Blancpain has its Fifty Fathoms. Rolex has its Submariner. IWC has its Aquatimer. DOXA has its Sub 300T. No matter how many different variations on a theme each of these legendary companies make, a single model stands alone as their icon, and for Omega, its the Seamaster 300.
Also well known among dive watch collectors for creating some of the most heavy-duty professional models of the 60s and 70s, Omega's signature dive watch was neither their most technical, nor their most extreme. The Seamaster 300 was in many ways the answer to the Rolex Submariner; a quality waterproof sports watch capable of 300 meter depths with versatile good looks. Like, really, really good looks.
It's often been said that if James Bond wore an Omega in the early days, it would have been a SM300, and its pretty easy to understand why. With a perfectly proportioned 41mm steel case with twisted lugs, rotating outer bakelite timing bezel, waterproof crown, and a jet black dial with luminous markers and plongeur hands, the SM300 looks great in either date or non-date configuration on just about any strap or bracelet combination you can think of. Backing up those rugged good looks is the tried and true Calibre 565 automatic winding movement with quickset date mechanism, making the SM300 a robust and reliable companion under the cuff of your dinner jacket or strapped to the outside of your wetsuit.
So if this watch is so great, why are we all just hearing about it now? Well, therein lies a story. Here's the short version:
In the early 2000s, Omega divers were one of the first subsets of vintage to "take hold" in the collector community. Values on models such as the SM300, SHOM, and PloProf skyrocketed, and good ones became very hard to acquire. It became such a thing, in fact, that a major auction house held an Omega-only sale which yielded some unbelievable results. The name of that sale? Omegamania.
But then things went to shit. Noticing the incredible demand for vintage Omega sports watches, less-scrupulous sellers began assembling "new" models using genuine Omega parts. Passing them off as "New Old Stock", these modern-constructions flooded the market and wreaked havoc with the values of the genuine articles, ultimately resulting in a crash in the market value of the latter. It took some time for buyers to become savvy to the differences between "genuine vintage" and "genuine parts" watches, and in that time some great timepieces languished with diminished values and virtually no demand. These modern-construction pieces are still available (just look on eBay), but are no longer being passed off as truly vintage (for the most part). It has only been recently that the market has begun to rebound for great vintage examples, and they are coming back with a vengeance!
This is likely due in some part to the recent Seamaster 300 tribute models introduced by Omega last year, as well as the fact that Mr. Bond took one for a spin in his most recent outing. About time.
This particular timepiece, a Reference 166.024 date model, is particularly desirable for collectors due to a rare dial configuration. Known as "Big Triangle" or "Big T" dials, these watches feature a large triangular plot at 12:00, most commonly associated with military-issued models. While no-date Big Ts have some documented history of military issue, it is generally thought that date model versions such as this one may have initially been configured for officers.
Whatever the case, finding an untouched original SM300, (never mind a Big Triangle model!) today is becoming a truly difficult endeavor. This example features an honest original case with light wear, a gorgeously aged bakelite bezel insert, and a properly patinated dial and handset with original luminescent material. Paired up with a Bond-color NATO, we've got this beauty ready to go, but we suspect it won't last long...
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