The 1970 Omega Ploprof was one of the most aggressive and robust dive watches ever produced. As a piece of design it exuded 1970s brutalism at its best, and as a piece of hardware it could withstand the incredible depth pressures amounting to tons on the total surface of the watch when submerged at over 1000 feet. The Ploprof (a shortening of the French ‘plongeurs professionels’ which means ‘professional divers’) was equipped with a calibre 1002 movement, a mildly disappointing power plant with fundamental design problems that were corrected in later editions of the movement.
You would be lucky to pay less than $6500.00 for a vintage Ploprof these days. In these times of big, brash and chunky watch design, the Ploprof has an allure that transcends its purpose as a dive watch and it was only a matter of time before Omega unleashed this monster in an updated form.
You could say that the Ploprof is horology’s answer to the Hummer. The new version makes the same ‘Get outa my way’ statement, and, like the Hummer, performs best in its intended environment. The new Ploprof 1200M, as its name suggests, is water resistant to an astounding 1200 metres (4000 feet). While you may have the life crushed out of you at that depth, the mighty Ploprof will remain seaworthy.
The watch in its new form has a better movement than the original. Under its reinforced bonnet is the Omega Co-Axial calibre 8500, a power plant shaping up to be a classic in production watch design and technology. It is an automatic calibre driven by a highly efficient bi-directional rotor transmitting energy through two barrels that provide the watch with a power reserve of 60 hours. The movement is adjusted and certified to chronometer standards.
Time and date adjustments are made by unscrewing the crown, positioned at nine o’clock, to release the protective buffer and then pulling the crown to the appropriate position. The hour hand can be adjusted separately to accommodate different time zones.
At the 2 o’clock position is the bezel-release security pusher with an orange anodised aluminium ring. Pressing the pusher allows the bezel to be rotated in either direction and then locked firmly in position, ensuring that it cannot be accidentally shifted during a dive. The Ploprof has an automatic helium escape valve located on the side of the case at the 4 o’clock position. This feature allows helium atoms to escape during decompression, and is particularly useful for professional divers operating from diving bells.
The case is made of brushed stainless steel and has polished bevels. The centre piece of the two-piece oriented caseback features a background of straight, parallel waves with a polished Omega logo, the word “Seamaster” and the famous Seahorse on a matt surface.
The Ploprof 1200M is available either with a brushed mesh "Sharkproof" bracelet or on a rubber strap in a choice of black or orange. Let’s hope that you never have need of the sharkproof feature, which, in many ways, is overkill. The bracelet also features an extra divers’ extension to 26 mm so that the watch can be worn comfortably over a diving suit.
With prices starting at around the seven and a half thousand dollars mark, this is the ultimate in diving watches with a price to match.