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Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

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bruce wegmann

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Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

Post29 Mar 2014, 01:02

I recently noticed that the LED display, viewed from a few degrees to the right of head-on, appears to "blur" and almost look doubled, as though it was being viewed through calcite. I have seen this effect many times on P1 crystals, and have found that this refractive oddity is a property of crystalline corundum (which includes sapphire, ruby, and morganite). I had always assumed that the GP watches, like most high-end LEDs of the time, had a hardened mineralite glass crystal. The definitive test was to shine a 473nm (blue) laser beam onto the "glass". The result is a brilliant red fluorescence (the same deep red wavelength at 694nm that is amplified in ruby lasers). The same beam striking a P2 or P3 glass crystal is absorbed tracelessly, with no re-radiated light at all. So, sadly, the P1 is no longer the only LED watch known to have a solid ruby timescreen. Mine is the 18K goldplated version; I have to wonder if this was a standard feature on all three models, or present on only a fraction of the watches produced. Any Members out there with blue lasers (actually, the commoner 532nm green lasers work, too, but produce much lesser intensity red) might want to try the same experiment. I will try to take some pics, and post them if I can properly capture the effect (it's actually kind of eerie).
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Re: Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

Post29 Mar 2014, 02:36

Very interesting find! You would think that for a "sunken" crystal it doesnt matter at all which material you take since it can neither be scratched nor disturbed by sunlight. I would not have guessed they used such a rather expensive crystal on the screen, it does simply not seem necessary here...
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Re: Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

Post08 Apr 2014, 12:57

bruce wegmann wrote:...sadly, the P1 is no longer the only LED watch known to have a solid ruby timescreen.


That’s interesting. I noticed last night that the screen of an Omega Time Computer 1 has a slightly different look compared to the screen of a later Omega Digital One (aka TC3).

This is the part I hadn't realised; a 1974 Omega brochure on old-omegas.com clearly states a synthetic ruby screen - see main text top left and label text bottom right.
(Side note - in this brochure the gf TC1 is referred to as an “Omega Digital”!).

So are all Omega TC1 screens ruby I wonder?

I need to find a blue laser :)


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bruce wegmann

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Re: Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

Post08 Apr 2014, 13:12

An interesting piece of advertising, since I have NEVER seen an Omega TC watch with a ruby crystal. Not saying they don't exist (I know better than to say something like that!), but if they do, they are the extraordinary exception, not the rule. There is a lot of lettering on an Omega crystal; even the P1 crystal was left plain, and the name stamped into the case...my understanding is that, in the early 70s, there was no practical method of marking sapphire, and Omega may have discovered this only after the ads were published. Now, we mark even diamond routinely, but with technology that did not exist 40 years ago.
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Re: Solid synthetic ruby timescreen on GP Casquette

Post09 Apr 2014, 14:29

Ah, right. That makes sense. Great information - thank you.

My NOS TC1 screen has logo and script on the top surface, so unfortunately it'll be glass - my hopes are dashed.

A different UK brochure from a similar year, but probably slightly later, then starts to refer to the TC1 screen as "ruby-red", rather than ruby. Looks like they made the correction :)

This brochure has prices and could date from when the watches first officially became available to buy in the UK, whereas the brochure claiming "ruby" could have been a preview article. It all checks out - so no ruby TC1.

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