Sunday Morning Showdown: James Bond Omega Watches NOT Seen On Screen
In our Sunday Morning Showdown, two of our writers go head-to-head in an epic showdown for the ages. Strong opinions and hysterical hyperbole are welcome (so feel free to join in with the fun in the comments section below). And don’t forget to let us know which watches you’d like to see torn to shreds/effusively exalted next week. We’ll try and feature as many of our readers’ choices as we can. After the last Bond match up, we return with a second one. One that matches up two lesser talked about Bond watches… So let’s rev up the Aston Martin once more and discuss the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” vs. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra.
It was only last week we had our inaugural Bond bust-up between the Seamasters from Spectre and No Time To Die. We could sense it would become a tight fight but had no clue of the epic tussle it came to be. In the end, Spectre turned in a straight flush against the No Time To Die’s four aces. Given more time, the results could have easily swapped again and then again some more. But as we call the results at the start of each new head-to-head, at this time, the readers selected the Seamaster 300 at 62%. That battle was all about the Bond Seamaster’s that had a starring role in the big-budget blockbusters. But what about the understudies?
For today’s edition of Sunday Morning Showdown, Jorg and I have selected Omega watches from the Seamaster collection that make a blatant reference to the world of 007. Yet these watches never have, and never will, feature in the films. Poised in attack position, we raise our shields to duke out in favor of our chosen watches.
Out of the spotlight and into the shadows
It is a strange concept for Omega to release Bond-themed watches without a straightforward tie-in to an upcoming movie. Alongside the Moonwatch and the Olympics, the 007 franchise is a hugely important marketing collaboration for Omega. I would consider ourselves and readers of Fratello as being well-versed in all things horological. But to the average punter, who may only know of five luxury brands, the justification for a high-priced Swiss watch is an unscalable hurdle. Associating a wristwatch with a globally recognizable character provides the boost weary customers need to break out the bank card. The marketing tie-in to such a well-established marque as James Bond is something Omega would be reluctant to relinquish.
There are only so many films that EON Productions can produce each decade
But these are expensive and labor-intensive movies to produce. There are only so many films that they can output each decade — the last two only seeing two films released each. EON Productions are understandably protective of the franchise and do not farm out the responsibility to smaller studios. Sure, they could release more frequently with TV shows and spin-offs. But a new Bond film is an event that generates considerable anticipation and a box-office draw. Between the movies, however, there is space for Omega to keep the Bond fans at bay with reminders of its ongoing partnership. Some are anniversary pieces for a particular movie — while others have rather more tenuous links to the British spy.
The watches chosen to slug it out are the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” edition to mark fifty years since the release On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). In the other corner, we have the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M James Bond Spectre edition. Each watch is superb on its own merits. However, we seek to found out which version of the Seamaster better whets the whistle of martini-deprived Bond aficionados.
Ben — Omega Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond”
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (here on referred to as “OHMSS” for brevity) is a classic Bond film I was not immediately taken with. It was hard to get on board with an actor who felt like a stop-gap in the Connery-era. My first foray into the movies began in the early ‘90s, so already by that point, there had been four license-to-kill-holders with Pierce Brosnan becoming the Bond of my youth. Knowing the lineage of films displayed an anomaly in the chronology. The single film by Australian model-turned-actor George Lazenby in 1969 just seemed out of place. My hesitance was misplaced as OHMSS is a slow-burn and now considered a cult classic. Lazenby is stiff in his performance, but the movie around him is pure joy.
Perhaps we will see a Diamonds Are Forever (1971) edition for this year. Suitably adorned in diamonds of course…
While Omega has not done an anniversary timepiece for any of the previous films from the ‘60s, in 2019, it decided fifty years was a worthy milestone to mark with its latest Seamaster Diver 300M. Perhaps we will see a Diamonds Are Forever (1971) edition for this year? Suitably adorned in diamonds, of course…but back to the showdown at hand. Jorg himself was the editor tasked with the hands-on review. He also recognized the cult classic status of OHMSS with Lazenby as a questionable Bond, but he seemed to enjoy the Seamaster 300M “James Bond” edition. In a dramatic turn of events, I was actually the opposite. The movie was decent, but I did not gravitate towards this edition. There are only so many references Omega can squeeze into the 42mm dive watch, and it felt like overkill.
A lesson in more is more
The initial press pictures made the design too bold in its execution and somewhat off-putting. But it speaks to the strength of its design that changed my tune over the year from its release. In person, the blend of elements is far more harmonious than I perceived in my initial reaction. By this point, I do not feel we have to explain the core Diver 300M features. Since the 2018 update, we have covered the watch extensively.
Best then, I just start by listing off what makes the “James Bond” edition different. The double dash marker for 12 o’clock is now connected in a chevron-style reminiscent of the shield in the Bond coat of arms. Instead of the wavy pattern, the ZrO2 ceramic dial has a rifle engraving that mimics the opening credit sequence of each Bond movie. It even measures 9mm at the tip of the barrel, exactly the same diameter as the spy’s trusty Walther PPK.
