History of the Omega Seamaster
In 1995, the OMEGA Seamaster achieved mainstream popularity when it joined the James Bond film franchise. It started with Pierce Brosnan’s Seamaster Diver 300M in GoldenEye and continued with Daniel Craig’s Seamaster 300 in SPECTRE. Today, the modern 007 is never without an OMEGA dive watch. However, the OMEGA Seamaster history started long before Bond’s. Introduced in 1948 to commemorate OMEGA’s 100th anniversary, the OMEGA Seamaster is the brand’s longest running collection still in production. Learn about the history of this collection & key OMEGA Seamaster models.
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. OMEGA subjected the Seamaster to a battery of tests to ensure its capability under water. Ultimately, the watch performed so well 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 1971, after four years of intense research and development, the OMEGA Seamaster Ploprof 600 emerged. The following year, OMEGA released an updated variation, the Seamaster Ploprof 1000. Jacques Cousteau himself, along with divers of famed commercial diving company COMEX, often wore OMEGA Ploprof watches during their dives. However, the Ploprof’s run was ultimately short lived, and it disappeared from OMEGA’s catalog for several decades. In recent years, OMEGA reintroduced modern versions of the vintage Ploprof with the Seamaster Ploprof 1200M.
Another noteworthy vintage model within the OMEGA Seamaster archive is the “Bullhead.” This model made its debut in 1969. The “Bullhead” is notable for its distinct case shape reminiscent of – you guessed it – a bull’s head. This is because the chronograph pushers and winding crown sit at the top of the case. In addition, another crown that controls the internal rotating bezel sits at the bottom of the case. Rather than being an OMEGA dive watch, the brand 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. Since then, it’s continued to be a permanent fixture of OMEGA’s catalog.
Key OMEGA Seamaster Models
Today, some of the most popular OMEGA Seamaster models are the Seamaster Professional, Seamaster Aqua Terra, and Seamaster Planet Ocean. The Seamaster Professional is a label attached to several Seamaster models. These include the Diver 300, the Ploprof, and later the OMEGA Planet Ocean. The Aqua Terra collection joined the Seamaster line in 2003 as a dressier alternative to the sportier OMEGA Seamaster Professional. Particularly interesting are the Aqua Terra limited edition models such as the Ryder Cup and James Bond timepieces. Two years later, OMEGA introduced the Seamaster Planet Ocean. As one of OMEGA’s newer models, the Planet Ocean receives modern touches like a ceramic bezel and Master Chronometer movement.
The OMEGA Seamaster Professional
The “Professional” series joined the Seamaster line in 1957 with the first Seamaster 300. OMEGA builds all of their Seamaster Professional timepieces as robust diving tools. As a result, they 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. As the name suggests, OMEGA has designed the Seamaster Professional timepieces for professional divers. These watches can withstand deep marine environments. Many models also feature a Helium Escape Valve (HEV). This allows the watch to automatically release built-up gasses in order to prevent damage from the pressure.
As the modern equivalent of the first Seamaster Professional, the Diver 300M is the most affordable and most popular among the professional lineup. Originally, OMEGA exclusively constructed the model with a stainless steel case. Today, the collection has expanded to include more contemporary materials, like ceramic and titanium. OMEGA offers a number of iterations of the Diver 300M, like a chronograph and GMT. The OMEGA Planet Ocean 600M is not only more robust but also more luxurious. The collection features a wide choice of metals, complications, bracelet materials, and dial and bezel colors. All in all, it’s the most versatile of the Seamaster Professional collection. In 2009, OMEGA reintroduced the Ploprof in an updated version. The modern variation can dive down to an incredible 1,200 meters (4,000 feet). Still, it retains the distinctive look of the original with an oversized crown and crown guard on the left-hand side.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra
Although the Aqua Terra is a newer Seamaster collection from OMEGA, the model draws inspiration from the OMEGA Seamaster history. A distinguishing characteristic of many of the Seamaster Aqua Terra models is the “teak concept” pattern. Here, vertical lines run across the dial. The style is reminiscent of wooden decks found on luxury yachts and expensive boats. This elegant nod to nautical life compliments the watches’ water-resistance of 150 meters (500 feet). Other distinctive design elements of the Aqua Terra include the arrow-tipped minute hand and tapered hour markers. The Seamaster Aqua Terra timepieces feature round cases in an assortment of sizes and materials. In addition, there are a number of complications available within the line including a date, annual calendar, and GMT. The OMEGA Master Chronometer automatic movements drive the newer Aqua Terra models. These mechanical movements are significant for having passed eight rigorous tests set out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) including resistance to magnetic fields. In fact, the Seamaster Aqua Terra > 15,000 gauss was the world’s first mechanical watch resistant to 15,000 gauss.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean
In 2005, OMEGA presented the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M as the newest addition to the Seamaster family. Available in three different sizes – 39.5mm, 43.5mm, and 45.5mm – it’s easy to find the OMEGA Planet Ocean that fits best. In addition, Seamaster Planet Ocean timepieces come in a variety of materials like stainless steel, gold, titanium, ceramic, and platinum. Also worth noting are the available bracelet options. From rubber to water-resistant leather, and NATO to metal bracelets, there’s a wide selection of straps for any style. Each Seamaster Planet Ocean model is equipped with a unidirectional bezel for divers to keep track of their immersion times. The bezels on early models of the OMEGA Planet Ocean were exclusively ceramic. However, newer bezels feature an innovative mix of rubber and ceramic with the first fifteen minutes displayed in colorful rubber. Another important feature of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M is the helium escape valve (HEV). This allows the watch to plunge down to 600 meters (2,000 feet). Rounding out the functionalities are the Super-LumiNova accents found on the bezel and dial for legibility in low light. Lastly, the newest editions of the OMEGA Planet Ocean watches are equipped with the brand’s Master Chronometer calibers.