In this modern age of watch manufacturing, oneupsmanship is longer confined to increasing case sizes but rather now manufacturers are thinking up lengthy, feature-laden names to endow their timepieces with and thus in the process outname their competitors. In the case of my first Omega timepiece, its name is comprised of six words, 19 syllables and 45 characters (alas, it does not earn the distinction of being the watch with the longest name, which I think would probably be one of the Jaeger-LeCoultre, 7-worded, Master Compressor XXXX XXX XXXX XXXXX XXXXXX watches). Ultimately, methinks that manufacturers will not be satisfied until they finally can coin a name so long so as not to be able to say it all in one breath. Kudos should be given to Omega for managing to fit all these words (and more) on to the dial without making it look cluttered.
It wasn't the mouthful of features in the name that first drew me to the watch but rather the stunning dial. Just one look and one cannot help but be drawn to the unique layout and array of raised indices and numerals (counting individual numbers/letters & hour markers separately there are a total of 54 in all) set on the gorgeous metallic chocolate colored semi-reflective dial that has a sunburst pattern to it. This is one of those dials where when viewed with a magnifier, truly comes to life and will certainly amaze you with all the rich details that are not easily seen with the naked eye.
There is a contrasting darker chocolate ring encircling the outer edge of the dial right before the minute markers that the raised 24H numerals are set against (this ring is actually comprised of about 18 rings within it). The sub-dials, arranged in a tri-compax style, also use this same darker color and they too are comprised of many grooved circles within it. The raised indices and numerals are all brushed with the exception that the indices have beveled polished edges which sparkle when it catches light at the right angle:
The Omega symbol and logo are also represented via raised appliqués:
Short of the date aperture, the dial layout is symmetrical. Where this watch differs from other timepieces with similar features is in the layout of the sub-dials. The sub-dials make clever use of the available dial real estate by slightly overlapping the time keeping seconds hand sub-dial with the chronoscope's minute totalizer sub-dial and then using a half a sub-dial for the hour totalizer:
The time keeping sweeping seconds sub-dial at 9, Chronoscope minute totalizer at 3 and the hour totalizer half sub-dial at 6. (someone had mentioned that it reminded them of Mickey Mouse (albeit one with super-sized ears)).
This is one of the easiest to read dials given the size of the sub-dials (about 14.5mm for the ones at 9 and 3 and 10mm for the one at 6) and the fact that the hands are all coordinated to look about the same by function. Time keeping hands are represented with a hollowed-out "broad sword" look for the hour, minute, seconds and GMT. The sweeping seconds hand is hollow, while the hour and minute hands are filled with luminous substance (I believe SuperLuminova) and the GMT hand is filled with red paint (non-luminous):
Overall lume isn't the greatest as there simply isn't all that much applied but then again, it really would never rank high as a selling point for this particular watch. This watch truly comes to life in bright light and should be worn in such condition accordingly.
The tip of the latter three hands are polished and slant downwards toward the dial. Whether this was done intentionally to help with parallax or merely for aesthetic purposes remain unclear but it took me some getting used to as I've never had a watch with slanted tips. Also, given its nature, it sometimes will not reflect light at a particular angle and makes it look almost as if the tips were chopped off (as illustrated perfectly in this pic):
The Chronoscope hands (seconds, minute, hours) are thinner and resemble epées and in the case of the hour totalizer hand, it is asymmetrical with the right side of the hand being slightly longer than the left.
A very clever method was devised to count the hours up to 12 by using a sub-dial with two "layers":
The outer layer represents hours 1-6 and the inner layer represents 6-12.
The date aperture is perfectly nestled above the small seconds sub-dial and the Omega logo on the dial and was enlarged to show not just the current date but the previous and next dates as well. One can still get a date reading in spite of the aperture being partially obscured by the minute or GMT hand and while Omega is not the first to incorporate an enlarged date aperture, the design is very unique (think of the top of a chef’s hat but slightly flattened out):
There are two additional functions above and beyond simple time/date-keeping and those are as follows:
Helps keep track of a second time zone. Omega’s instructions indicate it’s to keep track of the home time when traveling abroad but I believe most owners of this watch will most likely use it the way I do and that is to keep track of a second time zone. In my case, I sometimes have a need to hold meetings with folks in Mumbai and this is where most mechanical GMTs fall short in that they cannot accommodate time zones with a half-hour differential (Mumbai is currently UTC/GMT +5.5) but that’s fine as I simply set the GMT ahead to the nearest hour (better to think it’s later than it actually is). The GMT hand is easily read with the even numbered hours represented by the hour markers and odd hour numbers via the raised appliqués. While the hand tip is filled in red paint, it is not luminous so one would need to rely on good old fashioned memory and mental calculation to recall the time in the second time zone in the dark (but certainly one can think of better things to do in the dark no?).
