MASTER OF THE SEA
From arming divers to assisting secret agents, the Omega Seamaster, which is 70 this year, is an icon in its own right
The Omega Seamaster turns 70
The Omega Seamaster line was launched to coincide with and commemorate the brand’s 100th anniversary. The watches were modelled after the waterproof timepieces used by the British military during World War II. The first Seamasters were fitted with self-winding movements in standard as well as chronometer variants.
The year when diver Gordon Mclean, wearing a Seamaster, reached a record depth of 62.5m in Australia.
Omega rolled out its “Professional” range of Seamaster watches with the Seamaster 300. After decades of successfully accompanying explorers and diving specialists to great depths, the watchmaker felt it was time to make its longstanding association with divers a permanent one.
After four years of extensive research and experiment with professional divers, Omega unveiled the “Ploprof ” Seamaster 600. (Ploprof is the portmanteau of “plongeur professional”, which means professional diver in English.) Divers from Comex, a French underwater research and exploration firm, took the watch on test dives in the late 1960s, and set a world record for underwater exploration at a depth of 253m in the Ajaccio Gulf in France.
Omega upped the ante a year later with the launch of the Seamaster 1000, a ticker that was created and tested alongside the 600. It then made history for its dive with International Underwater Contractors submarine Beaver Mark IV (above) while being attached to its robotic arm. The watch survived the dive of more than 1,000m beneath the ocean’s surface.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Omega continued its association with divers and established its status as their tool of choice. The lessons learned also helped improve the quality of Omega watches over the years. The Swiss watchmaker and its Seamaster line broke new ground in 1995 by appearing in a James Bond movie. British actor Pierce Brosnan became the first Agent 007 to sport a Seamaster Professional 300 in Goldeneye. The partnership with the British spy movie franchise has lasted 20 years with British actor Daniel Craig sporting the limitededition Bond Seamaster in Spectre (2015).
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of its first family of watches, Omega releases two limited-edition Seamasters inspired by the original design. The Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds (top right) and the Seamaster 1948 Central Second (top left) come with stainless steel cases, polished bezels, opaline silver-domed dials. There are, however, subtle differences: the former sports leaf-styled hour and minute hands, while the latter features dauphine-styled hands filled with Superluminova. On its flat sapphire crystal on the caseback is the 70th anniversary logo, a ChrisCraft boat and Gloster Meteor aircraft, the first jet used by the British Royal Air Force—a nod to the brand’s pre- Seamaster military links. Only 1,948 pieces of each variant will be available worldwide.