Omega has been producing watches with increased water resistance since the early 1930s. The first of these watches was the elegant, square-shaped Omega Marine, which could withstand depths of up to 135 meters (443 feet). The manufacturer started using the name “Seamaster” in 1948 for models that were highly water-resistant but also elegantly designed. These watches were intended first and foremost as dress watches, but were also robust and water-resistant enough to weather pretty much any everyday situation. The Seamaster models designed to serve as underwater tool watches were launched in 1957, and are still in production today under the name Seamaster 300.
Omega was following a trend at the time: Diving was becoming more and more popular, and the demand for professional diving watches was rising accordingly. The Seamaster 300 was Omega’s answer to theand the . These three watches are still considered the archetype of sporty tool watches for the deep sea.
Early Seamaster 300s were only tested for water resistance up to 200 meters (656 feet), putting them on the same level as the Fifty Fathoms and the Submariner. This 200 meter water resistance was all the more impressive given that Omega couldn’t use screw-down crowns at the time, as Rolex had invented and patented the feature. As for the name, story has it that Omega chose the number 300 as many thought it had a nice ring to it.
The first generation of the Seamaster 300 with thewas produced until around 1961, including various sub-references and small aesthetic and technical changes. All the variants of this reference have a 39-mm stainless steel case with straight lugs. Its style is defined by a black dial with triangle indices and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. Depending on when the watch was made, Omega outfitted the CK2913 with a broad arrow hour hand or a dauphine hour hand with a small arrow minute hand. The second hand was originally simple, straight, and without any luminous material, but was later replaced with a luminous lollipop hand. The first models also had a 50-to-10 count-down bezel, which was then replaced by a 10-to-50 count-up version.
The Omega in-house movement 500 or 501 ticks inside these first Seamaster models. Both calibers have a power reserve of 46 hours and a balance frequency of 19,800 vibrations per hour.
The first generation was followed by the Seamaster 300 ref. CK14755, which Omega produced until around 1964. This reference has the same 39-mm case and the aesthetic as its predecessor. While early variants of the reference still use the lollipop second hand we know from the CK2913, you’ll notice that later versions mostly have a lance second hand with a luminous tip. The biggest difference from previous models, though, is what’s inside the watch.
The caliber 550 or 552 powers the CK14755. Which of the two is used depends on the market the watch was produced for. If the watch was intended for the European market, it was made with a caliber 552 with 19 jewels. If it was intended for the US, the caliber 550 with just 17 jewels was used. That was probably because watches with more than 17 jewels were taxed higher in the US, which would have led to a higher retail price for the watch.
To sum up, the main design elements that these two first generations have in common are a narrow rotating bezel, triangular indices combined with Arabic numbers, and broad or small arrow hands.
Reference 165.014 – The Transformation of the Seamaster 300
In 1963, the third generation of the Seamaster 300 with the reference 165.014 was launched. This is an especially interesting generation on account of its “transition” models. The dials and hands on these transition watches have characteristics of the first and second generation as well as of the fourth edition (ref. 165.024), which was brought to market the following year. Note, though, that the latter has a larger 42-mm case with curved lugs and a much wider bezel.
While the first watches under the reference 165.014 are nearly identical to the CK14755 both aesthetically and technically, later variants feature a few changes. First, the arrow hands were replaced by baton hands, and the dial with its triangular indices was mostly left untouched. That said, Omega did make some extensive alterations to the dial later on, such as replacing the trademark triangle indices with wider, rectangular ones. The Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, however, stayed the same. A modern version of this design serves as the basis for the Seamaster models in the Planet Ocean collection today.
Like the Original – Seamaster 300 in the 1957 Trilogy Edition
In 2017, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Seamaster 300, Omega released a remake of the reference CK2913 with a broad arrow hour hand and a straight, non-luminous second hand. The Seamaster 300 in the 1957 Trilogy Edition (ref. 184.108.40.206.01.001) has largely the same design and size as the original. Technically, however, this watch is a modern, state-of-the-art diving watch. For starters, the remake is actually water-resistant up to 300 meters (984 feet), and instead of the plexiglass used in the 1950s and 60s, Omega uses anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
The biggest change and technical quantum leap comes in the movement of this watch. The Co-Axial caliber 8806 with a 55-hour power reserve ticks inside it. The movement is METAS and chronometer certified and thus resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. The caliber is also rhodium plated and has Geneva stripes on the rotor and bridges.
Seamaster 300: Vintage or New?
From its first to last reference, the Omega Seamaster 300 is a technically sophisticated and aesthetically appealing watch. It has left its mark on generations of diving watch fans and has developed from a tool watch for professionals to a high-end fashion accessory for stylish men and desk divers, much like the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. There are also a number of Seamaster 300s available in precious metals, but only the 2017 Trilogy Edition, limited to just 3,557 pieces, brings together the charm of the originals with modern technology. For purists, there’s just one question: Will you choose an original vintage model or a remake for your timeless collection?