Dear Omega, Bring Back The Seamaster 166.010
How I would love to see a brand-new 166.010! A while ago, I tested the Omega Aqua Terra 38mm. I really liked it but felt it was a bit too complicated aesthetically. A bit nerdy, even. I could not help but long for the simpler-looking alternatives from Rolex. Interestingly, Omega has a potential Datejust killer sitting right there in its back catalog. A properly reimagined 166.010 has the potential to be the ultimate do-it-all Omega watch. Let’s explore that idea.
You may know that I have a thing for smallish do-it-all watches. In my vintage-dealing days, I came across these Omega 166.010 models and similar references on a regular basis. They fit the bill perfectly. They are well-built and stylistically versatile. Dear Omega, do me a favor and bring these back!
So what do we have here? The Omega Seamaster 166.010 is an evolution of the 1958 reference CK 2975. It is a straightforward, minimalist sports watch in a muscular case measuring around 35mm in diameter. The later 166.010 adds a screw-down case back, whereas the CK 2975 had a snap-on back. The case is simple yet broad-shouldered, providing the watch with a sporty stance on the wrist. The 166.010 came on a supple beads-of-rice bracelet.
The dial is the star of the show. It is home to a classical configuration of black-filled faceted indices and a dauphine handset. An applied Omega logo and intricately faceted date-aperture frame (on some) add to the sophistication. Most of these have silver sunburst dials, but you will find other colors and special finishes if you search for them.
They can be found in chronometer or non-chronometer versions. The dial will tell you which is which. Personally, I prefer the non-chronometer versions for their cleaner dials. In any case, you will find a version of the in-house 56x caliber family inside. These have a quickset date feature. The Rolex Datejust would not get one until 1977. How about that for bragging rights as a potential Datejust killer?
What makes the 166.010 so good
As mentioned before, the stylistic versatility of these watches is great. It is a bit of a cliché, but they pair with shorts as well as with a suit. Sure, these are technically sports watches, but they dress up effortlessly. They also allow for playing around with strap options. A black crocodile and an army-green nylon strap will both work perfectly, offering radically different looks. Of course, the original steel bracelet is at home in any situation as well.
Lex recently criticized me for entering my vintage Seamaster as a dress watch in our article on favorite dress watches. But the thing is this: the subtle sportiness of the aggressive case and Seamaster branding lend just the right hint of badassness to an otherwise quite-formal watch. And it is precisely that which makes it even cooler in dressier circumstances.
The beads-of-rice bracelet might scream the ’60s, but the rest of the watch is quite timeless. If you ask me, there is no prettier combination than applied, faceted indices and dauphine hands. A simple, smooth bezel and sunburst dial complete a classical look that has never been in or out of vogue.
A Seamaster 166.010 for 2023
I know that Omega offers the Seamaster 1948, which is aesthetically similar. The thing is, that model is a real throwback release. It is a reissue of an old Seamaster, upsized to 38mm. What I would love to see is a 166.010 in a modern guise. Not a direct vintage reissue but a spiritual successor. I know that is wishful thinking because it would bite the Aqua Terra, but let a man dream, will ya?
What would set my heart ablaze is a 36–37mm modern 166.010 that sits between the 34 and 38mm Aqua Terras. It could maintain some more vintage vibes, keeping it out of AT territory. We could even lower the water resistance from 150 meters for the AT to 100 meters for the 166.010. If I could trade that for a thinner profile, I would. Omega’s caliber 8800 Co-Axial Master Chronometer would be a good engine under the closed case back with the Seamaster seal.
The wide lugs should certainly stay. I know that I alienated some of you by suggesting a 36–37mm size. But trust me, a small diameter combined with broad shoulders is the absolute business. And there are all these big Aqua Terras to run to if it is too dainty for you. The smooth bezel is another certain keeper. The box acrylic could probably be replaced by a more mildly domed sapphire crystal for a more contemporary feel.
A beads-of-rice bracelet for a new century
I have had the pleasure of handling many of these 166.010s throughout the years. One thing they tend to have in common is a worn-out bracelet. The old beads-of-rice bands had the propensity to stretch. I think we could do better on a new 166.010 for 2023.
Let’s start by widening the bracelet from 18mm to 20mm. This will give the new version a more aggressive wrist presence. Completely solid individual beads and thicker pins will prevent stretching. I would be happy to maintain the long, old-school folding clasp. It would provide ample space for a good on-the-fly micro-adjust mechanism, which is absent on the Aqua Terra. Solid female end links should marry the new bracelet to the case. Just imagine how comfortably a modern Omega BoR would drape around the wrist…
The new 166.010 dial
The dial should remain faithful to the original 166.010 — sunburst silver with black-filled faceted indices and dauphine hands. The double marker at 12 o’clock, ten single markers, and the faceted date-aperture frame will stay as well. Of course, that iconic “Seamaster” signature will be present at six, and an applied Omega logo will complete the package.
It would be cool if you could have your pick of a regular or crosshair dial. The latter is typical of the period and, though not exactly rare, a little more collectible. It would put it deeper into throwback territory, so ideally, there would be a non-crosshair alternative as well.
Omega has plenty of great sunburst dials in its catalog, so it should be possible to get some colors to choose from. I can already see one in that typical pale green with my name on it. Or dark blue. Or just several.
If Omega really wants to bring the fight to the Datejust through a new 166.010, we have to be more realistic. A beads-of-rice-style bracelet may be too divisive to be a massive commercial success. It may be too period-specific as well. Perhaps it could be modernized or simplified to speak to a broader audience.
We would probably have to add a larger-sized option as well. How about a 36mm and a 39mm version?
A properly re-envisioned 166.010 could be an amazing contemporary everyday watch. It could be the more classically styled alternative to the techier Aqua Terra. Omega might suggest that the De Ville fills that role. To me, though, it lacks the muscular stance and sporty prowess of the 166.010. Trust me, Omega: there is a potential winner sitting right there in your back catalog.
What do you think? Would you wear a reimagined 166.010? Or would you prefer a faithful reissue? Let us know in the comments below.
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