Omega’s recent re-introduction of the original Omega Seamaster 300 from 1957 was undoubtedly one of last year’s most anticipated releases of 2014 — and probably also one of its most discussed. I recently got my hands on one for an up-close review; here are my impressions on this vintage-styled dive watch.
For a watch lover, the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial offers an unquestionably attractive combination of features, starting with a classical vintage-inspired look; a polished Liquidmetal bezel insert; a screw-down crown; and a sapphire crystal caseback showing off the beautifully decorated in-house Caliber 8400, which comes with COSC-certification, 60-hour power reserve thanks to its twin barrels, a more-than-impressive 15,000 Gauss of magnetic resistance, and, naturally, Omega’s co-axial escapement. Also, the watch remains water-resistant to a depth of 300 meters. If you consider the significance of the brand, its heritage, the overall quality and the above-mentioned innovations (some of them exclusive to the brand) packed into its 41-mm stainless steel case, it even comes at a rather competitive price.
As a purist, or a dive watch lover, however, you certainly could question the choice of the faux-aged lume, the lack of an integrated diver extension (there is a micro-adjustment, though), the small bezel pip, the missing “Professional” in its name and appearance and thus rather elegant overall look, the sapphire caseback, the (actually historically correct) polished center links of the bracelet (whose pins are locked in with screws, BTW), or even the dangers (or lack thereof) of magnetism underwater in general. But at least you might appreciate the missing date window and be glad that Omega did not include a helium-release valve on this watch. And hopefully you would still be able to generally appreciate the efforts Omega made to constantly increase the reliability of its mechanical watches.
Speaking of which, the 8400 movement can be compared to the 8500, except that it has no date function. As mentioned previously, the movement itself is resistant to magnetic fields greater than 15,000 Gauss without the need for a soft iron cage. The movement is not only a pleasure to look at and fills the case nicely, but it also comes with a free sprung-balance with a silicon balance spring, two barrels mounted in series, and its oscillating weight allows automatic winding in both directions. Should you not wear your watch for more than 60 hours and travel often, you can advance the hour hand separately without hacking the watch or moving the minute hand at the same time. But most importantly, the first test by one of WatchTime’s sister publications in Germany seem to confirm that it meets even the greatest expectations when it comes to measuring time.
To be honest, I immediately fell in love with the Omega Seamaster 300 the moment the first teaser pictures were released on Facebook. The more I learned about it before, and most of all during, Baselworld, I (being the purist I am) slowly started to feel a bit guilty about so unabashedly liking a watch that clearly wasn’t intended to be the next benchmark in the dive watch segment. I also felt a bit sorry for whoever had to find a new naming system for the numerous Seamaster dive models and came up with the “double master” solution. Yet I was still pretty sure that I would have to get one as fast as possible. My initial enthusiasm waned when I tried the steel version on for the first time: Suddenly, the watch, even at 41 mm in diameter, looked way too small for my wrist — which I am guessing was due mostly to the understated bezel. Even worse, I became rather irritated by the long, flat lugs and the even longer end-pieces of the bracelet (lug to lug is about 48 mm; with the bracelet, it is about 53 mm); in combination with the raised sapphire crystal on the back, the watch and bracelet just didn’t seem to fit.
So, with another important lesson learned — “Never judge a watch before having it seen in real life” — I still knew I needed, and wanted, to do a review for my blog, diveintowatches.com. After all, it was still one of the most important watch releases of 2014, and certainly a very impressive proof of Omega’s capabilities, and my personal opinion on how it fit my wrist wouldn’t change that. And guess what: shortly after Steven Colbert ended his final “Colbert Report” with the observation that “technically, a revolution is 360 degrees right back to where we were,” I realized that I had also came back to where I started: somehow I fell again in love with the Omega Seamaster 300. Not immediately, but the longer I worked on the pictures, collected the basic facts, and — most of all — wrote about it in German for an extensive review, the more it grew on me all over again.
And yes, it might be a bit unsatisfying to simply describe it as a great watch that can also be regarded as a showcase for all the technical innovations today’s Omega is capable of delivering — but it probably is just that simple. So as a piece of consumer advice: If you happen to like the watch and experienced the same issues when trying one on, you might want to give it another try. And if you think you are never likely to consider buying one, well, it’s best you probably don’t devote the time to write a review about it. On a more serious note: If you already own one of the six versions, and maybe feel the need to try out an alternative strap: consider one of the softer nylon Nato straps (Omega recently introduced a wide selection of them, and also offers the required wider spring bars) or just go with a regular strap for a 21-mm lug size. The thick, coated nylon strap shown here (basically the same one that was introduced with the larger Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary LE) looks great but tends to increase the width of the watch even more.
Model: Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial, Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001
Crystal: Domed, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating inside
Bezel: Unidirectional (120 clicks) with polished ceramic/Liquidmetal insert
Case/Bracelet: Steel, folding clasp with micro-adjustment
Movement: Omega Caliber 8400 with COSC certification, 25,200 vph, 39 jewels and approx. 60 hours of power reserve; hours, minutes, and seconds
Dial/Hands: Sand-blasted black dial, rhodium-plated broad arrow hands coated with Super-LumiNova, white seconds hand
Water resistance: 300 meters/1,000 feet
Size/Dimensions: 41-mm diameter, 21-mm lug width, approx. 160 grams
Variations: Steel/Sedna Gold, Titanium, Titanium/Sedna Gold, Sedna Gold, Platinum (limited to 357 pieces)