The History and Development of the Omega SeamasterBack to Articles
Of all the many quality watches made by the high-end watchmaker Omega, the best known is the ‘Seamaster’ series. Seamasters are the longest running watch model made by Omega, having been in production since 1948, and have been made in manual winding, automatic and quartz (battery) versions. The name Seamaster stems from the fact that the watch design was based on watches made by Omega for the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
One of the original key features of the first Seamasters was a rubber O-ring gasket used between the case and the case-back to provide a waterproof seal. Originally designed for use in submarines, it also proved to be far more resistant to temperature and pressure changes than previous methods, which were using lead or shellac gaskets.
Seamaster models and designs vary greatly. Some models are along the lines of slim, elegant dress watches, (particularly earlier models). In the main, most Seamasters are sturdy, tough sports watches, designed to withstand knocks, bangs and significant water pressure.
In excess of twenty-five different Seamaster ranges have been made. These include the Seamaster 200m, the Seamaster Automatic Compressor, Ref.166.042, the Seamaster Ploprof 1200 (and its 120m, 600m and 1000m variants), the DeVille Automatic, the Aqua Terra (and its variants), the Railmasters, the Seamaster Omegamatic, the APNEA, the Planet Ocean (and its variants), the Seamaster 300m and the Bullhead.
One of the most significant aspects in the history of the Seamaster has been its connection with fictional super spy James Bond when Pierce Brosnan worn a Omega Seamaster Diver 300 in the film Goldeneye. Since then there have been many other Omega watches worn by the secret agent.
The Co-Axial movement
One of the main attractions of the Omega Seamaster is it’s ‘co-axial’ movement. This revolutionary watch movement was created by British watchmaker George Daniels in 1970. Prior to this, watch movements had used a sliding lever on the escapement, to regulate the release of power from the mainspring. This was effective but needed considerable lubrication to minimise wear and tear to the metal parts. George Daniels’ new movement used a ‘push’ system rather than sliding parts, thus avoiding major wear. Nicholas Hayek at Omega saw this new movement as being perfect for the innovative progressive company that Omega sought to be. Omega took on the co-axial movement in 1999, with the first Omega co-axial movement being the calibre 2500.
Following on from the revolutionary co-axial movement, the next Omega innovation was in the field of anti-magnetism. Accoridng to industry studies, the majority of watches over 4 years old that lose time are suffering the effects of magnetism on the movement. To combat this, many attempts have been made to avoid magnetism, such as iron cases around movements, plastic parts, non-magnetic metals, parachrome hairsprings (Rolex) and silicone hairsprings (Omega). The worlds first watch able to resist magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss was the Omega Aqua Terra Gauss. In 2018, (which was the 70th anniversary of the Seamaster, and the 25th anniversary of the Seamaster Diver 300 M), Omega released a new version of the Diver 300 M (also known as Seamaster Professional). It features a Zirconium dioxide bezel as well as a Zirconium dioxide watch face with laser engraved waves, paying tribute to the very first Seamaster Professional models. The watch is continued to be loved by collectors and enthusiasts as a modern classic.
Author S Chadd
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