The Joys of Spring: The Omega Speedmaster Super Racing & The Revolutionary New Spirate System
At the end of January, Omega used its new Speedmaster Super Racing to introduce the Spirate System, a ground-breaking new way of regulating a watch with ultra-fine precision. Today we’re taking a look at how it works.
When Omega launched the new Speedmaster Super Racing Co-Axial Chronometer Chronograph 44.25mm earlier this year, the brand didn’t just give us a smart new Super Racing model to contemplate. On the contrary, this eye-catching chronograph was the first Omega timepiece to house the brand’s ground-breaking Spirate System, which is set to raise the bar when it comes to movement accuracy and precision fine-tuning.
So, let’s talk about it.
The Spirate System
A “tiny device” whose name is a portmanteau of the words “spiral” and “rate,” the Spirate System will, according to Omega, allow the brand’s watchmakers – at its manufacture, service centers, and boutiques – to easily regulate its watch movements in exceptionally fine increments of 0.1 seconds per day.
Regulating a watch means adjusting the rate at which the balance wheel oscillates. Traditionally, this is achieved by using index pins to change the active length of the hairspring or by the more complex free-sprung method – which Omega usually deploys – where the watchmaker adjusts tiny weights on the rim of the balance wheel. With both techniques, the goal is to make the balance wheel beat either more slowly or quickly, depending on how the rate of oscillation has deviated.
A New Way of Regulation
In essence, the Spirate System offers a third, totally new, ultra-precise way of regulating a watch movement. To accomplish this, Omega has redesigned its free-sprung Si14 silicon balance spring.
This antimagnetic hairspring, introduced in 2008, now features a flexible eccentric blade. One end of this blade resembles the loop-guard of a sword handle, and it is from this that the coiled hairspring extends along with the tail of the blade.
On the Calibre 9920, which powers the new Omega Speedmaster Super Racing, the blade’s “handle” and “tail” attach to two promontories that jut out from the balance bridge. The promontory the blade tail attaches to can be manipulated by turning a snail cam (which is in the form of a small cone). This action will make the hairspring more or less stiff and, in turn, make the balance wheel beat faster or slower.
As a guide for the watchmaker, the snail cam cone is emblazoned with a +/- 5-second graduated scale, with markings for each tenth of a second (0.1 s/d) duly signaled.
Of course, the presence of such an ultra-precise rate tuner only makes sense if combined with other elements conducive to top-notch chronometry.
To that end, Omega has packed the Calibre 9920 with several milestone achievements it has developed over the previous quarter-century. And the most noteworthy of those is a friction-fighting Co-Axial escapement, components magnetically resistant to 15,000 Gauss, and METAS-approved Master Chronometer certification. Now with the Spirate System as the cherry on the chronometric cake, Omega says it can regulate the movement to a certified precision of just 0/+2 seconds per day. Quite remarkable!
The Omega Speedmaster Super Racing
Omega’s long-term plan is to industrialize the Spirate System and gradually integrate it into more of its calibres; however, right now, the new Speedmaster Super Racing was the vehicle chosen for this pioneering regulation system’s debut.
Visually, the new Super Racing takes its cues from Omega’s 2013 anti-magnetic tour de force, the Seamaster Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss, not least thanks to its bold yellow accents. For instance, the Super Racing’s hour-minute hands and arrowhead indices are filled with a new, exclusive Super-LumiNova that gives off a yellow glow, while the tachymeter scale on the black ceramic bezel ring is in yellow oven-fired enamel.
Moreover, in a more subtle nod to Aqua Terra, the number “10” on the date disc (with its aperture at 6 o’clock) is italicized to mark 10 years of Omega’s revolutionary >15,000 Gauss anti-magnetic technology.
Meanwhile, the Super Racing’s dial is laser-etched with a honeycomb pattern that is a nod to the brand’s concept Seamaster from 2016 which resisted magnetic fields up to a mind-blowing 160,000 Gauss.
As for the case, it is the usual 44.25mm stainless-steel Speedmaster design with twisted, lyre-shaped lugs, water resistant to 50 meters.
And on show through the sapphire crystal display caseback is the aforementioned automatic Calibre 9920. In addition to the patent-pending Spirate System, you can see the chronograph column wheel and the rhodium-treated, radially-finished mainplate and winding rotor. The latter winds two barrels mounted in series to offer a 60-hour power reserve.
Strap Options & Pricing
Priced at $11,000, the new Omega Speedmaster Super Racing Co-Axial Master Chronometer Chronograph 44.25mm comes on a steel bracelet that can be swapped out by the owner for a sporty NATO strap in recycled nylon with black and yellow stripes that accompanies the watch along with a strap changing tool.