Monochrome Monday: A Summer With the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial


Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial titaniumThe  Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial was the star of Baselworld 2014 — a truly inspired watch with a superb vintage design, great horological cred, and housing a fully anti-magnetic movement. We’ve covered it multiple times already on our blog, Monochrome Watches (here and here). After all the noise generated around this timepiece, it was clearly time for us to use it, feel it, and show it off. Well, now we’ve had the opportunity to test the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial (in titanium) over the course of an entire summer.

Omega surprised us just before Baselworld 2014 with a teaser showing a new dive watch. You know us: we can’t resist opening our photo-editing software and to imagine the future novelties. So, we predicted this new watch. The impatience was great before the annual watch fair, as we knew Omega was cooking something cool. The result was beyond our expectations, with a superbly designed watch which had been inspired by one of the brand’s greatest diving tools, and with a great movement, to boot. We played for a while with it during Baselworld, but it was not enough. A more complete review was necessary. We picked up the watch from Omega just before the summer break and brought the Seamaster 300 right to the place where it belongs: seaside. Before giving you our impressions, let’s look back at the lineage of this timepiece.

The old Seamaster 300m CK2913 vs. the new Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial:

 Omega Seamaster - new/old

The above image, created by Omega, is perfect to show how similar these two watches actually are, but it also helps to show the multiple differences between them. The original was introduced in 1957 (alongside two other watches, the Speedmaster CK2915 and the Railmaster CK2914, as part of a professionally-oriented collection). It was Omega’s answer to Blancpain, with its Fifty Fathoms, and Rolex, with its Submariner (both introduced in 1953). Omega presented a watch that was able to resist 300 meters of water pressure, with an attractive design and a reasonable size.

When comparing the two editions, we can see the similarities and how Omega wanted to re-edit this great watch:

  • Same triangular indices and minutes markers
  • Same broad-arrow hands
  • Same black grained dial
  • (Almost) same rotating bezel, with a metallic inner ring and a black outer ring with 60-minute inscriptions
  • Same “straight-lugs” case
  • Same metallic bracelet with three-link construction

Omega could have stopped here, by just reinterpreting the design and then cased a simple movement inside. The brand could have also used the same recipe as it did with the Speedmaster Mark II, by modernizing an iconic design. Instead, Omega went one better, using the classical codes of the old Seamaster 300m, modernizing its appearance, and casing inside it a very innovative movement. The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial is not just another re-issue; it is the modern icon.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - reclining

 

This new edition of the Seamaster 300 is available in a large variety of metals and colors:

  • Stainless steel with a black dial
  • Titanium with a blue dial
  • Stainless steel and Sedna Gold (Omega’s own alloy) with a black dial
  • Titanium and Sedna Gold with a blue dial
  • Full Sedna Gold with a black dial
  • Platinum with a blue dial (limited to 357 pieces)

Features:

For this review, we chose to go with the titanium edition with blue dial — a combination less common than the classical steel/black dial version, but one that delivers some nice advantages: lighter case, great resistance to corrosion and scratches, and added exclusivity with the cool dial (the blue dial is only available with titanium). All of this was truly welcome, as we’ve worn the watch throughout the summertime and used it as a divers’ watch should be used.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - wet-wrist

The overall picture is extremely simple: the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial is a dive watch. No need for useless features here, just the required ones: hours, minutes and seconds for the indications (no date window pollutes the dial), 300-meter water-resistance, screw-down crown, unidirectional rotating bezel, and bracelet with easy fine adjustment. Putting aside the specifications of the movement, that’s all you’ll have. And clearly, that’s more than enough. The Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial might have a vintage design but it remains a practical tool and a modern diving watch. It can be used unfailingly as a “tool watch” – and we can guarantee that to you, as the watch has been worn to swim, to dive, to sail, and to lie down on the beach. Of course, using the SM300 as an everyday watch with your business suit won’t be seen as an act of treason either.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - by pool

Case and bracelet:

