Why I Bought The Omega Seamaster 300 Heritage Dive Watch
It doesn’t feel like much time has passed since my previous “Why I bought…” article. My subject last time was the new caliber 3861 Moonwatch with sapphire crystal. I find myself reaching into my admittedly shallower pockets again for another brand new 2021 Omega watch under five months later. This time it was the turn of the heritage diving watch, the Seamaster 300. Another new watch isn’t doing my vintage watch street cred, nor bank account, any good. And I already have the Tudor Black Bay to fulfill my dreams of diving with Jacques Cousteau. So, where did the urge to own the new Seamaster 300 come from? Let’s find out.
Firstly, what is the Seamaster 300? The Seamaster is one of Omega’s most proliferate collections. Since 1948, the Seamaster prides itself on technology gained during the war effort. However, it wasn’t until 1957, Omega’s twentieth-century genesis, that the Seamaster became purpose-built for diving with the reference CK2913. Although, Omega could only officially guarantee a depth rating of 200 meters rather than the namesake 300 meters. The limit had more to do with the accuracy of the testing equipment of the time rather than the 300’s absolute limit. Omega, in its own right, knows the Seamaster 300 was capable of higher-pressure excursions. However, the Seamaster quickly evolved beyond its original diving design with the dramatic development of sea-faring wristwatches over the past half-century.
The 300 Seamasters
With professional divers providing invaluable feedback, the Seamaster 300’s hands, indices, bezel, crown — yeah, pretty much everything — grew more prominent. The morphing case shape went beyond all recognition from the original 300. That doesn’t even account for spin-offs like the outrageously over-engineered Seamaster Ploprof. The Diver 300M and Planet Ocean models made further advancements in more conventional case shapes. Yet, in 2014, Omega sought to revive the classic cues of the 1957 Seamaster 300 in the back-to-basics reference 18.104.22.168.01.001. The piece drew inspiration from the original model with an aesthetic not seen for nearly sixty years. In 2017, the 60th Anniversary took it a step further with a 1:1 recreation of the original CK2913.
The 300 is to the Seamaster, what the Moonwatch is to the Speedmaster.
The 1957 Trilogy Seamaster 300 was a limited edition — remember those? Whereas the 2021 release is a gentle iteration on the 2014 reference 22.214.171.124.01.001. After the bombshell announcement of the new Moonwatch in January, #SpeedyTuesday no less, any subsequent release was always going to play second fiddle. And yet, I find the 300 the crux of the Seamaster collection. You could say the 300 is the Moonwatch equivalent in the Seamaster catalog — in that the watch maintains the appearance of the most defining model in its history, not necessarily the first. More technical watches have come and gone, but the legacy lives on with Speedmaster Moonwatch and Seamaster 300 designs.
Mastering the chronometer
Despite what I just said, the “halo” piece from the March unveiling was possibly the full ceramic Diver 300M in all black. Now, the Diver 300M has had a steady slew of standard and unique models since its latest refresh in 2018. But the Seamaster 300 was beginning to lag without a METAS-tested movement. Before we move on, it’s worth elaborating that the 2014 Seamaster 300 was a Master Co-axial Chronometer, but not a Master Chronometer — confused? Well, caliber 8400 withstands the same 15,000 gauss of magnetism to meet Master Chronometer specifications as does the caliber 8912 in the new model. But caliber 8400 was never submitted for testing and certification by METAS while fully cased up.
The new 300 is luxury modern take on the reference CK2913.
METAS certification on Omega watches began in 2015 with the Globemaster and is still trickling out to other lines. So, what we get with this new 2021 Seamaster 300 update is METAS certification and a host of small but significant changes. While visually, it appears remarkably similar to the outgoing model. Dig deeper, and you’ll notice the subtle tweaks equate to a far more visually arresting dive watch. As Rob put it in his introductory article, it’s a “drop-dead gorgeous slice of delicious wrist cake.” While I may question his mental state on occasion, I will always trust his eye for design. From a broad perspective, it’s how curvaceous the new Seamaster 300 looks and feels. The outgoing 300 captured the essence of the CK2913, but with its modern materials, it resulted in a flat appearance.
The Seamaster 300 is no slouch
I put the flatness of the last-gen 300 down to the ceramic bezel with Liquidmetal™ dive scale. The glossy bezel surface mixed with a subtle doming sapphire crystal was incredibly reflective. It was challenging to get a sense of depth to the construction with such a shiny dial side. Omega drops the case band by 1mm for the new model, which simultaneously lowers the bezel with a more pronounced boxy sapphire crystal. In my ownership experience, I liken it to reclining on a chair versus sitting straight up. With its protruding crystal, the new Seamaster 300 looks more active and assertive. What surprised many, myself included, was Omega reverting the bezel material from ceramic to aluminum. While the sand-blasted texture is certainly less reflective, perhaps matte ceramic was a possibility?
Scratch resistance or shatter resistance?
Well, the Bronze Gold Seamaster 300 released alongside the steel models has a ceramic bezel. So the reasons for the aluminum on the steel versions still allude me. To quell any queries of scratch resistance, Omega anodizes the bezel to at least 5,000 Vickers. I can attest to this, as minor dents appear on the outer steel bezel grip, but the aluminum insert is pristine. This time around, a vintage hue Super-LumiNova fills the bezel numerals up to 0.2mm deep, glowing blue in the dark. The blue glow matches the shark-tooth indices and deep-filled laser-engraved numerals. This secondary lower lume layer for the digits is what coins it as a sandwich dial. Though, as I found out, the luminescent coating does not fill the same space that the dial occupies. Instead, it is only applied where the stenciled numerals and indices exist.
