The Omega Seamaster remains by far the most popular Omega model family in their rather extensive lineup. This may be contrary to many collector intuition beliefs, as we are highly pre-occupied with the Speedmasters, but we were told this by senior Omega sales execs. So when the Time to Move event added a chronograph to the Seamaster Diver 300m collection this year, it got us quite excited. Here is our detailed view.
Introduced only last year, the Seamaster Diver 300m Co-axial Master Chronometer has been a runaway success. Though not as elusive as one competitor’s diving watch, the Seamaster is a handsome timepiece, which is rather highly sought after, and not an easy find on the shelves of Authorized Dealers or Boutiques.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Co-axial Master Chronometer Chronograph
A total of 9 variants were introduced, ranging from steel on steel (watch head and bracelet) to steel on rubber, two tone steel/Sedna gold on steel bracelet and two tone steel/Sedna gold on rubber to a full Sedna gold model on rubber strap. All with black dials, and some variants available in either a grey dial or blue dial.
Omega Seamaster Ref. 18.104.22.168.03.001 ‑ yellow gold on rubber strap
Our pick for this review is the yellow gold model on a rubber strap. Although we normally do not have an affinity for two tone watches, we ended up picking this model as the colour balance between the yellow gold accents, the blue ceramic inserts and dial works very well to make a very attractive watch. The flip side of course, is that this is a diver watch which would be normally considered a tool watch, and having gold on such a workhorse is an oxymoron.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a very solid, massive stainless steel number with faceted horns and sporting differential polished and matte finishing on the surfaces. The case inspires good confidence in a dial watch and has that feel that it is indestructible. The case remains largely unchanged from the Chtonomaster version from 2018, except it is now larger at 44mm to accomodate the chronograph movement and also the additional pushers for the chronograph. The crown, helium escape valve and the chronograph pushers are screw down, and the plungers themselves are in ceramic in a matching blue hue.
The hands also remain largely unchanged from the large skeleton hands for the hour and minutes and slender lolipop sweep seconds hands. The chronograph counters are equipped with baton shaped hands.
The dial also remains unchanged from the Chronometer version, and is in the same attractive, thick ceramic in a magnificently beautiful blue with a wave motif. We think this is the signature calling card of this new series of Divers, and find it particularly pleasing.
The bezel is also very artistically rendered while keeping to the critical need for a dive watch to be highly visible under all light conditions. The bezel is in yellow gold, with yellow gold inserts for the 10s in arabic the 5s in line index, and dots for minutes. The markings are large and very clear. Surrounding the gold markers is the blue ceramic bezel base. Rather fetching in aesthetic beauty, while serving the needs of robustness of a tool watch. This is even more evident in the all steel version with a black dial and matching black ceramic bezel.
The movement: Calibre 9900
The movement chosen is the Caliber 9900 (or the Caliber 9901 in the solid gold version with a gold rotor). This was the first of Omega’s chronograph movements to receive the then new METAS cerfication. Introduced at BaselWorld 2016 in the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, the 9900 is a replacement for the 9301 movement.
This movement is an automatic, column-wheel chronograph with double-barrel architecture, co-axial escapement, 60-hour power reserve and a unique display with a co-axial minute and hour counter placed at 3 o’clock.
Movement finishing as observed through the sapphire glass back is de rigueur at this class of tool watch, and appropriate for this price bracket. This means that it will not be winning any prizes or taking anyone’s breath away for the magnificence of the finishing, detailing or cosmetic applications, but rather it is competently finished and is fit to the task.
The competitive landscape
The competitive landscape is rather interesting for this Omega. The Seamaster is certainly an icon in the industry for a 300m saturation diving watch with a chronograph, and ceramic bezel/dial. We had a hard time to find another saturation diver chronograph rated to 300m. And none which offers their watch as a two tone gold/steel version.
Perhaps a candidate might be the Breitling Superocean Heritage B01 Chronograph 44 (S$10,930 in steel bracelet) or the newer Breitling Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Chronograph 44 (ETA 7750 movement S$ 8,850, LE 1000 pieces), but neither is saturation dive rated and is only capable up to 200m. Both Breitlings offer a ceramic bezel, but a standard dial.
At the next nearest level, we look at 300m dive watches.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms series might be a good match. A recent example is the “Nageurs de combat” (Combat Swimmers), which retails for S$21,400. The Fifty Fathoms comes in a steel case with a rubber bracelet, and a bezel protected by a domed sapphire crystal.
Seiko Prospex diver 300m Hi-Beat (¥ 550,000, approx S$7,200) might be one alternative, but the Seiko Prospex, capable as it is is not designed for saturation diving. And though the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 Diver SBGH257 is a saturation diving watch rated to 1000m, but considerably more expensive at S$ 19,900. The case is in titanium and it comes with a titanium bracelet. It uses a heavy duty construction coupled with a special L shaped gasket in place of a helium escape valve. It too has a anti-magnetic rating, the quoted figure is only 16,000 A/m, which works out to be about 200 Gauss. However, the GS is brilliantly executed with haute horology finishing and powered by the caliber 9S85: a refined version of the 8L55.
Even Rolex does not make a saturation diving watch with a chronograph. Their best shot is perhaps the Submariner (S$10,030 but very difficult to get at Authorized Dealers) is a time only watch rated to 300m, but is not designed for saturation diving. A steel and gold version of the Submariner Date is available at S$18,070, but no chronograph nor saturation diving rating.
Overall, the Seamaster Diver Chronograph is a impressive watch. All the 9 models are quite impressive. The full gold version is perhaps an overkill (and expensive at S$36,000), but we do find the two tone gold and steel versions, especially the blue dial edition as shown to be particularly attractive. And the full steel versions to be good value for money.
The lack of meaningful competition, topped that with a very reasonable asking price of S$12,900 for the gold/steel version and only S$9,900 for the all steel with rubber strap, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Co-axial Master Chronometer Chronograph is a winner.
The build quality is classical Omega, which means it is totally robust and suitable for the tool watch duties it might be pressed to service, though, for all intents and purposes, we think it will probably live a quiet life under the cuff of an dress shirt.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Co-axial Master Chronometer Chronograph – specifications
Calibre: Omega 9900
Self-winding chronograph with column wheel and
Co-Axial escapement. Certified Master Chronometer,
approved by METAS, resistant to magnetic fields
reaching 15,000 gauss. Silicon balance-spring, 2
barrels mounted in series, time zone function.
Central hour, minute and chronograph seconds hands,
small seconds hand, 12-hour and 60-minute recorders.
Rhodium plated finish with Geneva waves in
Power reserve: 60 hours
Domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with
anti-reflective treatment on both sides
WATCH CASE & DIAL
Case: Steel ‑ yellow gold
Case Diameter: 44 mm
Dial Colour: Blue
30 bar (300 metres / 1000 feet)
Helium escape valve
Transparent case back
Unidirectional rotating bezel
PRICE: S$ 12,900.00