OMEGA 1510 MEGAQUARTZ f2,4MHz STARDUST 1974

The MegaQuartz, the most precise wristwatch ever... was created by Omega as a marine chronometer. A 1500 prototype was shown at 1970 Basel Fair but  the final 1510/11 movement was launched to market in 1974. Somehow most MQ's indicate 1972/73 serial numbers!? Two versions were made - 1511 marine chronometer individually certified for professionals (all steel, gold bezel, black dial) and this rather commercial 1510 all steel version with different dials. This sparkling one-off "Stardust" dial is the most collectable and legend has it that only 100 were made in a total of 1000 MQ 1510 calibres (incl.limited gold edition). Each (unlike) dial was made manually by applying a thin glistening layer of natural Aventurine crystal dust onto a thin baseplate of metal and fibreglass - hence extreme care must be taken in servicing a Stardust.

 

 

The massive MQ is a dream for a quartz collector (compared above with an ElectroQuartz). Can you believe that the quartz oscillates 2.400.000 times per second? To be exact 2.359.296MHz = 72 times quicker than a standard 32.768Hz. The World must have been amazed with the breakthrough technology in the early 1970's and Omega very likely wanted to prove their expertease in this modern field of watchmaking.... and so they did by achieving a record never again repeated... even today. The movement has a modular build like earlier inventions with three separate modules - the mechanical parts, the electronics and the electromagnetic motor. The circuitry divides the frequency from the huge MQ oscillator (individually numbered at the factory) and transmits impulses directly to the electromagnetic coil in the motor.

 

 

Unlike earlier Accutron solutions and later stepping motors this MQ concept features a moving coil motor with pallet fork/anchor escapement. The coil is shortly activated with an impulse once per second and countered back into position by a standard hairspring. Unfortunately this complex solution was not widely accepted in the industry. It's worth to mention that due to the chronometer properties of the MegaQuartz an interesting TSA timezone setting idea was introduced, which allows to adjust the hour hand only without stopping the precise chronometer seconds. Upon pushing the stem back into neutral position three tiny magnets in a double-layer intermediate setting wheel are atracted by a steel setting gear and automatically correct the final position of the hour hand so that it corresponds perfectly with the minute.

 

 

Hints: 1) The MQ can only be adjusted with the trimmer and the (white) spacing screw at the pallet fork. It regulates the trip distance of the anchor which must advance the motor wheel by one tooth (1 second). Misalignment will cause seconds to stop or jump irregularly. 2)  Another malfunction might be located in a thin finger fixed onto the setting lever that is moved by pulling the stem (check picture). This finger must be properly alligned against a small goldplated pin on the bottom side of the electronic module. When you pull out the crown for time setting this wire gets connected with the gold pin and disconnects the entire circuit and hacks the seconds. In neutral position this wire must be positioned above and away from the pin but must be alligned in an optimal distance to provide proper hacking in time setting mode.

 

 

The MQ was built to last and is rather unrepairable. Only the mechanical module can be cleaned in a traditional way whereas the motor and electronics were never  meant to be disassembled... even by a watchmaker. The rest "should" not even be touched  aside using a dust-blower thus the following hints will require more expertease and caution: 3) Check the output voltage on the electronic module to verify if there is any life... impulse running to the motor. Clean the trimmer with a drop of alcohol just in case. 4) The coil in the motor module is securely hidden in between two permanent magnets so proceed by removing (sliding) the magnets from the motor and check resistance of the coil.  Dip the motor in alcohol for a longer while and with a small gentle brush remove any battery residue or dirt that might be jamming the escapement. Check if the hairspring returns the fork back into position and if this action moves the motor wheel by one tooth. If none of these hints will help you will still have a nice parts watch worth minimum 500$ :) Btw. the same electromagnetic anchor idea was later used  only by a handful of manufacturers including the Roamer Micro-Quartz and Rolex with their legendary OysterQuartz after the initial batch of 1000 pieces using the Beta21. Their 1977 inhouse 5035/5055 calibre is a real marvel of quartz technology combined with top shelf watchmaking and was produced unchanged for nearly 25 years! 

 

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Keywords: omega megaquartz, f2,4MHz, stardust, aventurine

Market value:

800-1750$ (blue, wafer dial, condition, box)

1250-2500$ (stardust dial, condition, box)

5000-12000$ (solid gold stardust, condition, box...subject to market gold value)

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