This portion of my watch section will focus on some overview style commentary about the Seamaster watch. I’ll talk a bit about the history, some thoughts on the whole James Bond thing, and some personal reflections about Omega.
A lot of my research comes from the very fine watch site Chronocentric, home of the Omega Seamaster FAQ and lots of goodies for Omega owners.
The Seamaster History
Damn, this watch used to be pretty ugly. Check out Chronocentric’s Omega Seamaster Versions and photos to see the first and second gen watches Omega made in this Professional lineup. I can say they hit a home run with the third generation one – the bracelet is timeless, the watch face and layout is awesome, the skeleton arms introduced are perfect, and the watch is visually stunning. With all of the enhancements in design style, they still managed to boost the water resistance from 200m to 300m with this 1993 version, yet Omega made it appear to be thinner and more refined. My watch is more or less the same as the 1993 version visually, though some serious improvements were done inside the watch.
But the Seamaster lineup doesn’t go to 1988; nope – it goes all the way back to 1947. Back then, it was a dressy watch that was waterproof (as they said then – today, every watch is “water resistant”). The “Seamaster” moniker came from the fact that, back in the day, most watches were very susceptible to water damage – this lineup from Omega was water proof to 20 or 30 meters, hence the name – go swimming in the sea and be a master with your fancy Omega Seamaster watch!
Omega made Seamaster “diving” watches back as early as the 1960s, but the “Professional” line didn’t arrive until 1988. Many watches in the Seamaster history have been Chronometer COSC certified, but not all. The Professional Chronometer Seamasters all have been tested individually, as far as I know.
The James Bond Factor
I’d like to go on the record saying that it was NOT James Bond that made me want this watch at the beginning. In fact, I first saw the Seamaster Professional in 1994 in person, before Pierce Brosnan did his first James Bond movie. I remembering seeing that dark-metalic blue bezel, the wave face, the skeleton hands, and I was hooked – that was my initial appeal for the watch.
I had no clue that Pierce Brosnan wore it in his first James Bond movie when GoldenEye came out. (yes, I zoned out that both he and 006 wore this watch and did laser light shows with them – but in the first movie, Bond had the quartz model, not the chronometer version – maybe that’s what screwed me up :)). In fact, the first time I knew that the Omega Seamaster Professional was the “James Bond” watch was when I saw the second Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, and I recognized it on his wrist and him doing cool things with it. I still remember the thought in my head at the time: “how cool is that – James Bond is wearing the watch I wanna own someday!”
Since then, the fact the Omega Seamaster Professional is the “choice of James Bond” has added a bit to the appeal the watch has for me, but it is a very minimal thing. I keep going back to that first time I saw the watch… when I was a starving student at UBC, going through Oakridge Centre Mall to buy some supplies, and stopping in Rodeo Jewelers… and seeing that watch. No other fancy, expensive watch came close to the appeal the Seamaster Professional held over me. I remember specifically thinking: “one day, when I’m not so poor, I’m gonna buy that watch.”
If you read the last sentence, you’d think this was a status symbol device for me. Nothing is actually further from the truth. In fact, I wanted this watch for the same reason why I lust after the BMW M5: understatements.
The average guy on the street knows Rolex or Cartier. They know “gold watches”. They know that’s “rich, hauty tauty stuff”. The average guy on the street will look at a Viper and go ‘damn, that’s a flash, fast car!”
But the average dude on the street may see a BMW M5 go by and think “hrmm, yet another Bimmer… some spoiled kid… yeah, the car’s expensive, but not by too much.” They have absolutely no clue that under that hood lies one of the world’s fastest and most advanced sports cars made, and one of the more expensive production model cars you can buy.
And the same holds true for the Omega Seamaster… that was the appeal to me. It was a top of the breed wristwatch with certifications and credentials, but the average joe doesn’t have a clue. And I like it that way… stealth precision and excellence. The best of the best (within reason), and no one except for a few cognoscenti know the difference.
Call it the superhero’s secret identity complex (no, I’m not the superhero – the watch is, or the car is).
That was the ultimate appeal to me – that I had a little secret on my wrist (or under my butt as I drive), but I knew I had the best of the best. Kinda like a reverse status symbol.
What’s to like, if no one knows what it is?
Well, there’s plenty.
First, you get a serious piece of precision, micro instrumentation that is really a miracle of miniaturization and exacting design. For the watch to keep time as it does, it’s just amazing… but I’ll cover that more in my detailed review.
You also get a refined piece of versatile jewelry. I don’t wear any jewelry except for, you guessed it – watches. This watch goes well with almost any clothing style or circumstance. I could wear this with ripped shorts and a baggy polo shirt at a barbeque, or with a 3 piece suit at a wedding.
Third, you’re getting a piece of jewelry that ain’t gaudy. Yes, this ties in with the previous two, but for me, nothing is less appealing than a flashy gold watch. Even though I love titanium in most things, I don’t like it in watches – it’s too obvious a statement.
Fourth, you get precision and exacting build on the outside of the watch. There’s heaps of tiny, almost unnoticeable refinements and design tweaks built into this watch that you have to be told about to be conscious of (but you already know about them subconsciously because of how the watch may feel or be to use). Add to that the exacting detail in the outer build.
Fifth – with a bracelet as complex as the Seamaster Professional one is, you’d expect hair snags all the time. Never, ever happens. It’s a design thing. Every other watch I’ve owned, save the Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay, has snagged my wrist hair. Not this one.
Sixth – it’s heavy, but not too heavy. Yes, 150 grams may be a lot, but that’s for the mens’ large version. The medium size is 130 grams, and the woman’s Seamaster is around 95 grams. (30mm case width). I find that 150 grams is the perfect “maximum” weight.
Sixth, you never know when you might end up 300 meters below the sea in a helium enviro… if that happens, this is the watch for you.
The Jeanette Factor
I’d be lying or hiding something if I didn’t talk about this for a moment.
Jeanette owns a Seamaster. It’s a 1980s dressy version, probably a 30m water resistant one, but also a rare one her grandmother gave her.
I saw my first Mens’ Seamaster before Jeanette and I were seriously dating. When we started going out, and she got the watch, I always secretly thought it was very cool that Jeanette was wearing a watch from the same family of watches that one day I would own… even if hers is a quartz model 🙂
I was also a bit jealous that she owned one, and I did not. Not enough that I’d ever talk about it, but it definitely was one of the factors in me wanting one.
Her watch runs extremely well to this day, and she wears it to this day; the watch’s cosmetics are still in excellent shape. What’s really scary is how tiny it is compared to my Seamaster Professional.