Speedmaster and Seamaster: The Early History
The Speedmaster and Seamaster are two of the OMEGA brand’s most iconic models. Their stories begin about a decade apart, yet both models have celebrated a number of milestones alongside each other. Each of these models represent two of the most superior tool watches on the market, one designed for sport racers and one designed for divers.
OMEGA first introduced the Seamaster in 1948 in conjunction with the brand’s 100th anniversary. Its design drew inspiration from other dive watches, like the Marine, OMEGA’s first water resistant timepiece. However, they wanted the Seamaster to be more versatile. It would appeal to those who not only appreciated the functionality of a dive watch but also needed a watch for everyday wear.
In 1957 OMEGA released its newest addition to the Professional collection; the Speedmaster. This collection also includes the Seamaster. The Speedmasters original design and intent was as a racing chronograph. It was also the first model to feature the brand’s now iconic triple-register dial.
The 1960’s were a significant decade for both the Seamaster and the Speedmaster. Sports watches were increasing in popularity, and OMEGA wanted to compete with models like the Rolex Submariner. So, the brand focused on developing the Seamaster, specifically its water resistance. The result of their efforts divided the Seamaster line into two subcategories: the sportier Seamaster Professional and the dressier Seamaster Aqua Terra. In 1962, the Speedmaster made history when it became the first timepiece in space. Soon after, the Speedmaster became the official watch of the space program. In 1969, the model made history yet again by landing on the moon. This historic feat gave it the nickname the Moonwatch.
1990’s and Pop Culture
The 1990’s were a time of key change for each of the models. The Seamaster solidified its place as more than a dive watch when it became a pop-culture phenomenon thanks to the James Bond franchise. Actor Pierce Brosnan sported a Seamaster Quartz Professional in the 1995 film GoldenEye. This made the Seamaster the official watch of 007. It has appeared in every Bond film since. In 1998, OMEGA debuted one of the most polarizing variations of the Speedmaster, a multifunction quartz watch called the X-33. The X-33 showcases the brand’s efforts to launch the Speedmaster into a more modern era, yet diehard fans of the Speedmaster collection found the X-33 to be too much of an extreme departure from the previous versions.
The 2000’s and Legacy
The turn of the century marked the release of a number of limited edition variations of each of the models. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the James Bond franchise in 2002, a special edition Seamaster was released with the 007 logo. Just a few years later in 2006, OMEGA launched another special edition James Bond variation of the Seamaster, the Planet Ocean. Then, in 2009, in celebration of the first manned lunar landing, the Speedmaster Apollo 11 40th Anniversary edition debuted.
Since conception, the Speedmaster and Seamaster have evolved and secured their places in history. This is due to their ties to significant events in science and pop culture. The Speedmaster will forever be synonymous for its association with NASA and its nickname, the Moonwatch. The Seamaster will forever be known as the official watch of James Bond. Still, both models represent superior achievement in the development of tool watches. They are two of the most timeless and successful designs ever created by the OMEGA brand.