An Electrifying Watch Tale From
In 1969, as the world was getting rid of their nuclear weaponry, the watch world was about to be blown away by the cheap Japanese quartz watches. 20 swiss watch companies collaborated together to create the Beta 21 movement, this new kind of movement would be called “Electronic” as it carried a more futuristic tone. The Beta 21 was the response from the Swiss watch companies to the first Japanese commercial quartz wristwatch, the Seiko-Quartz Astron, this watch was about the disrupt the industry,
not only being cheaper than its swiss counterparts but also mass-produced to an industrial level.
A Swiss Watch Collaboration
Swiss watch manufacturers were hoping their version of quartz technology would be their silver bullet against the imminent threat that was the Japanese quartz movements developed by Seiko. The Swiss conglomerate was composed of Bulova, IWC, JLC, Longines, Patek Philippe, Rolex and most famously Omega. An interesting observation regarding the multiple watches that featured the new movement was the popularity of using it on gold watches, the opposite of the more economic and mass-produced the approach used by their Japanese rivals.
Our Electroquartz f8192 in 18k solid gold also known as “puprite” (the French word for desk) was the top of the line model originally costing 2,200 dollars (Original price tag from 1971 included with our watch), meanwhile, the stainless-steel model was a fraction of the cost at 630 dollars. Both models were extremely expensive in comparison to Omega’s most popular offering, the Moonwatch which was 180 dollars. Omega claimed that the Beta 21 movement was accurate to 5 seconds per month, which at the time was more accurate than any other mechanical movement.
How does the Omega Electroquartz watch work?
An extract from the Omega Electroquartz Booklet:
“In place of the balance wheel of the traditional mechanical watch, your new omega electronic has a tiny bar of quartz crystal. Quartz is used because it has an unusual property: under and electrical impulse it vibrates with remarkable stability. The mercury battery in the watch produces an electrical charge which passes through a circuit, causing the quartz resonator to vibrate at precisely 8192 times per second every second. The miniaturized integrate circuit of the electro quartz counts and divides up
this rapid movement, while a tiny electromagnetic motor gears it down to the slow pace of the hands of the watch.”
Final thoughts on used luxury quartz watches
Decades later we would find out that the “quartz crisis” was, in fact, a momentary shift of attention from the consumers towards more efficient and economic watches, but it would never replace the romantic symbiotic relationship of a mechanical non-battery powered, automatic wristwatch and its wearer.
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