Omega Megaquartz 2400

A CollectΩr's Guide

Begin the journey

Introduction

The purpose of this website is to assist the avid collector in appreciating what is still considered to be the most accurate non-thermocompensated wrist-watch in the world.

This was the 1500 calibre series watches generally known as the Omega Constellation Megaquartz 2400.

The 1500 calibre watches were seen in two variations – the 1510 f2.4MHz Constellation Megaquartz and the 1511-1516 Constellation Megaquartz Marine Chronometer.

It is generally accepted that the 1510 iteration had a claimed production run of approximately 1000 watches.

The combined 1511-1516 (ST 398.0836, ST 398.0832) Marine Chronometers totalled a claimed 9000 pieces approximately.

Because of the unique nature of this watch, it is not beset with the problems of replacement parts, service parts, fakes etc. In the 1500 calibre it can be seen with –

  • 8 dial types
  • 3  sets of minute and hour hands
  • 2 straps
  • 1 bracelet
  • 2 bezels
  • 2 cases
  • 3 movements

It needs to be appreciated that the study of vintage watches is always the study of probability as today’s accurate production methods were not those used 40 years ago.

Additionally prior to the advent of the computers, record keeping was subject to its own idiosyncrasies and variabilities.

What the author has tried to do in establishing the true heritage of this watch, is to sift through many many hundreds of documents, archives, explanations, descriptions, commentaries, images, movement numbers and watches to come to what is effectively a consensus …..and thus this study should never be used dogmatically.

History

Omega had the prestigious honour of producing more officially certified chronometers than all other Swiss watch manufacturers put together in the 1960s. However, no attempt had been made to harness the superior accuracy of quartz-powered chronometers for watches. Quartz had been around since 1928 and Omega had used the supreme accuracy of a vibrating quartz crystal in creating the Omega time recorder used in the Olympics.

In 1971 they entered a wristwatch-sized chronometer called a chronomètre de poche based on the diapason tuning principle, which was a precision record holder but unbeknownst to the market, Omega, along with the Battelle Institute of Geneva had stepped past the tuning fork technology by creating a genuinely wearable wristwatch based on pure quartz technology.

These early prototypes were shown at Basel in 1970 in base calibre 1500 colloquially called the elephant and the calibre was refined and the movement re-cased and produced for sale in 1972 in the more compact 1510 calibre and later in 1974 in the marine chronometer configuration 1511 and the later 1516.

It was claimed that this was the world’s first commercially available quartz wristwatch although in fact, the Seiko 35SQ Astron had beaten it by a month (which was unveiled on Christmas Day in 1969).

The Watch

It was erroneously presumed that the 1510 dress watch was inferior in performance to the 1511/1516 Marine Chronometer and that was reinforced by the price difference quoted in the USA catalogues with the 1510 being priced at $500-$1450 and the 1516 being priced at $1850, this was purely marketing.

They are both identical in time-keeping capability and had almost indistinguishable movements and was premium priced by Omega in the later iteration simply by marketing it as a Marine Chronometer.

Commentary by a well-known but uninformed individual in the Timezone forum on November 2001 perpetuated the myth that there was some kind of difference.

Production Numbers

Production numbers have always been the subject of question. The 1510 calibre is generally thought to run from 1000 – 2000 watches with 200 being solid gold case and bracelet.

The ‘Journey Through Time’ book lists the 1511 at 1000 pieces and the 1516 at 8000 (9000 listed but presumed 1000 retained for spares) neither of those figures appear to be correct.

Estimates vary as follows:

By examination of observable calibre/movement number distributions:

Calibre 1511 movement numbers examined 349.14700 to 349.17000 (34 million range) 2300 watches
Calibre 1511 movement numbers examined 370.57000 to 370.57800 (37 million range) show 800 watches
Calibre 1516 370.57900 to 370.61900  (37 million range) 4000 watches
TOTAL 7100 watches

Analysis carried out by a statistician collector of an unbiased sample, using scatter graphs, show that the likely distribution to be:

Calibre 1511 split between 2200, 349 series movement numbers and 500, 370 series movement numbers 2700 watches
Calibre 1516 all 370 series movement numbers 4500 watches
TOTAL  7200 watches

The potential problem in this statistical analysis is that there appears to be a discontinuity between some of the serial number groupings so this is at best an estimate. However, there are too many examples of serial numbers 370.xxxxx movement numbers appearing with 1511 calibres for this to be majorly wrong.

It is now thought that the error in A Journey Through Time counting comes about because of confusing the 1511 – 1516 calibre split with the 34 million – 37 million movement number split.

An example of a 37 million movement number in a 1511 and 1516 calibre case, taken from A Journey Through Time.

