A Brief History: The Omega Seamaster 300
The Seamaster name has been a constant presence in the Omega catalog since it first appeared in 1948 to celebrate Omega’s 100th anniversary. However, it was not until 1957 that the Seamaster name actually applied to a watch intended for underwater use. Prior to 1957, Omega’s collection of Seamaster timepieces consisted solely of small dress watches that used rubber gaskets to achieve moderate water resistance.
With Blancpain’s release of the Fifty Fathoms, arguably the world’s first purpose-built, diving watch in 1953, and Rolex’s release of the Submariner that following year, the need for a wristwatch that could withstand prolonged, underwater use became apparent. Omega, who had historically held a strong reputation for producing water-resistant timepieces, found itself slightly behind in this newfound, wristwatch category, leading them to develop an entirely new line of watches, one specifically intended for professional aquatic use.
In 1957, Omega released a trio of sports watches: the Speedmaster, the Railmaster, and the Seamaster 300. The (now-legendary) Speedmaster was a chronograph intended for racecar drivers, the Railmaster was an anti-magnetic watch for scientists, and the Seamaster 300 (ref. CK2913) was to be Omega’s debut offering in the still-emerging category of wristwatches for SCUBA divers.
Although it had the name “Seamaster 300” printed on its dial, the original Seamaster 300 actually only had an official depth rating of 200 meters – which Omega claimed, was due to limitations of their testing equipment. Aesthetically, the original Seamaster 300 fit in perfectly with Omega’s trio of sports watches, and remained in production for seven years until it was replaced by a new generation of Seamaster 300 watches.
In 1964, Omega unveiled an entirely new design for the Seamaster 300 under the reference numbers 165.024 (no-date) and 166.024 (date-displaying). The case diameter of the Seamaster 300 increased from 39mm to 42mm, and its signature thin bezel was replaced by a much thicker one with a wider insert, that featured individual minute markings the entire way around it. Additionally, the arrow-shaped hands of the original were gone, and instead, a set of large, sword-shaped hands had taken their place.
The second generation of the Omega Seamaster 300 found greater success than the first, and for several years, it had the honor of being the watch that was issued to members of the British Royal Navy. Production of the second generation Seamaster 300 lasted until about 1970, when Omega decided to stop using the “Seamaster 300” name entirely, and instead manufacture an assortment of other dive watches that would be released within the Seamaster collection.
From here, the “Seamaster 300” name would sit dormant for more than forty years, while Omega released various references within the “Seamaster Professional” category of dive watches. Numerous references were produced during this period; the most famous being the classic Seamaster Professional 300M with the blue “wave dial” that appeared throughout the James Bond movies of the late 1990s.
In 2014, Omega revived the “Seamaster 300” name with the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial, which had an appearance that was heavily inspired by the original Seamaster 300 from 1957. Rather than simply re-creating the classic CK2913, Omega updated the original 1957 design, by making it 41mm in diameter, and replacing its thin and fragile, acrylic bezel insert with a slightly thicker one made from Omega’s proprietary, Liquidmetal alloy, permanently fused with an ultra-tough, ceramic compound.
Although the new Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial bears a strong visual resemblance to the original model from 1957, it has been updated in every possible way to make it an undeniably modern and highly competent, mechanical dive watch. The crystal is made from sapphire, luminescence is provided by SuperLuminoa, and inside resides Omega’s entirely in-house, anti-magnetic, COSC certified, caliber 8400 movement – which can be viewed through a large, exhibition case-back.
The original Seamaster 300 from 1957 was intended to be Omega’s response to Rolex’s Submariner; and for over half a century, the Seamaster and the Submariner have competed alongside one another within the luxury dive watch category. Although the “300” was dropped from the Seamaster name for over four decades, its reappearance with the release of the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial represents the continuation of Omega’s very first, dive watch: the Seamaster 300.
Be sure to check over to our Timepieces Collection to view our current collection of Omega Seamaster timepieces as well as other great vintage timepieces here at Craft & Tailored