Talk to me about the Omega Speedsonic…

We are no strangers to Omega watches here at Fellows. Followers of our auctions will be familiar with many of the brand’s models. Alongside the classic dress watches of the 60s, we have sold Seamasters and Speedmasters, Cosmics and Constellations, Dynamics and De Villes. We have even sold one of 2022’s most talked about timepieces, the MoonSwatch which you can read more about here.

Omega Speedsonic

One of the more unusual references, and one we have only seen a handful of times previously, is the Omega Speedsonic. Similar in appearance to the Speedmaster, this battery-powered chronograph was a creation of the 1970’s. It was created as the Swiss tried to respond to a quartz revolution from the East. Unlike most battery-powered watches though, the movement in the Speedsonic uses a tuning fork to ensure accurate timekeeping.

Technical details

The calibre in question is the Omega 1255 which is a rebranded version of the ETA 9210. Viewed by many as the pinnacle of tuning fork movements, around 21,000 of these units were produced. Omega was one of a number of brands utilising them in their watches. The f300Hz designation seen on the dials of these watches relates to the 300 hertz at which the tuning fork vibrates.

Built on the calibre 9162, the 9210 added an extra complication in the form of a chronograph module, a task outsourced to movement specialist Dubois Depraz. When looked at from the side, the movement has visible layers, like a triple-decker sandwich, with each responsible for a different feature. Sitting directly below the dial is the calendar platform which also houses the second half of the chronograph mechanism. Below this is the second layer which houses the other half of the chronograph mechanism. Then comes the main plate with all of the hand setting (keyless) work. Finally, the fourth layer, the oscillator. It contains everything needed to drive the movement, including the coils, tuning fork, index wheel and electronics.

Omega Speedsonic

Unfortunately, locating a watchmaker happy to work on these movements can be tricky. Therefore finding one in good working order can be a challenge. If you do though, you will be rewarded by the unmistakable humming sound that only a tuning fork watch can provide. Unlike more conventional quartz watches, the seconds hand sweeps smoothly around the dial rather than jumping from one second to the next. Quartz accuracy with the character of a mechanical watch? Maybe.

Omega Speedsonic at Auction

The next Luxury Watch Sale, taking place on November 28th features one such Omega Speedsonic chronograph. With its stainless-steel case, reference 188.0002, housing the chronometer grade movement, the sumptuous grey dial has a lovely balance. And, with both day and date displays, it has all the functionality you could wish for. The watch is fitted to a stainless-steel bracelet with a folding clasp. It represents an excellent opportunity for someone looking to add one of the more interesting watches of recent times to their collection.

Omega Speedsonic

Whilst the quartz crisis very nearly killed off the mechanical wrist watch, it actually did finish the less economically viable tuning fork movement. With an estimate of £1,000-1,500 Lot 61 is a relatively affordable way to purchase a piece of horological history.

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