An attempted analysis comparing the Besançon chronometer certificate numbering with the Omega marine chronometer movements also demonstrates some serious incongruity.

Bezels – Marine Chronometer

The bezel was only applicable to the marine chronometer, both the bezel and movement number inset in the case were made of 14ct gold.


Gold on the watch was replaced with stainless steel on the models sold in France as French law required visible hallmarks on any gold parts.

Courtesy of AM

This extremely rare prototype was produced for the chairman of Lemania for his own personal use. Note the lack of bezel

Bracelets

There are two metal bracelets available. The 1209/202 which is the original solid heavy-links bracelet and the 3018/202 which is the new hollow light-link bracelet.

In addition, there is a black shark-skin and brown shark-skin strap with the deployment buckle no. 27. This employs a unique internal ratcheting system for length adjustment.

 

Crown & Pushers

This was the first time in the history of watch making that it was necessary to have a facility to set seconds accurately as the watch was accurate to better than 1 second a month. A system known as TSA (time second adjustment) was introduced so that the hour hand could be changed independently without stopping the watch and in addition a small side pusher was introduced to hack the second hand with the atomic time signal.

 

Cases

The case was manufactured in Italy by Fernando Fontana and produced in  Sesto Calende. It was cut from a single block of steel in the style of a truncated pyramid and was moderately water resistant.

In the calibre 1510 and 1511 (398.0836) it measured 12.9 x 32.7 x 49mm

In the later version 1516 (398.0832) it measured 12.4 x 32.7 x 44mm

Dials

Solid gold case approximately 207g, 18ct gold, aventurine dial, gold surround date window, gold hands, gold chapter markers, gold omega logo. Compare with same dial stainless steel version below.

A rare example of the aventurine dial with gold chapter markers, gold date window and gold hands, gold omega logo but on a stainless steel case and bracelet.

A standard aventurine dial, stainless steel case, white steel hands,  steel date window, steel omega logo.

A very rare gold case, blue metallic pupitre with gold chapter markers, gold hands, gold date window and gold omega logo. Compare with the stainless steel version below.

Plain metallic “pupitre” non-waffle dial with large extended metallic hour markers.

Black waffle dial, hour markers extended inside the chapter ring past the minute markers. The rectangular caramel colour surrounding the dial is, in fact, aging affecting the usually clear seal.

Note there are no dashes either side of the ‘swiss made’ text.

Black waffle dial where the hour markers extend outside the chapter ring beyond the minute markers.

Third black waffle dial variation where both the minute and hour chapter markers are of identical length.

This is the so-called “brown waffle” dial although it is generally considered that this is a black waffle dial which has faded due to age.

As far as is known this is a unique blue waffle dial although there have been claims that others exist. On inspection, they appear to be versions of a faded black dial.

A very rare example of the gold case and bracelet with an unknown dial, gold date surround, gold omega logo and unique chapter markers with gold thin hands. This is believed to be original although no other example has been found.

Hands

In the marine chronometer, there are two types of hands. The cream version was claimed to be an age-related patina however this has been disproved as the second hand has not changed colour.

These two variations occur on the aventurine dial.

Movement

1510 Movement

1511 Movement

The 1511 is virtually identical to the 1510.

1516 Movement

The 1516 is the 1511 with a shortened base plate. The electronic module had additional plastic on the safety cover near the trimmer. The top plate on the motor module exposed the teeth of the centre second gear. And finally, the long motor contact plate was made more flexible to allow removal of the electronic module without taking out the motor module first.

Price & Value

When originally sold in 1974-1975 the 1510 was priced at £210 and the 1516 was priced at £760. For comparison the Speedmaster professional cost £124.50.

Current prices

The current price for a good quality 1510 is in the order of about £2,000 – £2,500+

A gold 1510 on a strap between £9,000 – £10,000

A gold 1510 on a bracelet between £10,000 – £12,000+

The 1511 / 1516 £2,000+

In Review

Firstly this whole work is free to read, and please use it and quote from it without inhibition, but a small favour I would ask would be to give attribution when copied so that others may be lead to the source

It’s worth mentioning that this is an ongoing work. The more info provided by the collector community at large the more we can refine and perfect this and future websites

I am attempting to crowd-source as much as I can about other specialisations in review at the moment, so if you found the above helpful please contact me regarding –

 

About The Author

This website was created by a former adjunct academic and collector for over 50 years.

In order not to hamper his research he prefers to remain anonymous however he can be found on Instagram @t_solo_t.

He’s happy to be emailed for all or any questions at solo@omegapassion.com.

Sincere Thanks

To the well-informed collectors on some Forums, some of whom have kindly provided images for this website. And finally to Adrienne, an incomparable horologist.

The site is dedicated to Rosie and Jake.