Article contributed by E.M. Maximilien:
Omega is known for being the brand with the first watch (Speedmaster) on the moon, however, the best selling Omega watch might be the Seamaster series; which includes the very watch worn by secret agent 007 since 1995 and more recently in the 2008"Quantum of Solace" James Bond movie.
In 2012, Omega is marking the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise. The result was the release of a limited edition James Bond Seamaster. However, the older version remains an excellent entry-level diver watch that is a great value and is almost perfect for its class.
With the worldwide success of the Seamaster, and especially the James Bond edition, Omega has steadily improved the base Seamaster 300M range, adding complications, different sizes, offering various color dials, and increasing water-resistant depth ratings. The one I review today is similar in style with the one that 007 wore in the 2006 "Casino Royale" movie; this one has the blue dial, is 300 meters water resistant, and includes a GMT second timezone complication. It's the reference 2535.80.00.
The first thing one notices is the beautiful blue dial. It has a wave pattern that hardly distracts from the well marked hours and the 24 hour GMT subdial markers. The red GMT hand moves around the dial in 24 hours with each hour marker advancing the second timezone by two hours.
The movement in this Seamaster GMT James Bond is the Omega caliber 2628 with 44 hours power reserve, it is a modified ETA-2892-A2 that includes the famed Omega co-axial escapement. Once you unscrew the well protected crown, the hours hand can be quickly changed accurately while the seconds, minutes, and GMT are still functioning. Pulling the crown once more stops the seconds hand and allows the minutes hand to move along with the GMT hand. There is a hacking seconds feature that allows the time to be set more precisely.
Unlike most other James Bond Seamaster watches, the Seamaster 300 M GMT Professional contains a display caseback showing the rhodium-plated decorated movement with the Omega logo and name inscribed on the automatic rotor.
The GMT Seamaster comes with a steel bracelet with alternating brushed and satin polished lugs. There are nine total links with four small polished ones. Once adjusted for length, using pushpins (not screws, as is now common), the bracelet is easily one of the most comfortable steel bracelets I own. I never experienced any pinching or arm hair getting stuck between the lugs. The bracelet size is not small but also not large enough to make this watch wear big. It feels just right given the ability to micro adjust.
The many links allow the bracelet to wrap around one's wrist with ease. Omega's deployment clasp is easy to use and provides a secure fit. The buckle is brushed steel with the Omega logo and name as well as the Seamaster stamp. One negative here is that the large buckle does have a tendency to scratch... A diver's extension is also present, allowing one to extend the bracelet to about 5 more millimeters so as to fit over a wet suit.
The 41 mm steel case includes a unidirectional diver bezel that, while not being the easiest to grasp, is easy to use and feels good, turning with a satisfying click for every one of the 60 markers. This type of unidirectional bezel allows a diver to set his or her start time (turning the bezel to line up with the minutes hand) and thus easily read off the total dive time by reading the minutes hand position off the bezel. The case is water resistant to 300 meters and includes a manual helium release valve. Omega could offer automatic valves, but they like the look of the extra crown at 10 o'clock.
While the bezel is blue colored (aluminum insert), matching the dial, with a nice dotted lume pip at the 12 o'clock position, the remaining minutes markers are not lumed and the bezel structure is made of steel, not ceramic as is now done in higher-end diver watches. I've not had any issues yet with the bezel, but in time the aluminum will likely scratch - though it can be repaired with a relatively low cost replacement.
The SuperLumiNova applications to skeletonized hours and minutes hands as well as the seconds hand is well done. The same lume is also applied around the dial on the hour dot markers and with a half bar near the date at 3 o'clock, one bar at 6 and at 9 o'clock, and two bars at 12 o'clock. With just a little exposure to light the Seamaster 300 M GMT's face will charge and be easy to read for a long time. I've seen it last over an hour, gradually dimming...
The red GMT hand and the 24 hours markers are not hard to read, however, one needs to remember that the GMT hand moves around the dial in 24 hours with 2 hours step markers (slightly noted on the inner dial). This can be confusing at first since when showing odd hours the GMT hand will be between two regular hour markers... However, once you get used to it then it works fine and since the hours hands can be changed to move by itself freely, the GMT can then be used to set the home time when traveling to different timezones.
The Omega Seamaster GMT James Bond just feels right at 140 grams, and it superbly molds and wraps around one's wrist. For the relatively fair price of $4,400, it is one of the best entry-level diver watches on the market. It is bound to provide years of great service and accurate time keeping whether you spend your time in or out of the water or live the jet setting lifestyle of agent 007.