Most of the readers of Monochrome-Watches.com will be able to identify with this scenario: you buy a watch… wear it for a bit. Along comes a character offering you (very nearly) what you paid for it. So out the door it goes. Regret sets in. Suddenly you find yourself trawling through internet auctions looking to get one just like it. I had this experience with an Omega Seamaster Professional 300M GMT. I bought the watch for it’s “Bond” good-looks and timezone shifting functionality – but I sold it for enough money to last me an afternoon! And then I wanted it back! When you buy a ‘Bond’ watch you always think of your favorite Bond movie. The immediate name given to a watch that has comeback for a second tour of duty in my collection (obviously): “You Only Live Twice” (‘YOLT’).
The mission is simple: after acquiring the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M GMT / 2535.80, wear it for the entire Year of the Snake. I’ve done this sort of thing before. The goal is to wear the watch everyday – keep it wound and never let it fully unwind or stop. After using the watch during an entire Lunar year’s worth of travelling and escapades – report back to HQ with my findings.
We all have our favourite Bond moments. Sean Connery’s Bond, using his lighter to check the time in a tropical nightclub in “Goldfinger”. Pierce Brosnan’s Bond using the laser in his Omega Seamaster Professional 2541.80 to cut through the armour plating of his soon-to-be blown sky high train car in “Goldeneye” (now known by Omega-maniacs as ‘The Bond watch’ in either stinky quartz which Brosnan’s Bond chose or the 2531.80 with the Calibre 1120 Automatic). Daniel Craig’s Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean adorned Bond cooly playing Texas Hold’em (I thought Bond’s game was Baccarat?) to bankrupt a major link in the chain of world terrorism in Casino Royale. Or Craig’s Bond serving an icy cold dish of revenge to the ne’redowells of ‘Quantum’ Corp. Or an Aqua-Terra wearing Bond making a heroic return from the dead by sending several other souls (friend and foe alike) to take his place in the check-out line, in the latest adventure: “Skyfall”.
Whichever the Bond movie or actor, there are a couple of inalienable characteristics that unify all of the 007’s over the years. They’ve all been ruggedly handsome with manners ranging from brutal killer and suave in varying measures depending on his exigence. And, if not the actors playing Bond, the character does not die. Even when Bond has been seen off by his most ardent arch enemy – he finds a way to get back to save the day. Sometimes using the pretence of his own demise as a weapon, as is the case in “Skyfall” or “You Only Live Twice”.
Though Commander Bond did not wear a 2535.80, in some ways it is actually an ideal watch for him. Sufficiently water-tight for subaquatic adventures down to 300M. Ruggedly handsome for casual Friday dress with short-sleeves, but not so big it shouts “Look at me!” at a client facing luncheon or dinner. It’s got usefully marked bezel for measuring the time between explosions – or perhaps measuring the time it takes to run to a base-jumping position – or to walk from your office to the local donut shop. As a final fallback, it has the Daniel’s Co-Axial Escapement working diligently at it’s heart to keep things on time.
The 2535.80.00 SMP300MGMT has the customary Omega Seamaster Professional 300M water resistant case. These “Bond” watches represent a slight size and visual departure from their predecessors. The pre-Bond Seamasters of the early-mid ’90’s were a sleeker, slimmer and (owing to almost exclusively brushed surfaces) stealthier affair. Another major departure from the pre-Bond to Bond is the loss of the integrated bracelet. (Hoooray!) In my humble opinion one of the best ploys we watch collectors and wearers have is to pop OFF our bracelets from our watches and slide ON aftermarket, leather, rubber or nylon straps!
The Seamaster Professional case cuts a slightly ostentatious wake in the water. With curves, bevels and sharp ribbons of highly polished 316L stainless steel (as seen from the top of the case) it gives off a ‘softer’ appearance when viewed on the wrist. Far from being a lump of edges and angles, the SMP has a very organic, comfortable shape.
The case is 41mm in diameter and 14.5mm thick. The crown is located at 3 o’clock and the HE escape valve is located at 10 o’clock. There are only two discernible differences to the non-GMT watch; most obviously there is the case-back which lacks the usual Seahorse image in relief in lieu of a display back. I’m personally conflicted about this move: on one hand it didn’t compromise water resistance. On the other hand, I’d actually rather have the Seahorse relief! The Calibre 2628 movement isn’t exactly drop-dead-gorgeous.
The other change between the 2535.80.00 and the 188.8.131.52.03.001 is a complete curiosity to me (if someone from Omega wants to chime in and elucidate me and the other readers – or if in fact any of you out there know the answer – please contact me) there is a shroud over the crown that doesn’t appear on the current or past time/date only model! It doesn’t look bad. It doesn’t impact your ability to unscrew or pull the crown. Is it there to make the watch look more balanced? What gives?
