A (Very) Brief History Of the Omega Seamaster
The Seamaster made its debut in 1948 as part of Omega’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Omega also served as official time keeper for the London Olympic Games in the same year. A robust dress watch for active individuals, the design came from a concept for an earlier model. That idea had been shelved for whatever reason. Now it would get a second chance. The Seamaster soon proved to be popular and became a strong seller for the brand.
It may surprise you to know that the original Seamaster was only waterproof to 60m. That’s because it was never intended as a professional dive watch. It wasn’t until a decade later, in 1957, that Omega introduced the Seamaster 300. It launched as part of the ‘Master’ Trilogy. This also included the Speedmaster and Railmaster.
The Seamaster 300 was a dramatic overhaul of the previous dress versions. The original 34mm case increased to 39mm. The larger diameter was necessary for improved underwater legibility. The white dial changed out for black. A broad arrow introduced for the hour hand. Luminescent material (radium) defined the enlarged indexes. It also filled the time hands and provide a dot at the hour mark on the bidirectional rotatable bezel.
To reinforce its diving heritage, Omega came up with the hippocampus (seahorse) insignia. It’s inspiration comes from an image of Neptune riding a hippocampus-drawn chariot. The embossed symbol on the case back has since become a globally-recognised trademark.
The Seamaster 300 had a water resistance rating of 200m (equal to the Rolex Submariner). Legend has it the rating came about due to the limitations of Omega’s testing equipment. The best that was available at the time. Omega believed its dive watch was capable of deeper depths, hence the use of ‘300’ in the name.
The Second Generation Omega Seamaster 300
The second-generation Seamaster 300 came in 1964. The case was a beefier 42mm and featured twisted lugs with polished and brushed sections. It also used an asymmetrical design with crown protection. Developed the previous year on the Speedmaster Professional for astronauts.
The bezel increased in width and received luminescent markings at every five-minute interval. This made it more legible underwater, especially in the dark. And delivered a diver’s watch comparable in style to the Fifty Fathoms and Submariner.
In 1967, the Royal Navy commissioned the Seamaster 300 as their official diver’s watch. The military-issue version required several modifications. The lugs had to be welded in place to reduce the chance of losing the watch (worn with a one-piece strap). Along with a symbol on the dial indicating the use of tritium – a radioactive material. This was because the watch would be in the vicinity of sensitive equipment. Hence the appearance of an encircled ‘T’ above the Seamaster 300 label.
The third modification called for the removal of 12 o’clock numerals. In their place, an extra-large (luminescent) triangular index. This made the 12 o’clock position stand out, improving legibility in the dark. In 1969, the Seamaster 300 was discontinued.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
This year the collection received a welcome facelift as part the anniversary celebrations. Larger than its predecessor at 42mm (with a thickness of 13.5mm), its well-proportioned for a dive watch. The dial is ceramic and is available in polished blue or black, or brushed PVD chrome. Best of all, the popular wave pattern from earlier models has reappeared.
The familiar applied indexes are raised and filled with Super-LumiNova. The date window meanwhile sits at 6 o’clock now, giving the dial a greater sense of symmetry. Reshaped skeleton hands and a redesigned minute track complete the dial layout.
Framing the new ceramic dial is a new, polished ceramic bezel. White enamel (or CeragoldTM, depending on the model) fills the the 60-minute graduations. This results in an ultra-smooth surface that offers greater durability and longer-lasting whiteness.
Even the helium escape valve at 10 o’clock shows some subtle design tweaks. This special valve allows gas to escape while saturation diving at great depths. Otherwise the crystal would likely pop straight off the front of the watch. For the anniversary model, the valve features a new conical shape. Patented by Omega, it is even operational under water.
Inside is the Calibre 8800, certified as a Master Chronometer (approved by METAS). This manufacture self-winding movement boasts a Co-Axial escapement. And is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. It’s equipped with a free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring. Power reserve is 55 hours.
Finishing on the the rhodium-plated movement includes Geneva waves in arabesque. It also features blackened screws, barrel and balance wheel. These are all visible for the first time through a sapphire crystal back. The Seamaster usually has a solid caseback adorned with the Seahorse logo. It’s an unusual but not unwelcome move. Framing the view of the movement is a wave-pattern edge on the case back.
Why Is The Omega Seamaster 300 Great Value?
After reading through the above, it’s not so hard to see why the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is such a popular watch. Excellent heritage, strong design and robust all-round performance. Plus, it offers great value for money at USD 4,400 in steel with a matching bracelet. And let’s not forget the James Bond effect.
The luxury tool watch became a legend on the wrist of Pierce Brosnan. He wore the blue dial during his four turns as British secret agent, James Bond. Sporting a Quartz version first up in the 1995 Goldeneye. Before switching to the (automatic) Chronometer for the following three feature films. It has since made appearances with Daniel Craig. Hence the moniker “the Bond Watch”. (Of course, the original James Bond wore a Rolex.)
It’s no surprise than that the Seamaster Diver 300M has become the go to watch for completing any outfit. Be it casual, formal or action-oriented. I mean, what man in his right mind doesn’t want to feel like a secret agent?
Technical Specifications: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
- Case: stainless steel – 42mm x 13.5mm – 300m water-resistant – polished and brushed finishing – uni-directional rotating bezel – polished ceramic ring filled with white enamel diving scale – helium escape valve – domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides – sapphire crystal on both sides.
- Dial: Ceramic – available in polished blue or black, or brushed PVD chrome – time only with small seconds and date at 6 o’clock – applied indexes filled with SuperLuminova.
- Movement: Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 – officially certified by METAS – 25,200 vph (3.5Hz) – 55 hours power reserve – rhodium-plated rotor and bridges – Geneva waves in arabesque – blackened screws, barrel and balance wheel.
- Strap: Bracelet with polished-brushed finishing, extendable foldover rack-and-pusher with extra diver extension – Strap with integrated black or blue rubber on polished/brushed buckle.
- Price: From USD 4,400.