Week 36 2013

Omega Speedmaster Speedsonic 188.0001

Omega Speedmaster Speedsonic 188.0001

It’s that day of the week again – Speedmaster of the Week!

This week we’re feeling like posting something unusual. Even more unusual than a 1957 Replica in gold. Or than a gold Skeleton Professional. Yes – this weeks Speedy of the Week is the Speedsonic. And not just any Speedsonic: it’s the Lobster!

The Speedsonic Speedmaster was introduced in 1974 and powered by a tuning fork movement: Omega caliber 1255 [1250]. The history of this movement began in 1966 when Max Hetzel started working for ESA to develop the Mosaba – Montre Sans Balancier. While a prototype of the first movement, Swissonic 100, was introduced at the 1967 Basel fair, patents by Bulova stood in the way of commercial production. In 1968 an agreement with Bulova regarding the Accutron patents was signed and in 1969 the first watches with the ESA 9162 movement (central seconds, day-date) were sold.

In 1970, development of a chronograph module for this movement was started at Dubois Depraz and two years later, at press conferences held simultaneously in Geneva, Hong Kong and New York, the first tuning fork chronograph movement EVER was presented: ESA 9210. In the next four years (production ceased in 1976), this movement was to be used by quite a few different companies, under different names: Eternasonic (Eterna), Ultronic & Titronic (Longines), Tissonic (Tissot), Tronosonic (Baume & Mercier). And of course Omega with the F300Hz Speedsonic! After four years no more than 21,000 movements were made.

With the production of the Mosaba caliber ceasing in 1976, the Speedsonic had a rather short life span. It was available in two distinct case designs: the present 188.0001  and the 188.0002. The latter was also available in a gold-plated version and can be considered slightly more conventional in both case as well as bracelet design.

If you ever encounter one of these, please note the smooth running seconds hand and counter. Today’s most widely used ‘BPH’ in mechanical movements is 28,800, which equals to 4Hz.. And these movements run at 300Hz!

For more information on battery powered watches, please check out ‘Watch – history of the modern wristwatch‘ by Pieter Doensen (isbn 90-5349-135-X). Much of the information presented in this post is based on information in this ‘bible’. While some of you might shiver at the idea of batteries in a wristwatch, this book might actually have you resonsider your ideas and appreciate the effort and engineering behind these watches. It’s a very solid and comprehensive read.

Picture by Antiquorum – click to see the final results.

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