In 1995, the OMEGA Seamaster achieved mainstream popularity when it joined the James Bond film franchise. Starting with Pierce Brosnan’s Seamaster Diver 300M in GoldenEye and continuing with Daniel Craig’s Seamaster 300 in SPECTRE, the modern 007 is never without an OMEGA Seamaster watch.
But the Seamaster has been around much longer than that.
Introduced in 1948 to commemorate OMEGA’s 100th anniversary, the Seamaster is the brand’s longest running collection still in production today. While early versions of the OMEGA Seamaster were dress watches that could tolerate some exposure to water, OMEGA’s modern diving watch was born with the Seamaster 300 in 1957.
But even with all that pomp, the Seamaster wasn’t the brand’s first foray into diving watches. An earlier model, the Marine, had already accompanied several pioneering divers such as Yves Le Prieur and Charles William Beebe on historic dives.
The OMEGA Seamaster’s Design History
One of the components central to the water resistance of early OMEGA Seamasters was the use of O-ring rubber gaskets to keep water out. The Seamaster was subjected to a battery of tests to ensure its capability under water. The OMEGA Professional Seamaster 300 performed so well in fact, that Jacques Cousteau’s team used it during experimental dives in 1963 and beyond.
As divers reached further underwater depths, OMEGA kept up by producing timepieces that could plunge even deeper. In 1970, after four years of intense R&D, the OMEGA Seamaster Ploprof 600 emerged (the name Ploprof is taken from the French term for professional diver: Plongeur Professional). The following year, OMEGA released the Seamaster Ploprof 1000. Jacques Cousteau himself, as well as divers of famed commercial diving company COMEX, often wore OMEGA Ploprof watches during their dives. OMEGA recently reintroduced modern versions of the vintage Ploprof with the Seamaster Ploprof 1200M.
Another noteworthy vintage model within the OMEGA Seamaster archive is the “Bullhead,” which made its debut in 1969 as the Seamaster Driver. Characterized by its distinct case shape reminiscent of a bull’s head with horns, the chronograph pushers and winding crown sit at the top of the case. Another crown that controls the internal rotating bezel sits at the bottom of the case. Rather than being a watch for the waters, OMEGA positioned this particular Seamaster as a chronograph for motorsport enthusiasts. Its success among vintage watch collectors led the company to reissue contemporary versions of the Bullhead in 2013, where it remains in OMEGA’s current catalog.
Key OMEGA Seamaster Models
The Aqua Terra collection officially joined the Seamaster line in 2003. Crafted in a range of materials including stainless steel and different colors of gold, and with different dial, bracelet, and movement options, the OMEGA Aqua Terra line is a versatile one. Particularly interesting are the Aqua Terra limited edition models such as the “Ryder Cup” and “James Bond” timepieces.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean was introduced in 2005 as large diving watch equipped with a helium escape valve (HEV) to ensure water resistance down to 2000 feet (600 meters). While submerged deep underwater, the HEV mechanism permits built up helium and other gasses in the watch to release, thus avoiding internal damage. As one of OMEGA’s newer models, the Planet Ocean line benefits from modern touches such as ceramic bezels and OMEGA’s newest Master Chronometer movements.
The Seamaster Professional is a label attached to several Seamaster models including the Diver 300, the Ploprof, and the Planet Ocean. All OMEGA Seamaster Professional timepieces are built to dive and thus have a minimum water resistance of 1000 feet (300 meters), unidirectional rotating bezels, and strong luminescence for optimal legibility in even the murkiest of waters.
A sports watch with a rich heritage intrinsically linked to human exploration of marine environments, the OMEGA Seamaster is a notable timepiece admired for its attractive design and unwavering performance.