No Time To Taper
My point of contention with the outgoing Seamaster 300, although this goes for most post-2000s Omega watches, is the bracelet. The minimal taper is the primary observation, but let me start with the end… links. On the underside of the lugs were two protruding tabs that hold the bracelet in place without any wiggle. The tabs seemingly had the effect of wearing away the metal in a noticeable spot. Also, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, the end link tabs always remind me of a Seiko SKX. It was not that it held back previous versions of the Speedmaster and Seamaster, but the tabs were not reflective of the quality the rest of any Omega watch exuded. In its place, the new model has no tabs and instead uses an underside lip. The bracelet of the new 300 also tapers from 21mm to 18mm on the clasp. Dropping 3mm is not a dramatic taper by any means, but it’s more than the model it replaces.
A less noticeable change is that the end link is female as opposed to male. Gender swapping end links were also seen on the new Moonwatch, so the bracelet drops down before the lug’s end for better contour. It makes wearing the bracelet the optimum choice rather than being a space saver for an aftermarket strap. Something not brought up previously was the mirror finishing on the external links of the three-link construction. The alternate finishing is the opposite of the previous 300 that had polished center links. Polished elements on bracelets are always a contentious subject with whether it should exist at all. But the Seamaster 300 is more a heritage interpretation than an out-and-out tool watch, so it suits a little luxury embellishment. I’m indifferent on the subject but appreciate how the outer links blend seamlessly from the shiny top surfaces of the lugs.
Jorg and I spent three consecutive editions tussling over Bond watches in our dormant Sunday Morning Showdown column. In the final column of 2020, we pitted the Diver 300M from No Time To Die against the Seamaster 300, as seen in Spectre. The Spectre won with an emphatic 62%, which still surprises me. Part of the appeal of the Seamaster 300 Bond limited edition is the return of the lollipop seconds hand. In a shock twist, the new mainline 300 also has this confectionery cue. While for many, the recency bias of the Spectre could be the source of inspiration. In Omega’s eyes, it’s the later iterations of the original CK2913 from 1959 that beckons the return of the lollipop handset. The appeal for me specifically stems from Tomas’ pub find CK2913-8 and its eye-catching bright white lollipop hand.
The Ω logo is back to normal size after the Spectre watch.
The second hand may carry over from the 2015 Spectre watch to the new Seamaster 300. But thankfully, the former’s oversized Omega logo does not follow suit. Instead, the new model restores the 12 o’clock numeral as per the original. This bold branding may benefit Joe Bloggs during a cinematic screening of Spectre. But for everyday use, I don’t need the watch shouting its name at me when reading the time. Never seen before on the Seamaster 300 is the conical crown. It follows a similar change made to the Seamaster Aqua Terra in 2017. The shape allows space to grip and pull out the screw-down crown. The shape is handy as caliber 8912 has a jump hour setting. Jump hour is a feature to shift the hour back and forth for traveling without affecting the running time.
Expanding dial, shrinking steel
As brought up in the launch, the dimensions remain 41×14.4mm. However, the dial has grown by 1mm. You may think this compromises the bezel insert. But it’s the polished steel ring that runs the circumference of the glass that shrinks. This ring carries over from the CK2913, where the lume pip was an overhanging tab from the rotating bezel. The lume pip on this model, and the previous, is a single dot that glows green in correlation to the minute hand. But a more significant change is the ratio between the bezel insert and the steel element.
The CK2913 is 50:50 between the ring and dive scale. In the 2014 model, the ring occupies a third of the bezel. But for 2021, the fixed steel ring only makes up a quarter between the glass and the coin-edge grip. If there was any section to slim down, I am glad it was the steel ring. It maintains the heritage trait but minimizes its visual weight.
There are some aspects which retain across the 2014 reference 126.96.36.199.01.001 and the 2021 reference 188.8.131.52.01.001. For instance, the sapphire crystal only has an anti-reflective coating on the underside of the glass, not the topside. This is the same as the new sapphire Speedmaster Moonwatch. But it contradicts the solution seen on the Seamaster Diver 300M. AR-coating on the topside of the glass is reportedly prone to scratching off. The glass itself is fine, but the removal of AR-coating over time leaves unsightly blemishes not too dissimilar from those seen on a Hesalite Moonwatch. While the anti-reflective qualities drop by 50% by not having it on the topside, I feel safe knowing that AR-coating won’t diminish my Seamaster 300 and Speedmaster experience.
Q&A and final thoughts
Since buying the watch, questions flooded my inbox. Firstly, Rob mentioned the lack of Naiad technology for the transparent case back. However, my watch and the blue example we got in the studio both feature the text in a similar position shown on the website. Some followers then wondered if the Seamaster 300 does indeed have Naiad tech. But upon seeing other 300’s in the wild, the “300m/1000ft” text can sit further left or right of the case back. Speaking of lugs, another question I receive is about their length. The lug-to-lug distance is 48mm, which is 2mm more than a Speedy. But with the female end links, wearing comfort is supreme as the links drop before the lugs end.
Finally, many ask about the on-the-fly adjustment capabilities. The clasp has the tool-less pusher extension to expand or contract the bracelet by 4mm. This size equals about half a link and helps with comfort depending on whether your wrist feels skinny or thick. But there is no fold-out diver extension or adjustment holes on the clasp.
I enjoy wearing and admiring my Omega Seamaster 300. All these quality-of-life improvements over the outgoing reference elevate the timepiece. But it’s how removing text while making existing elements more visually complex that benefits the luxury feel. The rhodium-plated broad arrow hands can vanish in a particular light. But the liberal use of luminescence makes up for it while also ensuring a luxurious glint to the heritage diving watch. The price is €6,500, and although they were slow to hit the shelves, the availability of the Seamaster 300 is beginning to pick up. Worth checking the watch out for yourself next time you get the chance to visit a boutique or authorized dealer..