All about the details
It doesn’t stop there. Almost imperceptibly is the number 50 in the 10 o’clock gold marker, which also indicates fifty minutes, denoting the years between 1969 and 2019. On the seventh day of the month, the wearer is treated to the stylized “7” that usually follows the 00 agent number. The case side has a yellow gold plaque highlighting the edition number out of 7,007 pieces. Lastly, and possibly the most contentious, is the Bond coat of arms laser-etched onto the sapphire display case-back. Contentious because the gold-toned family crest seemingly blocks the view of the caliber 8800. The Latin text “Orbis Non Sufficit” translates to “The World is Not Enough” — also a title for a Brosnan flick thirty years after OHMSS.
The above may sound a lot and perhaps packs too many references in the available real estate. But the base Diver 300M is such a perfect platform and is ripe for revision. Within the box is both the rubber strap and stainless steel bracelet with a custom 007 engraving on the clasp. And the Omega-branded spring bar tool to swap between the two. Also is the travel box for the jet-setting agent.
Jorg, I seem to have forgotten entirely about the Aqua Terra for Spectre edition. Care to remind me?
Jorg — Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M “Spectre” Limited Edition
Before I get into the story of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M “Spectre,” let me provide a bit more context on where I stand when it comes to these special edition Bond watches. I like the world of Bond products. Whether it’s the Orlebar Brown swim shorts, the Sunspel polo shirts, or the Tom Ford jackets. The story of Bond connected to these products immediately creates an extra layer of interest. But what I do not necessarily want is a dual-branded monster.
The Venn diagram of Bond fans and Omega fans is almost a perfect circle.
The difficulty with these Omega Bond Editions is how to make them an appealing collector’s edition. The danger is that they feel like a marketing tool rather than a serious watch. But then again, these watches are there for the Omega collectors and the Bond collectors. The appeal of them is in the sentiment of their story rather than an objective first choice for a daily watch. It doesn’t mean everything goes, but it does allow for the extra element to be present, and that’s the integration of Bond storytelling.
Omega has made significant steps in the art of storytelling over the years. It resulted in the two watches we discussed last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown being the first special Bond Editions that 007 actually wore in the movie. And two watches I would definitely like to own as a daily wearer. Compared to the first Daniel Craig Bond Special celebrating Casino Royale, they tell a much better story. The Casino Royale edition was a relatively simple exercise in co-branding — that might appeal to the people that like the road of less is more. But in all honesty, the Casino Royale logos are a mere reminder the watch is connected to the movie. Enter the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M “Spectre.”
The unsung hero
Honestly, it was quite surprising to see Bond wearing a Seamaster Aqua Terra in Skyfall. But on second thought, it is not a strange choice keeping 007’s background in mind. The Aqua Terra is a watch that, as you said it yourself, Ben “exists in the ether between land and sea.” It’s the perfect watch for Commander Bond in dressier situations as well as in more casual cases. Especially its modest 38.5mm size made this the suitable counterpart of the Planet Ocean in Skyfall. The watch made a return in Spectre, and it can also be seen in the upcoming No Time To Die film we are all looking forward to seeing.
Ben: I did say that, and as I remember, it garnered me a 55% SMS win. Not that I’m a sore winner or anything.
So the Aqua Terra has become somewhat of a fixture in the Daniel Craig era and can be described as the Bond films’ unsung hero. So what about this Spectre Edition is so special? It’s exactly the same eye for detail in getting the story of Bond across. And you know what, Ben? By the same, I mean precisely the same, only better.
The Bond family story
You see, the story of this Aqua Terra Spectre Edition is built around the Bond coat of arms. Just like you had with your preferred Seamaster Diver 300M, I was in doubt whether this was overkill? I can tell you that seeing the watch in real life makes a great difference. All the detailing is a lot more subtle and intricate than the press pictures might have you think. And it tells a story that is appealing in both its connection to Spectre as well as its execution.
The 41.5mm Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Spectre has a dark blue dial that features the Bond coat of arms repeatedly interlocked to create a beautiful and intricate pattern. The same Bond coat of arms is also used near the tip of the yellow central seconds hand. A third subtle element hinting at the Bond story is the 007 logo in the proclamation of its magnetic resistance > 15’007 gauss. A feature that is perfect for 007, and it’s why the hint is spot on.
Such a delicate touch. Sheer magnetism.
The level of detail of all these elements is thoughtful and well-executed. And I cannot forget the beautifully applied hour indices and the date indicated in the same as the hour indices. The eye for detail is tremendous. On top of that, the color combination of a deep dark blue and bright yellow is very well done. The dark blue color really is the perfect canvas for the yellow seconds hand and the yellow numerals of the minute track to stand out.
Staring down the barrel of a gun
If you turn the 13.6mm thick case around, you will find more Bond details on the back, And details that might seem familiar comparing it to your favored Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” edition. This watch is powered by the “special” Omega Caliber 8507 and features a skeletonized oscillating weight in the shape of a gun barrel with James Bond’s name engraved in the back of the bullet. It’s the same Bond element that is on the dial of the Seamaster Diver 300M, but I must say, I definitely prefer this execution. Especially the back of the bullet in the center weight is very detailed and impressive.
