If recent Baselworlds have taught us anything, it’s that anniversaries have become a fertile ground from which many watch brands’ headliner products spring. And the iconic Omega Seamaster can claim two of them in 2018: 70 years since the release of the original Seamaster in 1948, and 25 years since the launch of the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M model in 1993. In honor of this august dual milestone, Omega is offering three commemorative limited editions — two retro-look models of the postwar Seamaster gents’ watch, and one Diver 300M in tantalum, the material it introduced to the watch world back in ’93 — in addition to revamping the core Seamaster collection.
To start from, literally, the beginning: the Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds and Seamaster 1948 Central Second — both limited to 1,948 pieces in honor of their inaugural year — are about as close as one could come in this modern era to the design of the original Seamaster. Released to the market in the wake of World War II, the Seamaster made its mark in watch history by incorporating the water-resistant technology Omega used in the military watches it provided during the war years for the British Royal Air Force and others — including the innovative rubber O-ring gasket — into an everyday dress watch. (It wasn’t until 1957 — with the launch of the Seamaster 300, an anniversary commemorated last year — that the Seamaster transitioned fully into a sports watch.) The contemporary models are in modest, period-appropriate 38-mm stainless steel cases, fronted by opaline silvery domed dials with hands, applied numerals and indices, and a vintage-style Omega logo (aka the Greek letter Omega) in 18k white gold.
The watches differ from each other somewhat subtly in their details. Obviously, one has a center-mounted hand for the running seconds while the other has this function on a subdial at 6 o’clock. Looking more closely, one will note that the hands on the Central Second model are Dauphine-style, with a slight dome to both the minute hand and seconds hand, while the hands on the Small Seconds are leaf-shaped, with only the minute hand domed. The Small Seconds watch comes on a brown leather strap, while the Central Seconds is on a blue-gray leather strap; both close with a steel buckle shaped like a vintage Omega logo.
The movement in these historically derived pieces, of course, is thoroughly modern: Omega’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8804 (Small Seconds)/8806 (Central Second), of which we have written at length previously (notably here and here). In short, it’s self-winding, magnetic-resistant to 15,000 Gauss, high-frequency (25,200 vph), decorated to exacting haute horlogerie standards, and possessed of a hefty 60-hour power reserve. It is also visible through a flat, sapphire caseback that is itself somewhat special, laser-engraved and hand-lacquered with a 70th Anniversary logo and the images of a Chris-Craft boat and Gloster Meteor plane, visual tributes to the RAF and its historic usage of Omega’s earliest water-resistant watches. The steel frame around the sapphire window is engraved with “NAIAD LOCK,” ‘SEAMASTER LIMITED EDITION” and the limited edition number. Both 1948 Editions come in a special collectors’ box, which also includes a spare NATO strap in Admiralty gray, a spare leather strap, and a strap-changing tool.
The Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds will be priced at $6,700, the Central Second at $6,150. Here’s a few shots of the 1948 Small Seconds from Baselworld.
Fast-forward to 1993, and the debut of the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M, a watch that “signaled Omega’s return to the world of diving watches,” according to the brand, as well as becoming the model that sparked its ongoing partnership with cinematic superspy James Bond. That first Seamaster Diver 300M introduced a robust, blue-gray, corrosion-resistant metal called tantalum to the world of watches — interestingly, a material still used only sparingly throughout the horological world by a relative handful of brands due to its density and high melting point. Headlining the 14 new Seamaster Diver 300M models that Omega introduced this week at Baselworld is a limited-edition that blends tantalum with both titanium and Omega’s proprietary Sedna gold.
The watch bears all the hallmarks of the Seamaster Diver’s 25th-anniversary “facelift” that debuted at Baselworld this week: a larger case size of 42 mm; polished ceramic dial with a new laser-engraved execution of the wave motif that debuted on the original model; the same wave motif on the edge of the caseback and sapphire crystal of the exhibition caseback; a new, patented conical helium-release valve; and an integrated bracelet. (Stay tuned to WatchTime.com for a full report on the revamped Seamaster Diver 300M collection.) But whereas the models in the main collection use ceramics for their rotating divers’s-scale bezels, the Seamaster Diver 300M Titanium Tantalum Limited Edition uses a tantalum base holding a Sedna gold bezel ring (for more on that proprietary alloy, click here). Grade 2 titanium serves as the metal for the main case and bracelet, with tantalum, its unique blue-gray tones providing a subtle contrast, making another appearance as the bracelet’s middle links. Other touches of Sedna gold round out the picture, drawing pleasant attention to the crown, helium release valve, and borders of the middle bracelet links, as well as the framework of the luminescent-coated hour and minute hands and hour indices.
On the reverse side of the 300-meter water-resistant case you’ll find another sapphire caseback, with another special image, namely the iconic Seahorse medallion that has long been a symbol of Seamaster watches. Through this embellished pane, you can see another Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement — actually, Caliber 8806, the same one used in the 1948 Central Seconds model described above; the rest of the models in the newly released, revamped Seamaster Diver series, which are in either all-steel or two-tone steel-and-gold cases, use the base Caliber 8800, which includes a date window at 6 o’clock. The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M is limited to 2,500 pieces (that would be 1,000 per each year of the model’s existence). Like all contemporary Omega watches, it comes with the four-year warranty.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Titanium Tantalum Limited Edition will retail for $13,000. Below are a few close-up shots from Baselworld.