The De Ville Trésor was a watch by Omega made in the late 1940s, a slim, classic timepiece, the perfect dress watch and ideal for everyday use. Omega has now presented a new version, 40 mm in diameter, and 10.6 mm thick. The silver dial has a clous de Paris texture, with baton hour indices that follow the curve of the dial, and a date window at 6 o’clock. It is made in three versions, one in Omega’s proprietary gold Sedna, one in yellow gold, and one in white gold.
You can see the manually-wound movement through the caseback, which is marked by the words “anti-magnetic” and “15,000 gauss”. This marks the implementation of a promise that Omega made in 2013, on presentation of their first new anti-magnetic watch, the Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss, namely that their anti-magnetic technology would gradually be applied to all the brand’s new coaxial movements, so that by 2017, about 90% of their movements would have this 15,000 gauss rating.
At a presentation in July 2013, Jean-Claude Monachon, Vice President, Product Development at Omega, said “At Baselworld 2011, Nick Hayek (CEO, Omega) and Stephen Urquhart (President, Omega) challenged us to develop a new function that could be useful for everyday use. I suggested a watch that is totally anti-magnetic, far beyond existing standards. I got a green light. Why? Magnets are increasingly present in everyday life, on handbags, loudspeakers, furniture, and magnetism can radically affect the performance of a watch. Watches that arrive for after-sales service nearly always have to be demagnetized. Most watches are rated to withstand a magnetic field of 60 to 80 Gauss, but this is not enough any more.”
What is this problem of magnetism? When a mechanical watch is brought close to a magnet – such as the one on an iPad case, which produces a field of around 1,000 gauss – its movement is affected by the field, and it stops in a field of around 100 gauss. When it is removed from the field, it starts running again, but its movement has become permanently magnetized, causing a great loss in precision. It can lose or gain several minutes a day. It’s not a disaster, and watch repair workshops have a little demagnetizing machine that does the trick.
But Omega decided to make a truly anti-magnetic watch, not by adopting the usual system of placing the movement into a sort of Faraday cage – which has to be all the way round, meaning no movement visible through a sapphire caseback, no date window – but by making components made in substances unaffected by magnetism. These are silicon for balance springs, nickel-phosphorous for wheels, and the amorphous metal Nivagauss used for other components. The research was done by a Swatch Group company called Asulab, and the result was the Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss, whose Co-Axial calibre 8508 is unaffected by fields of up to 15,000 gauss, and continues running at an accuracy of 2.5 seconds per day.
The De Ville Trésor adopts the same technology in its Omega Master Co-Axial 8511 movement, and its resistance to magnetic fields is certified as being at least 15,000 gauss. In addition, it is water-resistant to 30 metres.
The new technology puts it in a different class with respect to the 1940s original. However I have to say that the original De Ville Trésor had a particularly graceful design, with a very narrow bezel, while the bezel is wider in the new watch. An indication of changing times, changing tastes.
Prices: Omega De Ville Trésor in yellow gold, €10,400, white gold €11,200.