Divers are the “it” watch of the century, it seems. Everyone from James Bond to your local librarian wears them, and there are so many styles, price points, and brands that it can be hard to know which is the best for you. I’m here to make it easy for you: If you don’t want to spend Rolex money on a Submariner or Sea-Dweller, but want a watch with as much pedigree and a feature set that’s every bit as robust, the Omega Seamaster is as good as it gets.
I spent a week testing the latest model, which is the Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42MM – or just the Seamaster 300M. With an MSRP that lands at $5,200 and second-hand prices coming in well below that, in most cases, the Omega should be at the top of any shopper’s list.
One of the best features here is heritage. Looking at the latest Seamaster, it’s easy to draw a direct line between it and the watches that bore the legendary name before it. The hands, hour markers, and even the wave dial all mirror the Seamaster models from the 1990s, while the case shape and the overall personality of the watch bring back memories of Omega models from much earlier than that.
None of that is to say that the newest Seamasters are boring or outdated. In fact, the exact opposite is true, especially for this week’s test model that shines with its unique silver wave dial. The contrast between silver, blue, white, and stainless steel makes this 42mm Omega one of the most visually interesting models in the Seamaster catalog. Modern touches such as the ceramic bezel and display caseback aren’t just there for great looks, either. The ceramic bezel resists fading and scratches, which means this is a Seamaster that’ll retain its usefulness for years to come and still look great after a long life of abuse. The display caseback not only lets the wearer view all of the work Omega put into making the 8800 movement, it makes the watch a bit lighter than a solid steel caseback.
While people flock to the Rolex Submariner for its reliability and rugged good looks, there’s no denying that Omega has the upper hand when it comes to the movement. The Omega Calibre 8800 is a self-winding movement with a co-axial escapement. It’s also resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss, and features a free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring. On top of all that, Omega puts the extra effort in to make sure the movements are decorated and beautiful underneath the sapphire caseback. Adding usability here, there’s a long 55-hour power reserve and a date complication to make the Seamaster a great everyday wear.
Where many divers can feel awkward or look out of place on a strap, the Omega Seamaster plays well with a variety of materials and designs. Omega itself offers a wide array of NATO straps to complement the Seamaster’s colors and design, but the 20mm spacing between the lugs means that there’s a world of other options that can be easily fitted to the Seamaster.
Even if you’re not a diver and don’t need the ability to plunge 1,000 feet beneath the waves, there’s something special about the Seamaster that makes it a wonderful everyday watch. Its slim case and understated dimensions make it just as easy to wear under a dress cuff as it is while lounging by the pool. And while you may not be out exploring the oceans, it’s nice to know that your timepiece can keep up with you and nearly anything you throw at it.