A note from Time Flies on his Omega c.3303 failing...
Long time, no talk.
Well, here is another experience for your Blog or whatever. You are free to quote me anywhere -- on forums or wherever you find it useful. I don't participate in watch forums very much since I retired almost two years ago. I spend my time flying, fly fishing and working with the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I have also been doing quite a bit of bush flying.
I took a chance -- against your advice -- but the dollars didn't mean that much to me. I don't mean it the way it sounds. Every penny is worth a penny. But, in the great scheme of things, purchasing an Omega Olympic edition Seamaster Chronograph with the c.3303 was sort of a 'cheap chance' when I look at what I spend owning and maintaining two aircraft!
I bought the watch in February of 2005. I wore it flying quite a bit and as an 'every day' watch on and off since I purchased it. I used the chronograph feature a lot, as does any pilot, even when not using it for flying. I time a lot of things. I have not had a single problem with the chronograph. Despite using it quite a bit, it has always reset properly and I noticed no other aberrations in its function. Three days ago, I noticed the watch seemed to lack power reserve and also felt the watch head wobbling on my wrist -- a more noticeable wobble than the old Valjoux 7750 characteristic wobble. So, I took the watch off my wrist and shook it a bit and you could feel and hear the rotor 'free spinning' with no ratcheting (winding) sound during or at the end of the rotor rotation. The number of rotor rotations was amazing ( maybe 20 or 30 or even more) with just a little shake of the watch head. Then I tested the power reserve and there is none with the watch starting from a dead stop (power reserve at zero after running down after winding). The rotor is not winding the watch and something has disengaged in that gear train. At least, it has a two year warranty. But, even if it is fixed, I will likely just put the watch in a drawer. I don't have time to fight Omega, which is a shame. But, I have other more interesting things to do and enough watches to wear.
As a side note --- I own a bunch of watches as you know, or assume. And, I have owned a substantial number over the years. The three most reliable mechanical watches I have owned, in terms of accuracy and being totally free of problems despite heavy use and being knocked around are my Speedmaster Professional, a Breitling Navitimer I bought about five years ago after Breitling made some pretty dramatic changes in manufacture (buying Kelek) and quality control, and the ultimate tough watch, for me at least, a Tutima NATO with the wonderful Lemania 5100 (one heck of great watch for what I use watches quite a bit -- bush whacking, flying and fly fishing).
So, I wish I had listened to you. But, I was willing and could afford to take a chance. I lost the game. But, I think Omega is genuinely 'lost'. It is a damn shame since I have owned Omegas since I966. I would not buy another currently marketed Omega. So, Omega lost me. It is a story of losing.
Hope all is well, and again, you may post for me or quote anything I have said, not that my take on the situation or my experience matters to you or anyone else. If you do quote me, I would appreciate a quick note telling me where you have quoted me just for grins. I might check it out, and who knows, I might register again for a watch forum.
Thanks for your help and conversation over the years. I send my best regards,
Greg Bxxxxxxxx [I've omitted Greg's email, contact me if you wish to get in touch with him]
(aka "Time Flies", "K2UM", "Pilot-4ES", "Old Phantom II Driver" and whatever other monikers I have used
BTW, that list of three watches that have proven to be tough customers for me is relative to owning (I honestly lost count) maybe a hundred watches and that includes, AP, JLC, IWC, Omega, Breitling, VC, Rolex (had trouble with every one of these I've owned -- but that is only four), Blancpain, Panerai, Ventura, Glycine, Tutima, Sinn, and the list goes on and on. Heck, I can't even recall all of the manufacturers right now! You can just about name any "fairly big name" in watch marques and I've owned at least a couple their models along the way. By the way, I had no problems with my Panerai watches. I have not owned a Patek (no interest) or some of the unique, what I will call 'designer' marques.. The vast, vast majority were new purchases -- probably 90 of the 100 or so I had. I had trouble with every one of my JLCs despite them being part of their "Masters Series"; every Blancpain was a bust, the IWCs all ran very slow or were temperamental as hell if they used JLC ebauches; and every Rolex I've had developed winding or rotor problems and their service sucked to be honest.
I just wanted to put my comments in some perspective. Personally, I think the whole Swiss watch industry has a pervasive problems with quality control and their watches are vastly overpriced. In fact, I own four great quartz watches and I always, always have a quartz watch with me when I really need to depend on timing, even if I am wearing a mechanical, you can bet a quartz is in my flight bag -- either a Microtech H3, a Breitling Emergency or a Breitling B-1 or my 16 year old Breitling quartz Navitmer (later rebadged as the Aerospace).
Some brief observations [factual statements, not opinions]...
And some personal opinions:
I don't know what else to say that I haven't said before, likely dozens of times. Far lesser companies than Omega would have done what was right about these problems long ago. The steps which Omega has taken thus far have not been effective in eliminating the issues existant with these movements. Expecting different or improved results by staying pat isn't a logical or reasonable expectation.
P.S. If you'd like to get in touch with Greg (Time Flies) email me and I'll work to make it happen.