Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Review (2254.50.00)

There’s a story to be told of how I came to own an Omega Seamaster Professional 300M...

One day last March, I walked into the local watch shop where I help out once a week, Arlington Watch Works. I’d finagled my way in about a year before that, offering to help with online sales in exchange for some informal bench training. That day, I was going through the new pickups I’d need to shoot for the webstore and saw an Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Chronometer 2254.50.00.

I fit it over my hand and clasped the bracelet: A perfect fit. This was fate. Destiny. Kismet. I said as much to Dan Sabouni, the shop’s owner and watchmaker. He told me to try it out for a bit and if I liked it, it was mine at cost. After a one-week test drive, the deal was done.

The Seamaster is Omega’s longest running line. Originally released in 1948 to coincide with the brand’s centennial, the Seamaster was based loosely on the waterproof watches Omega produced for the British Royal Navy during World War II. Thanks to a new-to-Omega rubber gasket system, the Seamaster could reach depths of up to 60m. Even then, though, it was solely not directed at waterfaring adventurers and was put forth as a watch suitable for “town, sea, and country.”

Fast forward to 1957, when scuba diving was taking the world by storm and Omega released the Seamaster 300 (and the Speedmaster, which you may have heard of). Ironically only good to a depth of 200m, the Seamaster 300 is the aesthetic forebear of modern Seamaster dive watches.

The ensuing decades saw the Seamaster line expand into a number of models and sub-lines, including soccer timers, quartz dress watches, and the legendary behemoth that was the Ploprof. In 1993, after what can only be described as a 30-year identity crisis, the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M was released. The “SMP” was almost entirely new; while the case featured the classic lyre lugs, the wave dial, handset, scalloped bezel, helium escape valve, and bracelet were all new.

Just two years later, when costume designer Lindy Hemming arrived on the set of the upcoming James Bond film GoldenEye, she told Rolex to buzz off, recognizing that Omega had a history more closely tied to the British Royal Navy, and therefore more in sync with Bond. Pierce Brosnan strapped on the quartz Omega Seamaster 300M 2541.80, and the Seamaster regained its caché. In 2000, Omega introduced my model, the fifth generation of the Seamaster Professional.

And 7 years after that, my specific SMP was assembled and sent out into the world. It’s been in my regular rotation ever since I picked it up almost a year ago—which means I wear it at least once a month, often more. So how has it held up? Am I still as taken with it as I was on day one?

Omega SMP Case

The SMP case is classic Omega and the first thing to pop, as ever, are the lyre lugs. Their trademark twist meet a case that is sleek and perfectly sized. With a diameter of 41mm and a height of just 12mm (including the sapphire crystal, and partly attributable to the sloped bezel), it wears splendidly on the wrist; it looks and feels equally at home under the cuff or on the beach (where I hope you don’t wear cuffed shirts). Sharp lines and a brushed finish define a narrow midcase profile, while a barely-there polished chamfer runs along the underside edge.

The 3 o’clock screwdown crown on the Seamaster Professional 300M is protected by guards that flow organically out of the case. The crown itself features an embossed Omega logo and in my opinion could stand to be a bit wider; its length allows for adequate gripping, but there are times when I wish there was more to grab onto (#crowngirth). The screwdown crown (and caseback) provide for 300m for water resistance, but that doesn’t make the Omega-branded helium escape valve at 10 o’clock any less superfluous. Ostensibly, the valve allows saturation divers—who remain at depth for weeks if not longer—to safely decompress as they return to the surface, without the watch exploding.

As of 2015, 10% of US commercial divers were saturation divers, or 336 people. Let’s give Omega a bit of leeway and say that globally there are 1500 people who conduct saturation dives. And let’s now fully acknowledge the inanity of Omega—or any brand—including this function on a modern dive watch. For the lay-wearer, it is just another protuberance to catch your watch on. For my part, I have never touched the HeV on my watch, as I fear that it would destroy the watch or unleash a mythical beast that would desolate the kingdoms of man.

The stainless steel bezel is sloped and features a scalloped edge with a black aluminum insert. While the scalloped edge continues the watery form of the case, it also serves to make the bezel nigh on inoperable except in the driest conditions. I’ve found that even with sweat on my hands, the bezel’s thinness and lack of texture makes setting it a challenge; when water is involved, it’s simply game over. Form won out over function, and the watch may be worse for it. The bezel is aluminum, which was standard until the recent move to ceramic bezels. As such, though, the insert is a bit more prone to the occasional nick and scratch.

