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Discussion Starter #1
I was talking to a store manager of a UK AD today and was told that, when sending watches driven by the cal 8500A to Omega for repair or service (e.g. Hour Vision and gents' Aqua Terra models), they will retrofit it with a silicon balance spring (bringing it in line with the new Planet Ocean cal 8500).

I was pretty pleased to hear this, as I would love to have my Aqua Terra fitted with this technology, despite it not being due for service for some years to come. I'm going to send an e-mail to Omega asking them whether they can verify that this service is indeed offered, whether it is an option that needs to be specifically requested and what the associated costs would be. I'll post the answer here, if I get one.

I'm also curious about the "badging" of the Si14 feature with such a retrofit, given that it is engraved on the balance wheel and caseback of new PO 8500s and cal 8520s in ladies' models.

Has anyone heard similar information?
 

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My AD here in Canada told me my Ploprof's 8500 would not be upgraded at a servicing. I would not bet my life on their knowledge on this matter though.

Look forward to what Omega tells you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, it's official. I received the answer from Omega, and they do not retrofit "1st generation" cal 8500 movements with the newer silicon balance spring. The answer also came fairly quickly, given the festive holidays, which was nice. Here is the response:


Dear Mr ChronoScot

We thank you for your e-mail and are pleased to learn that you are the proud owner of an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra, calibre 8500. We would not miss this opportunity to thank you for the confidence you have placed in our brand.

Further to your enquiry, please be informed that we do not retrofit earlier versions of calibre 8500 with a silicon balance spring. Such an upgrade will not be possible in the future either.

We trust that you enjoy wearing your fine OMEGA timepiece and are convinced that it will give you excellent service for many years to come.

Kind regards,

Your OMEGA Team.

So, despite my slight misgivings about the thickness, looks for the moment like I will have to pick-up a new PO to get an Omega with a silicon balance spring...

Hopefully this helps others for future reference.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Is this because omega dont want to fit it or just a case it wont fit?
It's a good question and I imagine the answer might be a little of both. I could imagine that it is not possible to replace it 1:1 and may require adaptation or replacement of the balance wheel and/or the balance staff - of course possible, but a modification of the original watch specifications. As part of this consideration, it may also be a step to ensure that their records remain tidy e.g. that a watch with movement number xxxxxx left the factory with a certain specification and they do not want to go through the effort of updating it to reflect a retrospective customisation.

Who knows. In any case, I was more surprised by the statement of the AD that a retrofit would be done at all than the confirmation that in fact Omega will not do it.
 

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I would have thought it very odd if Omega said they would retrofit a Silicon spring. Why would they take an unnecessary and expensive step during a service?
 

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Omega are calling movements with the Silicon spring an 8500B. One thing they have done though is to extend all warranty to 4 years on all 8500 & family movements. This was something they did for the silicon balance 8500B but then offered it to traditional balances (8500A) as they are confident of the longevity of the movement.

The 8500B, going into new watches, was a cause of a big price hike in 8500 watches. I know this because I had to pay a higher price for mine. The cost is because of the silicon balance and I would suggest that this is the reason for not retrofitting.
 

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Omega are calling movements with the Silicon spring an 8500B. One thing they have done though is to extend all warranty to 4 years on all 8500 & family movements. This was something they did for the silicon balance 8500B but then offered it to traditional balances (8500A) as they are confident of the longevity of the movement.

The 8500B, going into new watches, was a cause of a big price hike in 8500 watches. I know this because I had to pay a higher price for mine. The cost is because of the silicon balance and I would suggest that this is the reason for not retrofitting.
Does this mean that new versions of the AT8500 now come with 8500B?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
How about the delrin brake in the Speedmasters, do they retrofit or not? Do anyone know? :)
I'm almost sure they would not do so, given that the derlin brake is used in the cal 1861 and the metal replacement is used in the cal 1863, which are "different" movements.

It does raise an interesting question in my mind though. Why does the almost rivial exchange of a piece of derlin for an identical metal part for purely cosmetic reasons warrant a new calibre number, while the highly significant exchange (from a timekeeping point of view) of a metallic balance spring for a silicon balance spring result in only a revision update (from cal 8500A to cal 8500B)?

My guess is that Omega wanted to preserve the neat 8500 designation for the base non-chronograph movement of its new in-house line-up and (arguably) flagship calibre. I find it does show up some inconsistencies nonetheless.
 

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It does raise an interesting question in my mind though. Why does the almost rivial exchange of a piece of derlin for an identical metal part for purely cosmetic reasons warrant a new calibre number,
Well the 1861 and 1863 are different because the 1863 is highly finished for the glass back. Much the same as the 3301 and 3303 are the same but have different calibre numbers because the 3303 is highly finished for a glass back.

It seems that if a change of a part in a watch is going to be upgraded, there will be no change in the movement number. If the part change isn't going to be offered as an upgrade for example the Si14 balance then a new movement number/edition is introduced.

Does this mean that new versions of the AT8500 now come with 8500B?
I can't account for the stock that stores are holding but yes, I believe that the B version is now out in all 8500 models. If you are unsure, the black balance wheel has it printed on and the pictogram card that comes with a watch will have a Si14 symbol on it.
 

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I think it could of been changed straight swap, but omega probably are thinking they are losing a future sale from you or others if they start to swap the hairspring, would be interesting to find out what a watch guy thinks.
 

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Both the metal and the delrin break is used in calibre 861. Either they started to change to delrin in the middle of the 70's or, if they started later than that, then they are retrofitting it since I've seen speedmasters with it as early as model year 1976.

Edit: Wrong year.
 

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My local AD also mentioned this to me sometimes last year as well but I was not able to find it written anywhere on Omega's website. Will Omega make that announcement ?
Omega Watch houses have been instructed of this from Bienne and all should be following. I couldn't say when/how people will be informed.
 

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Thank you SilentWatchmaker. This forum benefits tremendously having you as a member with insights into Omega.

Now can you tell us what Omega has up its sleeve for Baselworld 2012? We promise we'll keep it a secret on this forum. :-d
 

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Now can you tell us what Omega has up its sleeve for Baselworld 2012? We promise we'll keep it a secret on this forum. :-d
I get more information from this site than Omega HQ. I didn't know there is to be a GMT version of the 8500 until I saw it on here. It obviously makes sense they would make one, but I learned they had through watchuseek.com.

Unfortunately they keep me and my colleagues technical ,and as we play no part in sales, sometimes we do not see a new watch until it's in for correction.
 
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