My neighbor has an older mid-90s Seamaster Diver 300 with the hard-to-turn scalloped bezel and, to me, unattractive overly complicated bracelet. In 2019, the same model has a much more modernized look, with a better ceramic bezel a textured dial that instantly upgrades the overall look.
We’ve been tempted to pick this one one (blue or black) and can even embrace the skeleton hands as this design choice helps separate it from other divers in this price range. Divers, in general, can begin to all look like derivatives of the Submariner, which even the circular indices on this model gives it a bit of the Sub vibe.
With its Co-Axial 8800 caliber movement, the newer 42mm Omega Seamaster Diver 300 makes a compelling case for itself in the just-under $5,000 range. I might put a Pelagos or Black Bay in the mix for consideration, and will admit that for the money, it’s hard to beat the titanium Pelagos with its snowflake handset matched to the rectangular markers, giving it a distinct old-school flavor.
But when you though the new Seamaster on a rubber strap, it starts to shine.
Remove the unsightly bracelet from the equation and you can really focus on the ceramic wavy dial and the case shape comes out more. The protruding helium escape valve will still bother some watch guys, but we’ll give it a pass a design element that helps distinguish the watch.
So if you are an Omega fan and already have a manual-wind Moonwatch in your collection, the new version of the Seamaster 300 could be your water watch. It’s more streamlined (at 12mm thick) than the Planet Ocean series, and it has a very high end look nowadays with the ceramic dial and bezel insert.
At a recent watch gathering I was able to try on the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, rated to 600m and with Omega’s proprietary co-axial movement and Liquid Metal finishing. What struck me was how light the titanium watch felt on the wrist, making a large imprint watch very comfortable on. Having been an owner of the Tudor Pelagos (one of my favorite modern divers), the Planet Ocean felt much lighter.
That said, “feeling light” can be considered a plus or minus. Some folks like their watch to feel a bit hefty. Too light and the watch feels cheap, according to the heavier is better crowd. If you’ve ever tried on the titanium Seiko “Shogun” SBDC029, it’s so light you forget that you’re wearing a watch.
Back to the Planet Ocean: In spite of the light weight, there is absolutely no absence of the feel of quality. I realize that’s a feeling that’s hard to quantify, but the case size, feel on the wrist and dial details (that Omega blue!) gives this watch a major presence. Of course the Omega retails for over $8,000 while the aforementioned Seiko costs less than $1,000, so the comparison must be scaled accordingly. The grade 5 titanium PO when compared to the Pelagos (which retails for just less than $4,000) is also much more scratch resistant, according to its owner. The shade of blue is deep and rich and orange accents (on the tip of the seconds hand and “Seamaster” writing) add up to a very restrained look for such a big watch.
One very positive attribute of this Omega is that you are getting a very noticeably expensive watch to wear. Let’s face it, when you are balling in this price range, you are after a certain recognition. This PO delivers on that front and even people who don’t know watches will likely know that you are wearing a pricier watch.
I’ve also had the opportunity to try on a Grand Seiko SBGA031 titanium diver. This Spring Drive movement model is also very light and comfortable, but the big downfall (or advantage) is very limited brand recognition.
Even for a showpiece, the PO is very tastefully executed. It’s become a classic Omega design and has a very distinct esthetic that screams professional diver and professional executive at the same time.
With the release of “First Man,” the Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling, the interest in Omega Speedmaster watches is hitting mainstream culture. There’s always a place for the Lemania-driven, hand wound chronograph in any collection. The 42mm sizing and Hesalite crystal (shatterproof for space, of course) can be deal breakers for some collectors, but Moonwatch fans are an enthusiastic group who can argue in favor of what is the most recognized sport watch behind the Rolex Submariner.
Ryan Gosling in “First Man” photo by Universal Studios
So if you want join in the #SpeedyTuesday Instagram fun, started by Fratello Watches, here are few options to currently online to help you join the club.
Photo by Lunar Oyster
1999 NOS Omega Speedmaster ref. 3572.50 Hesalite Sandwich: Here we have a new old stock Hesalite sandwich, which has an acrylic display caseback in addition the standard acrylic on top. The movement (without a rotor being manual wind) is a looker. This example is great for the collector that wants an older model without the hassle of having to worry about its condition.
1992 Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Display Back 3592.50: Watch Vault NYC is an online dealer that always has a large selection of pre-owned Speedmasters (Pro and automatic models as well). The version has the display caseback too as well as tritium lume (for prominent patina) and a hand-decorated gilt movement.
2009 Omega Speedmaster Professional 3570.50.00 with card: If you are looking for a modern watch at a lower price point, this example at venerable San Francisco-based dealer HQ Milton fits the bill. There’s something perfect about a standard Speedy Pro model in great condition.
Meanwhile at the Omega booth, the anchor behemoth of the Swatch Group section, quietly a new limited edition Speedmaster stood out at Baselworld 2018. Black on white Panda dial, straight lugs, no crown guards, alpha hands, black ceramic dial (with pulsometer markers)—three attributes of the Omega Speedmaster CK2998 Pulsometer that make this take on the iconic Moonwatch stand out.
Is it a radical change? No. But fans of the smaller-sized First Omega In Space model (which shares the 39.7 mm case size of the CK2998) who want a bit more pizazz will appreciate the CK2998 Pulsometer. The red central seconds hand lends more excitement against the mostly conservative design of the watch.
You get a sapphire crystal and the Omega Calibre 1861, the manual winder currently found in the Speedmaster Pro.
photos courtesy: Omega
For sure, this isn’t a radical departure for the Omega Speedmaster series, but it’s a slight change that we love. For the most part, great wrist wear never needs to scream for attention, and the CK2998 Pulsometer subtle draws in those in the know.
This edition is limited to 2,998 pieces and will retail for $5,850. For more information visit Omega.com.