The Wave Dial

The wave dial on the Omega Seamaster Professional 2254 has become iconic, and it remains in heavy use by Omega. The entire dial within the markers is embossed with the undulating pattern first introduced on the Bond SMP in 1993. On my Omega 2254, as on the original, it allows the dial to mirror the fluid curves of the case. This serves as a subtle reminder to the wearer to go get in the water and use the watch the way it was meant to be used. One of the treats about the wave dial in black is how it plays with light, with the pattern seeming to disappear if the light misses it, but come alive when it hits.

The dial layout is identical to that of the Seamaster 300 “Big Triangle” from 1960s: a huge triangle at 12 and smaller truncated triangles at every other hour, with the cardinal hours being lopped off to stubbiness. While the stubbiness may look odd, on the old 165.024 it provided the 3-6-9 numerals. Sharp sword hands (also harkening back to the 1960s Seamasters) tell the time, with a red-tipped lollipop seconds hand. Unlike the skeletonized hands of the Bond SMP and all new SMPs, these hands are solid and fully lumed. They are easier to read, day and night, and for that I say they are better.

Looking at the rest of the dial, the Omega logo and name are printed (not applied, as in some new models) just below 12 o’clock. There’s a bevy of text in the southern hemisphere, including the Seamaster branding in the classic script that has remained in use since the line was first released over 70 years ago. Justifying the stubby index at 3 o’clock is a beveled date window with a color matched date wheel. This is how date windows should be done; it is minimally disruptive both in physical and visual execution. We finally have a modern justification for the stubby indices at 3-6-9: symmetry!

The keys to lume excellence are charging speed, brightness, evenness, and duration; the Omega Seammaster Professional 2254 excels at all four. A quick step outside on a sunny day (literally seconds) will leave the watch’s C3 Super-LumiNova ablaze for several minutes. Because of how the lume is applied on the dial as a droplet confined by the thin white border, when it begins to dim it does so unevenly; it continues to shine in the middle of the plots after the edges have gone dark.

Stock Bracelet and Strap Pairings

The Seamaster 2254.50 comes on a 3-link bracelet featuring satin and polished finishes. The 2254 was also available on the 5-link Omega bracelet more native to the Seamaster line, though I’ve always found that one a bit busy. The 3-link bracelet articulates well for excellent comfort and closure is granted by a folding push-button clasp. The only issue when I got this watch was the clasp spring was totally shot, ensuring it popped open with the slightest nudge. Having since replaced it, I can tell you that it is both easy to do and allows fine tuning of the closure’s tension.


While the bracelet does not feature any microadjustments, it does have a diver’s extension hidden under the clasp, providing an extra 3.1cm to those who wear wetsuits to work. Because of the lyre lugs, the bracelet will never sit flush, and as such there is a disruption to the fluidity of the case when it is attached. I always prefer a bracelet be integrated as seamlessly as possible—i.e. Lorier Hydra, CW C65, ect.—but recognize that it is not always possible.

One of the great things about this watch—and steel black and white watches in general—is that strap combinations are endless. I’ve put this on all the colors, all the materials, and all the styles and it always works. With its dress-leaning styling, it is equally suited to a sleek suede strap as it is to a silicone band. As is hopefully clear from the photos in this review, the Seamaster’s ability to work well with so many straps is a testament to the design versatility of the watch itself.

Omega Caliber 1120

Flipping the watch over, a screwdown caseback reiterates the wave motif and has the classic Omega Seamaster hippocampus, whom I’ve named Gert. Considered sea monsters by the ancient Greeks, the hippocampi, with head of horse and body of fish, are often affixed to the gondolas of Venice as waterfaring protection.


Omega’s in-house engraver had taken a trip to the floating city and was inspired thusly, resulting in the seahorse emblem gracing Seamasters since 1958. Unlike smaller brands that feel a need to flaunt all their specs on the caseback, Omega has no need. So caseback text is kept to a minimum with the Seamaster name and the Omega logo.

The caseback protects the Omega Caliber 1120. While the co-axial movement that now drives almost every Omega was acquired by the brand in 1993, it wasn’t fully integrated into a movement until 1999, with the Caliber 2500. Introduced in 1996, the 1120 served as the base for the 2500.  The 1120 is based on the ETA 2892-A2, one of the finest movements ever made by Omega’s sister brand. The movement is a COSC-certified chronometer, with an upgraded 23 jewels, additional rhodium plating, 44 hours of power, and beating at 28,800vph. Please don’t hate me, but my Seamaster—which I got at cost with no knowledge of service history from the watch shop where I get to play with watches—is running within COSC specs at +4.2s/d over three days. So that’s a nice surprise.

