The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is the best-selling watch in the UK. That’s according to online marketplace, Chrono24, at least. The company released the list of its top 10 selling watches earlier this week. There’s around 400,000 watches listed for sale on the site. I would venture therefore that it represents a good cross-section of the watch buying population. But what makes the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M such an enduring favourite? Is it the James Bond connection? Or is there more to the story? Read on and let’s find out.
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. It was intended as a robust dress watch for active individuals, with the design coming from a shelved concept for another model. The Seamaster proved to be very 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, which included the Speedmaster and Railmaster. Omega was a bit late to the party with regards to professional dive watches. Blancpain had already debuted the Fifty Fathoms in 1953. Rolex had followed shortly after with the Submariner in 1954.
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) was used to define 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. An image of Neptune riding a hippocampus-drawn chariot found in Venice formed the inspiration. 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 was based on the limitations of testing equipment 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. This had been 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. It’s fair to say this transformation 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 were welded in place to reduce the chance of losing the watch (worn with a one-piece strap). And the use of tritium – a radioactive material – needed to be indicated. 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 12 o’clock stand out, improving legibility in the dark. In 1969, the Seamaster 300 was discontinued.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300m made its debut in 1993 and was an immediate hit. The blue dial with distinctive wave pattern and skeleton hands. The 12-notch-grip, unidirectional rotating bezel, in matching colour. The robust case with lyre lugs, protected crown, and helium escape valve at 10 o’clock. And the sculpted five-link steel bracelet that has become a hallmark of the model.
25 years later and the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is still going strong.
This year the collection received a welcome facelift as part the anniversary celebrations. That may account in part for the strong sales performance in the UK. 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 have been raised and filled with Super-LumiNova. The date window meanwhile now sits at 6 o’clock, giving the dial a greater sense of symmetry. The skeleton hands have been subtly reshaped. Even the minute track has been redesigned.
Framing the new ceramic dial is a new, polished ceramic bezel. The 60-minute graduations are filled with white enamel (or CeragoldTM). Previously they would have been engraved. This results in an ultra-smooth surface that offers greater durability and longer-lasting whiteness.
Even the helium escape valve at 10 o’clock has been redesigned. This special valve allows gas to escape during decompression from saturation diving at great depths. Otherwise the crystal would likely pop straight off the front of the watch. For the anniversary model, the valve has been given a new conical shape. Patented by Omega, it can even be operated under water.
Inside is the Calibre 8800, a Manufacture self-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement. The certified Master Chronometer (approved by METAS) 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.
The rhodium-plated movement is finished with 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 view is surrounded by a wave-pattern edge on the case back. It’s an unusual but not unwelcome move. The Seamaster usually has a solid caseback adorned with the Seahorse
Why Does The Omega Seamaster Sell So Well?
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 GBP 3,600 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, originally James Bond wore a Rolex.) The Seamaster Diver 300M is synonymous with completing an outfit in casual, formal and action settings. .
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 GBP 3,520 for rubber strap/GBP 3,600 for matching bracelet.