Notice that Omega has identified this watch correctly as a Chronoscope and NOT a Chronograph (here on shortened to CS and CG respectively). What’s the distinction you might ask? Put simply, a scope measures things whereas a graph writes them down. A CG would imply that it’s physically writing (charting) measured time whereas a CS true to its definition measures the passing of time. While one can argue that when a CS/CG is stopped, the indicators would be representative of it “writing” the time so it really comes down to semantics but I kind of like the fact of adhering to the original (and correct) way of naming this function.
The CS operates very smoothly with absolutely no discernable “jump” of the second hand when first activated nor any adverse effects on the timekeeping hands (unlike a few chronographs I’ve read about and/or operated).
Note: For an interesting read on Chronoscope vs. Chronograph: http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Chronograph and http://www.xs4all.nl/~rkeulen/watch/chronos.html
CS Minutes totalizer
As with many CS/CG, the minute hand sub-dial tracks the minutes in 30 minute intervals. One will need to also read the hour hand to determine whether the CS is in its first period (0-30 minutes) or the second (31-60).
The minute hand does not progress in live time and will first start to move about half-way towards the next minute marker when the CS seconds hand reaches about 58.5 seconds:
And then will finally jump to the next minute when the CS seconds hand completes its full 60 second revolution:
As mentioned previously, the hour totalizer is represented via a half sub-dial with two semi-circular layers. The outer layer tracks hours 1-6 and the inner layer tracks hours 6-12. Tracking is via an asymmetrical hand with the right side being slightly longer than the left. This allows the shorter half to track hours 6-12 once it reaches 6 hours.
Here we can read the CS elapsed time as 1 hour and 15 minutes:
Now that the long end of the hour totalizer hand has passed 6, the shorter end takes over and we read the CS elapsed time as 11 hours and 19 minutes:
I thought this was really ingenious and allowed a lot of space saving on the dial which was then wisely allotted to the small seconds hand and CS minute totalizer. This is truly one of the most functional CS one can possibly use given the ease with which the sub-dials can be read.
Although this is really an apples to oranges comparo but here is a side by side by side comparison of the Chronoscope vs. Chanel J12 Chrono and Breitling Montbrillant Olympus. As you can see, the Chronoscope subdials are very easy to read relative to the other two.
CASE & CRYSTAL
The case is a nice chunk of brushed steel with many pleasing aesthetic curves:
I took the following measurements with my digital caliper:
Diameter without crown (with crown): 43.9 (47.4)
Height (measured at apex of domed x’tal): 15.2
Lug width: 22
Lug to lug: 54.8
At 44mm in diam, and with the dial representing 37.5mm of that, the watch certainly commands wrist presence! I find that the size of the dial plays a large part in how big a watch is perceived to be. Take for instance a watch I had initially selected based on case size alone, a Ball EM GMT II @ 43mm, however upon viewing the watch for the first time, the dial was so small that it made the watch look a lot smaller than the overall diameter suggested.
The crystal is slightly domed and that coupled with double-sided AR coating does a phenomenal job at reducing glare. Here’s a shot of the watch intentionally placed over a white piece of paper to create glare:
As you can see, the AR coating does a very admirable job at reducing glare and allowing for good visibility.
CROWN & PUSHERS
The crown comes in at a nice solid 7mm in diameter on this watch and provides ample grip when winding the watch (which requires a fair amount of force). While the crown itself is brushed, the Omega logo is polished:
the same which is not found on my Seamaster's crown:
which just goes to show the level of detail paid to every design facet of this watch.