Final Thoughts

This one is staying with me. It’s a symbol of my relationship with Dan and the watch shop, and it’s a solid watch that fits into the go anywhere, do anything schema. It’s apparent at a glance that the Seamaster Professional 300M is a bit different from your usually higher end dive watches. When put side-by-side with a Submariner, it’s sleeker, dressier, more versatile. As such, I think that it’s better considered a dress diver, if you can accept that such a thing exists. With its decidedly elegant case and its slippery-when-wet bezel, this watch is for people who never dive. It’s for those who are more likely to time a soufflé than a dive, more likely to get it wet with a hose than in the ocean, more likely to be bored at work than bored on a boat. In short, this watch is for people like me.

Featured Insights

• 41mm x 47mm x 12mm
• 20mm lug width
• 300m Water Resistance
• Diver's extension clasp
• Helium escape valve (for some reason)
• Omega Cal. 1120 Movement
• COSC-certified chronometer
• Iconic SMP wave dial pattern
• C3 Super-LumiNova

Mido Ocean Star Tribute Review: Happy 75th Birthday Ocean Star!

Mido is a company with a rich history and a series of firsts in horology. They claim to be one of the first watches on the market with an automatic movement and an anti-magnetic case with the Mulitfort in the 1930's. In 1944, they released the monocoque Ocean Star that used the cork Aquadura gasket system (that's right cork) to create a water-resistant watch. This was released roughly 10 years before Blancpain released their first water-resistant watch.

The Aquadura system lasted in Mido watches for decades. While that seems like a big deal, Mido is still virtually unknown in the United States (you'd think the #watchfam would go nuts for history like that). Similarly, The Mido Ocean Star Tribute was recently released to celebrate the Ocean Star's 75th birthday; and it went by with very little fanfare. In fact, other than a blurb about the release on Worn and Wound and Teddy Baldassarre's Youtube video he did in Spain, there is nary a US website with much information on this watch. That changes today, my friends, as I have a Mido Ocean Star Tribute M026.830.11.041.00 in hand! Well, on wrist.

As most of you have read in the past, I usually treat myself to something nice at the end of each year. A while back (after reading Mike Razak's review on the Ocean Star Captain Titanium) I bought a Rose Gold Ocean Star Captain and fell in love with its simplicity and elegance. Around this time, Mido released the Ocean Star Tribute and I kinda got that feeling you get when you buy a brand new car and they release the redesigned model a month later. I did as much research as I could, but there isn't much out there that isn't on Mido's own website. Long story short, after going back and forth and being unable to find someone in the States with one, I bought the Ocean Star Tribute in Mediterranean Blue from an AD overseas and hoped for the best.

The Case

First off, let's address the elephant in the room. When you buy this watch and open the rather large box there's no way you won't notice that the entire watch is polished. That's right. Case and all. There are absolutely no brushed surfaces on this watch. If you're the kind of person that gets your panties in a twist when you get a small mark on your watch, this may not be the watch for you. Now with that out of the way, we can actually address the watch itself.

The case is aesthetically almost the same as the current Ocean Star; it has nearly straight lugs with only a slight chamfer to break up any slab sidedness. The big difference here is the size of the watch. Coming in at 40.5mm, it's about 1.5mm smaller than the standard Ocean Star and the lug to lug is 47mm. I find this to be the sweet spot for dive watches. I know most of them have gotten bigger, and with a 7.5 inch wrist, I personally don't have a huge problem with that. But for me nothing beats a dive watch around the 40mm mark. It's just the sweet spot for big wrists and small wrists alike.

Although the case looks very much like the standard Mido Ocean Star, that's where the similarities end. This model comes with a completely different bezel that is coin-edged and clearly inspired by bezels on Rolex Submariners. It continues to be 60 clicks and has a good tight fit with very little play. Good luck turning it, though. While it's not hard to turn, the polish makes it hard to grip if you're having a dry hand day. Come to think of it, it probably will have little to no grip if you lotion up your hands.

One of the features this watch brings that I personally feel is a big improvement over the standard OS is the bigger sized crown. It looks great on this watch, and, functionally, has so much more grip for easier turning and sealing to the case. Its polished also but has sharp edges that maximize grip rather than the softer edges of the coin bezel.

