The Omega Seamaster is an internationally renowned model of the Omega family. Originally manufactured in 1948, during a period regarded by AVW to be the company’s finest hour, stretching from the end of World War II to the early 1970s. The Omega Seamaster is currently the oldest line in the Omega collection, with the newer models having adorned the wrists of silver screen heroes from Pierce Brosman all the way through to Daniel Craig in James Bond films.
So why buy an Omega Seamaster vintage watch? What gives it such a durable appeal?
Having supplied wristwatches to the British military since 1945, Omega were used to producing watches built to perform in hostile environments and it’s from this lineage that the Omega Seamaster was created.
At the time the concept of a waterproof watch was nothing new. Many other watch manufacturers, such as Rolex, had produced successful waterproof watches. However, with the Omega Marine in 1932 and the Omega Marine Standard in 1939, it was Omega that produced the first watches that would withstand the depths of diving. And it’s from this start that Omega went on to perfect the design of the rubber ‘O’ ring seal, to replace lead and shellac seals, that gave their successor, the Seamaster, the ability to withstand even greater pressure at extremes of temperature, carving out a niche for the Seamaster as the dive specialists’ watch.
In 1955 the diver Gordon McLean reached a depth of 62.5 metres in Australian waters while wearing an Omega Seamaster, providing the Seamaster with its first ever diving-record. And in 1957 when Omega introduced the Seamaster 300, with its simple but stylish black watch face, it was held in such high regard that not only did it become the choice of watch for the underwater expert Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s team, but also for military divers like the Special Boats Service.
Omega continued with this ability to diversify in response to the demands of the day when in 1962 they introduced the Seamaster 30 – the “30” referring to the size of the watches movement – to great popular demand. The first Seamaster 30 had a forty two hour power reserve and 17 jewel movement with the details of the black dial based on the W.W.W. (Wrist Watch Waterproof) watches used by the British armed forces.
Omega’s readiness to push the limits of endurance kept them at the top of the game. The greater the depths divers ventured to, the more Omega responded. In 1970 Omega produced the“Ploprof” (PLOngeur PROFessional or “professional diver” in English) Seamaster 600. Used extensively by the French underwater and research company COMEX in their test dives of the late 1960s. In September 1970, again in French waters, the Seamaster 600 was worn by the three divers of Janus II who spent four hours per day over a period of eight days, at depths of 253 metres, setting a world record for underwater exploration. And later still, Cousteau’s divers reached depths of 500 metres off the coast of Marseille while wearing the Seamaster 600
Omega took on board the results of the performance of their watches in such testing conditions and worked seriously to develop them accordingly. Nothing shows the endurance their watches were subjected to more than the words of an advert produced at the time: ‘ In pressure tanks the watches are subjected to the equivalent of a leap from the bottom of the sea to twice the height of Mt. Everest; and this leap is repeated for hours on end.’
An adventurer’s watch, over the years, the vintage Omega Seamaster has rightfully established itself as a worthy lifestyle symbol.