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The Omega Seamaster 300

Before I even get into this, I have to make something clear…

I am not an outright watchmaking expert. I don’t know much of anything about movements, mechanics, jewels, etc etc, BUT I do LOVE watches and I admire the craftsmanship that goes into these beauties.

On a recent business trip I noticed a colleague wearing a very smart watch. I was absolutely fascinated with this piece of engineering but I could not make out the brand. I did not want to make him uncomfortable by asking or stare at the watch for too long and in the end it remained a mystery to me. It took two more business trips and a ride in his car for me to read the brand… “Patek Philippe Genieve”. I could barely wait to be alone so that I could google the brand, and to my surprise (well somewhat) I came to realise that this piece of art is in fact worth as much as the average 2 bedroom flat in Joburg. WOW!

The story in the previous paragraph got me thinking… I never knew the brand of that particular watch, but somehow just by looking at it I knew it was something special. It had a romantic quality about it that was very intoxicating. Some watch makers get this ABSOLUTELY right and it is an absolute fact that your watch and shoes says much about you as a man, whether unintentional or through careful consideration.

I decided to chat to a mate who owns an Omega, and this is a record of his experience:

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Omega is building several versions of the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial – stainless steel, titanium with a blue dial and bezel, one in two-tone titanium and Sedna gold and a solid Sedna gold. His is the classic stainless steel, the way God and Cousteau intended dive watches to be. Though it wears a bit heavy on the solid link bracelet, Omega is also planning to sell its own NATO straps, which undoubtedly will be high quality and high priced. He wore his tester on a NATO for a while and it looked fantastic, more clearance diver than desk diver.

How does the watch perform in real world conditions? Diving in deep water that hovered just above freezing, it maintained chronometer-spec time over four days and eight dives on the most recent trip. The bezel is grippy and its action excellent, even when turned with 5-millimeter neoprene gloved hands. Legibility was fine though the user could see why Omega switched to sword hands in 1964 – the narrow minute hand doesn’t hold nearly as much lume paint and can be a bit of an eye chart. Overall, it is a well made watch that, despite its 60-year old design, is still a fine bottom timer.

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It ticks the same boxes as Jaeger-LeCoultre’s vintage tributes and Tudor’s Black Bay but goes a step further with the anti-magnetic movement. At around R70 000 it isn’t a cheap watch but comes in less than its old rival, the Submariner, while offering comparable quality. Whether the watch resonates with the general public remains to be seen – retro designs are more appreciated by the sliver of watch geeks who know history than by the masses, who will probably still be drawn to the Planet Ocean. But Omega is one brand that respects its own history and likes to leverage it to good effect. And the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial is the latest evidence of that, according to it’s owner.

With the above said, I think it’s a damn fine looking watch and certainly a piece of jewelry that any man can slap onto his arm, sending just the right message between functionality and aesthetic value. 1