Rounding out the case is the big box Sapphire crystal that sits atop the watch. It brings the height of the watch to 13.5mm. The rounded edges of the crystal obviously cause some distortion; however, I found the sapphire to be much clearer overall, and causing far less distortion of the dial from different angles than the Plexi crystal in the Lorier that I reviewed last year. You can almost read the watch looking at it totally horizontal, which I found harder to do with the big Plexi on the Hydra.

Whether it was a financial or aesthetic choice, the crystal has no AR coating. It could have been done as a throwback, but I don't miss it on this watch. I'm usually somewhat irritated by how the AR can change the color of the dial on some watches, especially if they have a domed crystal; but with the vintage feel of this watch, I don't miss it at all. I'm sure someone will gripe that they can't read their watch while holding it directly under a light or that it projects a halo on the dial. I don't have the ability to roll my eyes back far enough.

The Dial

The dial of the Mido Ocean Star Tribute that I have is called Mediterranean Blue. It's also available in black and just sings the songs of dive watch advertisements of the era. It's a simple printed dial with the MIDO logo at the top and Ocean Star in the lower section of the dial. There are thick, painted batons spaced at 5 minute intervals with simple markers for every minutes. The dial has very little negative space but doesn't feel crowded, even with the "Datoday" window at 3.

The Micro Ocean Star Tribute hands are a chromed paddle style with the second hand being an orange lollipop that works great against the blue dial. It's easy to read at any time of the day. The bezel is also in Mediterranean Blue, but as aluminum would have it, maybe a shade darker. While it's pretty much just like any Rolex homage bezel, I like that Mido used of aluminum here rather than ceramic or a fake bakelite that's on a lot of modern vintage homages. This is the kind of watch you saw on a hairy, wet wrist in watch ads of the era and I think Mido brought a great package here that works with the case to harken back to those days.

There is a downside though, and I think most of you know where I'm getting ready to go. As much as it pains me to say it, the lume is just nothing to write home about. It's your standard green Superluminova, and for the life of me, I can't understand why something advertised as SUPER can be so sub-par. It should be called Mediocre-luminova. There is no reason the lume on $80 Seiko should keep outperforming the lume on a 1K Swiss watch. But it does. Repeatedly.

I know that most people don't (and shouldn't) care since the watch will probably see more dinner parties than actual diving, and maybe I'm being an horological neckbeard about it, but a dive watch with a 200M rating should be somewhat bright. The Mido Ocean Star Tribute just under-performs in this department. The hands and bezel pip are brighter than the dial, and while the light lasts, it's not very bright. So, let's just move on to something the watch does exceptionally well.

The Bracelet

The bracelet on this watch is a thing of beauty. That's going to be a polarizing opinion, but for me there's no doubt about it. While it pegs the bling meter to the max, the all-polished multi-link bracelet looks more inspired by a 1970's disco ball than the “architecture” that Mido claims it takes inspiration from. It's fully articulating and drapes over your wrist like a gold chain in Miami. While it's not for everyone, I feel like it's one of the most unique bracelets to come out of the recent storm of vintage dive watch releases. It very much reminds me of the Shark Mesh bracelets that adorned and still adorns Omega Ploprofs.

The good news is, if you don't like it, it comes with an additional strap. For the Mediterranean Blue, you get a matching blue canvas strap with a leather back. I haven't tested it, but I can tell you that it's going to need some breaking in. It's as stiff as a teenage boy at the NOPI Nationals. The bracelet is comfortable right now.

The clasp is a smaller carry over from the Ocean Star line, which I'm fine with because it's brilliant. It has the standard push button mechanism to open and then a smaller push button set to extend the bracelet either for diving or to give yourself an extra few mm at the end of a sweaty day. It glides like butter and, amazingly, doesn't make the clasp any thicker than the clasp of a normal watch. The clasp and bracelet combo are perfect for this watch, and in my opinion vintage watches would have killed for this bracelet.

The Movement

The Mido Ocean Star Tribute is powered by the Mido Caliber 80, Mido's branded version of the swatch free-sprung balance that makes its rounds in the swatch brands. When this movement came out, I may have felt it was a gimmick, especially for people like me who rotates watches often. But over time, I've come to see a lot of value in this movement.

