For this entry in The Collector’s Nook (our sequence of articles centered on nice youngtimer watches), we’re returning to the depths of the ocean with one other dive watch. The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, often known as the SMP (Seamaster Skilled), may not be as over-engineered because the IWC Deep One we explored in our earlier installment, however its influence on Omega was profound. With the Seamaster Diver 300M, Omega lastly had a knockout design for its dive watch, a design that celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary in 2018 with an intensive modernization.
Whereas the opposite large names within the dive watch area just like the Rolex Submariner and IWC Aquatimer began off as purpose-built device watches, the Seamaster had way more genteel beginnings – despite the fact that it’s constructed after the experience the model gained in making watches delivered to the British Ministry of Battle. As defined by the director of the Omega Museum on this video, the know-how was “war-tested however commercialized as a baby of peace”. The Seamaster itself watch designed for “city, sea and nation”, a dustproof and waterproof watch that relied on a rubber gasket to guard it from the weather – hardly the tough and tumble watch with 300 meters of water resistance that we all know at this time!
Transient historical past of Omega underwater watches
Omega’s historical past with waterproof watches will be traced by to the Omega Marine ref. 679 from 1932, which was the world’s first commercially obtainable look ahead to underwater adventures. As Rolex had crushed Omega to the punch with its use of rubber gaskets and a screw-down crown in its Oyster from 1926, Omega needed to resort to totally different means to ensure hermeticity. In a little bit of foreshadowing that might mark how Omega would tackle the challenger Rolex within the Nineteen Sixties, the older model went with the technical and over-engineered method: the Marine got here geared up with cork seals and a double-case building that clamped tighter as exterior strain elevated. Although the Marine may need taken a sledgehammer to crack the nut of water resistance, so to talk, nobody can deny it didn’t work: the watch was examined in a laboratory 5 years later and was discovered to be water-proof to 135 meters!
The unique Seamaster CK2518 was launched in 1948 to commemorate Omega’s 100th anniversary. The evolution of the Seamaster is a mirrored image of the age of exploration that noticed the rise of watches constructed for particular functions: the Nineteen Fifties gave us the racing watch, the engineer’s watch, the pilot’s watch, and the dive watch. 5 years after the arrival of the Seamaster, two dive watches had been born that might cement our expectations of the style: the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner launched exterior rotating bezels, copious quantities of luminous materials for visibility beneath water, and strong water resistance as must-haves for a dive watch to be taken critically.
To not be outdone, Omega entered the race in 1957 with a trio of three “Skilled” watches: Seamaster 300, Speedmaster, and Railmaster. The Seamaster 300 CK2913 shortly established itself as a dependable workhorse and even accompanied famed explorer and conservationist Jacques-Yves Cousteau on his Precontinent II Expeditions within the Crimson Sea in 1963, a sequence of checks to create an setting the place individuals may dwell for prolonged durations on the seabed with out opposed results. Because the dive watch “arms race” heated up, and report after report was damaged as man went ever deeper into the ocean, the Seamaster went by means of a number of iterations within the early Nineteen Seventies that pushed its water-resistance first to 600 meters, then 1000 meters.
At the moment, nevertheless, the storm clouds of the quartz disaster had already begun to darken – 1969 noticed Omega launch the Electroquartz, the primary manufacturing Swiss quartz watch powered by the Beta 21, a collaborative effort by 20 Swiss watch firms (Centre Electronique Horloger) working collectively for the aim of making a dependable, correct, and environment friendly sufficient quartz motion that it could possibly be used to energy a wristwatch. Quartz know-how discovered its option to the Seamaster line with the 1980, Royal Oak-inspired, Plongeur De Luxe line of dive watches made well-liked by record-breaking French freediver Jacques Mayol.
Leaping ahead to 1993, ten years after the formation of the Swiss Company for Microelectronics and Watchmaking (now referred to as The Swatch Group), Omega debuted the Seamaster Skilled Diver 300M, a.okay.a the Omega SMP. Positioned then as a refined and splendid dive watch, it was a clear break from the design language of the Seamaster 300 and 600 of the earlier many years, with a extra elaborate case and dial design. Two years later, the Seamaster Diver made its movie debut on Pierce Brosnan’s wrist in GoldenEye, and the remaining, as they are saying, is historical past!
The Omega Seamaster Skilled Diver 300M, the Fundamentals
Let’s get the very fact sheet out of the way in which. The Seamaster Diver 300M is a 41.5mm watch measuring 11.4mm in thickness. The case form is one we all know effectively: it incorporates design cues which can be quintessentially Omega, reminiscent of lyre lugs and an uneven form to include the crown guards. The case band is skinny, longitudinally brushed, and flows straight into the lugs, that are polished on their large bevels. At roughly ten o’clock, you discover the cylindrical helium escape valve that has change into an instantly-recognizable design component on fashionable Omega dive watches… and invited infinite debate on its usefulness and appears.
