Among Omega’s classic collection of timepieces is the venerable Seamaster. Coming from humble beginnings and a diverse history, the Seamaster has evolved to really come into its own since it was first released in 1948. It debuted as a celebration of Omega’s 100th Anniversary, marking history for not only Omega but for watchmaking as a whole. As such, the Seamaster was an automatic hit and quickly became Omega’s best-selling watch.
Fast forward to 2021, the Seamaster is now one of the oldest models in Omega’s current lineup. Although recognized today as the brand’s signature dive watch, the first Seamaster had a rather simplistic design and functionality. Unlike some of its more modern iterations, the original Seamaster did not feature some of the key components it has today – such as a rotating bezel to track dive time, a screw-down crown, or a significant depth rate. Which speaks volumes to how far the Seamaster has come in the past 70+ years – from its historical inspiration from British military watches of World War II, to the collection’s many diverse variations of today. Here is more about the history of the Omega Seamaster.
History of the Omega Seamaster
Throughout its rich and diverse history, Omega watches, especially the Seamaster has seen many-a-makeovers and upgrades over the years. From the OG Seamaster of 1948 has come several new sub-collections including the Aqua Terra 150M, the Seamaster 300, the Planet Ocean 600M, the Railmaster, the Ploprof 1200M, the Bullhead, and perhaps its most recognized model to date, the Seamaster Professional 300M.
True to its name, all models of the Seamaster are characterized by its waterproof case, making it the perfect watches to take out to sea, to the beach, or by the pool. Yet across the 8 different sub-categories of the Seamaster collection is quite a diverse array of unique looks, functionality, and complications for wearers to choose from as each Seamaster sub-collection continues to evolve with new and improved models over time.
The “James Bond watch”
The Seamaster Professional, or the SMP for short, first got its claim to fame by appearing in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye in 1995. The film’s costume designer specifically chose Omega over Rolex for James Bond’s character, as Omega was more historically in line with the British Royal Navy and Bond’s character. The Seamaster held firm to its cool new AKA of “James Bond’s watch” by appearing in several of the franchise’s films to follow including Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), and Casino Royale (2006).
The Seamaster Professional wasn’t the only model of the collection to grace its presence on James Bond’s wrist. He also wore a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M in the films Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), and Skyfall (2012). To celebrate a 20-year partnership between Omega and the James Bond franchise, as well as the release of the 24th Bond film Spectre in 2015, Omega launched the special limited edition Seamaster 300 Spectre – a true homage to the original SMP worn by James Bond.
Omega and the Olympics
Evidently, 1948 was a big year for Omega. Not only was it the year the first Seamaster made its debut, 1948 was also the year Omega was the official time keeper for the Olympic Games in London. Decades later in 2012, the Olympics once again returned to London – marking a momentous full circle for their partnership with Omega. Appropriately, Omega released a special Omega Seamaster 1948 Co-Axial London 2012 limited edition timepiece to celebrate the occasion. Cleverly, a total of only 1,948 of these special edition watches were produced. See what they did there? 1,948 watches to honor the year, 1948. Although at first glance this Olympics edition watch looks just like the classic Seamaster, the yellow gold case back is where you’ll find the special embellishments memorializing the occasion – stamped with a distinctive London Olympics 2012 logo.
The Seamaster Making Waves
As if being recognized as “James Bond’s watch” as well as having the same noble anniversary year as Omega’s Olympic timekeeping aren’t enough claims to fame for the go-to diving watch, the Seamaster has made other significant waves in history worth noting.
As aforementioned, the original Seamaster was designed and built with inspiration from the waterproof watches worn by the British military in WWII. Its signature O-Ring gasket is what sets it apart from past diving watches by improving its waterproofness, as well as its resistance to temperature changes while diving. Drawing further inspiration from WWII submarines, Omega even included a resilient rubber gasket in the Seamaster’s final design for ultimate water and temperature resistance – withstanding up to 60 meters in depth, and temperatures between -40° and 112° Fahrenheit (-40° to 50° Celcius). As the ultimate test of its resilience and durability, Omega did a rather outlandish experiment in 1956 called the Polar Flight Test, in which they strapped a Seamaster watch to the outside of an aircraft that flew over the North Pole. The watch withstood nearly 9 hours of exposure to the elements and extreme temperatures and yet was found to be “in perfect working order and keeping good time” upon its return.
The following year in 1957, when scuba diving was the hot, new, en vogue sport of the time, Omega did a three-fold “master” launch of its professional watches with the release of the Speedmaster, Railmaster, and Seamaster 300. All three of these watches have become Omega classics by their own rights taking the land, sky (or rather, space), and sea by storm respectively. The original Seamaster 300 ref. CK2913 was specifically designed for underwater use, compared to the its predecessor that was marketed by Omega as more of a waterproof-ish dress watch and not quite a tool for professional diving. As such, the launching of the Seamaster 300 marked a turning point for innovation and legacy to follow for over half a century now. Despite its name, the original Seamaster 300 could submerge to a maximum of 200m – which Omega claims was due to testing limitations and not limitations of the watch. Regardless, this was a significant functional upgrade, for a professional diving watch no less, and made quite a splash in not only the watch world but in the diving world as well.
Fast forward to 2017, Omega launched their 60th Anniversary limited edition of the Seamaster 300. Making its debut to the watch community at Baselworld 2017, this special edition Seamaster 300 pays homage to the OG reference CK2913. Appearing nearly identical aesthetically, the newer Seamaster 300 preserved much of its predecessor’s vintage look. Which is actually a large part of its appeal that it looks like a vintage watch of the past, but is really a modern watch with upgraded materials, movement, and construction. With such a rich and unique history, plus a sleek design that evidently doesn’t go out of style, it’s no wonder the Omega Seamaster continues to be a fan favorite as well as the longest standing model in the brand’s current collection.