Dear Omega, Bring Back The Seamaster 60 “Big Crown”
We see a lot — and I mean a lot — of different dive watches come through the Fratello offices. While plenty of them have a great set of specs, not many have the looks to match. They often lack charm and character. Sure, they are diving tools, so in theory, they should perform first and look nice second. But the reality is that 99% of dive watches will not find their way to the water. So in my book, both character and specs are crucial in creating a great daily watch. In my search for great vintage classics, I found the perfect dive watch with plenty of personality that could bring a sparkle to today’s saturated market. Dear Omega, please bring back the Seamaster 60 “Big Crown”.
When it comes to dive watches, Omega has a ton of options. The current Seamaster line is an extensive collection of divers with a great mix of modern and vintage-inspired designs. When it comes to vintage-inspired models, the Seamaster 300 is a great option. Fratello’s own Ben Hodges owns one, and it is a joy to see every time on his social media. Whether on the bracelet or on a strap, the Seamaster 300 is an absolute winner. But I see a possibility to add another, smaller version to that lineup that also packs a ton of character. The Omega Seamaster 60 “Big Crown” that was produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s would be a perfect smaller addition to the lineup. It’s a perfect pick for people looking for a more modest-sized diver with great looks.
The story of the Omega Seamaster 60
The Seamaster 60 was conceived as a transitional model. The word “transitional” could indicate that it was a short-lived and less relevant reference produced to bridge a gap to a newer and better model. That’s definitely not the case with the Seamaster 60 “Big Crown”. It’s a beautiful diver that is characterized by its modestly sized and perfectly wearable 37mm case. Over the years, it has grown into a beloved classic amongst Omega enthusiasts. Its case size makes it a perfect fit for a variety of wrists. Add its colorful presence, and you understand why it has become such a popular watch.
The story of the watch starts in the late 1960s when Omega asked La Centrale Boîtes, one of the brand’s go-to case producers at the time, to come up with a case design for this transitional model. La Centrale Boîtes developed a very nice 37mm case with a slim profile and a lug-to-lug of just under 42mm. The looks were elegant, and the specs made the Seamaster 60 Big Crown the perfect daily wearer. When the watch was introduced in 1969, it was a bit of a departure from a lot of the oversized dive watches that Omega and many other brands produced. Most of them were targeted at serious divers and therefore were bigger and chunkier to increase the practical specifications.
Not a serious dive watch
The Seamaster 60 “Big Crown” was by no means intended as a serious dive watch. It was intended as the perfect watch for people to go snorkeling or diving at less impressive depths. Omega tested the watch to be water-resistant to 60 meters, hence the Seamaster 60 name. Compared to the Seamaster 120 and 300 models, it was obviously less impressive. But what it lacked in performance, the watch immediately made up for in character. One of the stand-out elements in the design is the Seamaster 60’s oversized crown. It suggests that the watch was capable of a lot more than the 60 meters of water resistance listed on the spec sheet.
But the crown also gave the watch quite a bit of personality. At first, the crown might look way too big for the case, but the more you look at it, the more you start to realize that it shakes things up visually in a great way. It’s obviously also why the watch got the “Big Crown” nickname. I love how one seemingly simple element can have such a defining impact on the overall aesthetics, and this break from the other elements makes this one of my favorite vintage Omega watches.
A colorful dial that stands out
But it doesn’t end there. The beautiful dial is another great eye-catcher. Omega produced three different color variations of the watch. The first came with a black dial, the second featured a burgundy dial, and the third, pictured above, had a dark blue dial. Omega also produced a smaller ladies’ version. My favorite of the three colors is, without a doubt, the blue version. It stands out immediately because the shade of blue is gorgeous. On top of that, it contrasts perfectly with the gray checkered racing-style outer ring, the applied indices, and the white hands. The checkered outer ring in particular plays a pivotal role in spicing up the dial. It adds the right amount of zing to an otherwise simple layout.
The watch came with a matching Bakelite bezel. Bakelite was used for a lot of dive watches in the ’50s and ’60s. It is a tricky material because it has the tendency to crack easily, but a lot of Seamaster 60 pieces seem to have survived quite well over the decades, considering the respectable numbers that are still out there. The bezel came with a very stylishly executed diving scale. I love the typography that Omega used for the numerals. Although it has a vintage feel, the font still feels relevant today. Additionally, the bezel design is rather quiet overall. It gives the watch a very classy feel.
Finding the right bracelet for your “Big Crown”
Omega delivered the watch on a stainless steel bracelet (ref. 1069) that completes the stylish look. Nowadays, you will find a lot of the “Big Crown” models on leather straps, but for me, a stainless steel bracelet would be key. Obviously, it would be great to switch it up with rubber and leather straps, but the stainless steel bracelet creates the perfect canvas for the dial to pop. On top of that, the bracelet looks very nice. But you will quickly find out that the vintage examples for sale today come on a wide variety of bracelets.
Whether you want one with the original bracelet is ultimately a personal choice. Any vintage Omega bracelet that fits the 19mm lugs and makes the watch look nice could work. You will find the watch on a more regular Oyster-style bracelet, and some people have fitted a beads-of-rice bracelet. I would definitely chase the ref. 1069 bracelet because it adds so much character to the watch. On top of that, it is very comfortable. Omega also used it for the De Ville Chronograph ref. 145.018 (pictured above) that I talked about in an earlier installment of this series. But the one important thing is that you need to find one in good condition because not many have survived five decades without the effects of wear and tear.
Omega caliber 565
If you flip the watch around, you are greeted by the iconic Omega hippocampus on the case back. Additionally, you will see text that reads “WATERPROOF TESTED 60 M”. I must add that the “M” was not always present, but that’s all the text there is. If you start searching for the Seamaster 60 “Big Crown”, you will find that plenty of case backs have been replaced or polished. Underneath the case back, you will find the automatic Omega caliber 565, which displays the date at 3 o’clock on the dial. The movement has quick-set date functionality that you can access via the oversized push-pull crown.
This 24-jewel movement operates at 19,800vph and has a power reserve of 50 hours. As you see, the rotor is engraved with “OMEGA WATCH Co SWISS”. Additionally, “CAL 535” and “TWENTY-FOUR 24 JEWELS” are engraved on the bridges. Lastly, you will find the serial number (not visible in the picture) that dates the movement to the year of production. Omega’s caliber 565 is a very well-respected movement for its accuracy and reliability. The brand used it for a wide variety of watches, including other Seamaster models like the Seamaster 120. It is the perfect vintage movement for a vintage piece that you would want to wear regularly.
What makes the Omega Seamaster 60 “Big Crown” great
And that’s exactly how good this Omega Seamaster 60 “Big Crown” is. It has both the looks and the movement to function as your perfect vintage daily wearer. More than five decades after its initial introduction, the Seamaster 60 “Big Crown” still looks the part. When you consider that this colorful dive watch was intended as a transitional model, that’s pretty extraordinary if you ask me. This classic beauty made me feel that it would be phenomenal to see the Seamaster 60 return in a modern version. It would be the perfect smaller-sized retro dive watch in the Omega collection. What do you guys think?
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