As I write these words, the theatrical release for No Time to Die, the long-awaited 25th James Bond film, has been pushed for a third time from its original date in April 2020. Originally rescheduled to open in November 2020, the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic has led to another delay, all the way to October 2021. With vaccines and improving Covid-19 case numbers, all of us legions of Bond fans are hopeful this date remains set in stone. However, no matter when Agent 007 will be battling bad guys and romancing femmes fatales on the big screen again, we’ve all known since December 2019 what watch he’ll be wearing: the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition, a military-look dive watch designed with the input of Bond actor Daniel Craig himself. In anticipation of its cinematic debut, I gave the watch a full once-over, with an eye toward both stylishness and functionality, two necessities for any timepiece worn by the world’s most suave secret agent.
Omega says that its design team was in contact with Craig, who will star as Bond for the fifth and apparently final time in the upcoming movie, throughout the process, utilizing his knowledge of the character’s cinematic and literary history. In a quote provided for the Swiss watchmaker, the British actor and watch aficionado stated, “When working with Omega, we decided that a lightweight watch would be key for a military man like 007. I also suggested some vintage touches and color to give the watch a unique edge.”
Practical utility on a mission was almost certainly a factor in designing the case, which is made of grade 2 titanium and mostly matte-finished — thus ensuring lightness on the wrist, toughness under adverse conditions, and a distinct lack of glare in missions requiring stealth. The standard model comes on a mesh bracelet of the same material, though our review watch was mounted instead on a color-coordinated NATO-style fabric strap for an even more military look. The 42-mm size is comfortable and well balanced on almost any wrist, with the caseback’s convex curve nestling nicely into place. The lugs are sharply but elegantly curved.
Handling the case, one of the aspects that stands out is the unidirectional rotating bezel, whose top surface is inscribed with the 60-minute scale expected of a professional-grade divers’ watch, and whose sides are scalloped rather than fluted, presumably for the thumb and forefinger to easily grip the indentations to rotate the bezel for setting dive times. In practice, I’m not sure that it’s actually easier for the fingers to grasp the scalloped edges than to get traction on a more traditional notched bezel, but the bezel does ratchet smoothly with a pleasant series of clicks. And the unconventional shape of the edges adds a very attractive hint of sportiness to the overall design, as well as being very consistent with Seamaster designs of the past. Another element that marks this as a professional divers’ watch is the helium release valve at 10 o’clock, which not only adds a technical feature that a diver (or a submersible-manning secret agent) can actually use, but whose fluted edge, matching that of the screw-down crown, adds a slight bit of asymmetrical charm to the overall design while being just small and unobtrusive enough not to press into the wrist.
The “tropical brown” color scheme of the bezel matches that of the dial, and both are made from aluminum, another materials decision made in the service of keeping the overall timepiece lightweight. (In keeping with Craig’s “vintage touches of color” statement, tropical brown generally refers to a black dial that has become discolored over time due to exposure to sunlight, a phenomenon associated with many desirable vintage timepieces.) The dial uses an array of large, geometrically shaped indexes, all coated with a generous application of tan, faux-patina-colored Super- LumiNova — rectangular bars at the cardinal points, doubled at 12 o’clock, and round “bubbles” for the remaining hour markers.
The hour hand and minute hand are both pentagon-shaped, and partially skeletonized with big, luminous triangles at their tips. The decision to hollow out large portions of the hands on a watch that is intended for military-grade, mission-oriented legibility is somewhat puzzling; in the dark, when the minute hand crosses over one of the larger hour markers, it can be difficult to determine the time at a glance. On a more positive legibility note, the use of red on the end of the central seconds hand is a good visual cue to alert the wearer that the watch is running, as that hand races around the dial. Also making this dial distinct from that of other Sea- masters is the arrow marker above the 6 o’clock index, used historically to denote property of the British government.
