Twenty-five years ago, in 1993, Omega launched a model that would become a classic among classics, a springboard into the world of luxury watches and cinematic fame after being worn by Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye (1995): the Seamaster Professional 300M. If the look of the new model launched at Baselworld 2018 feels rather conservative, the evolution is simply impressive and concerns every single part of the watch. And believe me, the new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
At first, the new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer might seem like just another SMP300. Nothing really new, nothing to stir up a heated debate. It is still the simple, high-quality dive watch that we all know. However, if you look in-depth, you quickly understand that everything – absolutely everything – is different or better. Materials, proportions, movement, colours… Omega has done a tremendous job to respect the spirit of the SMP300 while renovating it entirely. Conservative in its design, innovative in its execution. Omega’s entry-level dive watch is back in the game, at a slightly higher price but with massive added-value for the consumer.
The Omega SMP300 story
In 1993, Omega introduced the Seamaster Professional 300M, a brand new watch available with a quartz movement or an automatic calibre 1109 (based on the ubiquitous ETA 2892, soon changed for calibre 1120). The watch featured a robust case with lyre lugs, a 60-minute bezel with 12 large notches, a five-link steel bracelet that would become a hallmark of the model, a helium escape valve at 10 o’clock and a blue dial with a wave pattern. The destiny of this watch would change forever after it was worn by Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye (even though 007 was wearing a quartz model back then) to become the “Bond Watch”.
Multiple evolutions have been applied to this watch. First, in the late 1990s, the simple ETA-based movement was upgraded with the newly introduced co-axial escapement, becoming calibre 2500. Then, following the ceramic trend, the watch received a polished ceramic bezel, which was combined with a plain, polished lacquered black or blue dial – which signalled the disappearance of the wave pattern. This was, in our books, a sad decision because the wave dial was clearly part of the “Bond Watch” DNA. And guess what? It’s back!
The new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
At Baselworld 2018 we were thrilled to see the return of the wave pattern on the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M – modernised, with a different design, but back to stay. If we thought this was the main visible update on this 2018 version of the SMP, we were wrong, and there’s much more than meets the eye. The look hasn’t altered substantially, but Omega has gone a long way with the technical update producing a well-thought, well-executed, well-priced new product.
To start with, the case has been updated with new dimensions. The new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer measures one extra millimetre. Presented with a 42mm diameter as opposed to the 41mm measurement that has prevailed since the 1993 model, the choice is debatable, even though 42mm remains a rather standard diameter for tool watches. The rest of the design hasn’t changed much: with lyre lugs, a polished bevel running from lug to lug, brushed case bands and bezel, 12 notches on the bezel and a well-protected crown. The helium valve is still placed at 10 o’clock but has been redesigned to be conical. The case measures 13.5mm in height, again a slight increase compared to the previous model – but then again, rather standard proportions for a 300m water-resistant dive watch.
The new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer is introduced as an entire collection, with various dial/strap/bracelet/material options. Alongside the classic black dial/bezel and blue dial/bezel options, Omega presents a slightly different and attractive grey dial/blue bezel option, as well as two-tone versions (steel and gold). An integrated rubber strap, with surprising brushed accents, is offered as well as a redesigned steel bracelet, still with five links and four contrasting polished lines. Compared to the previous models, it is has a flatter surface, a slightly thicker profile and mainly, a great execution.
Moving to the face of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer, we can see that the bezel insert has been updated too. Still made of polished ceramic, the graduations are slightly different (mainly for the first 15 minutes) and the numerals are not engraved anymore but filled with white enamel (or Ceragold for the two-tone models), resulting in a flat surface. This choice was guided by the need to provide a longer-lasting whiteness and increased durability.
The main visual update is, of course, to be seen on the dial. Again, we’re not referring to a design revolution because the 2018 Seamaster Diver 300M feels highly familiar but, in fact, the whole dial is different. First of all, it is now made of ceramic (see the Zr02 inscription below the central axis). The wave pattern is now engraved on the dial thanks to a laser process resulting in a detailed and extremely precise rendition. The date window has also been moved from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock for a more balanced display. The signature skeletonised hands, as well as the applied indices, have been redesigned, without provoking a dramatic change in style – they are now bolder and offer more luminous material.
Depending on the colour chosen, the dial will be polished (blue or black) or brushed (grey). Hands and indices can be polished steel (on the blue or black steel models), polished gold-plated (on two-tone version) or blue on the new grey dial variant.
Overall, in terms of style, the new Seamaster Diver 300M feels in line with the previous editions but, with this new dial and the different materials, it also feels less tool-ish than it was in the past. It has a slightly more luxurious appeal. On one side, the perceived quality makes a huge jump, yet the sporty nature of the watch is slightly (really, just slightly) left aside. On the other hand, no one can deny that the quality of the materials, the precision of the adjustments and the way the case, the dial and the bezel are manufactured is simply impressive considering the price level. Everything is solid, smooth and perfectly aligned.
Last but not least, the 2018 Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer is also the first version to feature a see-through sapphire case back. And not only is the movement visible, but we have a brand new movement too, the modern, innovative, perfectly engineered automatic calibre 8800 Master Chronometer. Compared to the previous Calibre 2500, which was still based on an ETA architecture, the new calibre is a massive upgrade. Anti-magnetic, reliable, precise, with a comfortable power reserve and nice to look at, this movement and its technology are certainly among the best on the market in this price range (and in much higher ranges too…)
The new Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Master Chronometer isn’t perfect. We, at MONOCHROME, would have prefered a slightly thinner case, a less “glossy” dial and bezel, a more “tool-ish” feeling. Omega has chosen to go a bit on the luxurious side with this new version instead. However, in terms of quality/price ratio, we can’t deny that Omega offers a perfectly orchestrated product and the consumer will benefit from the brand’s latest innovations in terms of chronometry and materials at a reasonable price.
The new SMP 300 will be available as of August 2018 and priced at EUR 4,400 in steel with a rubber strap, EUR 4,500 in steel with a steel bracelet, EUR 6,100 in steel-and-gold with a rubber strap and EUR 9,200 in steel-and-gold with a steel-and-gold bracelet. More details on omegawatches.com.