Framing the dial is an ornamental bezel that makes a departure from the normal knurling discovered on most dive watches in favor of a extra elegant scalloping, with brushed recesses. The bezel insert, full with a luminescent pearl at twelve o’clock, is an anodized aluminum piece in blue with silver graduations for the timing indications. Preserving with the blue theme, the dial can be navy blue and is embellished with a stamped wave sample over its complete space – a real distinctive component of the early fashions. The lume plots (rectangular for the quarters, round for the others) are giant and bordered with white to additional enhance legibility. A facet be aware right here; the earliest Bond Seamasters had been made in an period when Omega was nonetheless utilizing tritium luminous paint, so the selection is yours whether or not you need to go for the aged tritium look or the total performance of Luminova. The date disk is white for optimum legibility and positioned the place you’ll anticipate finding it at three o’clock. The palms are skeletonized, with skinny strips of lume on the borders resulting in the information.
The bracelet deserves a point out, because it’s a part of the SMP 300 attraction. On its launch, the bracelet was a sport changer due to its bank-vault construct high quality. The bracelet is a five-piece design with a mix of polished and satin-finished hyperlinks. It’s purposeful, although not as plain as a Rolex Oyster; dressy, although not as jewel-like as a Rolex Jubilee. The bracelet ends in a hefty, machined twin-trigger clasp. Hidden within the clasp, for the hardcore dive fans who’ll even be utilizing the helium escape valve little doubt, is a fold-out dive extension to permit for fast adjustment to be used over a wetsuit.
Above: Omega SMP Quartz 2541.80 (left) and Automated 2531.80 (proper)
The quartz ref. 2541.80.00 is the true Bond watch – that is the model of the SMP 300 that made it on 007’s wrist in Goldeneye. An computerized model, with a modified chronometer-grade ETA 2892-A2 inside, was additionally obtainable as reference 2531.80.00. And this one was the watch worn by 007 in all subsequent motion pictures starring Brosnan. That is no 2892 clone, nevertheless: the ETA caliber was considerably reworked to do responsibility because the Omega caliber 1120 – the jewel rely was upped from 21 to 23, the facility reserve likewise elevated from 42 to 44 hours.
To fill the gaps between the introduction of the Bond SMP in 1993 and the 25th-anniversary Grasp Chronometer launch in 2018, right here’s a short overview of the mannequin’s evolution. The primary happened in 2006, with the launch of the ref. 2220.80.00. The Bond grew to become a barely chunkier watch, at 12.7mm in thickness, however obtained a extra upscale dial. The Omega emblem in addition to the indices had been now utilized, and the Seamaster script was printed in crimson. This technology additionally obtained the primary technology of Omega Co-Axial calibers, the 2500, which in its earliest iterations was plagued with reliability points. In 2011, the Bond entered the ceramic period: the attribute wave dials of the OG-Bond Seamaster had been phased out in favor of shiny black or blue ceramic, to match the ceramic dive bezel.
Why you Ought to Think about the Omega Seamaster Skilled 300M / SPM
From the conversations I’ve had about it, the Bond Seamaster appears to be a adore it or hate it watch, notably on the subject of that helium escape valve! What it undoubtedly isn’t, nevertheless, is bland. That is an extremely characterful diver, and, in the event you ask me, it’s additionally a little bit of a paradox. Let me attempt to clarify what I imply. First off, the Bond Seamaster is an extremely succesful watch – it has a depth score of 300 meters, it has a tank-tough motion, and it even has a helium escape valve for saturation diving. Briefly, it’s a correct device watch in each definition of the time period. But, it may possibly simply do double-duty as a extra formal watch, with its fancy bezel, skeleton palms, and chic lugs – Bond was carrying with a tuxedo, in spite of everything. Briefly, it’s a do-it-all, wear-it-everywhere watch. When you just like the design, I feel that alone is justification sufficient to go for it – in a world of Submariner look-alikes, the Bond SMP 300 is unabashedly totally different.
The second motive to contemplate the Seamaster Skilled 300M is its movie affiliation, even whether it is now barely overdone. If the watch is sweet sufficient for James Bond, it’s definitely adequate for me and also you! The Seamaster marked a turning level for Bond on the silver display. Previous to GoldenEye, 007 sported quite a lot of watches from Rolex, Seiko, Breitling, Tag Heuer, and even Gruen on his wrist. 26 years after Omega’s first look because the Bond watch, the affiliation stays as cool as ever.
Whereas the earlier watches featured on this sequence are low-volume, if not outright uncommon, references, the Bond Seamaster remains to be simple to search out and is extremely accessible. Actually, that’s a part of its attraction – it’s refreshing which you could get such an iconic watch from one of many high names in mainstream luxurious horology, for comparatively little cash as this stuff go. Anticipate to pay between 2,500 and three,000 Euros for each quartz and mechanical examples, relying on situation (we definitely suggest the automated model…) The value level makes it an ideal watch to suggest for many events: as a commencement watch, a present for the horology fanatic, or perhaps a grab-and-go beater.
Regardless of its technical achievements, the Seamaster was a little bit of a runner-up to the Submariner for a few years. All that modified with GoldenEye, when Omega struck gold with the Bond affiliation, which continues to this present day. The Seamaster Skilled 300M has maintained 25 years of design continuity, and I for one am pleased about that! Lengthy dwell the SMP.