|Bezel||Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 1164. Self-winding chronograph, chronometer with rhodium-plated finish|
|Crystal||Domed anti-reflective, scratch resistant sapphire crystal|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 300m / 1,000 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 44 hours|
|Functions||Chronograph, chronometer, date, small seconds, helium escape valve, Screw-in crown|
First launched in 1948 to commemorate Omega’s centenary, and conveniently timed with its sponsorship of the London Olympic games of the same year, the Omega Seamaster had originally been designed to be used by the British military in World War II as part of the category of ‘w.w.w’; waterproof wristlet watches. Despite being called Seamaster however, these pieces did not live up to their name, incapable of withstanding anything but the lightest exposure to the elements.
That changed 10 years later though, in 1958, with the birth of the Seamaster 300M. It was the first Omega to use O-ring rubber gaskets and, such was its performance at depth, it was used by Jacques Cousteau during his and his team’s experimental dives in the 1960’s. Omega’s foray into dive watches did not stop there; in 1970 it released the PloProf (plongeur professional); a visually polarising timepiece milled from a single piece of stainless steel and extra thick glass meaning it could descend up to 600m.
There have been many incarnations of the Seamaster but it was in 1993 that the shape and design of the current model became realised. This now iconic piece (although I suspect the Speedmaster will always be a notch above in status amongst die hard watch fans), is perhaps best known for being “the James Bond one”. Its profile was launched into the stratosphere as soon as Pierce Brosnan strapped it to his wrist during his first outing as the world’s most famous spy in Goldeneye in 1995. As a child of the 80’s and 90’s and having seen the transition from Connery to Moore to Dalton to Brosnan, it seemed only fitting that a fresh timepiece was chosen. Indeed it is was the film’s production designer, Lindy Hemming, who fought hard for the Seamaster to become the franchise’s watch on account of its history and rugged, discrete nature. It worked; I, for one, dreamed of one day owning that watch.
The version we have here is the chronograph, reference 2225.80.00. It has a modified ETA movement, which all Seamasters of this generation were equipped with. Why? Because although over time Omega had developed the full co-axial movement now seen on the Planet Ocean line, that movement is much more expensive to make and, therefore, it would mean a price increase to the brand’s legendary and somewhat more financially attainable watch.
On the wrist, at 41.5mm, it occupies an almost perfect amount of real estate. The combination of the grooves in the unidirectional bezel and those in the crown, helium release valve and the pushers reflect the light nicely and give the piece an aggressive tactility. The incorporation of the bracelet into the lugs means it wears comfortably and is not too overbearing. The deployment clasp is solid and secure whilst the alternating satin and brushed finishing gives it a shimmer even in low light. It’s a handsome piece and really goes to show how strong the rivalry was between it and the Rolex Submariner when it was launched. In fact, its bracelet and clasp felt much more solid at the time than the rather chintzy version on Rolex’s rival. That is a measure of how things have changed since then; the Submariner now being produced with a higher level of finishing, a Fort Knox feel, commanding a significant premium and certainly higher prestige.
The one drawback I can see with the design of this piece is the case’s height. It’s thick and accordingly it struggles for versatility. Admittedly this is the chronograph version, with the date only Seamaster not suffering from quite as much bloat, but even so it is perhaps unnecessarily chunky. This means that with all but the most generous cuffs, it struggles to maintain discretion in a more formal environment. So if discretion is your priority, then I would suggest choosing the base model; you get 90% of the looks with none of the drawbacks.
But if you are the person who wants that extra 10% of heft and, ultimately, wrist presence, this version at this price is almost unbeatable. The wavy dial is stunning and the way it interacts with the sub-dials, combined with the blue and perfect shade of red is engaging. The pushers operate with a satisfying motion, albeit one can tell it is a league (or three) below something like the Rolex Daytona.
The Seamaster is one of those watches where the phrase ‘bang for buck’ applies. The stainless steel case is extremely robust and the overall look of the piece is timeless. This particular version perhaps looks a little more at home with a pair of jeans and a t shirt instead of a suit, but, as long as you remind yourself it was not designed as a dress watch, it can still be worn with the latter without looking out of place.
The Omega Seamaster 300M Chronograph 2225.80.00 is currently available on the secondary market for around £2,000, which means it is currently priced over RRP compared to when it was available in boutiques.