Now, I have to mention James Bond… because ever since he has been with Omega, more or less this particular watch has been a favorite. Starting in 1995 with the movie GoldenEye, models very close to the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial seen here have found their way on to the wrists both of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s renditions of the fictitious gentleman super-spy and apparent style icon. For me, it seems on the sportier and more ’90s-avant-garde side of a perfectly versatile dive watch, largely thanks to the scalloped bezel, skeletonized hands, and five-link bracelet that largely give it its distinctiveness – but 007 is style you can’t really argue with, I suppose.
Another thing one should want from Omega is the technology the brand is known for. Omega’s 2500 automatic movement in the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial watch is based on the ETA (fellow Swatch Group company) 2892-A2. Regarded as a 20th century milestone in horology, the Co-Axial escapement uses two escape wheels and more jewels to reduce friction and thereby wear. In 1993, Omega purchased the Co-Axial patent from its legendary inventor George Daniels, and working with Daniels, it then took six years of development and testing to modify the base movement to accommodate the Co-Axial’s larger escapement. While not quite as premium as Omega’s current in-house movements with the “Master Chronometer” designation, watchnerds should appreciate this COSC chronometer-certified movement.
Also not as pretty as Omega’s newer in-house movements, you won’t be seeing the caliber 2500 anyway, as it’s covered up by a solid caseback, deeply etched with the Omega Seamaster seahorse motif. The Omega 2500’s frequency is actually slowed from the ETA 2892’s 4Hz to 3.5Hz (25,200bph) with a power reserve of about two days. Despite that lower frequency, remember that it is still meeting chronometer standards of -4 to +6 seconds per day, and in general, you probably won’t notice the seconds hand’s sweep as any less smooth.
For more money you can get, for example, larger case sizes, deeper depth ratings, more complications, fancier movements, as well as other features and options from Omega. But the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial watch not only offers many qualities that Omega is known for, but is itself highly recognizable. If you say “Seamaster,” many people will likely picture something very much like this.
In our Cost of Entry series, we like to consider not only how the particular entry-level piece fits within the brand, but also then the wider world of timepieces. So we do that by suggesting some alternatives that people may also be attracted to if they are attracted to the piece in question. For the Aqua Terra’s $2,750 price tag, Grand Seiko makes some pieces in a similar visual style and with a quartz movement that is actually arguably interesting. Of course, the mechanical and Spring Drive-powered Grand Seiko watches could be considered as more pricey alternatives as well.
The three-hand TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 is about the same price as the quartz Omega, and represents a similar style from a historic Swiss brand, but is an automatic. The Japanese mechanical Orient Star Standard Date I reviewed here also reminded me a lot of the Aqua Terra in terms of its proportions, design, and wrist presence, and is a much more affordable option at US$880 (of course, with a notable difference in build quality). Most of these options, however, lack the Aqua Terra’s hint of aggressiveness, sportiness, and actual water resistance.
It always turns into a somewhat abstract exercise to ask what comparable alternatives might be to a particular watch. That is because watches have so many facets to consider that people can see the same watch in different ways and appreciate different things about it. An alternative in terms of style? Price? And for something like the Seamaster 300M Co-Axial… well, there are a lot of dive watches out there. With that noted, here are some suggestions that share some of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial’s attractive qualities. For reference, and to help in comparing it to its alternatives, we’ll note here that the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial retails for $4,400.
First, I find it notable that Omega’s entry-level mechanical watch is within $100 of Panerai’s entry-level piece that we linked to above. To me, that puts the brands very much side by side in some sense. Panerai’s “Base Logo” watch comes with 300 meters of water resistance, a high quality construction, a hand-wound ETA 6497 movement, and the cool character and history that is Panerai for US$4,500. While the Omega seems like a bit better value with a more interesting set of features and technology, choosing between the two would likely come down to an emotional decision anyway – that is what Panerai is banking on, at least.
A more expensive option that does not so much visually resemble the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial is the IWC Aquatimer. This occurred to me as in the same company because it is a similarly robust, 300M dive watch with a historic and respected name on its dial, available at a similar size at 42mm, an uncompromisingly modern design, and an ETA movement for US$6,750 on steel bracelet ($5,750 on a rubber strap) – but that bold pricing makes the Aquatimer’s comparable bracelet version over 50% more expensive than the Seamaster 300M.
For less money, the latest TAG Heuer Aquaracers also come in similar colors and sizes (41mm), 300M water resistance, ceramic bezel, and a sporty, modern design originating in the same era as the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. They contain off-the-shelf ETA movements and are US$2,550 on a steel bracelet (US$2,400 on the nylon straps). It sure is interesting to see how there is a $2,000 delta here, both above and below the $4k price of the Seamaster, even if none is able to represent a perfect analog.
The Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 gives you a similar set of specs, modern vibe (note the skeletonized hands), and a lot of value for considerably less money at US$995 on a steel bracelet (or $20 less on a strap). Its Powermatic 80 is an ETA CO7.111 movement, which in turn is an ETA 2824, we believe, modified to offer 80 hours of power reserve with a 3Hz frequency.
Finally, there is, of course, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual (hands-on article here, and you can find the link to the Cost of Entry article above) that is Rolex’s entry-level piece at $5,700 for the 39mm version. With a different style and features, the Rolex’s $1,300 premium over the Seamaster 300M’s asking price is more than considerable, but as was the case when comparing the Panerai PAM000 Base Logo, this may very well be an emotional choice between the two.
It could be argued that a brand is only as good as its most basic offering. While this Cost of Entry series may also be useful for aspirational consumers primarily interested in the prestige of a name, I feel that a lot of insight about a watch brand can be gained by scrutinizing its most basic or affordable product. This exercise very concretely establishes a numeric baseline for the brand’s price range and exactly what you get for that price – and the way I see it, that sets a context for the entire brand. Any brand’s entry-level piece should at least reflect the brand’s values and quality standards, if not also its representative design DNA. In Omega’s case, their entry-level offerings score very high in all those respects.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial is the most affordable mechanical Omega watch, available at 41mm in black (126.96.36.199.01.003) or blue (188.8.131.52.03.001) and 36.25mm in black (184.108.40.206.01.002) or blue (220.127.116.11.03.001), each for a price of $4,400.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M quartz watches are the most affordable Omega men’s watches overall. In grey (18.104.22.168.06.001) and white (22.214.171.124.02.001), each has a price of $2,750. omegawatches.com