The Servicing Of My Omega Aqua Terra: A Detailing Of My Experience With Sending My Watch To Omega In Bienne Switzerland
The Servicing Of My Omega Aqua Terra:
A Detailing Of My Experience With Sending
My Watch To Omega In
By: John B. Holbrook, II
October 4, 2004
Having owned my Aqua Terra (purchased new from an authorized dealer) for just over a year, I started noticing that my beloved Omega AT was running quite slow. The watch had almost always ran on the slow side, but never more than a couple of seconds per day. Sometimes it wouldn’t loose any time at all for days at a time. Given my choice, I’d prefer a watch to run fast than slow – slow running watches irritate me. Call it a pet peeve but when you synch up to an atomic clock source as I do whenever I slip on one of my watches, it’s much quicker and easier to do with a watch that runs fast than one that runs slow. In any event, my AT started falling outside of COSC parameters, so I decided to send it to Omega for service and regulation.
As this was to be my first experience with Omega service, I decided to do a little background research. I’d already decided based on testimonials I’d read that I wanted to send my watch directly to Omega’s service department in Bienne Switzerland, and not here in the US. I’ve read absolutely glowing reviews about the Bienne Service Center, and horrible testimonials of service experience with the US based centers. My first step was to dispatch an E-Mail to Omega via their customer service section of their company website (www.omega.ch) detailing my problems, and requesting instructions for how to send my watch directly to Bienne. I also sent long time Omega fan Keith Dowling an E-Mail asking for his advice on how to proceed, given that he’s been through the process. About a day after I sent Omega the initial E-Mail, I received the following instructions:
Dear Mr Holbrook,
We thank you for your message regarding your two Omega watches. We shall gladly take care of your watches and suggest that you send them to our Customer Service in Bienne at the following address:
Rue Staempfli 96
2500 Bienne 4
Phone: 032 / 343 9561
Fax: 032 / 343 9855
The parcel should be sent by registered and insured mail, together with a “certificate of registration” form no CF 4455, which can be obtained at any Customs Office, to avoid difficulties upon the re-importation to your country. Please make sure that your parcel is clearly marked “watches for repair/customs clearing by receiver in Bienne, Switzerland”. NOTE FROM AUTHOR: I asked the post office about form CF 4455 and they’d never heard of it. I DID NOT fill out the form and experienced no problems as a result.
Upon receipt of your watches, our technicians will examine them very closely and we shall submit you our reports with all relevant details. Please be assured that we shall accord special attention to your Omega watches.
We would like to give you more details about the chronometer performances as following:
To obtain the title of “chronometer” every single watch movement must be submitted to the severe tests of the Swiss official Chronometer Control (COSC). The Swiss Norms for chronometer rating certificates are of -4/+6 seconds per day, when the watch is worn.
All Omega automatic chronometers can, however, be adjusted to a tighter rating, in order to obtain results above 0 second per day when the watch is worn.
The precision of a mechanical watch can vary from one person to another, depending upon the individual wearing conditions.
An adjustment to perform within these limits is very easy to be done through a qualified Omega watchmaker. However, before having such adjustment made, it is advisable to synchronize your watch with an official time signal and to wear it for about 15 days without re-setting it; any deviation can then be corrected.
The performance of a certified chronometer movement cannot be compared with that of a quartz movement, which has an entirely different basis, only a few mobile parts and is battery driven.
A mechanical chronometer still represents the watchmaker know-how and gives to the owner a feeling of comfort and pride to wear a timepiece representing the skill of the traditional Swiss watch making industry.
Awaiting your consignment we remain,
with kind regards,
Phone: +41 32 343 9561
Fax: +41 32 343 9855
The very next day (August 18th) I packaged up my watch (you’ll want to let the post office seal it as is required for an international shipment of this nature) insured the watch, filled out the customs paperwork and sent my watch off to Bienne. It took about 15 minutes at the post office, and cost me about $20.00. In the package, I included a printout of the above E-mail, and added some fairly detailed instructions of what I wanted them to do. I asked that the watch be regulated, and if possible, I’d prefer that the watch run fast not slow, and within COSC specifications. Based on everything I’d read online, I expected the entire process to take about 4-6 weeks.
At the one month mark, (September 17th) anxious to see my Aqua Terra again, I dispatched an E-Mail to Omega in order to confirm receipt of my watch, and also to see if they had an estimated time of completion and return. I got the following E-Mail back within 24 hrs.:
Dear Mr Holbrook, II,
We acknowledge good receipt of your OMEGA watch.
Your watch has been examined by our technicians and our detailed reports have been sent to your address, by separate air mail post.
Please note the following repair number:
– Repair no 736.594 – Seamaster Aqua Terra watch reference 2502.50.00
The watch is actually at our workshop and will be repaired, as per your instructions. After passing successfully our final quality tests, your Omega watch will be despatched to you at the end of September 2004.
In the meantime we wish you a great day.
With kind regards,
Phone: +41 32 343 9561
Fax: +41 32 343 9855
I was quite pleased by this response – not only had they received my watch, but they actually read my instructions and were following them! Best of all, my waiting was almost over -the watch would soon be leaving Bienne and heading for home!
On Monday, October 4th, our regular mail delivery person walked in and announced she needed someone to sign for a certified international parcel – my AT was finally back from Bienne! Upon opening the package, I was first greeted by the below pictured case which Omega ships watches in for the return trip back to their owner. I was quite impressed by the thought that went into the design of this travel case – it contained specially cut foam to protect the watch inside the case:
The watch itself was also wrapped in the same protective plastic that a new Omega watch comes with. Indeed, removing the plastic, I was taken aback by how brand spanking new the watch looked. Clearly Omega had done more than simply regulate the watch. I then located the invoice which detailed the work that had been done to the watch:
As you can see, Omega agreed with my assessment that the watches timing rate was poor. They also noted that the case was scratched (if it was, I didn’t notice it but I don’t doubt them), that the bezel showed signs of “shock” (strange given that I’d never dropped the watch) and that the crystal was scratched. That last one REALLY surprised me – how the heck to you scratch a sapphire crystal??? In any event, the invoice indicates the work they performed would normally have been an 80.00 charge, but was performed at NO COST under warranty. They didn’t even charge me for the return postage.
I then found two baggies containing various parts. It’s Omega’s normal practice to return to the customer any pieces or parts they remove from the watch. I think this is excellent service on Omega’s part – not only does it help demonstrate the work that was done, but it also makes good sense – why not return the parts to the customer? After all, they paid for them. Here’s a picture of one of the small baggies I received with my watch:
You’ll see above that they replaced the metal spacer ring, a couple of gasket rings, and several gear components from the movement. If you look closely, you’ll see they replaced the actual co-axial escapement from the caliber 2500!
Upon closer examination of my watch, it was clear that the bracelet and case had been carefully polished and not a scratch was on the watch – even the clasp looked as good as the day I first got the watch! A second baggie I found contained – get this – spring bars. Omega actually replaced the spring bars from the bracelet!
In short, to say that I was completely satisfied with my service experience from Omega is an understatement to say the least. Omega went well above and beyond any expectations I had in their servicing of my watch. In an industry where poor after sales service is more common than not, Omega seems to be an example for all others to follow. I’ll close this article with a picture of my freshly serviced Omega Aqua Terra:
*All text and images contained in this review are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.