The oddball Gérald Genta-designed Omega that everyone forgets about The oddball Gérald Genta-designed Omega that everyone forgets about

The oddball Gérald Genta-designed Omega that everyone forgets about

Adam Reeder

Gérald Genta is revered for his innovative vision and trendsetting designs. As most watch fans know, Genta created some of the most iconic silhouettes in the history of watchmaking. From the Universal Genève Polerouter (created when he was just 23 years old) to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Genta’s aesthetic always managed to straddle the line between classic and wholly unique. However, Genta seems to have turned that line into more of a zigzag with at least one of his designs. That watch is the Omega Seamaster Polaris. The Polaris is a strange, if not slightly confused watch, and that’s precisely what makes it an object of pure joy.

Origin story

Gerald Genta
Image Courtesy of Dubai Luxury Watch

In the early 1980s, the quartz crisis had Omega on the ropes: they needed the proverbial “big idea” to right the ship, so to speak. One attempt at a solution was to tap Genta to design a quartz watch that would make a big splash. They wanted something new and different, but also a watch that was a sign of the times. The result of this effort was the Omega Seamaster Polaris.

The launch of the Polaris came at a time of uncertainty in the mechanical watch market. Quartz had practically taken over the the entire watch world by the late 1970s and early 1980’s. Omega felt that it was the right time to have Genta design a forward-looking quartz model in his image.

What resulted was a watch that kept the Seamaster moniker but added a lot of Genta’s design DNA, and a dash of early 80s quirkiness. The Omega Seamaster Polaris is without a doubt a one-of-a-kind watch – and very unlikely to be confused with the similarly-named Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris.

The specs

Omega Seamaster Polaris

While the Polaris was a member of Omega’s famed Seamaster line, it was by no means a traditional dive watch. The standard version has a diminutive diameter of just 32mm with a lug to lug measurement of 36mm. Smaller women’s models had a case diameter of 23mm. A large watch, the Polaris was not.

The initial 1982 release was a basic no-date three-hander without a diving bezel. It had a case thickness of just 7.2mm, so it was exceptionally thin for a member of the Seamaster family as well. The original 1982 release came with a water resistance of just 100 meters. While later models from the 1990s boasted up to 300 meters of water resistance, virtually nothing about the original Polaris release says “dive with me” other than the word Seamaster printed at the bottom of the dial.

The looks

Omega Seamaster Polaris Quartz Date
Image courtesy of

Being a Genta creation, the Seamaster Polaris utilizes the integrated bracelet design that brings it right in line with so many of his designs from that period. It also includes a 2mm thick 18ct gold inlay into the brushed titanium case. The original dial design was a basic matte black finish with applied hour pips around the dial. The case and bracelet were quite maximalist with the inner bracelet links and geometric gold bezel inlay.

The frenetic look of the case and bracelet may offer a clue as to why the dial itself takes such a minimalist posture. The bracelet links have a slightly convex curve to them, giving the watch a little more dimension than most. Somehow, all of the elements of the watch seem to be slightly mismatched, but that’s what brings the entire look together. It’s a bit like an EDM festival costume that has so many seemingly disjointed elements that it makes the whole look feel intentional.

Its personality

Omega Seamaster Polaris Chrono
Image courtesy of

Speaking of quirks, the looks alone of this watch should tell you that wearing the Seamaster Polaris is more of an adventure than a monotonous task. I love a good conversation piece, and that’s exactly what the Seamaster Polaris offers. It truly looks like no other watch I’ve ever seen. That being said, there were several different Polaris variants offered throughout the decade that Omega made them.

From the original quartz three hander to digital chronographs and beyond, Omega didn’t hold back when it came to offering different options to Polaris customers. They even released automatic models, including automatic chronographs throughout the model’s run. There was a Polaris model for just about anyone who wanted to join the club. They even had ladies’ models with diamonds adorning the 18ct gold inlays.

Creative genius or mad scientist?

Omega Seamaster Polaris Diamond
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Genta is undoubtedly one of the giants of watch design of the last fifty years, but are his design choices above reproach? Different people have different opinions on the subject. With the Seamaster Polaris, Genta gave us a sense of fun and unabashed creativity. While many of his most popular designs invite descriptions such as “industrial” or “geometric”, the Polaris might be described as “whimsical” or, dare I say, “fun”. The quartz years at Omega were a time of desperation, for lack of a better word. Just a year after the release of the first Polaris model, Omega was facing the real threat of bankruptcy. So it’s no surprise that they felt they needed to go for broke at this moment in their history.

The Omega Seamaster Polaris is not for everyone. Indeed, it’s probably not a watch for most people because of its unusual design and small size. However, that same quirkiness is what makes the watch such a special piece. It’s highly unique and has an incredibly interesting story behind it. It’s also a relic of a pivotal moment for the Swiss watch industry and Omega as a brand. It’s a timepiece that also functions as a time capsule, and that’s something that makes the Omega Seamaster Polaris worth your time.