Some 22 years after the Junghans Mega 1—the first radio-controlled wristwatch—another German brand, Morgenwerk, presented its Satellite Precision Mark I controlled by GPS at the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair. This time, the signal no longer comes from radio waves transmitted by six fixed atomic clocks but instead from 30 GPS satellites in orbit around Earth. Arne Maximilian Römer, the designer at the Hamburg-based brand, explained the technical challenges posed by this new technology.
Europa Star: What are the advantages of this technology?
Arne Maximilian Römer: It gives you the exact time all across the surface of the globe and automatically adjusts it to the correct time zone. Our high-end watch even displays, on its digital black screen, geographical coordinates, a compass, altitude and so on. Our GPS watches will delight those who like high precision.
ES: What distinguishes this watch from its competitors?
AMR: A sober design that hides its technological contents. Also, by moving the aerials to the two spaces between the lugs we have reduced the thickness of the watch to less than 14mm.
ES: It would appear that the power reserve is the biggest challenge?
AMR: Can you believe that digital GPS watches for sporting activities must be recharged after half a day of use? In order to solve this problem, we are using a high-performance battery and developed a thermocompensated quartz movement, the precision of which is +/- 3 seconds per month, which considerably reduces the need for corrections. This considerably reduces the power required of the aerials, which means that the battery in our models offers a maximum power reserve of 18 months. The watch can also be recharged using an external solar charger, which means there is no problem with adapting to different electricity sockets.
ES: What is its actual precision?
AMR: In order to improve precision we have developed the Memory Time Just, which receives the time signals from the different satellites and “learns” how to correct errors. This “intelligence” allows precision of +/- 10 seconds per year, which means around one second per month. This technology is the result of international cooperation.
ES: Where are your customers and what are your sales objectives?
AMR: For as long as radio-controlled watches have been around there has been a demand for the exact time on the wrist, because the market has now reached 100 million watches per year. And I think that the GPS watch will replace them, because they offer the advantage of displaying the time anywhere on the planet. They will also be of interest to anyone who travels frequently and wants to have the time adapted to the correct time zone at the touch of a button. There is a lot of interest for our technology in Asia, as we have seen here in Hong Kong.
ES: What will it cost and when will it be on sale?
AMR: The Satellite Precision Mark I with a 44mm stainless-steel case and sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides starts at USD 1,100. The other models are in titanium and are 44mm in diameter for the Mark I, 46mm for the Mark II and 48mm for the Mark III. The top-of-the-range model costs USD 1,900. We aim to launch on the market in spring 2013.
See the other articles in our report from the 2012 Hong Kong Watch & Clock Show
- Getting quieter on the eastern front
- The design competition
- Synchronised slow-down
- Hong Kong under the WorldWatchReportTM magnifying glass
- Retailer profile: The Prince of Hong Kong
Source: Europa Star October - November 2012 Magazine Issue