Sunday Morning Showdown: Ceramic Dive Watches — Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black Vs. Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
Welcome to another edition of Sunday Morning Showdown. Today, two editors jostle for position with two watches of a similar persuasion. Expect no holds barred as these writers vie for your votes to be crowned the winner. In this fight, we have two fully ceramic dive watches with automatic calibers. As a surprise twist, both are certified by METAS as Master Chronometers. Even more serendipitous is the dark aesthetic of both watch dials and bezels. Despite the ceramic materials and black-on-black tones, these watches are metal (as in heavy metal music) as hell! Our writers are ready, so let’s get this battle going.
Today’s showdown is a follow-up to a previous outing. We put the then-new Tudor Black Bay Ceramic up against the similarly toned Doxa SUB 300 Carbon in 2022. But, as we published, Doxa dropped the ceramic Doxa Army, which would’ve perfectly lined up against the Tudor. As a reconciliation, we’re putting the Tudor back in the ring for another bout. However, instead of the 100-piece limited-edition Doxa Army Ceramic, we recruited the non-limited Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black. While there is a price disparity between the Omega’s €9,700 and the Tudor’s €5,030 price tags, the METAS provenance and aesthetic are ripe for comparison.
Last week’s showdown
The watch choices today springboard from last week’s Coronet-focused diving civil war. The classic Sea-Dweller ref. 16600 overcame its bigger yet younger brother, the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea ref. 136660, with 63% of the votes. Cherry-picking two comments from last week highlights why the five-digit Sea-Dweller has the edge over the Deepsea:
“16600 for me. Proportions are spot on compared to the larger cases of modern Rolexes. I always wanted one as it was the best dive watch Rolex did at the time…” — Colinear
“16600 for me! It was my first ‘real’ watch, and the one that I will always keep. At the time I took as for a little extra it offered more than the 16610. Also I like it because it didn’t have a cyclops (my now almost 50 year old eyes might disagree with choice now….), and that it was just a bit ‘different’ than the ubiquitous 16610. I wanted a sub or SD as that ‘first’ watch as they are timeless icons, work in any environment or clothing style, and matched with my diving hobby. It now has around 1,200 dives under its belt, worked perfectly as expected. Even a dive I forgot to screw down the crown…” — Amsterdamwatchnerd
Now, without further ado, let’s hand it over to our writers for today, with Ben backing the Omega and Jorg repping the Tudor.
Ben: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black
When Omega announced its Master Chronometer designation in 2014, it was a big deal. You might even say that Omega was a little cocky and threw shade at other brands. The Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology, headquartered in Bern, Switzerland, is entirely independent of Omega. Any brand could utilize its services for certifying watches or other items for unbiased adjudication. But statements like “Omega encourages other brands also to meet the new standards and have their watches certified by METAS to use the ‘Master Chronometer’ on the dials of their watches as well” ups the ante. That statement may sound constructive, but coming from a stalwart Swiss brand, this is akin to a fierce rap battle. Did Omega expect other brands to answer the call? I would hope so, as doing so gives credence to the METAS testing process.
Well, after Omega’s first Master Chronometer watch, the Globemaster in 2015, it took a while for another brand to step up to the plate. And we certainly didn’t expect it to be Tudor. The Rolex sister brand already uses COSC, the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, for chronometer testing, but Master Chronometer certification takes things a few steps further.
A fun fact is that METAS even audits the processes employed at COSC. While COSC certifies only the movements to be within a daily deviation of -4 to +6 seconds per day, METAS is more stringent. The caliber must be cased up, and the tolerance must be within 0 to +5 seconds per day. Adding to this is the extreme aversion to magnetism (at least 15,000 gauss), testing the claimed waterproofness, plus margin, against the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 22810:2010, and assessing the declared power reserve. Passing these tests and more certifies the watch as a Master Chronometer.
Dive deep into the black
Since the first Master Chronometer in 2015, Omega has promulgated the designation across its range. It wasn’t long before the ’90s classic Seamaster Diver 300M received the accolade in 2018, but the standard Moonwatch had to wait until 2021. All the technical feats to pass the tests feel at home with the Diver 300M. It’s the dive watch most associated with James Bond since GoldenEye (1995), and its unique traits make it a modern classic.
Taking the tech specs to the extreme is this blacked-out Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black from 2021. This watch uses ceramic (ZrO2) for its case construction and extremities, such as the helium escape (HE) valve and screw-down crown. The single tone of black persists over the case, but the varying finishes and textures provide the necessary contrast. For instance, the laser-etched dive scale with a relief pattern has a shimmer, making it readable in motion.
The Black Black could be seen as a mess on paper or in stock photos. In real life, however, it’s utterly delightful. It might not be the most usable diving companion and probably not the best everyday piece, but it’s remarkable. At 43.5mm, the Black Black is more substantial than the standard 42mm Diver 300M too. I am not sure why it is bigger, but the same goes for the 44.25mm ceramic Dark Side of the Moon compared to the 42mm steel or gold Moonwatch.
