Along with the Speedmaster, the Seamaster is easily one of Omega’s most distinctive watches. Since the 1990s, the watch has been seen on the wrist of the original international man of mystery, James Bond. While purists in the vintage watch community might bemoan its association with 007, the recent reissue of the Seamaster 300 (seen in the 24th James Bond film, Spectre) has renewed interest in the early models.
Omega released the first Seamaster in 1948, to commemorate the brand's centennial. The Seamaster took its inspiration from the robust field watches that Omega and many other brands issued to servicemen in World War II and beyond. But the Seamaster departed from its military forebears in the use of a technology that would prove innovative in the history of horology.
Omega was no stranger to producing waterproof wristwatches. In 1932 the brand released the Omega Marine, which was worn by the father of the Aqua-Lung, Yves le Prieur, and descended to a depth of 14 meters with underwater explorer William Beebe in 1936. But these watches achieved water-resistance merely through well-sealed cases, and what gaskets they used were made of materials such as lead and shellac that did not resist changes in temperature.
In the design of the Seamaster, Omega employed rubber gaskets or O-rings similar to those found in submarines used during the War. To ensure maximum water resistance, Omega submitted the Seamaster to rigorous testing at the Laboratory for Water Resistance in Geneva. There the cases were exposed to rapid changes of temperature at a simulated depth of 60 meters.
As underwater breathing technologies such as SCUBA became more widespread, allowing the public to dive recreationally, watch companies recognized the need for specialized diving watches. Brands such as Blancpain and Rolex released their own dedicated dive watches, the Fifty Fathomsand the Submariner. Omega answered the challenge with the release of the Omega Seamaster 300 (Reference 2913) in 1957 (the same year that Omega released the Speedmaster). In 1960 Omega redesigned the Seamaster 300 with features that would come to distinguish it: sharp sword-shaped hands and a rotating Bakelite bezel. The Seamaster 300 inaugurated the line of "Professional"--that is, profession-specific--watches like the Railmaster and the Speedmaster.
Omega followed the Seamaster 300 with watches with even greater depth ratings, many of which--like the Omega Seamaster PloProf (Plongeur Professionel)--would go on to become legendary.
However, the 300 with its handsome good looks remains a classic well deserving of praise.
This particular example is a no-date variant 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. No-date Big Ts have some documented history of military issue, making them particularly desirable.
Finding an untouched original SM300 (nonetheless a Big T model) today is becoming a truly difficult endeavor. This example (which Includes an Extracts Of The Archives from Omega) features an honest case with normal wear, with the aging and patination of the bezel insert, dial, and hands speaking of thousands of hours in sun and sea. Paired up with a Bond-color NATO or dressed-up with a leather strap, this versatile diver is a joy to wear, as stylish as it is sturdy.
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