In 2018, Swiss Omega released the fully updated Seamaster 300M diver’s watch collection (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). The upgraded Seamaster 300M aims to retain the core look of the popular Omega diver’s watch while bringing the technology and materials of the product into the 21st century. This is the first in a series of Seamaster 300M watches, including the “Master Chronometer” certified in-house Omega movement, which for me is an important part of keeping the “professional” nature of this sports watch intact. Omega has no shortage of Diver Seamaster 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42mm (the watch’s official name) versions, which include the standard all-steel black dial model, as well as the more exotic gold and ceramic models. At the time of writing this watch review, luxury omega watch offers 15 different versions of the Seamaster 300M coaxial master timepiece on its website.
I chose to use the 188.8.131.52.01.001 “steel on steel” model with black ceramic dial and bezel as a reference because I think it represents the original, core look of the Seamaster 300M to me. The Seamaster 300M was originally released in 1993 when Jean-Claude Biver was at Omega and it was trying to be a competitive replacement for the Rolex Submariner…which didn’t look like a Rolex Submariner. some 25 years later, I think many would agree that the unique hands and hour markers will continue to help the Seamaster 300M stand out. If judged together with the Rolex Submariner, the price of this watch is also fixed to one side. This particular Seamaster 300M steel retails for under $5,000, about $3,500 less than the Rolex Submariner. That said, the high-end dive watch segment is unusually competitive, with consumers spending more than $4,000 on sports dive watches today mostly seeking status and prestige, rather than practicality and style.
Omega’s popularity on the Seamaster 300M in the 1990s was largely unrelated to the very affordable price of the series. By today’s standards, the Seamaster 300M feels expensive, although replica omega watches does raise the value proposition in terms of materials and the excellent home-made 8800 automatic movement. Starting with the coaxial escapement, the 8800 calibre is also (almost) immune to ambient magnetic fields, has a reliable silicon hairspring, and bears the Omega’s impressive METAS seal of approval (which also includes COSC chronograph certification). The self-winding movement operates at 4Hz, has a power reserve of 55 hours, and includes time and date window complications. The result is a precise, reliable and very resilient mechanical movement – just what you want in a diver’s style timepiece.
The latest generation of the Seamaster 300M watch is a bit larger than the upcoming 42mm wide case and 41mm wide case. Water-resistant to 300 meters, the case is about 12 mm thick and the distance between the lugs is about 50 mm. It’s comfortable to wear, but it’s a bulky and clunky watch, especially when paired with a metal bracelet. Despite minor changes to the case, one of the most interesting changes is the gradual thinning of the top of the helium release valve located at 10 o’clock on the case. This subtle design adjustment is a quick way to visually separate the new generation Seamaster 300M models from the older Seamaster models.
Manual helium release valves on dive tables are an ancient technique and are only needed in rare cases. If you are not a professional diver, you may never need to use a helium release valve. The automatic helium release valve is more useful, but the valve itself is only useful in the decompression chamber. So why does Omega insist on keeping this residual element in high-end sports watches that are supposed to be of modern use? The visual difference is the answer. While not everyone is a fan of this 10 o’clock crown, it does help visually set the Omega Seamaster 300M apart from other dive watches. Thus, while it should be a legitimate “professional diver’s watch”, it is not without its “branding quirk”, which would distinguish it from a product purely focused on simplifying utility.
The overall beauty of the Seamaster 300M case – including the sturdy lugs and unique bezel design – continues to help the collection attract the style and nostalgic appeal of today’s high-end watch consumer. More important than luxury high configuration watch other dive watches, such as the later Seamaster Planet Ocean series, the Seamaster 300M also represents the brand’s entry-level tool watch. This is the brand’s true professional diver’s watch, with only the smallest elements of luxurious plushness to prove its high-end personality.