Feature: 5 Annoying Things About The Omega Seamaster
It feels cruel to pick on a watch that’s given the Rolex Submariner such a run for its money, but since we know, and you know, and everyone knows how awesome it is, it feels fair game to poke holes in Omega’s bestselling dive watch. So here they are: five annoying things about the Omega Seamaster.
Whiter Than White Bezel Text
I don’t know if you remember Daz adverts, but I do. I think they were just a British thing, but I’m sure there were versions of it around the world that told much the same story. The premise was this: a loud man went door-to-door harassing housewives by calling them out on their less-than-ideal laundry. He would shriek and scoff about how yellow and unsightly those poor ladies’ sheets were, before whipping out some eiderdown of his own that was whiter than the Oscars.
I’m sure there was some television trickery going on there, but darn it if that linen wasn’t the whitest thing you’ve ever seen. By comparison, the smoke-stained sheets of the now-distraught housewives were virtually indistinguishable from the floor of a men’s public bathroom. The Daz sheets were so white it would leave an impression on the screen of the family television for a minute after the advert had ended.
The Daz advert has since been demoted to the second whitest thing I’ve ever seen since I first laid eyes on the text on the new Omega Seamaster’s bezel. The previous generation used more of an off-white steel-grey colour that matched the case perfectly, giving it a softer, more industrial feel—but not this. For some reason Omega has chosen looking-directly-at-the-sun-through-a-telescope white to delineate the numbers on the bezel from its blue ceramic background—and it’s just too white. Annoyingly too white.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup HEV
The helium escape valve is a clever little device, one that, despite popular belief, gets used in the dry and not the wet. You often see pictures of bubbles seeping from the helium escape valve underwater, but this, I’m afraid, is pure fiction. Many of these pictures come from the brands themselves, a clear division in communication between the people making the thing and those selling it. It’s the equivalent of marketing a car’s practicality by showing someone getting out at high speed.
No, the valve finds its use solely in the decompression chamber of the professional deep sea diver, and allows the watch to leak the accumulated helium that was squeezed in alongside its fleshy human host. Only difference is, if you skip this bit, the fleshy human host might die—for the watch, the crystal will just pop off.
Nevertheless, this device that is completely irrelevant to you and me is featured on many of the greatest dive watches available today, and whilst it will see less use than a perforated soup bowl, it’s like the rest of the watch: cool to have. So why-oh-why does it look exactly like the favourite treat of an entire nation: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Now, we don’t get those here except on special order, but yet I’m still very familiar with the nutty chocolate chalice, and so I suspect the Swiss are too. So how they didn’t see it is a mystery to me. It doesn’t make it bad or anything, it’s just the first and only thing I think of every time I set eyes upon it—and that’s really annoying.
The Size (And Therefore Small Movement)
Just as we all thought watchmakers were coming to their senses and downsizing some of the larger cases back to more reasonable proportions, the tables turn yet again. The Seamaster 300, like the Speedmaster, has always been a slightly larger-than-average watch, measuring in at a plump 41mm since it was reimagined as the Professional in 1993.
It’s not the only watch that’s crept up in girth over the Christmas holidays. The Submariner of Rolex fame, a 40mm watch since 1959, recently slipped a notch on its belt to 41mm, the Explorer II two notches up to 42mm and the Sea-Dweller three to 43mm and even 44mm for the Deepsea version. Seemingly not to be outdone, Omega’s latest Seamaster gets the same treatment, growing a millimetre to 42mm across and just under a millimetre to 13.7mm thick. It’s a sizeable watch.
But what of it? It’s never exactly been the dainty one of the bunch. If you want small and slender there are plenty more fish in the sea. No, what’s annoying is what all this does to the back. Because this watch now has an in-house movement, rather than the ETA jobby retrofitted with Omega’s Co-Axial escapement, you get to see it. And it’s a decent movement, the calibre 8800, anti-magnetic, 55-hour power reserve, balance bridge, METAS certified—except, thanks to the 42mm case, the steel sea that surrounds it makes it look annoying small.
The Waves, Or Rather Missing Bits
If there’s one iconic detail that 1993 Seamaster Professional introduced that made a mark more than any other, it’s the waves on the dial. Where Rolex has always made do with very plain and simple detailing, Omega has sought to differentiate itself by injecting a dose of the grace and elegance it found fame for back when Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf was still in diapers.
You see it in the architecture of the case, the delicacy of the hands and the finish on the surfaces. A Rolex gets the job done without fuss, whilst an Omega looks good doing it. The waves on the dial of a Seamaster Professional are like the perfectly placed locks of hair falling from the brow of a Hollywood action hero, rugged, yet glamourous. For the last generation Seamaster, Omega went all Jason Statham on us and shaved the dial of its curls completely, but here they are back again for this latest iteration.
Cut into the ceramic with a laser to create impossibly perfect ripples through the sunburst dial, these new waves divided opinion at first, but now we’re all comfortable with them I think it’s pretty safe to say the inclusion is a success. Well, to a point, because when you look for a little longer than a glance you’ll notice the waves don’t flow freely from shore to shore like they once did, they’re broken up by little islands of text floating in the middle. Even the barely perceptible “ZrO2” print that reveals the dial’s ceramic construction gets a break in the waves. And that is kind of annoying.
James Bond Is A Shill
The last point of pedantry with this Omega Seamaster is less about the watch itself and more about what it stands for. After nearly dying a death in the wake of the quartz crisis, it was left to watch businessman extraordinaire Mr Jean-Claude Biver to haul the sinking wreck of Omega’s once illustrious history out from the murky depths and back up top where it belonged. The Seamaster Professional was the hollow-point round that was going to do the damage, but that bullet needed a weapon: one Peirce Brosnan in the shape of public servant and serial womaniser James Bond.
In 1995’s Goldeneye, Brosnan’s Bond wears a blue quartz Seamaster, and ever since, Bond has continued to maintain his punctuality using a number of other Omega watches. That’s all well and good, you might say, but no, no it’s not. And I know what you’re thinking. Bond wore a Rolex in the books. That’s true, but I’ve never read them, so it doesn’t really bother me. What bothers me is that Bond isn’t real, and it feels a bit like Omega thinks he is.
If James Bond were a real person and wore the Omega Seamaster, to me that’d make it pretty cool, like how the Speedmaster was used to save Apollo 13. If, however, the moon landings had never happened and Apollo 13 was nothing more than the work of Ron Howard’s imagination—it wouldn’t matter what watch Kevin Bacon wore in the film because it didn’t happen. Look, Will Smith wears a Hamilton Ventura in the extra-terrestrial romp Men In Black, but you don’t see Hamilton making a big deal out of that. By the way, the moon landings did happen.
The Omega Seamaster is, right now, one of the best diving watches money can buy. It’s stunning, the specs are through the roof, and it’s got more pedigree than a whole week of Crufts. Best of all, you can actually walk into a shop and buy one without it being a big deal. All that makes it all the more fun to pick holes in, and given how small those holes really are, it shows just how much of a success story this most recent version really is.
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