If the PR photos and a quick look at the case might give you the idea of a simple re-edition of a vintage watch, the reality is different. Certainly, the design is similar, as well as the diameter, which remains reasonable at 41 mm. But the quality (based on 2014 standards) and the proportions are slightly different. Firstly, there’s the titanium option. It wasn’t only because of the blue dial that we went for this version; it’s because titanium has several advantages compared to stainless steel. The first one is, of course, the weight, which is reduced by almost 30 percent. Even on a bracelet, this watch is extremely light and thus very comfortable. The use of grade 5 titanium allows the watch to have some mirror-polished surfaces (something not possible with grade 2 titanium, which is always sandblasted or brushed) and a very bright color (not so different from steel, just a little darker). Titanium is also extremely resistant: it scratches less easily than does steel – which is appreciated, considering the polished parts – and is extremely resistant to corrosion. Thus, the Seamaster 300 in titanium is stronger along with being more comfortable. The only issue is the price, as the titanium edition is 1,800 euros more expensive than the steel edition.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - wrist

 

The case is, as mentioned, reasonably sized in terms of diameter, as was that of the vintage edition. However, the main difference with the old Seamaster 300 is the thickness. The case itself is not overly thick; as you can see, the casebands are quite thin. However, the bezel is thicker. There are two results from this design choice: the practical aspect is improved, as the bezel will be easier to grip, even with diving gloves. However, the visual aspect does not benefit from the increased thickness – nothing alarming, but a bit of thinness is always welcome, especially for vintage-inspired watches. On the subject of the bezel, we have to recognize its quality. The clicks are strong but pleasant and the adjustments are precise. The blue part is made of (virtually) unalterable ceramic. The color should remain strong, and without scratches, forever. The surface is smooth and flat. The numbers are made of liquidmetal, a unique alloy that bonds seamlessly with ceramics.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - flat

The rest of the case uses several techniques: the casebands are brushed, the edges of the lugs come with a shiny but beautiful beveled angle and the horizontal parts are mirror-polished. The execution is clean, precise and coherent with the price. The bracelet, also made of titanium, presents the same specifications as the case: extremely well made, perfectly adjusted, comfortable and smooth. It even comes with a very intuitive and simple fine-adjustment mechanism (just press a pusher inside the clasp to adjust the length). But this qualitative feeling is linked to the same issue as the case: thickness. The bracelet and the clasp are quite massive and could afford to lose a millimeter or two. Once again, nothing dramatic, but the elegance could have been improved. The bracelet was also at the center of a debate around this watch — in particular, the mirror-polished central link. To be very honest, we can see it from two angles. If we look at the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial as a pure tool watch, a fully brushed finish would have been more appropriate. However, the vintage feeling and design-oriented intention of this piece, I feel, justifies this mirror-polished center link. And titanium helps to keep it clean.

Dial and hands

The dial – in black or blue – is also quite attractive. It uses the design codes of the previous Seamaster 300m CK2913. The base plate is textured and matte, which helps its legibility, especially in sunlight (the anti-reflective treatment of the domed crystal is also extremely efficient). The hands and indices are always easy to read thanks to their contrast with this matte finish. The hands are typically Omega, with the broad-arrow shape: a sword-shaped minute hand and an arrow-shaped hour hand. Both are made of polished steel, with luminous coating. The seconds hand might seem out of place, however, with its diamond shape and its color. On a historical basis, this hand is not relevant, as the SM300 CK2913 originally came with a simple baton hand in steel, without luminous material. This type of hand came later, on the second generation of SM300. The white lacquer might also be intrusive in this context, but I got used to it and found it nice after a while. It gives an echo to the numbers and logo on the dial.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - wrist CU

The indices are quite particular. At first, we thought the dial had a sandwich construction. However, the dial is cut by laser to remove some material and create some cavities, which are filled with luminous paste. This creates a nice depth effect and prevents the dial from being too flat. The luminous material has a faux-patina aspect, with a yellow/brown color to recreate the effect of the age on tritium (the radioactive material used in vintage watches and that tends to turn brown when aging). The dial is lively, legible and clean; Omega had the good idea to limit the amount of inscriptions on the dial.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - dial index CU

Movement:

If the shape of the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial is clearly influenced by a vintage edition, the movement is far from being stuck in the past. Inside the SM300 ticks Omega’s finest and most innovative caliber, the 8400. We already covered it in March, just after Baselworld, but another piece of news came recently: the METAS Certification. We’ll get back on this later.