And lastly, you see that the watch had a limited production run of 15,007 pieces. With these production numbers, you might think that it will be easy to actually get one. But that is a mistake. It’s a watch you don’t see offered often, and my guess is that all the owners are delighted with them. And I understand that completely. For me, this is the better watch out of the two. I wonder if you also think the same Bond elements are far better executed on the Aqua Terra? The coat of arms is more subtle and cleverly used, and the execution of the gun barrel a lot more impressive.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond sports a Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 and Rolex Chronograph Ref. 6238.
But there is a bigger question I have when it comes to the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” edition. In OHMSS, George Lazenby can be seen wearing two Rolex watches. He wears the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 and the rare Rolex Chronograph Ref. 6238. That last watch is one of my favorite Bond watches ever, and I have to say it does feel weird to see Omega honoring a film where Bond wears two Rolexes. Tell me it doesn’t feel weird, being a Bond fan yourself, Ben?
Omega celebrating a Rolex movie
Ben: Well, I thought I was going to get away with it. Now I feel like Jorg is inching the high-powered laser closer to my Crown Jewels. It is true that in OHMSS, Lazenby was sporting not one but two Rolex references, as stated above. Hardly something Omega would be proud to commemorate. But as this Showdown is all about the watches NOT worn in the movies, the Seamaster 300M is about the story the film tells. OHMSS is one of the rare Bond flicks that refers to Bond’s early life and family. It makes it clear that he wasn’t hatched but was groomed early to become a super-spy. One of the other movies to flesh out his backstory is Skyfall (2012). Which would have probably been a better choice of movie for the Bond family crest Aqua Terra than the Spectre watch Jorg is fawning over.
Jorg: I have to agree with you there. Skyfall does revolve around the Bond family story, whereas Spectre only loosely links 007 to his parents’ death to explain the “birth” of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. But wait, you don’t mind Omega honoring a Bond film with Rolex watches in it, but when it concerns ‘my’ Aqua Terra, you all of a sudden become a strict student of the Bond legacy? That’s the kind of move we would expect from a man with a blue-eyed Persian cat in his lap…
Ben: Maybe you’re on to me. But the thing is the watches in OHMSS, such as the pre-cursor to the Daytona, the ref. 6238, are now exorbitantly expensive. The starting value nowadays is around €40,000 and upwards. With the rarity on top of that, the average 007 collector is going to have a tough time breaking through the barrier of entry. €6,140 is a far more palatable price for the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” edition. And possibly more enjoyable to own without the need to baby a fragile, rare, and valuable Rolex.
A family thing
Ben: This was not apparent to me beforehand, but the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” took on a new meaning when my father acquired one. In the ‘60s, he was stationed in Nassau, Bahamas as a pilot in training. One day he checked the paper for temp jobs and saw an ad for a location scout. The job in hand was to advise the production crew of Thunderball (1965) of the best beach locations to shoot the Connery caper. He was paid $50, barely retribution for the effort involved, but to be a part of the cinematic legacy was a great honor. Only in 2020 did he consider obtaining some memorabilia to mark this odd job.
Omega is catering for all audiences; past, present and future.
Ben: That’s when my opinion on the Omega anniversary for OHMSS changed from a strange offering to a stroke of genius. Bond fans and even old crew members want an object they can wear and enjoy in their lives that links to the earliest Bond era — not necessarily the most recent. And if Rolex is not going to do it, then why not Omega?
Ace up the sleeve
Jorg: I was aware of your father owning the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” edition, but I didn’t know the details of his story. And as you know, I like a great story, and this certainly is the ace up your sleeve. Your father’s personal story connected to his Seamaster greatly outweighs this factual back and forth we are having. It looks like your father is the true winner here.
Ben: Especially, as he now proudly sports the watch, and if anyone asks what makes it so special, he has a hell of a tale to tell. My father even had the opportunity to observe the filming as it took place and meet Sean Connery himself. This Showdown may have gone down a personal route. Still, I felt it necessary to silence those who struggle to understand the justification for a 50th anniversary commemoration of a ‘60s Bond film. I cannot wait for what Omega produces for the ‘70s era.
Ben: Jorg ripped a quote of mine from an earlier Showdown between the Aqua Terra and Rolex Yacht-Master. A Showdown I won — humble brag #2. And it’s true; the Aqua Terra is about as adaptable as it gets. This is what makes this edition of SMS a game of margins. I have no qualms with the Seamaster Aqua Terra “Spectre.” The yellow and blue color scheme is perhaps more garish than I would choose for myself, but the movement is fantastic. And it’s subtle enough for an everyday watch for the days where you don’t want to stand out as a certified Bond geek. But my family connection to the Diver 300M “James Bond” is a bond that could never be broken.
For me, the OHMSS watch gives me an understanding of nostalgia for the older generation. Combine that with what it means for future releases, no doubt makes the Seamaster Diver 300M “James Bond” the best 007 watch to wear outside of the movie watches.
But what does the Fratelli think? Cast your votes and add your comments below.