Omega Seamaster Professional 600 ‘PloProf’
1970 was an important year for watchmaking. Three years after the launch of the Sea-Dweller, 1970 was the year that introduced the only watch likely to take the fight to Rolex’s behemoth: the Omega PloProf. Angled and slab-like, the PloProf was leagues ahead of its time both technologically and stylistically: it used scratch-resistant mineral glass over the Sea-Dweller’s plexiglass, had a locking bezel with push-button release and a crown protector design unlike anything ever seen before. Ultimately, the Sea-Dweller was victorious in the fight to win a contract with deep-sea diving agency COMEX, but the PloProf won a different battle: it was by far the most inventive and interesting diver of that great period.
Buying a vintage watch tends to be more of a journey than buying one more recently made. A watch from the seventies has lived through a near half-century, and with it comes a history personalised for each and every piece. But that doesn’t mean good examples don’t exist: many have been owned by enthusiasts and are well looked after. Omega themselves operate a specialist vintage restoration centre in Bienne, Switzerland, where nothing short of minor miracles are possible with vintage Omegas that seem beyond all hope.
That being said, buying a good example from the outset is a better way to ensure long-lasting reliability, so expecting paperwork from a service within the last five years isn’t unreasonable. The calibre 1002 movement is a sturdy workhorse, but even the most hardy movements deserve a little care over the decades. Parts are readily available, so there’s little chance of ending up with an unfixable watch whatever the condition. A full Bienne service can, however, begin to stack up depending on how much needs repairing or replacing: to have a PloProf serviced, resealed and refurbished costs around the same as having any Omega serviced, but a full restoration can cost considerably more.
The earliest PloProfs featured only the depth rating of ‘600’ on the dial, but most examples will have a depth rating of ‘600m/2000ft’. The orange minute hand will have faded on some examples, but this does not require replacement—many collectors appreciate the authenticity of a faded hand. Strap options were originally between the Flightmaster bracelet, the Milanese mesh bracelet, a Corfam synthetic leather strap and a synthetic rubber ISOfrane strap. The mesh bracelet is still available from Omega and the ISOfrane strap from the current PloProf 1200 is Omega standard issue for vintage fitment. Some owners have swapped the standard mineral glass crystal for a more scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire replacement, but beware, because Omega will not certify water resistance with the fitment of aftermarket parts. Added to that, some PloProfs have returned from third-party service centres with the dials installed upside down, moving the crown to the more typical right-hand side. There has never been an official ‘inverted’ PloProf, and any examples found this way will need the dial reseating.
Watch Spec | Omega Seamaster Professional 600 ‘PloProf’
Case | Stainless steel Dimensions | 54mm x 45mm Crystal | Anti-reflective coated mineral glass Water Resistance | 600m Movement | Cal. 1002, automatic Frequency | 28,800 vph Power Reserve | 40 hours Strap | Rubber Functions | Time, date, locking bezel
Unlike vintage Sea-Dwellers, prices for the PloProf are surprisingly reasonable, clocking in at several thousand less than the RRP of the updated PloProf 1200. £4,500 should be the top end of the budget, securing an immaculate example with a bracelet and a recent service, whereas a £3,000 example is likely to run the risk of being a bit leggy and in need of work. If a watch without a service in the last five years seems appealing, remember to factor in the cost of the service, budgeting for any parts that may need replacing.
The PloProf is a fantastic watch with exemplary heritage. It is one of the more rugged and reliable examples of vintage watchmaking out there, and as long as any purchase is backed up with adequate research, there is little concern buying one over a more modern watch. Never mind the flashy reissue PloProf 1200—the 600 is real deal, and the one to buy.
Launched | 1970 Manufacturer Warranty | 2 year (following Omega Bienne restoration) Service intervals | 3-5 years Servicing cost | starting at £300 Replacement strap | starting at £250 for rubber, £350 for mesh steel
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