It has taken Omega thirty years to recover from the disasters brought on by the Quartz Crisis. The introduction of cheap Quartz and throwaway watches in the 1970s brought the Swiss watch industry to its knees. The Seamaster 300M Professional, known as the “Bond Seamaster”, has made an immeasurable contribution to the revival of Omega’s Fortunes, more than any other marque in the Omega family.
In the 1960s Omega was the number one watch company in Switzerland, out-selling and out-ranking Rolex as Switzerland’s high–value, sub-haute horlogerie watch brand. The price of an Omega chronometer was respectably higher than that of Rolex and the brand name was as close to a household name as you could get. That was then, and now is now, and Omega continues to make headway towards the coveted spot of King of the Production Watch Brands, in no small way bolstered by its Bond association.
The Seamaster Bond Professional has become one of the world’s best known land-lubber diver’s watches since Pierce Brosnan first sported an earlier example in the 1995 Bond movie, Golden-Eye. The watch made its market debut in 1993, and it’s endurance for more than 16 years is a testament to both its design and performance. In the world of watch design, sixteen years is a very long time.
The signature guilloche dial with its wave pattern endows the watch with a stylishness that’s as much at home at a business meeting as it is on a sun-drenched beach. The appearance of the uncluttered dial changes as the light quality fluctuates, and the broad, albeit skeletonised, hands provide both functional and aesthetic rewards. The hands are tipped with a super-luminescent material, as are the applied markers, and this makes telling the time at night a reasonably effortless enterprise.
Whether it’s a splash in the spa or a serious dive, the Bond Seamaster is up to the job. It features a helium release valve that is very useful in a decompression chamber where helium in the atmosphere can penetrate and build up in the watch, ultimately popping the crystal if the pressure isn’t relieved. While the nearest to a decompression chamber most owners will get is an unnaturally long stint in the dog-house avoiding the recriminations of a woman scorned, it is a nice feature to have on a watch.
Framing the dial is a unidirectional rotating bezel designed to track the remaining air supply available. A choice of either black dial and bezel or blue dial and bezel is available, depending on your selection of case metal, but for my money the blue waved dial and complimentary bezel is the better option.
The case contains a confluence of interesting lines: deep polished chamfers extend to the breadth of the lugs; twin arcs extend protection to the screw-down crown and counterbalance beautifully the circular bezel, making this watch a classic no matter where it is worn. Powered by a calibre 2500 automatic movemen, proven over three decades, the Bond Seamaster is a watch for all seasons.
To return full circle to the Rolex-Omega nexus of the 1960s, click here for a comparative review of the Bond and Rolex Submariner by John Hollbrook. And yes, the Bond wins!