About a month ago, we covered the Omega Railmaster vintage re-edition released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the original piece. But before 2017 is up, I thought it would be appropriate to train our “Vintage Eye” on the Railmaster’s two significantly more famous sister watches from the 1957 Trilogy, starting with the Seamaster 300.
We initially covered the Seamaster 300 a couple of years ago, but 2017 marks the first release since that point of a vintage-inspired piece within the collection. First brought to market in 1948 as a collection of small dress watches and then re-developed in 1957 under the “300” name as a professional dive watch (as seen above), the Seamaster series is emblematic of a watch that can adjust to the changing pressures of different eras. This most modern re-edition, which comes as a faithful homage to the original reference CK2913 from 1957, is another example of the brand working to bring its watches to where consumers want them — which is firmly within the realm of vintage-inspired pieces that Omega, among others, has helped nurture in recent years. Yet, while the original piece set out to compete with the Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms among other dive watches of the era, this modern watch now looks not so much to compete with its competitors in technological advancements, but to offer vintage Omega fans their own bit of the series’ famed history.
The new watch (Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001), like the other watches in the commemorative 1957 Trilogy, remains strikingly faithful to the original while making some keen modern improvements in materials, movement, and finishing. The watch uses a vintage-sized 39-mm brushed and polished steel case, with slick lugs and a screw-down signed crown featuring a small Naïad sign in the center of the Omega logo. This addition of the small sign, which in 1957 indicated a specific type of water -resistance technology, is significant, as the historical feature was noticeably missing on this year’s Railmaster re-issue. In my opinion, keeping the symbol limited to the Seamaster 300 edition was a good decision— it puts an extra focus on the water-resistant nature needed by a solid dive watch, and differentiates two pieces that both use relatively similar cases.
The thin outer bezel of the piece is made of modern aluminum, as compared to the more fragile acrylic used on the historical piece, yet in design it is almost identical to that on the original watch. Most importantly, the modern reference has the historical bidirectional bezel, used when Omega did not have rights to the unidirectional bezel patent held exclusively by Blancpain during the time. The choice of this type of bezel, while decreasing the Seamaster’s effectiveness as a dive watch, nonetheless adds another layer of authenticity for the re-issue.
On the black dial, there are few differences between the “broad arrow” design of ’57 and the contemporary model. With faux-patina triangular and white, printed quarter-hour markers, a vintage-script Seamaster 300 logo at the bottom and a small corporate Omega logo toward the top — and the broad-arrow hand configuration sweeping the whole face — the dials, besides the use of modern Super-LumiNova as compared to vintage radium for luminescence, are exceptionally similar. The modern watch has done well to keep the design as it was intended, without adding a subtle date window or enlarging specific features.
Omega’s automatic Master Chronometer Caliber 8806 (above) powers the piece, and is hidden behind a solid, seahorse-engraved caseback reminiscent of the one on the vintage model. The movement is capable of a 55-hour power reserve, boasts magnetic resistance to 15,000 gauss, and is finished with rhodium-plating and Geneva waves in the circular design Omega refers to as “Arabesque.” The vintage CK2913 used the Omega Cal. 501 movement, which was also automatic but, unsurprisingly, was nowhere close to as accurate or reliable as the modern Caliber 8806.
This watch, in summation, is striking in its similarities to the original model. From the shape and size of the case, the configuration of the dial, and even in smaller details like the Naïad symbol and thin bezel, Omega’s re-issue of one of its most famous watches can be considered a successful revival. For those who are interested in the piece, it offers a slice of great Omega history in a solidly constructed modern watch, yet for a fraction of the price often asked for actual vintage models. As of the today, the Seamaster 300 60th Anniversary Edition is still available at retailers worldwide for $7,000, and will be a limited edition of 3,557 total pieces.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the modern Gallet “Heritage Edition” Racing Chronograph to its historical counterpart, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.