There’s a lot of ‘innovation’ in the watch industry, even if the base concept of how a watch works hasn’t really changed in centuries. Crazy tourbillons, scientific concepts like resonance, materials that put Space X to shame, there’s a lot. Sometimes though the most useful innovations, the ones that are actually likely to stick around, are the smallest. Case in point, the new Omega Speedmaster Super Racing and its patent-pending Spirate system.
The watch itself is cool, a throwback to a 2013 automotive-slanted Speedmaster with a honeycomb dial. It still has the classic high-contrast look of a Speedy, but with a chequered flag-esque minute ring and mix of black and yellow that has a slightly more down-to-Earth vibe. The thing is, the new watch is just a sideshow; the main event is inside.
Omega are one of the few watchmakers to innovate in meaningful ways. They were the brand to realise the inherent value of George Daniel’s Co-Axial concept, a new type of escapement that lowered friction, raising accuracy over time and just generally being better than the classical Swiss Lever escapement. They were also an early adopted of silicon balance springs. Plus, both of these are, in the grand scheme of things, evolutions rather than entirely new concepts.
What that means is that they were easy to implement without adding another 0 to the end of every price tag while providing substantial benefits. Unlike certain things, like the insane balance of Zenith’s Defy LAB, these are small changes that are likely to stick around. The Spirate system is designed to do the same for balance adjustment.
Normally adjustments to the rate of the spring – how often is coils and uncoils – are done using the screw weights around the circumference. Those are still used in the new 9920 calibre movement and what’s new is the extra coil of metal coming off the end of the spring. This allows a second layer of even more minute adjustment to be made by manipulating the Spirate coil, allowing a watchmaker to increase the accuracy of the overall watch to an insane degree. How insane? 0/+2 seconds a day. To put that in context, the Omega Speedmaster Super Racing will be out by a maximum of roughly a minute a month.
As with the Co-Axial escapement and silicon balance springs, the plan is to eventually introduce the Spirate system into every single Omega calibre, not just the 9920. That’ll take time, but if history is anything to go by they’ll definitely get there. At this rate though, they’ll need something even more intense than their Master Chronometer certification to show it off.
The bottom line is that this isn’t the sexiest news in the world, but from a technical perspective, it’s incredibly interesting. If that’s not quite your bag though, at least the Omega Speedmaster Super Racing is a pretty damn cool watch. Although, at a price of £10,700, it’s the most expensive steel Speedy around.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Omega Speedmaster Super Racing
- Ref: 3188.8.131.52.01.003
- Case/dial: 44.25mm diameter x 14.9mm thickness, stainless steel case, black sandwich dial with honeycomb pattern
- Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
- Movement: Omega calibre 9920, automatic, Spirate™ System
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 60h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
- Price/availability: £10,700
More details at Omega.