While it beats at only 21,600 bph (something certain watch enthusiasts can't stand from a Swiss watch), and it's not as simple to regulate as a typical ETA-2824, it does have an 80 hr power reserve, which is something that most of the vintage homage watches being released can't say. Also, if regulation is your holdup, Mido makes a lot of Caliber 80s in chronometer grade, and maybe that bleeds down. On my timegrapher, this particular Mido is running at +2 seconds a day. If you get on google, you'll find that this isn't the only one to do so. The Caliber 80 is a phenomenal movement giving you some serious luxury benefits at a not-so-luxury price. It definitely changed my mind and helps the overall package.

Final Thoughts

Mido is trying to push its way into the United States. Finally. While the Ocean Star Tribute isn't the best watch you can buy for around $1k USD, it's certainly something different than other Swatch offerings in the US. Personally, I feel Mido to be a dressier option over its Swatch siblings and the Ocean Star Tribute is no different. It's not an homage to any particular Mido, and for the most part it's probably more of a “Dive Watch Greatest Hits.” With that said, the lume isn't great, and unless you've got rubber hands, the bezel can be hard to turn. But what this watch does do right, it does it well. The bracelet and clasp are just gorgeous and just make me feel like I should be on a yacht somewhere with a medallion necklace and chest hair flying.

It's a great entry into the current vintage diver craze but with some modern touches that make it the vintage diver you always wanted or wish you could have had back in the day. If I had to compare it to something I know, it's not like a new Mustang or a Camaro, but maybe like a Dodge Challenger. It's new, and it's not the best. But it looks awesome, it’s affordable, and invokes feelings of the car that once was (while functioning way better than an old one ever could). It comes at you with options people would have killed for once upon a time, and the engine is a serious budget juggernaut. The headlights might still be a bit dull though.

Featured Insights
• 40.5mm x 47mm x 13.5mm
• 21mm Lug Width
• Polished 316L stainliness steel (case and bracelet)
• 60-Click Bezel (aluminum insert)
• 200m Water Resistance
• Superluminova
• Domed sapphire crystal
• Mido Caliber 80 (ETA C07.621) | 80 hour power reserve
• Price: Approx $1.1k USD

Rolex Explorer Alternatives: Navigating First World Problems

This is not an article about the fabled Rolex Explorer 1016 (Feature Photo Credit: HQ Milton).

But... if you squint your eyes really tight and tilt your head, it could kind of look like one.

The perfect storm of Rolex’s value increase and the vintage market renaissance has made it difficult to locate a 1016 below the five figure mark. Perhaps, if you were keen on owning a smaller watch several years ago when the craze was all about 42mm and up, it would have been economically feasible. But, sensibly, you mulled it over and pivoted toward Zodiacs or something equally pocket-friendly and settled. Several years have passed, and now that you've tumbled down this rabbit hole of vintage interest, you're kicking yourself over what could have been.

Today, if you were to list one for sale on Chrono24 in “fair condition,” the suggested price is $19,688… in excess of three times its value since 2015. Its worth by 2025 will be anybody’s guess. Sure, a Rolex is a Rolex, but while the argument can be made "there's nothing else quite like it," a broke watch snob is uniquely postured to play devil's advocate.

This in mind, there are still several tool watches of the era also designed for the casual adventurer that could satisfy your craving for purpose-built aesthetics, while standing firmly on their own merit (and not just as Rolex Explorer Alternatives). Here are several of them.

Tudor Prince Oysterdate Ranger ref. 90220

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: “Oyster-case” Steel, 34.5mm, with signed Rolex crown
  • Movement: Automatic, caliber 2784/ETA 2483 with hacking seconds
  • Dial: Matte black with Arabic numerals at “12-3-6-9.”
  • Hands: Luminova Sword (minutes), Arrowhead (hour), paddle (second)
  • Bracelet: Rolex “oyster-type bracelet; ref 7835,” with signed Rolex crown
  • Date produced: 1970
  • Expect to pay: $5000+

When comparing watches to the 1016, it’s difficult to ignore the Tudor Ranger... mostly because there are Rolex crowns all over it. At the time of its release, the largest differentiating factor was primarily its engine, a stock ETA movement with a Tudor-branded oscillating weight. While the prices of these have skyrocketed in suit with Rolex, they are a fraction of what you’d expect to pay for the “real deal.” Maybe it isn’t trying to not look like Rolex at all, in which case, the internal dialogue worth considering is, “Will I be happy with a borderline homage?”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Even more controversial of an issue for collectors is the prevailing concern of reference integrity. Many early examples of the Ranger shared the same reference numbers with more conventional Tudors. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the Ranger had earned enough of an identity to rate its own unique number set. Because of this, charlatans had capitalized on the confusion by giving birth to the now infamous “Red Ranger” —a redial fraudulent model that has enchanted suckers world-wide.

