Talking Watches With Jean-Claude Monachon, VP, Product & Customer Service, OMEGA
Getting into the minute details of the 2022 OMEGA novelties with the man behind the entire OMEGA collection.
During OMEGA Days that took place earlier this month, we got the opportunity to talk to Jean-Claude Monachon, VP, Product & Customer Service, OMEGA. Our conversation ranged from talking about OMEGA’s 2022 novelties to the way forward for the brand and the challenges faced in creating the Seamaster Ultra-Deep.
As the person responsible for the development of the entire OMEGA collection, this was a conversation that was deeply enlightening and informative. Excerpts below.
MW: We have seen colourful dials on the Seamaster, Constellation and Speedmaster but what made OMEGA choose this lineup of colours for 2022 instead of the classic colours?
JCM: When it comes to the colours presented in the Aquaterra, Constellation or even in the Speedmaster is the presence of new technologies. We could create these colours two years ago, but now we have the technology to inculcate these colours in the Aquaterra and Constellation collections. The technology has allowed us to come up with these unique shades of colours. Having a wide range of colours for our watches also makes it attractive when sitting at the window of a boutique. Earlier we used to have only black or white dials but now we have a range of colours all thanks to the evolution of our technology.
How does the Ultra Deep take care of saturation diving and helium escape?
If you go back to OMEGA’s history in 1957 when we came up with the Seamaster 300, there was no helium escape. So, when we thought of the concept to develop the Ultra Deep in 2019, we wanted to lower the places where water could enter the watch. As we know water can enter the watch from the sapphire, the crown and the caseback. For the Ultra Deep we have built the structure in such a way that helped us avoid including a helium escape valve. For saturation diving watches, we have eight tests mainly checking the visibility of the luminescence of the dot and the minute hand, the magnetic resistance for which OMEGA has 15,000 gauss, temperature cycles of very checking watches in very high and low water temperature, checking the corrosion resistant of the watch by dipping it in very salty water, attachment resistant, Helium Valve over pressure test and two tests to check resistance against sub-resistance properties. As these tests were successful for OMEGA, that is why we can call this ULTRA Deep collection divers watch for saturation diving.
Tell us more about O-MEGASTEEL?
We knew that if we wanted to make a watch in steel, we cannot use the 316L steel as its elasticity would not allow us to make the watch water resistant to 6000 metres. So we had to find another alloy. The idea for O-MEGASTEEL came to us much before we had set the record of 10,935 metres but we wanted to find steel that had an elasticity comparable to titanium. After almost 5 years of development, O-MEGASTEEL came into existence. This metal is 50% more hard than the usual 316L steel. It features high mechanical properties and offers a brighter colour than the 316L. It is totally corrosion free and non-allergenic with less than 0.055 percent of nickel.
With materials like O-MEGASTEEL and Moonshine Gold, can you give us an insight into the company’s focus on developing such materials.
All of the other alloys mentioned was all done internally because we have a foundry for gold. For steel it was more complicated because the steel companies making steel for watches is very tiny. So, we found a partner who agreed to help us create this special alloy.
Why did OMEGA decide to use Aventurine for the dial of the new Constellation? And how challenging was it to work with this material?
At product development we come up with many ideas. While we do use aventurine glass for the Constellation collection, we said why don’t we use gemstones in aventurine because they do exist. With the help of our dial suppliers, we created the dial and the results were good. We then decided to go with it. With Aventurine dials, no two dials are the same and each element or pattern on the dial is 100 percent natural.
Is it correct that today all of the OMEGA mechanical movements have a METAS certification?
JCM: Not all. But as we said in 2015, one day all our mechanical watches, except the 321 that is on the Speedmaster, all the OMEGA automatic movements will be Master Chronometers. When? Is it this year or next year? I know the answer but I cannot give you the answer now.
Image Courtesy: OMEGA