Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial – Remaking a Classic with the Latest Tech (with specs and pricing)

Omega has just unveiled a reissue of the Seamaster 300, its first modern dive watch. Faithful to the fifties original in style, the new Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial has all the latest in Omega innovations, including a anti-magnetic movement as well as a ceramic bezel and dial.

In 1957 Omega presented the Seamaster 300 CK2913, its first professional dive watch and one collectors regard as a true classic. Omega has remade – and re-engineered – that classic and presented it at Baselworld 2014 as the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial.  The new Seamaster 300 is not just an aesthetic exercise in revisiting the past. Though it sticks to the classic design of the original, including the straight lugs, arrow hands and Arabic numerals, it is equipped with the newest in Omega watchmaking. Rated to 300 m and 41 mm in diameter, the Seamaster 300 is equipped with the Master Co-Axial calibre 8400/8401, part of the Master Co-Axial range of movements unveiled at Baselworld (the 8400 is used in the steel and titanium models, while the 8401 is reserved for precious metal watches). All the Master Co-Axial movements are not merely shielded from magnetism, instead the movement itself is non-magnetic.  That is all because of a Si14 silicon hairspring and the proprietary alloys used for various parts of the escapement, features were first seen in last year’s Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss. This means the Master Co-Axial movements are resistant to magnetic fields of over 15,000 Gauss, a watchmaking record. By comparison, the Rolex Milgauss resists magnetic fields of up to 1000 Gauss.

Because the movement is non-magnetic and needs no shielding, the Master Co-Axial calibre 8400/8401 is visible through a sapphire case back. It has twin barrels and a 60 hour power reserve. Additionally, the Seamaster 300 has a ceramic dial with white gold indices and hands. Similarly, the bezel has a ceramic insert with engraved markers deposited with metal.

And the bracelet includes the patented rack-and-pusher clasp. Pressing a button on the clasp unlocks an extension, adjustable in six steps, which allows the bracelet to fit over a wetsuit. The Seamaster 300 is available in a wide variety of materials, starting with the basic steel model with a black dial and bezel (pictured here), as well as a titanium and blue model. Then there are two-tone versions in steel or titanium with fade-proof Seda rose gold accents. And at the top of the range are models entirely in Sedna gold or platinum.

Pricing in Singapore dollars with 7% tax starts at S$8,550 (~US$6780) for the steel and S$11,650 (~US$9240) for the titanium. The two-tone in steel and gold is S$16,300 (~US$12,900), while the titanium and gold is S$19,400 (~US$15,400). No prices for the all gold or platinum versions are available yet, but expect them to cost at least double the two-tone models.

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Baselworld 2014: Introducing the Entry Level Rolex Oyster Perpetual, Now with New Metallic Dial Colours (with specs and pricing)

Rolex has unveiled a series of metallic finish dials for its no-frills Oyster Perpetual watches, giving an otherwise conservative and almost old-fashioned timepiece striking new colours.

The Oyster Perpetual is the base model in the Rolex Oyster line-up, which includes watches like the Sea-Dweller and Milgauss. Being the entry level timepieces, the Oyster Perpetual tells only the time, and features only the Rolex basics like the Oyster case and an in-house automatic movement.  But the Oyster Perpetual has just been given a facelift, with striking new dial options in bright metallic finishes in colours like the purple “Red Grape” (pictured above). Like all Rolex watches the Oyster perpetuals use 904L steel, which is slightly more corrosion resistant than the more common 316L steel. They have waterproof Oyster cases, along with matching Oyster bracelets and the spring-loaded Oysterclasp. Inside is a COSC certified automatic movement, and the larger model is also equipped with the magnetism resistant blue Parachrom hairspring. Available in mens’ or mid-sized cases, the Oyster Perpetuals feature new dials with a sunray brushed metallic finish in fresh colours.

The larger, 116600 models are 36 mm and have index markers, giving them a more masculine look.

Dial colours from left: Steel, Red Grape and White Grape

The smaller 177200 models are 31 mm in diameter, with Roman numeral dials.

From left: Azzurro Blue and White Lacquer

The larger Oyster Perpetuals retail for US$5400, while the smaller model is US$4950.

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Baselworld 2014: Presenting the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon, the World’s First Belt-Driven Tourbillon (with specs and pricing)

Created for the tenth anniversary of the TAG Heuer V4, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon in black titanium is the first belt-driven tourbillon. Wound by linear weight, the V4 Tourbillon also features four barrels mounted on ball bearings.

Ten years ago TAG Heuer presented the world’s first belt-driven watch, the Monaco V4. It had tiny belts to transmit the torque from the barrel, instead of conventional gears. It took six years to get to a working, commercially available wristwatch, but TAG Heuer has now integrated a tourbillon into the movement, creating the world’s first belt-driven tourbillon, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon.

With a movement comprised of 214 components, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon extends the belt transmission all the way to the tourbillon, with the tourbillon cage itself connected to a belt that drives it. 

Four belts made of an elastic polymer are used in the Monaco V4 Tourbillon, three for the gear train and one to link the barrels. The smallest belt is just 0.07 mm in width, about the width of a hair. The 

Because of the tension in the belts, there is no play between the gears as in a conventional gear train. This eliminates the backlash present on a regular tourbillon which stems from the meshing of the teeth in its gears, which results in its ever so slightly jerky motion. In contrast, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon rotates smoothly, once a minute, due to the seamless motion of the belt transmission.

The gear train and the tourbillon at left, linked by belts
The tourbillon regulator

Another advantage of the belts is that they are lubrication free. Though a belt transmission has a marginally lower efficiency compared to a well-lubricated gear system at the very start, over time the belt transmission will maintain its efficiency, while a traditional gear-based mechanism will deteriorate due to the break-down of its lubrications.

On the other hand, a belt transmission system requires more numerous and larger gears, resulting in an enormous complex mechanism, which is why the first V4 took years to get from prototype to final product.

Like the original V4, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon is automatic. But instead of a regular oscillating weight, it has a tungsten mass that travels on a linear, double-track rail, moving up and down to wind the watch. 

The four inclined barrels with the linear weight in the middle

This novel but inefficient mechanism winds four barrels, arranged in pairs, which are each mounted on ball bearings, giving the watch a power reserve of 40 hours. These are set at a gentle incline of 13°, just like the cylinders of a car engine. 

The Monaco V4 Tourbillon has a 41 mm by 41 mm polished titanium case coated in black titanium carbide. Limited to 50 pieces, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon will retail for 150,000 Swiss francs, which is equivalent to US$169,000.

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TAG Heuer Introduces its First Smartwatch, the $1500 TAG Heuer Connected

TAG Heuer has just taken the covers off TAG Heuer Connected, a titanium smartwatch running on Google's Android Wear platform and powered by an Intel processor, but one that also features dials that mimic a mechanical watch. 

Baselworld 2014: Presenting the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT "Tuna" Diver (with specs and pricing)

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