How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves

As the world famous divers’ watch reaches its 70th anniversary we take a look back at what has made it a favourite for generations

One of the first watches that ever fascinated me was an Omega Seamaster. It belonged to my father, and I used to spend hours on long car trips playing with the watch’s unidirectional rotating bezel. But the Seamaster can have that effect — and holds an emotional significance for many.

How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves
The 2018 Omega Seamaster Diver 300 in its natural habitat

When you start to dive a little deeper into the history of this iconic Omega, it becomes clear why such a hardy piece of kit so commonly transcends from its practical roots.

Origins of the Seamaster

Born out of necessity, the first Seamaster was launched in 1948 based on designs of a watch Omega made for airmen in the Second World War. This inaugural edition came in two variations: centre seconds, and small-seconds at the bottom of the dial. It was crafted from stainless steel, designed with short, sturdy lugs and given a slim profile to encourage its use as an everyday watch.

How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves
The original Omega Seamaster from 1948

But this original iteration didn’t look much like the modern, recognisable version on sale today. In fact, it looked nothing like a diver’s watch. That development came nine years later — when the Seamaster 300 was released.

The first professional diver’s watch to surface from the watch house, this milestone included that child-confusing unidirectional rotating bezel, a black dial with luminous markers and a track record of rigorous water testing. This was the start of the Seamaster we know today — a watch that we’ve taken to the deepest depths possible.

The Bond watch

It may have been a lengthy 24 years since Pierce Brosnan first strapped on his Walther PPK, but the actor’s incarnation of Bond also eschewed the role’s signature Rolex Submariner to strap on an Omega Seamaster.

How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves
The fist Omega Seamaser 300 that would later become known simply as 'the Bond watch'

Brosnan, and Daniel Craig after him, gave Bond a new favourite timepiece — and have prompted fans across the world to head to boutiques in their droves and ask specifically for ‘the James Bond watch’. It’s been a quarter of a century since one icon picked up another, and both have been significantly strengthened — and punctual — thanks to the association.

Where the land meets the sea

And then, in 2005, came the next step in the Seamaster story. The release of the Aqua Terra saw new life breathed into this underwater staple, and opened it up to a whole new demographic of customers.

Today, despite its name, the Seamaster is no longer just worn by divers. The Aqua Terra marked a technical breakthrough with its co-axial movement — created to resist over 15,000 gauss of magnetic force along with unparalleled accuracy. At its ticking heart, the watch was to remain a tool to be used in the most extreme of conditions, but the ridged dial was still unique enough to elevate this above a simple timepiece, and allow us to assign it a higher significance.

The men who wore a Seamaster

And we’re not the only people to think so. This watch, at once aspirational and attainable, has been worn by some of the world’s most impressive men. Joe Biden, the ex-Vice President of the United States, wore a Seamaster. Michael Phelps, the Olympic-winning swimmer, also took advantage of the water resistance during his day job.

How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves
Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

But perhaps the most touching story, and proof that the Seamaster is not just a practical tool, comes from our own shores. Prince William’s last gift from his mother, Princess Diana, was a Seamaster — and not a day goes by when he doesn’t wear the watch.

It’s a connection we can all relate to, and there seems to be no better heirloom than this particular Omega watch. So, whether you need a functional piece of kit to head into rough seas, or a way back to the front seat of the Volvo where you first fell in love with watches, there’s nothing so suitable as a Seamaster.

How the Omega Seamaster became the watch that rules the waves

Omega Seamaster

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