When we think of an Omega Seamaster these days the mind probably goes to the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean or the Aqua Terra. But the Seamaster had a life before these popular entries. Let’s take a closer look at how this classic watch came into being and what it eventually became.
Omega Seamaster, Born from Battles
Shortly after World War 2, the Swiss watchmakers Omega took a design for the British Royal Navy, featuring a waterproof gasket, and turned it into a dive watch that would soon set world depth-diving records. While there have been changes over the years, some things have remained consistent, such as wave patterns across blue or black dials and screw-down crowns.
It’s 300M’s World, We Just Wind in It
While there are disagreements on the “best” Seamaster, the 300M Professional is unarguably one of the best-selling around the world. Omega unveiled the super-water-resistant 300M in 1957 and it quickly became standard on the wrists of professional divers. There have been quite a few variations with the 300M over the decades, but the model has almost always featured lugs on a symmetrical case, big hands, big numbers and a dark dial.
The secret of 300M’s success is also partly due to its association with James Bond. And yes, we all know that James Bond began with Rolex and stayed loyal for decades. But then the 90s came along and we had cell phones, the Internet, grunge and goth. Things were changing and 007 fell for an Omega, with Pierce Brosnan sporting an Omega Seamaster in 1995’s Goldeneye.
Getting Back with James Bond
Omega shows no sign of jealousy over Bond in his Rolex days, celebrating an earlier Bond film with the limited-edition run of the 42mm Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. It’s to coincide with this year’s 50th anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Omega goes full-Bond with the run of 7,007 pieces. The dial is an unashamed homage with the signature gun-barrel graphics that open the franchise’s credits, with the number seven in the distinct font from the films. Diehard Bond fans will recognize the crest at the twelve o’clock position – it’s the Bond family coat of arms.
Plunging into Planet Ocean
Let’s set the Wayback Machine just a little, two clicks back to 2005. We were awash in trucker hats, skinny jeans, and yes, Uggs. Cargo pants even made a resurgence. It was a pretty rough dressed-down time. But not for Omega. The Seamaster stepped in with some James Bond-style, as the Planet Ocean would accompany Daniel Craig on his first run at 007 in the 2006 film Casino Royale.
In the years since there have been lots of variations in the line, from case sizes and bracelet options to bezel colors and chronograph or non-chronograph movements. Consistent throughout each reference in the line are unidirectional rotating bezels, prominent hands with luminescence, a screw-down crown and analog display.
Flip any Planet Ocean over and you’ll find a screw-in case back that’s engraved with the Omega Seahorse symbol. The image, known as a hippocampus in Greek mythology, has some serious history and significance.
Tale of the Seahorse
So set the time machine to leap back and we’re in ancient Greece, where you’re likely to hear tales of massive half-fish half-horse creatures roaming the sea. These mighty ocean steeds pulled Poseidon’s chariot. Today in the canals of Venice you still see their influence, with pairs of forged seahorses attached to both the starboard and port sides of gondolas, meant to protect all in the vessel.
These guardians of the ancient waterways inspired an engraver at Omega to invoke their image of protection against watery danger. In 1958 the first hippocampus was engraved on an Omega Seamaster. Today, nearly nothing in the Omega line personifies that connection to the sea and all of its creatures more than the Planet Ocean.
Keeping Aqua Terra Time
Many a watch lover has noted that the Aqua Terra comes as close to the original design of the first Omega Seamaster as anything in the collection. That’s kind of ironic in that the Aqua Terra isn’t as serious a dive watch as others in both form and function. It’s not designed for deep dives like the 300M or the Planet Ocean. And it just looks better on land, feeling more comfortable at an elegant candlelit dinner than off the coast of Bali.
When it debuted in 2002, the Aqua Terra had a smooth face, but the watch has since come to be easily recognized for its teak pattern on the dial. With simple, no-nonsense looks, the Aqua Terra is equally at ease on a stainless steel bracelet or fine leather. Dressed up or down, it’s about as versatile as you can get with the Omega Seamaster and that likely adds to its popularity.
Look, we all know you’ve never been diving. Heck, you haven’t even seen Finding Dory. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put some maritime heritage on your wrist, and there’s probably no better way to do it than with the timeless design of an Omega Seamaster.