The 2628 Calibre movement is an embellished version of the 2500 Calibre movement. We’re all familiar with how the 2500 movement had to be tuned down from 28,800-bph to 25,200-bph to maximize efficiency, power-reserve and longevity. The 2628 benefits from all of the above! It’s a Chronometer timekeeper. It has a 48 hour power reserve, vs 44 hours for the previous generation SMP GMT (the 1168 Calibre powered 2538.20.00), and of course, much less than the 60 hours of the new Planet Ocean GMT.
Omega, owing to it’s status as one of the “Prestige and Luxury Range” of brands in the Swatch Group has access to some amazing movements. TJudging on its looks, the calibre 2628 isn’t really one of them, although it features a very convenient GMT hand. Compared to an off-the-shelf ETA 2893, that is often used for it’s 24-hour GMT hand, there’s a world of difference. Yes, the finish is OK and yes, it does feature Daniel’s co-axial escapement. However the BIG treat here is that the hour hand can be adjusted forward and backward, with one-hour increments. Compared to the hundreds, thousands, of timepieces that use the aforementioned ETA 2893, this is simply the most usable ETA-based GMT on the market.
The Omega 825 bracelet is something most of us are familiar with I’m sure. As such, we’ll all have our own opinions about it. Some people I know swear by them. Some folks swear at them. I happen to like the visual aspect of the 825 bracelet; the fact that it doesn’t taper to the clasp minimizes the overall appearance of the watch. The fact that it doesn’t taper also means that over the course of a busy day the clasp’s 20mm wide stance can be a tad on the uncomfortable side for a person with a big wrist (that’s me) or a person whose wrists tend to swell over the course of the day (that’s me too.)
A lot of people think that the mammoth clasp of the 825 is a scuff magnet. Those people are correct. It is! The very first time I wore this watch on an airplane I had an encounter with the metallic edge of a fold-away table. What a way to inaugurate a (nearly) year-long relationship with a watch! Omega-maniacs (do people still use that term?) say that you can buff out desk-diver scuffs with the rough side of a dish cleaning pad. This method WILL take out the light scuffs. If you do it in the wrong direction it will also create a rather odd looking clasp. If you do it enough it will wear out the fainter engraving on the clasp! There’s no easy way around this – if you wear the watch it will pick-up scuffs. Convince yourself that they add character and move on!
If I had ‘a’ gripe with the clasp/bracelet it would be with the diver’s extension. The fold-out extension doesn’t seem anyway near sturdy enough to lull me into believing my precious watch would be safe in the event I came under attack by a shark or a gigantic squid!
Shrouded in mystery as it may be – the crown of the Omega Seamaster Professional is a highly functional piece. Even in my massive, bloated hands the smallish 4.5mm crown has never been difficult to turn the 2 1/2 times needed to open it to the ‘zero’ position. Speaking for myself – I’ve never been able to do it with the watch on my wrist, not that it makes a huge difference. That said, any opportunity to leave it on the wrist is one less opportunity to drop the watch inadvertently.
Once unscrewed it is easy to get down to business. Zero position (when the crown is simply unscrewed) allows manual winding of the movement. Position One allows the Local hour-hand to advance or retreat, one hour at a time. Clockwise turns move the hand back, anticlockwise turns move the hand forward. This allows you to change the time when travelling without hacking the movement. Position Two allows you to hack (stop it from running, by stopping the balance wheel of the escapement) the movement for synchronizing and then to adjust the minute hand, simultaneously adjusting local hours and the GMT hand.
Many of you have already muttered statements about either the Rolex GMT Master or even the Omega Great White. Both are fine watches. There was just one small thing that niggled me about either/both/most of the watches in this segment: their bezels! Why are the 24 hour bezels of most GMT watches limited to 24 clicks per turn? To my mind it would be preferable to have more clicks so that the bezel could be used more accurately as a timing device instead of just a time-zone device. Ultimately that is what drew me to the 2535.80: the presence of the plain-Jane, tried and true Omega Seamaster Professional bezel,. The standard SMP bezel has, of course, 120 clicks. Graduated in increments of 1 minute, with longer markers for the first 15 min, numerals at 20, 30, 40 and 50, bezel-wide markers for the ‘5s and ‘dot’ markers for the remaining minutes on the bezel. Again, call me crazy or fanatical – but I actually use my bezels to time things.
I’ve read/seen comments from other folks who complain that the bezel of the SMP is too tough to turn because its not knurled aggressively enough. Honestly – I can see that. The bezel is round, overall, but has twelve chamfers cut-out between each hour-marker, making it appear dodecagonal in shape. With so little edge to grip onto, when brand new and tight, it can be a bit of a pain to spin the bezel with any alacrity. It doesn’t take too long to break in though, and once you learn to put your index finger and thumb on opposing sides of the bezel and press DOWN firmly, it becomes much easier and more precise.
The 2535.80 still relies on metal bezel inserts. They do scratch and they do scuff. I was able to make it through the year of the Snake without any major issues. That was really a function of luck more than anything else. I can’t warranty YOUR luck with the same product!
