June 13, 2016
by Ariel Adams
Lovers of dive and ceramic watches will rejoice today as Omega debuts the new Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black models as the references 188.8.131.52.01.001 (black mostly monochromatic), 184.108.40.206.01.002 (blue accents), 220.127.116.11.01.003 (red accents), and the 18.104.22.168.01.001 in gold and ceramic. This is a valuable extension to the already updated for 2016 Seamaster Planet Ocean watch family with a few interesting twists. Of course, the most important is that the “Deep Black” is the Planet Ocean’s take on the Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon (review here) that very successfully translated the appeal of the Speedmaster’s polished steel case into a polished black ceramic piece.
I have a feeling that Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black watch models will continue in the future with additional models, but at launch the first models offer a unique combination of elements making for a compelling model aside from the new black ceramic case. It is, however, also worth noting that this is the first 600-meter water-resistant dive watch in ceramic that I know of. I don’t know enough about how ceramic handles high pressure, but it is possible that some clever engineering was required to make the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black model possible.
Omega designed the Planet Ocean Deep Black to have a black ceramic case, bezel, as well as dial. The case is one piece of ceramic, and the finishing depends on the model. This isn’t easy to see in the stock pictures, but the 18k Sedna gold and black ceramic models have polished cases, while models like the blue or red accented Deep Black watches have matte-finished cases and dials.
Omega further employs their Liquidmetal or Ceragold (same as Liquidmetal but uses gold) technology on the bezels and crowns to apply the markers and Omega logo. The benefit of this technology is best explained in terms of wear resistance. Rather than print on top of the ceramic material, Liquidmetal used melted metal to fill in channels to create the markers – which will not scratch away. This is a good thing for people who like their watches to look better, longer. When it comes to colors such as red or blue (on those models), Omega uses injected vulcanized rubber as they did on other 2016 Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean models that were debuted at Baselworld.
Omega has been getting extremely serious about refining and improving their existing watches recently, so what models like the new Planet Ocean watches lack in sheer novelty, they make up for in small, notable details and overall improvements. A good example is “Naiad Lock,” which is a new system created by Omega to ensure that their ceramic casebacks screw onto the case so that the text is perfectly level with the watch. It is a small detail for sure, but will resonate well with a lot of customers looking for efforts to find perfection in luxury watches. Note that, in addition to being a deep-diving ceramic watch, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Deep Black also features a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback – which is not common to find on dive watches at all.
An exhibition caseback is a good thing because we get to see a very admirable movement used in the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Deep Black watches. Inside is the in-house made Omega caliber 8906 “Master Chronometer” movement. This automatic Co-Axial movement operates at 3.5Hz (25,200bph) with a power reserve of about 60 hours. This is one of the newer METAS certified movements which also means that it is more or less “fully anti-magnetic.”
This is accomplished by use of non-metallic parts in the movement. The caliber 8906 also features a Silicon balance spring and offers the time, date, and second time zone via a 24-hour GMT hand. This alone makes it an upgrade over the existing Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT (aBlogtoWatch review here). All METAS movements are certified in-house by Omega, but also offer COSC Chronometer certification (even though COSC is at this point inferior to Omega’s METAS certification – as it also is to Rolex’s “Superlative Chronometer” certification).
Omega decided to combine the largest Seamaster Planet Ocean case size with a GMT complication – which hasn’t been done until now. The Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT originally debuted a new case size in the Planet Ocean collection that was about 43mm wide. It is still my favorite size for the Planet Ocean. For the Deep Ocean (which for some reason doesn’t yet have GMT in the name as of now), Omega uses a 45.5mm wide (17.18mm thick) Planet Ocean case, which is interesting. Of course, given that it is a Planet Ocean, the watch continues to have a helium release valve at 10 o’clock (mostly for style these days).
You’ll also note some dial differences which are important to talk about. The 43mm-wide Planet Ocean GMT has 24-hour marked rotating bezel, while the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Deep Black has a traditional 60-minute diver’s bezel. Omega designed a 24-hour scale into the dial itself – making it a nice hybrid solution for many users. The black ceramic dials are given a new style of Arabic numerals for 2016, and the hands are either 18k white or 18k Sedna gold (with SuperLumiNova luminant material).
Omega doesn’t have any shortage of products to sell, but these new Deep Black versions of the Planet Ocean are really nice despite the Omega product catalog being a bit robust. The 2016 Seamaster Planet Ocean watches are easily the best the brand has produced so far, and the combination of aesthetic enhancements with the METAS movements make for a very desirable product. Expect a lot of older Planet Ocean watches to be on the market as fans make room for some of the new ones, be they Deep Black or steel models.
I also like that Omega is very straightforward about the appeal of their 18k Sedna (rose) gold models which combine the attractive look of gold and black ceramic. Even though they understand these are “real” dive watches, Omega says the “gold model is a lifestyle piece for people who enjoy time on deck.” They join this statement by discussing the overall “in-water” performance of the entire Planet Ocean collection – which is remarkably good when needed for actual diving purposes.
Of course, what many people want to see in the future are black ceramic bracelets from Omega. Will those ever come? Maybe – it all depends on how strong they can design them. For now, the Planet Ocean Deep Black watches come on incredibly comfortable rubber straps, designed to have the textured look of fabric. The new strap looks fantastic, and the deployant buckle actually uses some ceramic parts (such as the buttons and the cover that would touch a table). The rest of the clasp is in black-colored “ceramitized” titanium. The good news here is that even the strap will enjoy more wear resistance thanks to the mostly ceramic exposed hardware.
For me, at least, the black ceramic Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black GMT watches are both technically exciting and visually beautiful. They aren’t cheap, however, and even though Omega is offering a lot these days, consumers will need to pay for the privilege of the brand’s newest and most advanced watches (though they do come with a four-year warranty) The three models of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT Deep Black in all ceramic (references 22.214.171.124.01.001, 126.96.36.199.01.002, 188.8.131.52.01.003) will be priced at 10,400 Swiss francs, while the Deep Black reference 184.108.40.206.01.001 in 18k Sedna gold and ceramic will be priced at 13,400 Swiss francs. Look for availability to begin ideally by the end of Summer 2016. omegawatches.com