There is a trace of color from the blue-glowing anthracite-infilled hands and indices as well as the green-glowing Super-LumiNova lume pip. You could even include the flash of red on the exposed caliber 8806 visible through the sapphire window on the back. But otherwise, the Black Black sticks to its namesake yet stands out among its peers. Over to Jorg for the similar Tudor.
Jorg: Tudor Black Bay Ceramic
Thanks, Ben. I noticed you mentioned “Black Black” in your part, which reminded me of the one Omega Black Black that I love. The Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Black Black is my favorite of the Dark Side series. Conceptually, it is a great idea, and the visual translation of that concept looks stunning. Is it the most practical watch? No, definitely not. But its visual impact and knowing the story behind the watch make for a memorable timepiece that I’d love to own.
Now, when it comes to the fully blacked-out Seamaster Diver 300M, I completely miss that feeling. There is no concept or story behind it besides being a stealthy diver. Does it need one to “just” look cool? No, it certainly doesn’t. But while I love a good, stealthy timepiece, this one falls flat in the “sea” of other Seamasters, especially compared to the other black ceramic Diver 300M models. It just misses the visual spark to stand out. If you want something really stylish, the same watch with Sedna Gold details is the visually more appealing option. If you want something stealthy but much more practical, get the same watch with white indices and a white enamel diving scale.
The Black Bay Ceramic stands out
As you can see, Omega offers options. Better options, I might add, that make this fully blacked-out version of the Diver 300M feel rather obsolete in the rather extensive Seamaster collection. And that’s where Tudor, in my book, does a much better job. The Black Bay Ceramic is not part of a series of black ceramic Black Bay watches. There is only one, and it immediately stands out compared to its stainless steel counterparts. It makes the Black Bay Ceramic the watch to have if you want a durable, stealthy version of the retro diver.
Additionally, the Tudor also does have the right visual sparkles to make it more exciting than the Seamaster. Those elements also make it a more practical watch. I am talking, of course, about the choice to use beige Super-LumiNova to fill the indices and hands to liven up the aesthetic. It creates a great look against the black dial with its gray markings and text. Add the brushed black ceramic bezel insert with its engraved diving scale and the straps that continue the same black and beige color combination, and we have a winner.
It’s a combination of factors
After wearing the Seamaster, I was left disappointed because the watch feels flat with its combination of gray and black colors. Sure, the level of detail is fascinating, but overall, the presence feels rather uninspiring. I wanted it to be “Black Black,” but it’s not in my book. It’s very much “Gray Black” instead. The Tudor doesn’t make that visual faux pas and is really black. And there is more, as you eluded when mentioning that Omega is 43.5mm instead of the 42mm of the regular version. It may be necessary due to production limitations, but it also makes the black ceramic case unwantedly bigger. Tudor used the same 200m-water-resistant, 41mm × 14.4mm case as the regular Black Bay, making it a true, stealthy alternative to the regular models.
Regarding the movements of both watches, a lot can be said. As Mike explained in his Two For Tuesday article about the Black Bay Silver and this Black Bay Ceramic, the METAS-certified version of the MT5602 Caliber feels like a little poke at Omega. Tudor didn’t just ensure that the movement’s performance was raised to a higher standard. The brand also blacked it out and gave it a more elaborate finish, which you can see through the uncommon (for Tudor) sapphire case back. This adds yet another layer to the concept of a stealthy watch.
Double the money, half the fun
Sure, Ben, you can favor the Omega’s in-house-developed caliber 8806 over the Kenissi-developed MT5602. But the latter METAS-certified caliber still operates at 28,800vph and comes with a modern 70-hour power reserve. I know a lot of people will argue that Omega makes a better watch, and I admit that the brand’s movements are more striking in their architecture and visual presence. In terms of performance, however, we have already established that the Tudor performs at the same level as the Omega. Therefore, it would not be a make-it-or-break-it reason to favor the Omega, at least not in my book.
And that brings me to my last and not-unimportant point. The Seamaster will be more than twice the price of the Black Bay Ceramic come February 1st when Omega raises its prices once more. There is simply no reason why you would pay over €10K for this Seamaster when you can have the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic for half the money, bringing a more exciting aesthetic and equal performance. And that’s coming from someone who considers black his favorite color.
Vote for your favorite of these two blacked-out divers!
There you have it, folks — a battle of stealthy dive watches with these two blacked-out timepieces going toe to toe for the win! Will the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M in black ceramic get your vote? Or are you an unabashed fan of the Tudor Black Bay Ceramic? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and also let us know why you picked it in the comments. See you next week for another Sunday Morning Showdown!