When Omega introduced the Seamaster 300M in 1993, their flagship model was the Chronograph reference 2296.80 that came in a combination of three materials: titanium, tantalum and rose gold. Sure, there was an all gold model as well, but this tri-color version was the model they advertised with for the new 300M (chronograph) collection. Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-grey metal that is highly corrosion-resistant. It is mainly used in electronics today, but sometimes it had a purpose in the watch industry as well. Omega is not the only brand who used it, also Audemars Piguet, FP Journe and Panerai used it for their watches for example.
Omega Seamaster 300M Chronograph 1993
The blue-grey color gives a nice contrast to the grey (grade 2) titanium and rose gold. The original Omega Seamaster 300M Chronograph in titanium, tantalum and rose gold was a watch I had been after for a long time. However, it was very expensive at the time and hard to come by. So in the end, I settled for a full titanium version of the chronograph instead. When I had the chance to buy the reference 2296.80 with its Ti/Ta/RG case and bracelet last year, I decided to go for it. Powered by Omega’s caliber 1164, based on the ETA/Valjoux 7750 in a time where Omega did not manufacture their own movements. I felt happy as a kid when I received it, and I often find myself wearing this watch. It is an amazing piece, although many people – including Mrs Fratello – think I am nuts for wearing such a bold watch, with the rose gold elements. I am not the type of guy that cares much about what other people think of what I am wearing (or not wearing), so all fine for me. The 18 carat rose gold inlay is fitted in the tantalum bezel and as you can see below, two rows (out of 9) of the bracelet are also made of tantalum. Surrounded by 18 carat rose gold. My own reference 2296.80 dates back to 1993 and in nice condition, but as with many Seamaster 300M models from that time, the red tips of the hands are faded to light pink, almost white even.
I couldn’t be happier to find out last week that Omega decided to bring back this awesome combination of titanium, tantalum and rose gold (using Omega’s own alloy called Sedna gold of course) for their new Seamaster 300M. Sure, in a limited edition of 2500 pieces only, for the 25th anniversary of the 300M collection, but at least Omega decided to bring back the tri-color to honor the special 2296.80 reference.
Seamaster 300M Reference 126.96.36.199.99.001
The new Omega Seamaster 300M Titanium/Tantalum/Sedna gold is not a chronograph of course, and designed in the same style as the regular new 300M models: 42mm case, 13.56mm in height, new bracelet style, conical shaped helium valve and this thick wave pattern dial. However, the color combination definitely reminds me of my 2296.80 chronograph from 1993.
Omega made some important changes (or improvements, as you want) though. Aesthetically, but also technically. To start with the last one: the rose gold is now Omega’s special alloy called Sedna. They’ve been using this for about half a decade, and it ensures the rose color of the gold. Normal rose gold color is going back to yellow after a lot of wear, with Sedna gold this will not be the case. Another technical improvement is the new patented helium escape valve, as explained in this article. Basically, it can now also be used under water (up to 50 meters under water). A red indicator will show the wearer that the helium valve is open.
Also, the movement is now an in-house developed Omega caliber, 8806. This is basically the same movement as the 8800 as in the regular Seamaster 300M, but without the date. A very welcome feature in my opinion, as I like watches to be pure. Now you can debate how pure a watch is in this tri-color combination of titanium, tantalum and Sedna gold, but the dial does look a bit cleaner without a date in my opinion. Where Omega used their caliber 2500 (basically a modified and nicely finished ETA2892-A2 movement with Omega’s Co-Axial escapement installed) for the previous Seamaster 300M and their caliber 1164 (ETA7750) for the chronograph, I believe that this manufacture Master Chronometer movement is really a step forward. To demonstrate their pride, Omega decided to use a sapphire caseback so you can enjoy the movement, without jeopardizing its water resistant of 300 meters.
Sedna Gold Bezel
Then there’s the Naiad lock of the caseback. This will ensure that the position of the caseback, with all of its engravings and laser etched seahorse on the crystal, stays oriented at all times. Omega’s Sedna gold bezel with all of its raised numerals and indexes has been created using laser ablation. As you can see, this means that excessive material has been removed by irradiating it with a laser beam. It looks cool for sure, and you won’t suffer from what my old chronograph has been suffering from, that the black lacquer fell out of the bezel after many years of wearing (my watchmaker restored it nicely though, with the help of some black Revell paint).
Omega also brought back the wave pattern to the dials of the Seamaster 300M, so also to this Seamaster 300M Titanium/Tantalum/Sedna gold version. The grey color matches nicely with the tantalum of the bezel and links. Just like the other 300M models, the wave pattern has been laser engraved. The skeleton hands are in the same rose gold color as the Sedna elements of this watch, such as the bezel, crowns and links in the bracelet. On the caseband, you will find a little applied ‘plaque’ that indicates the unique number of each of the 2500 watches. The plaque is made of Sedna gold.
For Who Exactly?
This watch is certainly not for everyone. The comments on my Instagram image of this watch are very mixed. From absolute love to utter hateful responses. And that is fine, really. This watch is, as written above, not really meant to be for everyone out there. Perhaps you have, like me, the original reference 2996.80 model with the titanium/tantalum/rose gold combination or always regretted you never bought one when you had the opportunity. Or, just thinking out loud here, you just happen to like this watch a lot. Which I can certainly imagine, especially if you have a feel for special materials and are not scared of wearing a bit of gold in a sports watch.
So, then there’s the price. Remember that the original Omega Seamaster 300M titanium/tantalum/rose gold version didn’t come cheap, at all. This new limited edition model also doesn’t come cheap. Omega puts a retail price of CHF12.000 Swiss Francs on it. The normal stainless steel Seamaster 300M model retails for CHF4500 Swiss Francs on a steel bracelet, the bi-color (regardless whether it is steel and yellow gold or the steel and Sedna gold version) for CHF6000 Swiss Francs on rubber and CHF9000 Swiss Francs on the bi-color bracelet. The use of tantalum and the additional use of gold for the bezel adds some more to the price, of course.
It Is All Good
To me, this tri-color titanium/tantalum/Sedna gold 300M version with reference 188.8.131.52.99.001, is the ultimate version of the new Omega Seamaster 300M. The flagship, if you wish. I am not sure if Omega needed to create a limited edition out of this, as it would be limited by demand/production anyway. However, I can also imagine that certain people like to collection limited edition models and want somehow a ‘unique number’ watch. Is it worth CHF12,000 Swiss Francs to you? Up to you to decide, but if you don’t feel this way, you can always settle for the ‘regular’ bi-color versions of the watch or just the stainless steel model with rubber strap or steel bracelet. The good thing is, they are all good. Even though this Seamaster 300M might not trigger the enthusiasm from purists and vintage collectors, it is not intended to be either. The Seamaster 300M is a bread and butter watch for Omega and with this new updated model, they will probably continue to do so. And now, it is with the latest technology that Omega has to offer.
More information via Omega on-line.