This weeks Post will compare the Escapement between the Rolex 3135 and Omega’s Co-Axial movement.  This is really the heart of the movement and the fundamental difference between the two watches.

 

Standard Lever Escapement

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Standard Escape wheel and Pallet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Standard Escapement and Co-Axial

 

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Standard escape wheel, pallet and balance wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Considering the escapement as a unit, it can be seen that the escape wheel supplies the power, whereas the pallet transfers the rotary motion of the escape wheel into a back and forth motion of the pallet.  The pallet in turn imparts motion to the jewel pin (roller jewel) which causes a vibratigng motion of the balance wheel.

Co-Axial Escapement

Omega launched the first Co-Axial mechanical movement in 1999. The components in the OMEGA Co-Axial escapement that equipped that movement differed considerably from those of the Swiss lever escapement, which had long been the industry’s mainstay. The Co-Axial escapement consists of a balance roller carrying a pallet and an impulse pin, an anchor with three pallets, and a three-level coaxial escapement wheel comprising the co-axial wheel, the co-axial pinion and the transmission pinion, with which it is connected to the intermediary wheel and the Omega launched the first Co-Axial mechanical movement in 1999. The components in the OMEGA Co-Axial escapement that equipped that movement differed considerably from those of the Swiss lever escapement, which had long been the industry’s mainstay. The Co-Axial escapement consists of a balance roller carrying a pallet and an impulse pin, an anchor with three pallets, and a three-level coaxial escapement wheel comprising the co-axial wheel, the co-axial pinion and the transmission pinion, with which it is connected to the intermediary wheel and the gear train.

 

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My Conclusion

The Rolex as shown uses the tried and true lever escapement that has been around for more that 100 years, it has been tested in virtually every type of watch movement and has proen itself to be sound  and a true work horse of the watch industry.  In recent years, Omega has chosen to go with the recently developed Co-Axial escapement. I have not done nearly as many watches that use this design, since it is relatively new and these watches are just starting to show up for routine service.   What I can tell youis that the Co-Axial escapement works well and I have not had any difficulty with it so far.   What I can’t tell you is how well it is going to run in the future after years of wear, that has yet to be determined.  In My opinion, Omega was looking for some sort of marketing approachh that would set itself apart from its main rival, Rolex. They have committed themselves to this new design in all of their high end watches as a way of trying to keep and expand their market share.  As of now I am not a big fan of this new escapement, and here is the reason.

I try and evaluate watch movements from the prospective of a watchmaker as to how easily they can be repaired. Sometimes engineers get in a room and decide to develope a “better mousetrap” in order to satisfy the latest marketing strategy set up by their employers.  The Co-Axial is a new and unique design, but it is going to be virtually impossible to make any repairs to these small and precise pallet stones in the fiture.

To give you a quick story, in the last month, I have had to adjust the pallet stones in 2 Rolex 3135 movemtnts.  This is very rare to have escapement trouble in a watch like this, but it happens.  Trying to adjust a pallet stone in any watch is the single most difficult repair that any watchmaker can attempt.  Try to imagine, moving the stone in or out just about the thickness of a piece of paper, and that is how precise the adjustment needs to be in the pallet in order for it to work correctly. The pallet stones are held in place by shellac, which needs to be heated in order to move the stones.  The pallet is held in a special tool, then heated over an alcohol lamp flame until the shellac softens then you have a few seconds to push or pull the stone (without losing it) before the shellac hardens.  On the last repair, I did this adjustment 10 separate times before I got it right.     One the CoAxial escapement, you have twice the number of stones to deal with, I don’t even want to think about trying to adjust them!  In the future, if there is a problem with the wheels or levers, I would just try and replace them instead of repair them, so the cost is going to be higher.

This is a long winded answer to the question, but my vote is a big thumbs up for the standard escapement in the Rolex