The crown has two positions; pulled out to the first stop, one can adjust the hour quickly in one hour increments (as with most mechanical GMT watches). This allows one to easily adjust to a new time zone while traveling (or for those living in affected areas, DST). Given this feature was incorporated, there is no ability to quick set the date. The only way to move the date ahead (or backwards) is via the hour hand. Interestingly enough, this along with my Seamaster GMT are the first two mechanical GMTs I've owned and they both allow for adjusting the date at any time (via the hour hand), unlike other mechanical watches where there is a general rule of thumb to not set the date between the hours of 2100 and 0300.
Pulling out the crown all the way to the second stop will hack (freeze) the time-keeping seconds hand and allow you to adjust the GMT hand via the time keeping hands. The proper way to set the watch is to first pull the crown out to the second stop to adjust the GMT hand to the correct time (while ignoring the main hour hand which will be adjusted via stop one) and then to push the crown back in to stop one to adjust the main hour hand.
The pushers are set atop stems that look like gears:
This also adds an aesthetic element and matches the crown nicely. Both pushers have a nice solid clicky feel to them when depressed and do not exhibit any mushiness attributed to some other chrono pushers I’ve read about.
This watch comes with a sapphire display back to show off the gorgeous inner workings of the watch. While I don’t know how technically feasible (if at all) it is, but it would’ve been really cool if they were able to show-off the co-axial escapement which is one of Omega’s crowning achievements in recent years:
The watch uses Omega’s 3603 movement which is based on the controversial 3133 movement. Much has been made about the teething (and potentially ongoing issues) with the 3133 movement so for the sake of this review, I will not go into details about it. I've now had the watch for over a little two months and have not experienced any issues with it thus far and in the event something does, Omega watches with Co-Axial movements are protected under warranty for a total of 3 years from the original purchase date so I still have 2+ years to enjoy this watch worry free.
The rotor is decorated with Côtes de Genève (Geneva Stripes) and held in place by a blued screw which contrasts the red jewels nicely:
Most of the upper layers of the movement are also finished with Geneva Stripes, however, Perlage has been employed on certain parts of the movement as well:
For more on the various watch decorations/finishes, please read:
The leather croc strap is also a gorgeous dark chocolate brown color on the outside with black stitching that compliments the dial color perfectly:
The underside of the strap is dark cream/tan with matching stitching:
The strap is 22mm at the lug end and tapers off to 20mm on the clasp side and 19mm on the holes side.
Like the logo on the crown, the one on the clasp is polished as well.
If there was one criticism I could possibly levy at this watch, the clasp would be it. It’s what I would call a “reverse clasp” with the free end of the strap ending up on the wrist side as opposed to the outside thus obviating the need for a strap keeper:
While aesthetically pleasing, it slightly increases the overall diameter of the watch. This may present some challenges with getting it to fit under a shirt cuff.
The clasp earns high marks for design and security (both pushers need to be firmly depressed in order to deploy the clasp):
Where I feel Omega could’ve taken a different approach is with the way the clasp straddles the hole:
The hole side of the clasp is fixed and the strap itself must be squeezed firmly in order to seat it properly:
There is very little clearance and even with the utmost care of feeding the strap through the clasp:
I still managed to scratch it up a little:
I recall on my very first nice watch (a Charriol Columbus Chrono), the deployant clasp had a clamp on the hole side where you could release and easily resize the strap without damaging it. I’ve since sold that watch but my wife kept hers, so here’s a pic as reference:
It would’ve been perfect if Omega had employed one of these instead to easily adjust the strap size.
Aside form the clasp, there is simply not one negative element I can cite about this watch. It is truly a marvel to behold, and a pure joy to wear. The dial has great legibility especially with regards to the use of the Chronoscope and it is a lot of watch for the money by virtue of all the features it has. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more feature-laden watch in this price range with the prestige to boot. I purchased this second hand in like new condition for a very good price so this definitely ranks as one of my best "bargains" ever.
Should you have the opportunity, do stop by a local AD so you can view/handle this watch in person. Maybe it's to witness that stunning dial first-hand or to marvel at the movement through the caseback. Or maybe, just maybe it is to simply utter its lengthy name fully a la "May I see the Omega DeVille Co-Axial Chronometer Chronoscope GMT please".
Note: This piece is not as commonly stocked relative to the other lines currently in Omega's collection so be sure to call ahead first.