Bulova Snorkel “666’ Deep Sea Diver” ref. 386-3

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Steel, 35.2mm x 43.3mm long, 18mm lug width. Signed “Bulova” on crown, steel rotating bezel, with painted black indices. Note: there are two dial variants with a triangular and circular pip above the twelve.
  • Movement: Automatic with Date, 11ALACD, 17 jewels
  • Dial: Matte Black, with Luminova Arabic numerals at “12-6-9” with window date at “3.” Note: There is also a white dial variant (386-4)
  • Hands: Dauphine-shaped with Luminova on the minute and hour. Steel second hand
  • Bracelet: Originally steel (although extremely rare)
  • Date produced: 1964-1968
  • Expect to pay: $350-$800

Despite being called the “Snorkel,” Bulova catalogs referred to the model as the “Deep Sea Diver.” To make things more confusing some have referred to it as the “Devil Diver,” a nickname shared by at least two dozen other Bulovas (also boasting the 666ft depth rating on the dial).

Photo Credit: mybulova.com

It might surprise some that the case back doesn’t feature anything aquatic-related such as a diving helmet or a ship. Instead we see Bulova’s traditional logo of a dancer who in earlier ads from the early 20’s, represented goddess-like elegance (not unlike automobile hood ornaments of the era). At the time, Bulova’s watches were designed with luxury in mind, and it wasn’t until 1919 that they’d built a watch for men specifically for WWI.

The Snorkel was located in Army PX’s around the world when it was released, often placed alongside Rolexes and Zodiacs. And although they were never “issued,” it’s probable that thousands ended up on wrists of service members in Vietnam.

Caravelle Sea hunter ref 49482 “Dauphine hands”

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Polished Steel, 36mm, signed “C” on the crown. Rotating Bezel with aluminum insert
  • Movement: Caravelle Cal. 11 / manual winding (17 jewels); 18,000 bph
  • Dial: Black with Luminova arabic numerals at “12-3-6-9,” and 5-minute indices
  • Hands: Tritium dauphine (or) baton (ref. 41585). Baton version includes a “lollipop” second hand
  • Strap: 20mm Tropic diver
  • Date produced: 1971
  • Expect to pay: $350-$800

What Tudor was to Rolex, Caravelle was to Bulova. It was sibling brand with economic methods of production, surfing off the reputation and resources of its big brother. Bulova Watch Co. went through painstaking efforts to advertise that Caravelle’s lineup was all the quality you’d expect from a Bulova, while at the price point of a Timex. This included 17-jewel movements, 50 steps of quality assurance testing, and a 200m water resistance that made the “Snorkel” a success. What never made its way to the full page magazine ads was the fact that they were produced in China.

Still, the merits of its tool watch functionality made it a popular choice for divers who needed a reliable companion underwater without breaking the bank. In keeping with utilitarian basics, Caravelle dismissed the need for a date window (for what reason would it be relevant as opposed to tracking your remaining oxygen?). The only drawback for some could have been its manual wind movement, which, cost savings aside, was behind the curve for 1971.

Featured Specs
 

  • Case: Polished Steel, 35mm, signed “C” on the crown. Rotating Bezel with black aluminum insert
  • Movement: Automatic Movement, date complication (17 jewels)
  • Dial: Black with Luminova arabic numerals at “12-6-9,” with a date at “3,” and 5-minute indices
  • Hands: Tritium arrowhead (hour), tapered baton (minute), white second hand
  • Strap: 20mm Tropic diver
  • Date produced: 1969
  • Expect to pay: $900-$1700

In all of Caravelle’s lineup, the Sea Hunter seems to have benefited the most from the age of vintage popularity; it’s found a strong cult following. Despite their mass numbers produced, flippers will try to price them well above a Bulova Snorkel when placed side by side.

Caravelle Sea Hunter “Swiss-Made”

To the true connoisseur, there’s a Sea Hunter reference that combats the entire notion of quality spared. It’s known simply as “the Swiss Made version.” Because Caravelle was at one point “Caravelle New York,” it’s understood that their goods were designed with the United States in mind. There’s little research that can speak to this unique model’s place for distribution, as it was never mentioned in printed ads alongside it’s counterparts. It’s scarcity has made it coveted.

Notably, it shares the same unique handset as the Ranger, yet the inclusion of the bezel sets it apart from the Explorer enough that it’s very much its own design… although eerily similar to the Longines Legend Diver.

