Omega’s newest collection of diving watches draws together a range of key technical advancements, writes Sean Li
Omega has spent the past few years addressing some of the most fundamental issues facing watchmakers, from countering magnetic fields to developing innovative materials that are not only durable, but aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing. No detail has been too small to consider. Specific advances have been employed individually in different collections, but now Omega has brought them all together in its newest range of dive watches, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black line.
While many will be familiar with the Speedmaster collection, and in particular Omega’s moon watches, which Nasa selected for the Apollo missions, the brand has been no less obsessed with planet Earth and the exploration of the oceans. The deep sea is no less technically challenging than deep space; divers and their watches have to withstand tremendous pressures in an environment that, unless you’ve had direct experience, is difficult to comprehend.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Planet Ocean Deep Black collection is that all four models have a case made from ceramic, an unusual material for diving watches. Omega has mastered the use of ceramic through various iterations of the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon produced over the past few years. For the Planet Ocean, each case is carved out of a single block of ceramic—an ideal material for black watches because it’s inherently black. Until the development of ceramic cases, designers wanting to produce a black watch had to coat metal cases in black material. They used various techniques, such as particle vapour deposition (PVD), diamond-like carbon (DLC) and anodization, to achieve this result, but the problem with a coating is that if it gets scratched hard enough, the metal underneath will show through. However, even if you manage to scratch ceramic, which by its very nature is very resistant to scratches, you will still see black.
The ceramic extends to the bezel, where three different treatments are applied across the four watches. In the blue and the red models, the coloured 15-minute quadrant of the bezel is achieved by injecting rubber into the ceramic. The colours are not chosen at random; certain colours are no longer visible beyond certain depths. The first colour to disappear is red, at 5 metres, and the last is blue, at 275 metres. The watches are rated to 600 metres. At these depths, any of the new watches will appear the same, entirely black.
The red and blue models differ from the gold and black ones in that the bezels are brushed instead of polished. However, they all share a common point in that liquid metal is used, also injected, for the numerals and other gradations. At 12 o’clock, you’ll find a Superluminova dot that will glow in reduced light, whether on land or underwater; the luminous material is also applied to the markers on the dial itself, as well as the hands,
ensuring you can continue to time your dive or nocturnal excursion.
Those with an eye for detail will have noticed engravings on watch case backs, if they’re screw down cases, seldom align with the watch case itself. They’re usually at an angle, if not completely upside down. That’s because the case back is engraved before being fitted to the watch; given that the threads are not matched between a particular case back and the case itself, the engraving ends up at an angle. For this collection, Omega has developed a new patented mechanism, the Naiad lock, to ensure that regardless of how the case back is fitted, it doesn’t need to be matched to a specific watch for the engraved text to be aligned exactly as the designers envisioned.
You’ll find this same attention to detail inside the watches. Not only does the Planet Ocean Deep Black collection use Omega’s signature coaxial escapement, on this occasion with a 24-hour GMT function along with a date, it’s also a Master Chronometer watch. This is the certification system Omega devised with the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (Metas) when it developed its extreme anti-magnetism technology. This new certification system was necessary because Omega had no other way of testing the anti-magnetic property, which, at 15,000 Gauss, far exceeds the magnetic resistance of other watches. Omega took the testing regime with Metas much further, though, extending it to eight stress and accuracy checks performed on the entire watch, rather than on the movement alone, to reflect the real-world environment a mechanical watch would face day to day. The full results of each watch’s Master Chronometer certification can be checked on a dedicated website.
The straps for the new watches have also received attention; the fabric pattern is actually rubber on three of the watches (the red, blue and dark models), and the straps have an anti-bacterial coating. The watch with the Sedna gold accent is fitted with a water-resistant leather strap with a black rubber lining. All the watches get a ceramic and titanium deployant clasp.
The combination of all these features in one collection exemplifies Omega’s obsessive attention to detail. It’s a combination that makes the Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black such an appealing timepiece, even if it’s never subjected to the extreme environment it was designed for.
FOR THE PLANET OCEAN, EACH CASE IS CARVED OUT OF A SINGLE BLOCK OF CERAMIC—AN IDEAL MATERIAL FOR BLACK WATCHES BECAUSE IT’S INHERENTLY BLACK
into the deep Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black with a glossy black ceramic case