Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020. This week, we're working with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie as Media Partner of Watches and Wonders Geneva. Visit Watches and Wonders' website for news and video panels daily, and keep checking back here for all the updates you need to know about.
As far as cred goes in the tool watch world, Omega knows it has more than earned its share. The iconic Speedmaster’s hold on the psyche of watch collectors is assured. Hell, it even has a day of the week—Speedy Tuesday—named after it. But the Speedmaster doesn't stand alone; it was launched as part of a trilogy alongside two other masters, the Railmaster and the Seamaster way back in 1957, representing Omega’s first deep foray into tool watches. Each had their own specific schtick.
The Speedmaster was a manual-wind chronograph that later passed the rigorous accuracy and performance test to become NASA’s official moon watch. The lesser-known Railmaster was created to maintain timekeeping while withstanding high levels of magnetism of, say, a locomotive engine. The Seamaster, meanwhile, came with a depth rating of 300 meters. As Omega’s first professional diver,it was a technical feat back then that is still up there in regular mechanical dive watches.
This week, Omega launches new and striking additions to the 41mm Seamaster 300 range and frankly, we’re having a real hard time choosing which one we like more. They have a spare retro vibe, with sandy vintage markings, narrower bezels than they used to, and distinctive new sandwich dials. One is in stainless steel with a blue (on a steel bracelet) or black (on a calf leather strap) bezel and dial, while the other is a version of the same design rendered utterly different because the metal used to make it is a brand new alloy of bronze and gold developed in-house.
First, the steel version. The two plates of the sandwich construction—initially used on the Seamaster in the early 1960s—has blue SuperLuminova at night that’s a sandy color by day under a cutout dial with Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9. The blue or black finish is matched by the bezel which is made from an anodized aluminum ring. A dot on the bezel and the hour hand are picked out in green SuperLuminova at night.
The narrower bezel opens up the display, while a new domed crystal makes the watch slimmer on the wrist. To simplify the dial still further, it carries only the Omega logo and "Seamaster 300"; the reference to its Co-Axial Chronometer movement has been moved to the caseback. All in all, the various details work together to create a harmonious and simple design. Now what about that bronze gold?
Bronze has a long history in the oceans, used on ships and diving bells for its resistance to corrosion in salt water. It has also been an ongoing trend for the past decade in watchmaking as brands strove to find interesting and suitable metals for dive watches. But Omega’s new Seamaster is different. Bronze develops a pleasing patina in the air relatively quickly, but it tarnishes much faster against the skin when reacting with natural body oils. So, bronze watches have stainless steel casebacks to prevent the copper in the alloy turning your skin green with verdigris.
It is believed the ancient Greeks made alloys of copper and silver or copper and gold to create a refined alloy called Corinthian bronze, used in high-value objects like vases and sculptures. Omega’s new proprietary (and patent-pending) alloy has over 37 percent gold as well as palladium and silver, creating a soft pink hue somewhere between yellow gold and pink gold that also doesn’t create verdigris. To harmonize with the new metal, Omega added a chocolate ceramic bezel and pre-aged bronze—almost black—dial. We think the Greeks would have approved.
Seamaster 300 in steel $6,500 (blue on bracelet) and $6,150 (black on calf leather strap), by Omega; Seamaster 300 in bronze gold $11,200, available now, by Omega.
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