“But I don’t want to settle.”

Then don’t. Maybe you’re kind of guy who eats first world problems for breakfast. But, consider the fact that the Rolex 1016 Explorer is one of the most mass-produced Rolex replicas circulating the second-hand market. Your likelihood of finding an honest example through dealers on eBay are that much more slim because of it. Risk can be skirted through expert sellers who routinely assess the legitimacy of their stock (expect nose bleed-inducing premiums). Educate yourself*, and learn to enjoy the research.

Photo Credits:

Rolex Explorer 1016

Tudor Prince Oysterdate Ranger ref. 90220

Bulova Snorkel “666’ Deep Sea Diver” ref. 386-3

Caravelle Sea hunter ref 49482 “Dauphine hands”

Caravelle Sea Hunter “Swiss-Made”


Ep. #161: What Would You Rather Spend $14k On?

The snobs sit down and revisit the Omega 321 Speedy release while running through better ways to spend $14k.


Junghans Max Bill 'Black and White' Watches

There seem to be two aesthetic groupings that many German watches can be organized into.  The first has to do with practicality, function over form.  In this first group, perhaps most notably, are flieger watches (German for “flyer”) which were made for pilots.  These watches were about, first and foremost, legibility.  Many of them came in extremely large sizes by today’s standards, upwards of 50mm (Imagine how gigantic they were in the 1930’s and 40’s!).  Like other military watches, fliegers had mostly sterile dials and, since their main function was accurate timekeeping, large and clear Arabic numeral save for the occasional triangle marker at twelve.  Not only are brands with military history (like Stowa, Sinn, and Laco) still making fliegers in this style (albeit a bit smaller), but newer, independent German brands have taken the simplistic, legible, and functional design cues from these original military watches and put their own modern spin on them (Damasko and Archimede for example).

The other group is focused more on form.  Perhaps that’s not correct.  Let’s say that this second group is form-forward, meaning that these watches have a certain design flair that goes beyond function though many of these timepieces also have high-functioning and well-crafted movements (though the movements, also, are showpieces unto themselves and quite form-forward).  Here, you may think of brands such as A. Lange & Söhne, Nomos, and Glashütte Original.  Watches from these brands range from simplistically-styled, time only models to asymmetrical, almost abstract pieces with rare and expensive complications.

Junghans, founded in 1861, occupies an interesting niche in the realm of German-manufactured timepieces because they make watches that could fit comfortably into either of the aforementioned aesthetic groups.  To delve into an even more specific niche, one only needs look at their Max Bill line.  The Junghans Max Bill watches are the best of both worlds: high-function and practicality and well-thought-out though creative design.  Designed by Swiss architect Max Bill, a student of the Bauhaus school (and such modern makers as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee), these watches are distinctively modern and, though a hybrid of two recognizable design styles, distinctively German.  The Junghans Max Bill watches are likely familiar to fans of German watchmaking, modernist architecture, industrial design, and modern art.  I don’t know if there is another German watch brand whose design cues may be recognizable to so many people outside the Watch Fam.

Continuing on with their line of watches inspired by minimalist modern Bauhaus style, Junghans has just released new versions of their automatic Max Bill watch and their lovely Max Bill Chronoscope.  Folks familiar with these pieces will be pleased to find most of their design aesthetics intact: Max Bill-created font (particularly that endlessly satisfying “4), minimal, uncluttered dial, and sleek modern case profile.  What makes these watches what they are is this visually appealing blend of form and function.  This is the definition of modernism, something that expresses an artistic point of view, but which is made for consumption and must function at a high level.  This was a leading design principle of Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus school, that architecture (and design for that matter) could be both visually appealing and practical.

The current iteration of the Max Bill automatic and Max Bill Chronoscope share much of the same DNA as previous versions, though these new releases pay even more tribute to Bill, the Bauhaus school, and architecture as a whole.  Taking a cue from Junghans’ previous Max Bill release to celebrate 100 years of the watch, the new offerings all have substituted the traditional stainless steel case for one that is coated with an anthracite-colored PVD.  Combined with an anthracite-gray calf leather strap, the case communicates a clear nod to the foundation (no pun intended) of so much Bauhaus architecture, concrete.  Continuing on with this theme, the dial itself honors building in all its glory with a matte white dial with black and gray hands, font, and indices.  If previous versions of the Max Bill told us, subtly, the story of German modernist architecture, the newest Max Bills are screaming it from the highly-designed, though restrained, rooftops.

