (one heck of great watch for what I use watches quite a bit -- bush whacking, flying and fly fishing).

So, I wish I had listened to you. But, I was willing and could afford to take a chance. I lost the game. But, I think Omega is genuinely 'lost'. It is a damn shame since I have owned Omegas since I966. I would not buy another currently marketed Omega. So, Omega lost me. It is a story of losing.

Hope all is well, and again, you may post for me or quote anything I have said, not that my take on the situation or my experience matters to you or anyone else. If you do quote me, I would appreciate a quick note telling me where you have quoted me just for grins. I might check it out, and who knows, I might register again for a watch forum.

Thanks for your help and conversation over the years. I send my best regards,

Greg Bxxxxxxxx [I've omitted Greg's email, contact me if you wish to get in touch with him]

(aka "Time Flies", "K2UM", "Pilot-4ES", "Old Phantom II Driver" and whatever other monikers I have used


BTW, that list of three watches that have proven to be tough customers for me is relative to owning (I honestly lost count) maybe a hundred watches and that includes, AP, JLC, IWC, Omega, Breitling, VC, Rolex (had trouble with every one of these I've owned -- but that is only four), Blancpain, Panerai, Ventura, Glycine, Tutima, Sinn, and the list goes on and on. Heck, I can't even recall all of the manufacturers right now! You can just about name any "fairly big name" in watch marques and I've owned at least a couple their models along the way. By the way, I had no problems with my Panerai watches. I have not owned a Patek (no interest) or some of the unique, what I will call 'designer' marques.. The vast, vast majority were new purchases -- probably 90 of the 100 or so I had. I had trouble with every one of my JLCs despite them being part of their "Masters Series"; every Blancpain was a bust, the IWCs all ran very slow or were temperamental as hell if they used JLC ebauches; and every Rolex I've had developed winding or rotor problems and their service sucked to be honest.

I just wanted to put my comments in some perspective. Personally, I think the whole Swiss watch industry has a pervasive problems with quality control and their watches are vastly overpriced. In fact, I own four great quartz watches and I always, always have a quartz watch with me when I really need to depend on timing, even if I am wearing a mechanical, you can bet a quartz is in my flight bag -- either a Microtech H3, a Breitling Emergency or a Breitling B-1 or my 16 year old Breitling quartz Navitmer (later rebadged as the Aerospace).


Some brief observations [factual statements, not opinions]...

  • Anyone who has been on TZ from a few years back will remember Time Flies. He was one of the heavy posters when I first started visiting Time Zone. Saying Greg knows a bit about watches is a bit like saying Story Musgrave knows a bit about working in space.
  • I am not entirely sure the Omega Olympic edition Seamaster Chronograph were equipped with a c.3303, I was under the impression that these watches were fit with the newer c.3301 movements, but there were so many Olympic commemoratives released that it's quite possible that Greg has it right.
  • This will be the third problem reported with c.33xx's since 21 June (5 1/2 weeks - 38 days): a Connie Double Eagle c.3313, a BA c.3303 and this Olympic Commemorative, at least that I am aware of...
  • It would seem that I'm not the only person who feels that the Swiss Watch industry has a significant problem in the area of Quality Control.

And some personal opinions:

  • With 3 failures in the past 5 1/2 weeks, with a variety of models (Speedmaster Broad Arrow, Double Eagle Constellation, Seamaster Olympic Commemorative), new models (Connie)m repeat repair (BA) and 18 month old purchase, I would think that even the most strident c.33xx fans would take pause at these continuing reports of problems with this movement.
  • These reports do not seem to be going away.
  • I'm starting to think my earlier description of "problems happening in spurts and gaps" is more accurate than my more recent "it seems the failure reports are fewer and farther apart" assessment.
  • [this might be as much a fact as my opinion:] These failures ARE COSTING OMEGA CUSTOMERS!
  • Omega's reputation as a producer of quality product, built up over a century and a half of hard word, is being greviously and possibly irreparably harmed by the shortsighted ignoring/downplaying of documented, continuing and numerious problems these Fredric Piguet based movements are suffering.
  • Sacrificing one's reputation for short term sales is a poor business practice.

I don't know what else to say that I haven't said before, likely dozens of times. Far lesser companies than Omega would have done what was right about these problems long ago. The steps which Omega has taken thus far have not been effective in eliminating the issues existant with these movements. Expecting different or improved results by staying pat isn't a logical or reasonable expectation.

-- Chuck

P.S. If you'd like to get in touch with Greg (Time Flies) email me and I'll work to make it happen.


Blogger Speedmaster said...

Ouch! ;-(

Monday, July 31, 2006 1:17:00 AM  
Blogger John F. Opie said...

Hi -

I've also taken Omega off my short list, but for other reasons: they are trying to run Eddie Platt from TimeFactors UK out of the watchmaking business using his "Broadarrow" brand name.

I'm going to be spending around $3500 on a watch this year (I turn 50 and that's what I've saved up over the last 4 years for exactly that purpose!), and it will NOT be an Omega.

It'll be a Sinn 903 and a Stowa Antea with chronometer upgrade instead. It would've been a Speedmaster - long my dream watch - but like I said, I will not buy an Omega due to their business practices. Having them screw up their watches is just added topping.


Sunday, August 13, 2006 4:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was beginning to think I was the only person with a $2800 paper weight. I have a Seamaster Professional Chrono. I really love the watch or used too that is. I have never used it as it is supposedly designed to be. The first time it broke I thrashed Omega so bad they fixed it free. Now its broke again, Stop watch wont work, wont reset, can't change the date, has 0! power reserve and the band wont stay latched. I cant imagine what Omega will charge to fix. More than I'm willing to pay I'm sure. Very Very Very disappointing. I thought I was purchasing the last watch I would ever need. Now I tell time with my cell phone. How pathetic. The swiss need to stick to cheese!

Thursday, September 07, 2006 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck Maddox said...

nick henson said...

I was beginning to think I was the only person with a $2800 paper weight. I have a Seamaster Professional Chrono.

Hello Nick.

Sadly, you're not the only one with a bad Omega Seamaster Professional Chronograph. You're not the only person who's had one fail more than once.

May I ask which specific model you have? A Case Reference Number or a picture or a description would be helpful. Is the Date located at 3 o'clock or 6 o'clock?

The specifics may well be important.

I really love the watch or used too that is. I have never used it as it is supposedly designed to be.

As a diving watch, that is?

The first time it broke I thrashed Omega so bad they fixed it free. Now its broke again, Stop watch wont work, wont reset, can't change the date, has 0! power reserve and the band wont stay latched. I cant imagine what Omega will charge to fix.

Well, depending upon which model you have, and the specifics of your situation, you might be able to convince Omega to repair the watch gratis. There have been a pox of failures with the c.33xx since their inception, and several of the repairs that Omega has done on these models have later failed. If you have a c.33xx model you may be able to point to links of these reports of failures in order to influence Omega into doing the right thing and repair their product.

Additionally, I have heard of people using either the thread of invoking local "Lemon Laws" of actually filing proceedings to motivate Omega into repairing a failed c.33xx.

While the Emailer Valjoux 7750's reliability record isn't entirely spotless, like all things made by man they can fail too, they have not had near the problems the c.33xx have. It's important to know which model you have.

Drop me an email if you'd like, I can't promise anything, but I'd be happy to offer any assistance I might be able to provide.

-- Chuck

Thursday, September 07, 2006 3:13:00 PM  

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