In 1948, Omega created its first family of watches, the Seamaster – a collection that has gone on to become one of the cornerstones of Omega Watches, a collection comprising most of the diving instruments the brand has created so far. If our calculations are right (and they are) the Seamaster collection is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and, paying tribute to this important milestone, Omega has decided to treat us to two new watches, deeply inspired by the two first Seamaster watches. Meet the Baselworld 2018 Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions.
The story behind the Seamaster collection is strongly linked to military watches. Between 1940 and 1945, OMEGA delivered more than 110,000 timepieces to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) for use within the Royal Air Force and its other branches. These watches were valued for their precision, water-resistance and reliability in combat. The end of the war left Omega with great knowledge and experience in manufacturing precise, reliable, water-resistant timepieces. The brand responded to demand for a timepiece containing the same robust technology and reliability, but more aesthetically suited to civilian life. The Seamaster was born.
Launched in 1948, the Seamaster was the first proper family of watches designed by Omega. Even though conceived on the base of WWII military watches, the inaugural Seamaster pieces were beautifully designed and suitable for civilian use. Yet, they were given greater water-resistance than their military counterparts thanks to Omega’s novel use of the O-ring gasket technology. Crafted in steel, with a distinctive case – rather bold at that time and highly masculine – two versions were available: a small seconds with leaf hands and a model with central seconds and dauphine hands. The two watches have been revamped in modern limited editions for the Omega Seamaster 1948 70th Anniversary Collection.
This isn’t the first time that Omega uses these early Seamaster watches to create a re-edition. 64 years after Omega launched the very first Seamaster during the London Olympics of 1948, it released a new Seamaster at the London Olympics of 2012 – the limited edition Seamaster 1948 Co-Axial Chronometer. It was a 39mm steel watch, with a small seconds counter and calibre Omega 2500C, which showed great resemblance to the original model – but not as much as the two watches you’re about to see now.
The Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions 70th Anniversary
For the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster Collection, Omega re-introduces the two 1948 inaugural models in two faithful watches, which are clearly inspired by the original models and very close in style and execution. A slight touch of modernity has been added, yet the original pieces are immediately visible. Omega didn’t choose to go fully vintage either, as it did with the Master Trilogy introduced at Baselworld 2017 – remember that Omega scanned the 1957 pieces and reproduced them on a scale of 1:1. For these new Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions, a few contemporary visual and technical solutions have been applied.
Two editions will be available, one with a central seconds hand, one with a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock and each limited to 1,948 pieces. Both share almost the same case – with one being 11.20mm thick (central seconds) and the other 11.65mm thick (small seconds). These new Omega Seamaster 1948 Limited Editions bring back the same overall design as the original pieces, with an increased diameter of 38mm – which can seem rather small today, but is much larger than the original pieces. The case of these new versions uses the same design codes: robust straight lugs with a chamfer on the edge, bold polished bezel, polished and brushed surfaces on the central container.
The dial of both versions is domed and opaline white – slightly grained, with a silvery white colour. On both, we find the signature triangular polished hour indexes and Arabic numerals at each corner. On top, the hesalite glass has been replaced by a domed sapphire crystal, with the Omega logo engraved in the centre. On the back, Omega chose its patented NAIAD LOCK case back, with sapphire crystal.
As mentioned, two versions will be available. The first one, reference 522.214.171.124.02.001, features a central seconds hand and 18k white gold polished dauphine hands, filled with luminous paint – lume plots are also applied on the triangular indexes. A second track has been printed on the periphery of the dial – and the overall dial remains close to the original. This version features the in-house, Master-Chronometer calibre 8806 and will be delivered with a blue-grey leather strap.
The second version is again an ode to one of the inaugural models, but this time it features a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. Reference 5126.96.36.199.02.001 also has different hands and indexes – non-luminous markers and hands, and leaf hands for the hours and minutes. It is powered by the in-house, Master-Chronometer calibre 8804 (same base as the 8806, only modified for the placement of the small seconds) and is delivered with a brown leather strap.
On the back, calibres 8806 and 8804 share the same specifications. Both are modern self-winding movements with Omega’s classical specifications: co-axial escapement, METAS certification, anti-magnetic properties, silicon balance spring, Arabesque Geneva stripes decoration. These Master-Chronometer movements are placed under a sapphire crystal that has been laser-engraved and lacquered by hand with a 70th Anniversary logo, a Chris-Craft boat and a Gloster Meteor aircraft – a tribute to the many aviators and mariners who have placed their trust in Omega’s watches.
Both watches are presented in their own special collector’s box, made of soft brown leather, and delivered with a spare NATO strap in the original Admiralty grey colour along with a strap changing tool. Each model is limited to 1,948 pieces and priced at CHF 5,700 (central seconds, 5188.8.131.52.02.001) and CHF 6,200 (small seconds, 5184.108.40.206.02.001). More details on omegawatches.com.