Two Icons: The OMEGA Seamaster and Speedmaster
The Seamaster and Speedmaster are undeniably two of the most memorable and significant watches in the OMEGA catalog. Both models have a colorful history and have carved their places in our culture. One landed on the moon and the other become a defining feature of an iconic film character, 007. At a glance, the Seamaster and Speedmaster may seem to have a lot in common. The each have a commanding presence and some similarities in their general look and feel. However, if you get more technical, the unique qualities that define each of these iconic models rises to the surface and shines through.
The first Seamaster debuted in 1948 to commemorate OMEGA’s 100th anniversary. The model added to the brand’s existing dive watch offerings, which included other watches like the Marine. The Seamaster, known for its clean and straightforward aesthetic, features a brushed and polished stainless steel case, black tropical dial with luminous hour markers, and sapphire crystal. These characteristics have remained true to the model through numerous iterations. The original model was a modest 38mm. However, more modern versions of the Seamaster are available in larger sizes.
The Seamaster has certain distinguishing elements. Two of the most notable features allow the Seamaster to be a true diver’s tool. First, the helium release valve lets divers reaching great depths for prolonged periods of time. They expel gases that may become trapped inside the watch. Second, the specific design of the bidirectional rotating black aluminum bezel helps divers keep track of elapsed time. The original Seamaster and other vintage inspired versions like the Seamaster 300 60th Anniversary Limited Edition also feature distinctive triangular hour markers, a Naiad sign on the crown, and an iconic seahorse engraving on the caseback.
The Speedmaster made its debut in 1957. The model was first designed as a sports and racing chronograph. It later became known as the Moonwatch after making history on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin during the first lunar landing. Similar to the Seamaster, the Speedmaster boasts a simple and straightforward style with a brushed and polished stainless steel case, black tropical dial with luminous hour markers, and sapphire crystal. Much like the Seamaster, these features have remained largely unchanged throughout the countless variations of the model. Once again, just as with the Seamaster, the original Speedmaster measured 38mm, but more modern iterations offer larger sizes as well.
A few particular characteristics define the Speedmaster. It was the first model to showcase the brand’s now iconic triple register dial, which gives the watch that real racing look and feel. Also true to the model’s racing-inspired design is the tachymeter scale on the bezel. It is used to calculate speed based on travel time or measure distance based on speed. The Speedmaster was the first chronograph wristwatch to feature the tachymeter scale on the bezel as opposed to on the dial. The broad arrow hands are another distinguishing element of the model. Finally, the original Speedmaster housed a Caliber 321 manual-wind movement. Newer models, like the 60th Anniversary Limited Edition, feature the Caliber 1861 manual-wind movement.
If you’re an amateur diver or racer, there’s no question you should choose the Seamaster or Speedmaster respectively. Of course, these iconic models are equally well-suited for everyday wear. Many people simply gravitate toward them for their look and feel or rich history. However, when it comes to their technical capabilities, the Seamaster is undeniably a dive watch and the Speedmaster most certainly a sport and racing watch.