The watch: The old-is-new-again Omega Seamaster 300
The single best thing about this watch: It is a wrist-mounted time machine.
The backstory: After already putting its best foot forward earlier this year with a revamped Moonwatch, Omega announced a broader collection of new releases Tuesday morning. The new range includes a black-on-black diver and some very fun and astronaut-friendly Velcro straps for the Speedmaster, but the headliners are a trio of Seamasters that wrap their arms around the past in a loving embrace.
The Seamaster has a lot of history to play with: Omega’s first diver watch initially surfaced in 1957, and has been in production ever since. Today, the Seamaster 300 line serves as a tribute to the past while the Diver 300M is the Omega you wear for actual scuba-ing. So while the Seamaster 300 was already vintage-inspired, these new models—including one in Omega’s newly developed bronze—are somehow even vintager. For Omega, the whole game is finding the delicate balance between making a carbon copy from the past and adding something new. “[We can’t go] only backward,” Omega’s CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann, said in an interview Tuesday. “Let’s go back to the future and see how we can continue this legacy.”
Accordingly, the design team stuck their hands into the lunch pail for some of the dial’s more appetizing elements:
- Did someone say hoagies? Look closely at the dial, and you’ll see the recessed hour markers and numerals. The effect is achieved with what is known as a “sandwich dial” technique: A base layer is painted, in this case with a glow-in-the-dark luminova, and then a layer with cutouts for the numerals and markers is pressed on top. This trick is most commonly associated with the dive-watch brand Panerai, but why not spread the handsomeness around? Omega also reached back to its own past with the “6” and “9” numerals: They are “open,” meaning they never fully close the loop. Seamasters from the early ’60s had numerals in the same style. It’s a big deal for watch nerds. You can just call them open-faced sandwiches.
- That’s sweet. The other throwback element is the seconds hand with a dot at the end. Watch collectors will recognize this look as a “lollipop”-style hand; it is similarly borrowed from late-’50s Seamaster.
This watch matters in the world of watches because: Bronze continues to ascend like it’s being beamed onto an alien spacecraft. Omega’s foray into bronze is of a piece with the watch industry’s current obsession with the material. Tudor recently brought its bronze Black Bay to the U.S., Oris put out its flagship Big Crown in the material, and Montblanc, Longines, and Rado have all gotten in on the trend in the past several months too. Omega’s proprietary bronze is developed to resist oxidation, which turns the bronze a bluish-green color known as verdigris over time. (If you’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, you’ve seen this in action.) So not only is Omega hopping on the bronze train, it’s bringing some much-needed advancements to the material as well.
Things that were better in the ’60s: Pants, watch dials, the status of the Beatles. That’s literally it.