Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster
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  1. #1
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    Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    I daydreamed about buying a lightly-used Omega Seamaster 300m Quartz with an Omega 1538 movement, and converting it to HAQ. It seems like a fantastic way to get a top quality watch at an attractive price, but I think I'm going to abandon the idea. Here's why.

    The 1538 is the Omega branding of the ETA 255.461, which is not thermo-compensated, hence not high accuracy. But the electronic module for the 255.461 can be replaced by the module from the 255.561 or 255.563, both which are thermo-compensated. I've seen advice that says swapping the module is easy. What's more, the thermo-compensated modules can be regulated, so it should be possible to adjust the watch to excellent accuracy. There are many WUS threads describing this.


    But I don't want to open the watch and do this myself. I got in touch with two watch service people, and each told me they wouldn't do the job. The first said he wasn't completely convinced the 1538 is certain to be compatible with the module from the 255.561 or 255.563, and I risk wasting my money. The second said that I'd end up with a Frankenstein hybrid that Omega and authorized repair centers, including his shop, would refuse to touch, even if all I need is new gaskets.


    So, sadly, I think I'm going to give up. I like the Grand Seiko SBGX339, SBGX337, and especially the SBGX115, but those are a lot of money, and the SBGX115, which I like best of all, is fairly rare. It rubs me the wrong way that I could have a nice HAQ Seamaster for under $2,000.

  2. #2
    Member dicioccio's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Even if I don't own that watch and even if I didn't do that job, I dare to say my opinion.

    Here on WUS there are many users who documented and detailed the job so I am sure that swapping the movement is absolutely ok. Moreover, as far as I remember, the movement has a spacer plastic ring so a slight adjustment could be done with standard tools. So the point is if the man at the watch center wants to do the job or doesn't want. If it is an official repair center, I understand their point as they're not authorised to touch "unofficial" watches, even if they're able to do that. But if it is not an official center, then swapping the movement and do a standard maintenance such as battery and gaskets change shouldn't be a problem. Here in Rome I have 2 or 3 places (shops with laboratories) where such a job could be easily done, but I don't know the situation where you live.

    However I think this is not the point. In my very personal opinion a watch should be left as the watchmaker did it, especially with a brand like Omega. On top of that there are a lot of issues that could raise doing such a job so you have to be prepared that this hybrid watch could require more maintenance and care. So you buy an used Omega Seamaster (with no warranty) and an used HAQ from another watch (with no warranty); then say to a watchmaker to do the assembly (with no warranty and probably against his opinion); then polish the case and the bracelet, changing the gaskets, maybe replacing the glass and do a final water pressure test (to check everything has been assembled properly). At the end of the job, you have to check the rate and trim it carefully to get the best accuracy (and open it and regulate it at least a couple of times). It can be done of course but better be prepared to the unforeseen and to spend on this project some time.

    Unless you are truly "obsessed" with this particular watch, I would look elsewhere for a HAQ diver.

    My personal experience was with a Quartz Seiko Diver with a 7C43 movement. After buying some watches from eBay (and reselling them on eBay) I've understood it isn't worth it because you'll never get a perfect result. Some of them have replaced parts (the bezel, the bracelet) or parts not in good condition (the hands or the dial). Once I even got a watch in mint condition that stopped working after 2 days and I had to go to the Seiko repair center the have the electronic circuit (not the whole movement) replaced. Not to mention that YOU know that the watch is not original. I would do that for sure if I was a watch technician with some skills, working in the field and having direct access to several spare parts, or even having the chance to find here and there some used watches. But as I am, I don't have all this time to spend on this project and I ended up waiting for some good watch and I've bought 3 years ago the Certina Diver which is a great value for money.
    Econoline and TrawlingOne like this.

  3. #3
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    I think that the Seamaster HAQ conversion is only practical for someone who is prepared to work on his/her own watch, or finds a watch repair center willing to work on something out of the ordinary. I don't fall into either of those categories.

    It's interesting (for me, at least) to speculate about what Omega was thinking concerning HAQ on their Seamaster 200m and 300m quartz watches in the 1900's and 2000's. It's odd that they started with the Omega 1441 movement (thermo-compensated), switched to the 1438 (not thermo-compensated), and then used the 1538 (also not thermo-compensated). I believe they could have stuck with thermo-compensated at minimal cost, and would have produced HAQ watches that, even by today's standards, would have been first class. At the same time, they started pushing the "watch of James Bond" angle, even though James Bond is fictional. I suppose I'm not a good judge of what sells. To me, accuracy is a real plus, and the endorsement of a fictional character, not so much.
    dicioccio likes this.