Once I get back to Monochrome-Watches.com HQ I’m going to try to capture what my 2535.80 looks like right now, as honestly and truthfully as I can, so as to show the scratches, scuffs, dings, swirlies and all the other similar such maladies. What I’d like for you all to look at is the colouration on the bezel. After a year of wear it seems a bit off to my eyes. I know that in other watch collecting circles a faded or discoloured bezel is a treasured thing. I also know that there are bunch of morons out there who subject their watches to all kinds of idiotic and dangerous treatments to effect those types of colour change. I don’t bother with any solvent baths or microwave journeys! Simply put, I live in China; the water is lethal to begin with. So, taking a bath or a shower with your watch on has a similar effect as dipping it into a vat of acidic solvents or (as some folks do with their bronze watches) a glass of fizzy soft-drink.
The dial of the 2535.80 is the standard Omega Seamaster professional PLUS. Take the SMP dial, add the 24-hour index on the inside of the hour markers and the red GMT hand, whose tip just barely runs into the numbering of the 24-hour index.
As if to subliminally remind you of what the Seamaster is all about, the dial is covered in an undulating wave pattern that is both lovely to stare at (for moments when you want to be caught staring at the dial of your watch!) and subtly contrasting so you can just look at it quickly and tell the time when you just need to get the job done. I could sit here and say that sometimes it looks blue and sometimes it looks black… but I have the black dialed SMP and that one looks black. The 2535.80 dial looks blue sometimes and it looks dark blue at other times.
The hours, minutes and second hands are the same as those found on previous Seamaster Professional models. Not the enhanced units found on the transitional black SMP 184.108.40.206.01.002 or the newer ceramic models 220.127.116.11.03.001 or 18.104.22.168.01.003. It doesn’t effect dial legibility by day. Perhaps there is some loss of legibility by night, but I didn’t really have any trouble… proceed.
The lume on the 2535.80 is great. In my ‘real life’ test (where I go to bed around midnight and wake up around 4AM to tinkle) the Seamaster 2535.80 passes (no pun intended) with
whizzing… er, rather, flying colours! It’s plainly legible to my tired, mission-ravaged eyes in the dead of night!
As I have already alluded to in as many tongue-in-cheek ways as I can, I don’t do anything mission critical with my watches; get my daughter off for school and pick her up. Time how long it takes me to walk to the store and buy my favourite pineapple cakes. A ton of business travel and a fair amount of grueling time in the hot sun on the beach. Using the basic COSC guideline of -4/+6 as a reference, the 2535.80.00 works. If I set the watch to my computer’s clock on Sunday afternoon, by lunch on Friday the watch is ‘about’ 30 seconds fast. Is it the best time keeper I have? No. But I’m not using the watch as a navigational tool. I’m just a regular jerk, doing regular things.
The Year of the Snake is up and so is my time with the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial GMT; a watch that could easily be the only one a person like you or I might ever really need. It has bold and beautiful looks. It has rugged 300M swimming or diving capacity. With the presence of a 24-hour hand and a 120-click bezel, it has solid functions that will allow for everyday use be it for underwater exploration, boiling an egg, timing transcontinental air-travel or whatever else you may demand from an automatic watch.
- Lovely looking 316L stainless case and bracelet mean there is no place the 2535.80.00 doesn’t work.
- Great lume and 300M water resistance mean there is no place the watch can’t go.
- Fantastically styled dial. Great colors! Just enough red on just the right shade of blue.
- Easy as pie to travel with. 11 hours to London… 13 hours to Chicago… No problem! Just ‘set it and forget it’!
- Scratch magnet from the very first wear!
- Slightly annoying to have to go around the dial to change the date…
- Blah looking movement – would really rather have one of the fancy engraved casebacks that the brand is famous for.
In the final analysis the real draw of the 2535.80.00 is the GMT component of the watch. In the (just about) year that I spent wearing the 2535.80.00 I racked-up a mind-numbing 148,000 miles, accrued over 50 individual flights to 11 cities in 7 countries on 3 continents. Over the course of those 50 individual flights I changed timezones no less than 38 times. Sometimes the timezone shift was just an hour. Other flights were to the other side of the world and as many as 12 hours back or forth. So, the GMT function was ultimately very, very useful. When jetting from one destination to the next, just pull the crown out to the second position and rotate the crown and shift the hours back and forth. Viola! You’re in the correct timezone – with the added benefit of knowing what time it is at home.
As I sit and write these final lines, I peer out over the balcony of my hotel room here in Dubai, looking down on the marina below. There are a number of luxury yachts that could easily play the role of a Bond-Villain’s boat. On my desk I have three watches in a small hardshell travel case that I use to carry spare pieces around in until my Monochrome-Watches.com watch roll arrives next week! One watch is the 2535.80.00 – going home for a good long rest. The second watch is the watch I will wear all year THIS year. The third is something of a Double Agent that has also been on my wrist for the past year. Its story is next… tomorrow to be precise.
PS. the tested Omega Seamaster 300M Co-Axial GMT is not in the collection anymore. The new watch that serves those with a lust for dive watches and a nifty GMT function, are being served with a new Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT, which we will review for you soon!