First, we have to understand what the Caliber 8400 Master Co-Axial is. This in-house movement comes with all the innovations made by Omega during recent years. It has the Co-Axial escapement created during the 1970s by Georges Daniels. It is supposed to have reduced frictions, to have better chronometric performances and to require less service operations. In addition, it comes with truly antimagnetic properties – the watch itself does not need external protection against these fields because the movement itself is resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. The escapement, balance wheel and spiral are made of silicon, the steel plates have been replaced with non-magnetic plates, and the spring of the shock absorber has been crafted from an an-amorphous material. All the parts that should definitely stay clear of magnetism have been replaced by anti-magnetic materials. Impressive! Omega is so confident in its movements that its watches come with a four-year warranty.

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - caliber

Omega Caliber 8400, when presented during Baselworld, was said to be certified by COSC. Something has changed recently, as Omega just introduced a brand new certification, together with METAS, the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology. METAS will test and certify the testing procedures and machinery, which will be used to perform the tests in-house by Omega. It means that the certification will be done on assembled watches and not just on the movements (thus also including water-resistance and antimagnetic properties tests into the process). Omega and METAS announced that a movement will only receive the Chronometer Certificate if it performs between 0 and +5 seconds deviation per day (vs. -4s/+6s for the COSC). All together, these specifications create an impressive movement: reliable, precise, resistant and highly innovative. The finish is also pleasant with (machined) anglage on the bridges and Geneva waves in Arabesque. The power reserve is also comfortable, with 60 hours of energy.

On the Wrist:

 

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - pocket

Putting aside the (minor) issue of the thickness (case and bracelet), the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial is really pleasant on the wrist. Again, the choice of titanium is really something we would encourage here, since that improves the comfort. The stainless steel edition is far from being uncomfortable but it is still heavier. (And we won’t even mention the platinum edition that weights more than 400 grams). The shape and size of the case are also great. It remains reasonable enough for small wrists (like mine) and the lack of crown protection is elegant and reduces the perceived size. We also tried the SM300 on a NATO strap (something that the future owners will certainly do as well) and it really changes the style of this watch, giving it an even more vintage look. The official Omega NATO straps will be right at home here. (One minor issue, however, is that the bracelet measures 21 mm wide and NATO straps usually measure 20 mm).

Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial - titanium - strap, on wrist

 

Conclusion:

Pros:

  • The design, both vintage and sporty
  • The dial, the hands and the indices, all very pleasant
  • The overall quality
  • The movement, innovative, precise and resistant
  • The comfort of titanium
  • The price

Cons:

  • The thickness of the case and bracelet
  • The central polished link on the bracelet that some don’t like

The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial was much anticipated by collectors. Omega was clearly not allowed to make a single mistake with this watch. Not only did it manage to do this, but it pleased us with a superb and inspired design, with very cool details (hands and indices) and a high-quality construction. Omega even pushed the concept further with this truly amazing movement. Lastly, we should compare the SM300 to its biggest competitor, another icon among dive watches, the Rolex Submariner. The latter is clearly not playing on the vintage trend and goes for rigor. Both are equally well finished, both have an in-house caliber, both can be used as proper diving tools. The Omega, however clearly stands out with its antimagnetic movement (Rolex cannot compete here, even with the Milgauss). The specs are clearly on Omega’s side. Design-wise, it is certainly more a matter of tastes than an objective choice.

The price, however, is another story. The Rolex Submariner no-date Ref. 114060 is priced at 6,000 euros. The SM300 in steel is priced at 4,950 euros (6,750 euros in titanium). And here, in all objectivity, we’d have to admit that Omega has a clear advantage, considering the technical package.

One Response to “Monochrome Monday: A Summer With the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial”

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  1. It looks like a great piece. Concerns for me: the PCLs and the second hand vs feaux patina.

    It’s nice to say that you think it beats the SubC but not where depreciation comes in..

    To me like all the new Omegas, the price of this one is about 20% to high…AT $7K USD, maybe but not $9K…

    Omega thinks that if they price their watches like Rolex then people will assume they are Rolex, and they aren’t..

    Reply
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