A superspy’s watch needs a tough, reliable movement, and Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8806, which beats inside the Seamaster Diver 007 Edition, delivers the goods. Based on the Caliber 8800 but lacking that movement’s date display (which arguably makes for a cleaner and more legible dial), it is self-winding by means of a bidirectional rotor, magnetic-resistant to 15,000 gauss, and possessed of a hefty 60-hour power reserve. With a balance frequency of 25,200 vph, the in-house movement includes 35 jewels and uses silicon for its hairspring and free-sprung balance spring. Its titanium balance wheel is equipped with screws for fine adjustment. Its haute horlogerie finishes (which are, unfortunately, hidden behind a solid caseback rather than showcased behind a clear sapphire one) include rhodium plating and Geneva waves in arabesque, the latter a hallmark of Omega’s in-house calibers, on the plates and the rotor. Like all of Omega’s Master Chronometer movements, Caliber 8806 has earned a certificate from the Swiss Institute of Metrology (METAS) for eight separate criteria attesting to its superlative precision and antimagnetic properties; ultimately, a watch is required to perform within a tolerance of 0 to +5 seconds per day during and after exposure to the 15,000-gauss magnetic field to receive the Master Chronometer designation.
The scalloped-edge motif of the bezel is repeated on the solid titanium caseback, designed to incorporate Omega’s patented Naiad locking system, in which the back can be screw-locked securely while maintaining the proper alignment of any engraved decorative elements. This is ideal, because the Seamaster Diver 007 Edition has a plethora of these elements, all either referencing vintage military-issue watches or aspects of the James Bond mythos. The “0552” is the code number for Navy personnel (Bond, as avid fans well know, was a Commander in the British Royal Navy before entering the Secret Service), the “923 7697” denotes a divers’ watch, and the letter “A” is the code for a watch with a screw-down crown. The “007” is mostly self-explanatory, and the “62” is a sly reference to 1962, the first James Bond film’s year of release.
On the NATO strap, of course, all these fun details are obscured, though the strap itself harmonizes nicely with the sober colors of the bezel and dial and is made of a suitably sturdy fabric, with a striped pattern of gray, black and khaki. The metal loops are thin but robust with a matte finish that echoes that of the case; the one nearest the pin buckle pays a very subtle homage to Bond with an engraved “007” logo. The buckle itself, also made of matte-finished titanium, has a raised-relief Omega Greek letter in the center. The strap is long, and owners with thinner wrists will need to fold the end back in through the final loop to prevent it from dangling.
Worn on the NATO strap, the watch coordinates well with casual clothes, whereas on the mesh bracelet it is more versatile, suitable with a dressier ensemble as well. Of course, Craig wore a Seamaster on a NATO strap with a white dinner jacket in the last Bond film, Spectre, which many would consider a fashion faux pas, but far be it from me to quibble with James Bond (although, for the record, I also believe a martini should be made with gin rather than vodka).
Of the many James Bond-inspired timepieces that Omega has released over the years since the brand first came aboard as 007’s official watch in 1995’s Goldeneye, the Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition is perhaps the model that true fans can most easily imagine on their hero’s wrist in a mission setting, thanks to its unmistakable military influence and utilitarian robustness — even minus the built-in lasers and Geiger counters of some of its more outlandish predecessors.
Manufacturer: Omega S.A., Stämpflistrasse 96, 2504 Bienne, Switzerland
Reference number: 126.96.36.199.01.001
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Movement: Omega Caliber 8806, automatic with antimagnetic components, 25,200 vph, 35 jewels, hack mech-anism, co-axial escapement with silicon hairspring and DLC-coated titanium balance, fine regulation via poising weights, Nivachoc shock absorber, 55-hour power reserve, diameter = 26 mm, height = 4.6 mm
Case: Grade 2 titanium case, unidirectional rotating bezel with aluminum ring, domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with nonreflective coating inside, screw-in crown, helium release valve at 10 o’clock, solid caseback with Naiad lock, water resistant to 300 m (1,000 ft)
Strap and clasp: Titanium mesh bracelet or striped NATO strap in dark brown, gray and beige, with “007”engraved on loop
Dimensions: Diameter = 42 mm, height = 13.5 mm