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  5. #4
    Member Tom-HK's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    There are one or two Seamasters out there of a slightly older generation that were HAQ when they left the factory and that Omega will still work on...

    Name:  MVIMG_20180718_072433_crop_604x604.jpg
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    (ok, so I'm just digging this out because the old prototype hasn't seen much wrist time recently)
    Ask me about 4 MHz watches

  6. #5
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom-HK View Post
    There are one or two Seamasters out there of a slightly older generation that were HAQ when they left the factory and that Omega will still work on...

    Name:  MVIMG_20180718_072433_crop_604x604.jpg
Views: 281
Size:  238.8 KB

    (ok, so I'm just digging this out because the old prototype hasn't seen much wrist time recently)
    I know about the Seamaster 200m pre-Bond quartz with the Omega 1441 (thermo-compensated) movement. I sort-of knew there were other thermo-compensated Omegas, and you've proved it with your photo.

    If I could find a nice example of a 200m 1441 I'd think about buying it, but that comes with its own set of problems. There are a fair number of Seamaster 200m quartz watches on ebay, but most of them are beat up, and I'd like something in reasonable condition. Also, most have no indication of the movement, so were I to buy one without seeing inside the case, I'd likely get the 1438 (not thermo-compensated) movement. I saw a nice example with the 1441 available on Chrono24, but that got snapped up in seconds.

    The thing that would be attractive about HAQ-converting the Seamaster 300m quartz is that there are a ton of them available, many in nice shape and at a good price. But for me that's just a pretty dream.

  7. #6
    Banned ppaulusz's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Quote Originally Posted by jstroomers View Post
    I know about the Seamaster 200m pre-Bond quartz with the Omega 1441 (thermo-compensated) movement. I sort-of knew there were other thermo-compensated Omegas, and you've proved it with your photo...
    Yes, there are other thermocompensated Omega watches but the one on the photo is not one of them!
    It's a prototype 4.19MHz Omega watch and that is HAQ but not thermocompensated!

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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Quote Originally Posted by ppaulusz View Post
    Yes, there are other thermocompensated Omega watches but the one on the photo is not one of them!
    It's a prototype 4.19MHz Omega watch and that is HAQ but not thermocompensated!
    I stand corrected.

    I'm guessing that in the day, the 4.19 MHz Omega went through batteries pretty fast, though with remarkable accuracy. Now we're close to seeing the Citizen 0100 available to the public, operating at 8.4 MHz, but also thermo-compensated. I would love to own one, but not at the prices they'll cost initially.

  9. #8
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    I did that conversion years ago and have never looked back. If I remember well I used the circuit of a Longines VHP and it really was not difficult. Just look up the original thread(s) documenting this and feel free to ask questions there if you have any doubts.

    It's been said here that one of the reasons they dropped the TC modules on the 1445 and 1441 is because they had reliability issues but that doesn't make much sense since Longines kept on using them, albeit in a modified version (the one you need for the 1538) without the visible thermistors.

  10. #9
    Banned ppaulusz's Avatar
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Quote Originally Posted by webvan View Post
    ...It's been said here that one of the reasons they dropped the TC modules on the 1445 and 1441 is because they had reliability issues but that doesn't make much sense since Longines kept on using them, albeit in a modified version (the one you need for the 1538) without the visible thermistors.
    It's been said… Well, that is what should not count in this forum! Anyone can state the biggest nonsense referring to the it's been said. Forget it!
    As you pointed out, the reliability statement makes no sense at all. ETA moved on as the replacement movement used much less power due to the redesigned electronic panel: gone the 262kHz second oscillator and enter the integrated thermistor. Battery life changed from 2-3 years to 5 years. So not reliability but better/more economical power usage is the reason for the change.
    Last edited by ppaulusz; July 20th, 2019 at 01:38. Reason: spelling

  11. #10
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    Re: Giving Up on HAQ Omega Seamaster

    Quote Originally Posted by webvan View Post
    I did that conversion years ago and have never looked back. If I remember well I used the circuit of a Longines VHP and it really was not difficult. Just look up the original thread(s) documenting this and feel free to ask questions there if you have any doubts.

    It's been said here that one of the reasons they dropped the TC modules on the 1445 and 1441 is because they had reliability issues but that doesn't make much sense since Longines kept on using them, albeit in a modified version (the one you need for the 1538) without the visible thermistors.
    You guys who do your own watch work are braver than I am. I've never opened a watch in my life. I could learn, but it'd be smarter to begin on a cheap watch than to make my first project a thing that costs $2,000.
    ronalddheld likes this.

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