Dear Omega, Bring Back The Seamaster 120
Right off the bat, I know what you’re thinking: “Ben, you think the world needs another Omega Seamaster variation?” That’s fair, and we did get a slew of new Omega releases, mostly within its sea-faring collection. Yet, my suggestion to Omega is to consider dive watches that don’t plunge to the ocean floor but are pretty comfortable in the coral reefs. I’m referring to reimagining the Seamaster 120. It shouldn’t be a 1:1 recreation of a particular reference, but instead, a modern reinterpretation with a sprinkle of heritage flair.
Just this week, news of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep dominated the watch world. I’d been saying for a while that a civilian version of the record-breaking Planet Ocean Ultra Deep would be a worthy addition. Lo and behold, Omega gave us just that, particularly well-executed in the titanium iteration with Manta lugs and no extraneous Helium Escape Valve (HEV). However, to withstand the depths of 6,000 meters, the Ultra Deep has a case thickness of 18.12mm. While Omega has done well to cut the case height from 28mm of the 15,000m-rated original, at 18.12mm, it’s still a chunky boy. Moreover, when factoring in the bespoke NATO, the wearing experience is 20mm on the wrist. No doubt, this is still somewhat wearable. Those with well-endowed wrists will be celebrating that the shrinking watch trend doesn’t apply here. But not everyone agrees.
The Omega Seamaster 120
I am somewhat piggy-backing off Nacho’s article wishing for sword hands to return to the Seamaster. However, I have my sights on Omega scaling back the case size while maintaining a diving aesthetic. Again, the Seamaster range is not short of options in all shapes and sizes. Nevertheless, I still feel a niche gap could be explored. That gap is a recreational diving timepiece with a thin profile and rotating dive-scale bezel. It’s not like I am asking for something entirely brand new, as Omega can draw from its heritage for this conceptual piece. Namely, the Seamaster 120 from 1966 already has a skin-diver aesthetic. The 120 could adopt a place in the catalog that slots above the Aqua Terra as more tool-focused but less technical than the Seamaster Diver 300M.
It would be more akin to the Seamaster 300, but even as an owner of that watch, I admit that Omega could still trim the fat on the case. Although the namesake “120” may put off potential buyers as not tough enough, in reality, the advancement of technology could achieve greater depths even with a tight package. As I said before, the Aqua Terra 150M and Diver 300M could probably stretch beyond their certified depths, so the 120 could also do the same. But why not reference such an iconic model name from the Seamaster’s history?
Reaching depths of the ocean, not case height
My proposition would be a steel watch measuring 37-38mm in diameter that targets a sub-12mm case height. Whether that includes the sapphire glass or not is up for debate, but the watch has to feel rested against the skin with minimal protrusion. The new 38mm Aqua Terra models are admittedly very close to this spec, but they’re a bit distanced from my vision with the colorful dials and polished cases.
There are hundreds of Seamaster SKUs, and if anything, Omega could do with cutting out what is not performing. That said, I believe this model could rely on only two variations in this range. Perhaps one with a rubber strap and another with a thoroughly brushed tapering flat-link bracelet. You may begin to realize this sounds similar to an Oris Divers Sixty-Five. And you’d be right, as I was thinking of this watch as a source of inspiration. Of course, drawing from another brand is taboo, but Omega would be referencing a model of its own past from the same era. And sharing a design ethos is also something we see today, as the O-Megasteel version of the Ultra Deep looks uncannily like the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller — especially with that blue/black gradient dial.
The beating heart of the 120
Another concession is what movement could power the new Seamaster 120. My first thoughts were the caliber 8912 used by the Ultra Deep, titanium Ploprof, and Seamaster 300. It’s an excellent no-date caliber with a 60-hour power reserve and independent hour adjustment. But based on the models it’s used in and its twin-barrel construction, the 8912 may be too thick for the sub-12mm (theoretical) case to accommodate. Therefore, we may need to get creative and remove the rotor to make this a manual-winding dive watch — just like past models with caliber 600 series movements. We’ve seen Omega slicing rotors off existing watches such as the Speedmaster ’57 and Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8, so it’s not out of the question.
In conclusion, Omega, please bring back the Seamaster 120. More precisely, revise the model line as a recreational skin diver’s watch with a stainless steel sub-12mm case and a 37-38mm diameter. Even more, give it a rotating dive bezel (in aluminum) and a manual-winding version of caliber 8912. This is territory unexplored by Omega for some time, and the result could become the perfect summer beach watch.
I want to thank Wristwatch Revival for inspiring this article. If you don’t know, Wristwatch Revival is a YouTube channel run by Seattle-based self-taught watchmaker Marshall Sutcliffe. In his videos, he takes viewers through reviving old, broken watches and restoring their timekeeping capabilities. In the age of cringe YouTube thumbnails and quick edits, it’s nice to watch long, 50-minute-to-one-hour videos with gentle narration and insightful information. His recent restoration of a gorgeous Seamaster 120 got me thinking this is a range fit for revival by Omega. Be sure to check out his channel, and let me know your thoughts below.
Thank you also to Analog:Shift for the images in this article.