Taking a deep dive into the Omega Seamaster Taking a deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

Taking a deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

D.C. Hannay

Welcome to The Icons, a new series where we take a horological deep dive into the most legendary watches of all time. We’ll delve into the story behind the watch, its evolution over the years, famous (and infamous) wearers, the classic references, and the contemporary versions you should be checking out right now.

“Bond. James Bond”. It doesn’t get much more iconic than that. And although Rolex was there first, the Bond franchise is probably your initial thought when the classic Omega Seamaster is mentioned. That’s some seriously good branding.

But the Seamaster is much more than simply the “Bond Watch”. Current model ranges under the larger Seamaster umbrella include the Diver 300M, the Planet Ocean, the Aqua Terra, and miscellaneous others referred to as ‘Heritage’ models, which include such pieces as the original 300, the Railmaster, and the larger-than-life Ploprof. And fair warning: the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming (Omega loves their limited editions), but fear not. Although it’s impossible to mention every single Seamaster variant in this article (there are literally hundreds), I want to touch on the history of the model, its evolution, famous fans, and the ones I’d add to my watchbox.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster
Picture credit: @captain_black_dial_

Although Bond’s Diver 300M is probably the Seamaster most people think of, the model didn’t start out that way. In fact, you’d probably mistake the original Seamaster for a dress watch, and you’d be right. Sort of. 

You see, the problem with most dress watches made before the 1930s was that the slightest contact with water meant a trip to the watchmaker. See that sink in the kitchen? Don’t even look at it.

Rolex sorted that out with the introduction of their water-resistant Oyster case. Another major advance was the Perpetual self-winding movement, eliminating the need to unscrew the crown to wind your watch’s manual movement, further reducing the possibility of water damage. 

Around that same time (1932), Omega produced what they call the first commercially available water-resistant diving watch, the Marine, that utilised a slightly inelegant double-case design sealed with cork, but it worked. They also invented the precursor of what’s now known as a diver’s extension clasp, created to more easily adjust the strap over a bulky diving suit. 

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

But Omega recognized the advantages of a water-resistant dress watch, and in 1948, introduced the first Seamaster, designed like military watches with an o-ring to seal out moisture, but in a much classier package. The benefits and wide appeal of a dress sport watch are clearly obvious, and the Seamaster really nailed the brief. And Omega recently paid tribute to the Seamaster’s origin story with a limited edition model, the 1948 Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm, a real looker, and a good sight more accurate and water-resistant than its great-grandfather.

Fast forward to 1957, and the introduction of the Seamaster 300, created to directly compete with other dive watches of the day, including the Submariner. Changes included a substantially larger 39mm case, long, flat lugs, and a black dial with glowing (and dangerous) radium for better visibility. The look is so classic, Omega recently brought it back for their “Trilogy” reissue series, available in a boxed set along with the Railmaster and Speedmaster from the same era. 

In the early 60s, the case design changed again, to the now-familiar twisted “lyre” lugs that have become an integral part of Omega’s design language. These versions have a strong association with the military and professional diving, and are therefore highly coveted, to the point where there are countless fakes to trip up the novice collector.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster
Picture Credit: @jirivratislav

But the watch most of us think of when the Seamaster is mentioned is the Diver 300M, first introduced in 1993 with a high-profile series of endurance tests by noted explorers, adventurers, and athletes the world over. And in what became a defining point in the Seamaster’s history, EON Productions struck a deal to feature the new watch in the James Bond films, starting with the debut of Pierce Brosnan as 007 in 1995’s Goldeneye.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

After that movie was a smash success (and with it, the now-legendary blue-dialled 300M), Omega never looked back. It’s been Q Branch’s standard issue for 007 since, with Daniel Craig’s Bond receiving some especially choice references over the years, including the big, bad  Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M, the oh-so-tasteful 300 Co-axial Spectre model with its 12-hour bezel and black and grey-striped fabric strap, and the hard-as-nails No Time To Die titanium version with matching mesh bracelet. My advice? Avoid the somewhat hokey Bond limited editions, with their in-your-face ‘007’ branding. These souvenir pieces aren’t the same watches worn in the films. That’s for the tourists, man. 

As far as brand associations go, Omega seems to be working for Bond.

Commander Bond is in pretty good company with some other noted Seamaster owners, including actor George Clooney, Prince William (a gift from his mother, Princess Diana), Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, and even President Joe Biden.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

And although the Diver 300M of today is the mainstay of the lineup, there really is something for every taste under the…er…sea. And instead of attempting to navigate the murky waters of the vintage watch market (all I’ll say is “buy the seller” before you even think of buying the watch), I’ll wrap things up with my picks for the modern references I’d add to my collection in a New York minute.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

My first choice is the Omega Seamaster 300 Co-axial Master Chronometer 41mm ($9900 AUD), a gorgeous slab of vintage-inspired goodness. Since its near-twin (the previously-mentioned 300 “Spectre”) is only available on the secondary market, this one’s the logical choice, and it comes in a blue-dialled version if that’s more your speed. 

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

Next up, a real contender as a do-it-all sporty dress watch, the Omega Aqua Terra ($8750 AUD). Available in a broad range of sizes, dials, and metals for any wrist, the Aqua Terra is a great alternative to Grand Seiko, or the unavailable-at-retail Rolex Datejust. It features the highly regarded Co-Axial movement pioneered by George Daniels, and I particularly like the blued hands and indices of this grey-dialled beauty. 

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster

From the urbane and sophisticated, to the completely bonkers: If you play hard in the water, aren’t afraid of unconventional looks, and have the wrist acreage to pull it off, might I suggest the mighty Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M ($17,325 AUD)? A 55mm-by-48mm titanium behemoth, this baby will go places humans will never go (all the way to 1200 metres below the surface), but hey, why not be sure, right? If you’re gonna go big, this is the nuclear option (and just get the shark mesh chain bracelet while you’re at it). Available in a number of dial and bezel colours, my preference is for the classic black with the orange bezel release button. It just looks dangerous, like pressing it will launch torpedoes.

A deep dive into the Omega Seamaster


And now for something completely different. Omega is going hard in ceramic, with several models now available in white, grey, and even a vibrant blue case, but for my money, always bet on black. The 43.5mm Omega Diver 300M Ceramic ($12,375 AUD) is a sinister presence on the wrist, with its high-tech ceramic case, strictly-business NATO strap, and stealthy overall aesthetic. You’ll feel just a bit more adventurous than usual.

Finally, I couldn’t finish off this list without a nod to Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Released well before the oft-delayed No Time To Die, the Omega Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42mm Titanium ($14,025) is pure menace with its bead-blasted finishing, “aged” lume, and tropical-toned dial and bezel. And the matching mesh titanium bracelet? It’s one of those things that must be felt to be believed: it’s that good (check out our in-depth video review here). Daniel Craig himself had a hand in the design…what more could you possibly want?

Icon isn’t a word we throw around lightly, and in the case of the Omega Seamaster, the title is well-earned. So whether you’re dressed to kill in a wetsuit, or a Tom Ford tuxedo, there’s sure to be a Seamaster to accompany you on your mission.