Story in a second: The much-loved diver just got a serious makeover.
Omega’s Seamaster Professional 300M is a true legend of the watch world, a watch that will be eternally associated with Bond – specifically Pierce Brosnan, the Bond who brought the franchise out of the wilderness, and once again into the spotlight. Like I said – legendary. And, as everyone knows, you don’t mess with legends. So I can only imagine that the pressure must have been high in the Omega product department in the lead up to the 25th anniversary makeover of the line, released earlier this year. And, broadly speaking, the refresh is restrained and balanced, providing upgrades where needed, but otherwise keeping the key elements right where they are.
One of the most heated reactions to the ‘new’ Seamaster Professional was the size increase. Though really, it’s pretty marginal: 42mm, up from 41. Personally, I think the difference is minor and subtle, in keeping with what people who are after a contemporary daily dive watch want. However, while the cut-and-dry specs increase is the most obvious change to the case, it’s far from the only one. The helium release valve (that extra crown at 10 o’clock that pretty much no one *really* needs), is now conical; a nice, ergonomic upgrade. Elsewhere, the case is — as we’ve come to expect from Omega these days – flawless. The lines are crisp, the differentiation between polished and brushed is sharp, and the overall wearability, thanks to the slim profile, is wonderful. Of course, the other major change is the bezel: it’s still that broadly scalloped design; the ceramic insert is glossy and blue, and the design of the elapsed scale is cleaner (no separate 1-15 minute countdown, just 10-minute increments). It looks great, bright and white. The feel of the bezel is great, too — good enough to compete with (and beat) those on watches that have much higher price tags.
The overall feel of high quality continues onto the dial. Like the bezel, the dials on the new SMPs are made from glossy ceramic, laser-etched with that famous wave (more on that later). Ceramic bezels are pretty common, because of their very high resistance to scratches. Ceramic dials are less common, but they make sense not just because they look good, but because ceramic also holds exceptionally well, and won’t fade over time (of course, the same holds true for the colour on the bezel). Aside from the material, the design of the dial and hands is familiar. The skeletonised sword hands are there, with their arrangement of luminous triangles and circles; the hour markers look especially popping against the glossy, icy grey background. The other dial detail that draws the eye are those waves. The waves were there on the original version (albeit in a tighter layout), but then disappeared a few years ago. They were always something of a polarising feature, but now they’re back, laser-etched and far more of a statement than previous iterations. They’re particualrly high contrast and striking on this variant. And while I’m sure they’re still one of the more contentious elements of the watch, they are, to crib a line from watch marketing departments, an essential part of the model’s DNA.
Again, at first glance, not too much has changed. The bracelet looks the same as previous versions, but it feels much nicer on the wrist and in the hand. It leans hard to dressy rather than utilitarian, but that’s absolutely OK by me (if the bracelet isn’t your jam, I’d highly recommend the equally excellent rubber strap option). Overall, the bracelet has a great quality feel – I suspect a lot of engineers and designers spent a lot of hours improving the fit and feel of this bracelet. Often the bracelet is an area where watch brands skimp on the quality, but that’s most definitely not the case here.
While all the upgrades we’ve talked about so far have been incremental, the update to the movement is serious and significant. The caliber 2500 is gone, in favour of the cutting-edge caliber 8800, one of the best modern, mass-produced movements on the market right now. It carries Omega’s intimidatingly good Master Chronometer certification, which is accurate, durable and antimagnetic. Not only does this upgrade bring the model into line with most of Omega’s other automatics, it presents a great value offering.
On the wrist
The wrist is where this watch shines (literally, with all that ceramic and those polished finishes). It looks good, sure, but it wears great. It’s slim, well-sized and comfortable. After a few years, I’ve worked out that this is the hardest thing to do. Making a watch that looks great on Instagram isn’t too hard, but making a watch that looks good on Instagram, and feels right on the wrist, day after day, year after year – that’s something else entirely.
Really, this could have been a one-word review. To me, one word perfectly sums up what the latest Seamaster Diver 300M is all about – more. More polished, more features, more fine detailing, more movement chops. More value (lots more value). More, more, more. And while for most people more is a good thing, there are some people who either ascribe to a ‘less is more’ philosophy, or who cling to the good old days. To be honest, the less is more brigade probably aren’t the target market for this watch; the SMP isn’t a watch that shrinks into the background – the bezel, dial and general instantly recognisable-ness of the whole package means that it will be noticed. But the people who like the ‘old’ Seamaster Professionals do have grounds — especially when it comes to the bezel and dial, which are pretty high gloss — that this isn’t to everyone’s taste. Having said that, ceramic is the future and I think it’s an inevitablity of the march of progress. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some matt-finish variants in the next few years; after all, Omega has never been afraid of options.
Yeah, all it’s missing is a buzzsaw bezel. Or a laser …
Who’s it for?
Looking for a rock-solid watch, with a healthy dash of flash, solid pedigree and great value?
What would we change?
You could make a case for less shiny ceramic, but I think that’s kind of the point. So I’ll let that slide. Having said that, I’d like to see solid hands rather than skeletonised.
Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Diver Australian pricing
Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Diver, steel on steel bracelet, $6525
|Case Material:||Stainless steel with ceramic bezel and white enamel markers|
|Dial:||Grey ceramic, laser cut|
|Crystal:||Sapphire, front and back|