FOR DIVERS WITH WANDERLUST
The updated Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is a professional divers’ watch with 600-meter water resistance, a helium-release valve, and colors that match the hues of exotic destinations.
| e updated Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is a professional divers’ watch with 600-meter water resistance, a helium-release valve, and colors that match the hues of exotic destinations.
— The Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M is one of Omega’s most versatile dive watches: It offers more than enough leeway for safety thanks to a water resistance of 600 meters and it even has a manual helium-release valve, should you ever find yourself in a diving bell. Compared to the larger Seamaster Ploprof, a professional dive watch that is water resistant to 1,200 meters, the Planet Ocean range offers a more traditional, slightly retro-inspired overall look, which makes it as suitable above the surface as below. But there is, of course, also the Seamaster Diver 300 with a slightly thinner case and a reduced water resistance of 300 meters that predates the Planet Ocean collection, as well as the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial introduced in 2014 and the Seamaster 300 from the 2017 trilogy edition – these two models offer an even more traditional look, but no helium-release valve.
Omega launched the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M collection in 2005 and gave it a facelift in 2016. For the relaunch, the Biennebased factory reduced the size of the case, brought the movement’s technology to state of the art, and changed the color scheme. e black and
Caliber 8900 is protected from the strongest magnetic fields.
orange watch that we tested is the brand’s most brightly colored model. Especially eye-catching details are the orange elements on the dive-time scale, orange numerals on the dial, and the orange and black rubber strap with colored stitching. Omega also offers black and blue variations that have subtler orange accents.
While photos don’t reproduce the shine as clearly as seeing the watch in real life, the Planet Ocean’s polished ceramic dial and bezel gleam like the ocean’s surface when the sun is low over the horizon. And the applied indexes, hands and polished surfaces on the case likewise sparkle beautifully. Together with the color scheme, the resulting impression looks less like a tool watch and more like a fashionably chic watch inspired by divers’watch styling – a snazzy timepiece you can wear while sipping a cocktail at a beachside bar.
e glossy elements only slightly detract from the watch’s legibility. e time can be read at a glance under daylight conditions, and at night the Planet Ocean’s bright luminosity competes with the glow of the moon and the stars. e luminous colors are chosen to accentuate the dive time: e minutes hand and the index on the rotatable bezel glow with a green shine, while the remaining luminous material radiates a blue hue.
Divers will be glad to know that the bezel has nonslip fluting, can be operated while wearing gloves, and offers a welcome degree of resistance to repositioning, which makes unintentional resetting unlikely.
e helium-release valve has a crown with which it is additionally screwed, which is usual for Omega. A helium valve is really only needed by professional divers who work at extreme depths and must therefore spend time decompressing inside a pressurized chamber, where they breathe a mixture of helium and oxygen. e crystal of a watch without a helium-release valve could leap off the watch inside such a chamber because gas that had previously entered the timepiece’s case wouldn’t be able to escape.
Unlike the helium-release valve, protection against magnetic fields is a welcome feature for everyone who wears this watch. e usual method of protecting a caliber from magnetic fields relies on an inner case made of soft iron. is shields the movement from view inside an opaque metal container, but it can’t protect the caliber if the magnetism is more intense than 1,000 gauss or 80,000 A/m. Our test watch, by contrast, can cope with magnetism at least 15 times as strong: to 15,000 gauss or 1.2 million A/m. is means that the watch is also protected from the strongest magnetic fields produced by magnetic resonance scanners. In daily life, magnetic fields emanate from loudspeakers, headphones, electric motors and many other devices. As time goes by, watches without protection against magnetic fields may often run very imprecisely.
To keep the movement visible, instead of an inner iron case, Omega uses antimagnetic materials in the caliber per se. e hairspring, for example, is made of silicon, and the balance is fabricated from titanium. e plates, bridges and wheels are crafted from the usual material, brass, because this copper alloy doesn’t react to magnetism. e shafts and pivots are made of Nivagauss, an alloy that was specially developed for this purpose by the Nivarox company, which belongs to the Swatch Group. In the co-axial escapement, steel plates are replaced with antimagnetic ones. And the spring for shock absorption is made from an amorphous material.
Except for these details, Caliber 8900 in our test watch is essentially the same as Caliber 8500, which debuted in 2007 and has performed with flying colors in earlier tests. Omega developed this caliber around the improved version of the co-axial escapement. With two barrels and a 60hour power reserve, it runs for a long period of time and provides good preconditions for precision. e freely “breathing” hairspring and fine adjustment via weight screws also contribute to an accurate rate and exact fine adjustment. e balance bridge and the height of the construction enhance the robustness. e unconventional decorations are attractive, too: e screws are blackened, the engraved lettering is filled with red lacquer, and the wavy spiral pattern makes the rotor look a bit like a whirling turbine.
Another special feature is the hour hand, which can be reset in hourly increments by unscrewing the easy-to-grasp crown, pulling it out to its first setting position, and then turning it, which moves the hour hand, but leaves the
A convenient feature: The hour hand can be reset in hourly increments.
minutes and seconds hands unaffected by manual resetting. is is a convenient feature for the “spring forward” and “fall back” of daylight saving time or when traveling to another time zone. Further withdrawing the crown to its second setting position stops the seconds hand and allows the hours and minutes to be set in the usual manner.
Manual adjustment is rarely needed. On the wrist, our Seamaster Planet Ocean gained a mere 3 seconds per day. ese good rate results were reaffirmed by our timing machine, which found that the daily gains in the various positions clustered in a narrow range from +1 to +4 seconds, while the average daily deviation totaled just +2.3 seconds.
e movement is certified as a chronometer by COSC, which tests it outside its case, and by METAS (Switzerland’s Federal Office of Metrology), which tests the encased caliber. e latter institution not only scrutinizes the accuracy of the rate, but also examines numerous other parameters such as the power reserve, the water tightness of the watch, and its resistance to magnetic fields.
And, as a welcome change of pace, we also have something positive to report about the price: $6,450 is a very fair price to ask for such a high-quality timepiece. Less costly divers’ watches with manufacture movements are available, but none of them can rival this watch’s technology and craftsmanship.
Omega has succeeded in making a watch that can be used underwater during daylight hours and looks equally chic in the evening while sipping a craft beer or a signature cocktail. Above all, this watch proves its worth and practical advantages in daily life thanks to its long power reserve, its highly accurate rate, and its innovative protection against magnetic fields.
Colors, reflective surfaces and functional elements produce an exciting mix for the Planet Ocean.