Recently, in a long documentary, we went through the ins-and-outs of anti-magnetism in watchmaking, illustrated by the brand that simply masters this concept, Omega, and their hyper-strict testing and certification procedure, the Master Chronometer. You thought that the 15,000 Gauss resistance of these watches was already impressive… Wait for this: Omega actually tested a watch, a prototype of a Seamaster Aqua Terra, to the insane magnetic field of 160,000 Gauss. And believe it or not, it survided and it is now exposed at the Omega Museum, as part of the area of anti-magnetic watchmaking.
As of now, Omega has mainly advertised on the 15,000 Gauss resistance of their Master Chronometer watches, an already extremely impressive resistance that is achieved not by making the case antimagnetic but by having developed an entire movement that can’t be affected by these impressive magnetic fields. This movement is named the Master Chronometer and it requires its own testing procedure and its own certification, developed together with METAS (the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology). To understand more, take a look at the video below:
Yet, you probably know the deal when it comes to break records. To achieve a resistance of x, you have to test to a strength of x+50. As you can imagine, in order to make sure that the watches commercialized with a resistance of 15,000 Gauss are really achieving what is claimed, Omega must have done tests to much higher magnetic fields… And they did.
But what actually is a 15,000 Gauss (or 1,5 tesla) magnetic field? As an order of magnitude for magnetic fields, 15,000 Gauss is approxately what you’ll find in a magnetic resonance imaging system (MRI), or the strength of a coin-sized magnet that can lift more than 9kg.
So now figure this: OMEGA recently tested a prototype Seamaster at 160,000 gauss.
With only curiosity and knowledge in mind, the high-intensity experiments took place in 2016 at the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnetiques Intenses (LNCMI) in Grenoble, France. At LNCMI, the only facility suitable for such a watch experiment, the watch was subjected to an extraordinary 160,000 gauss (16 tesla). Incredibly, the timepiece functioned perfectly during and after exposure to this huge magnetic field.
So what means 160,000 Gauss or 16 tesla? Well, it is the exact field required to levitate a frog (don’t ask… I don’t know either. This is the kind of results you’l find when searching on Google). More seriously, it is more that the magnetic field the most advanced experimental magnetic resonance imaging system (used for research on atoms) can produce… And it’s over the third of the most powerful continuous magnetic field ever created by humankind. So to say, conditions where you don’t want your own watch to be placed… at all!
This prototype watch is now included in a dedicated area about anti-magnetic watchmaking in the Omega Museum, retracing Omega’s incredible achievements in the area of anti-magnetic movements. It focuses on many of the brand’s breakthrough anti-magnetic timepieces and enables visitors to understand this important part of the brand’s heritage and future. Visible at the Museum, Rue Jakob-Stämpfli 96, 2502 Bienne, Switzerland. omegawatches.com.