The new releases include three watches, both 38mm and 34mm Max Bill automatics (powered by a Sellita SW-300 movement) and a 40mm Max Bill Chronoscope (powered by a Calibre J880.2/Sellita SW-500 movement).  Fans of Bauhaus in specific, German design sensibility in general, and modern art overall will undoubtedly be drawn to Junghans’ newest iterations of the Max Bill.

 

Automatic:

  • Dimensions: 38mm (ref. 027/4007.04) or 34mm diameter (ref. 027/4006.04) x 10mm height
  • Case: Stainless steel case with matte anthracite PVD coating ; screwed caseback
  • Dial: Matte white dial with black and gray inscriptions and indices
  • Strap: Gray calf leather strap with PVD-coated buckle
  • Water Resistance: 30m )
  • Movement: Sellita SW-300 (inspired by the ETA 2824) automatic movement with 42h power reserve for hours, minutes, seconds, and date
  • Price: EUR 1,095 / USD approx. $1,207 (38mm version) ; EUR 995 / USD approx.. $1,097 (34mm version)

Chronoscope:

  • Dimensions: 40mm x 14.4mm height (ref. 427/4008.04)
  • Case: Stainless steel case with matte anthracite PVD coating ; screwed caseback
  • Dial: Matte white dial with black and gray inscriptions and indices
  • Strap: Gray calf leather strap with PVD-coated buckle
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Movement: Calibre J880.2, an automatic Sellita SW-500 (inspired by the Valjoux 7750) with 48h power reserve for hours, minutes, seconds, day/date, and chronograph
  • Price: EUR 1,895 / USD approx. $2,089

Learn more on the official Junghans website.


Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation

Zodiac has just announced its latest iteration of the Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation. Following the release of the Andy Mann limited edition, the brand likely got a lot of feedback asking for a non-limited Sea Wolf 68 on a traditional link bracelet. And they’ve has delivered on just that.

The watch returns to the color scheme of a previous limited edition of the 68, with a textured black dial featuring orange accents and C3 Super-LumiNova, with a black bezel to match. It’s the first non-limited Sea Wolf 68 to feature the COSC STP 3-13 and the 3-link bracelet from the Andy Mann. The watch is priced at $1,595 and is available now.

Featured Insights

• 45 mm x 11mm x 50 mm
• 20 mm lug width
• STP 3-13 Automatic Movement
• Sapphire Crystal (AR Coating)
• C3 SuperLuminova
• Push-down, uni-direction bezel
• 1000 Meter Resistance
• Price: $1,595

Rolex Explorer 14270 Review: Understated Elegance in 36mm

The Rolex Explorer is an interesting watch. It’s simplistic in design, but it can also melt your face at the same time. I’ve always had trouble buying into all the Mount Everest ethos and cave spelunking marketing surrounding the Explorer. To connect with the Rolex Explorer, I needed something more personal. I found it in the most unlikely way.

The holidays are a great time to casually ask your family members about their watches. I knew about my uncle Rick’s Rolex Air-King, but nothing about a second Rolex that he never wears. The story of that watch was much more than I expected.

The family picture is from Easter brunch in the spring of 2000 (yup, that’s me in the back). Even as a college student, I could tell that my uncle (a professional musician) and his girlfriend Rachael were serious; she's in the purple sweater - look familiar to anyone? What I didn’t know was that he planned on proposing to her the following year. He was also planning on making a big move by giving her a Rolex Oyster Perpetual that Christmas. He had already purchased one on layaway* at the local AD. Every time that he had a good gig, he’d put some money down towards it. What does that have to do with this Rolex Explorer 14270 review? Read on.

The Case

There are no surprises with the case. The 14270 Explorer has a 36mm oyster style case that is distinctly Rolex. The lug to lug is only 43.6mm. Combine that with a height of 11.1mm and you have a neat and compact package that many will find extremely comfortable. Its size makes it a great watch for couples to share. If you have very large wrists, you might find the Rolex 14270 too small.

There are no crown guards. The lack thereof makes the Explorer 14270 feel dressier and less serious than other Rolex tool watches. The line and the logo on the crown signify the “twinlock” crown tube, giving the 14270 a water resistance rating of 330ft (more than enough for swimming).

I found the vibe more Oyster Perpetual than no-date Submariner. The smooth bezel that lacks any extra tool-specific functionality also dresses up the watch despite Rolex marketing the Explorer as a “tool watch”. Suit or jeans, the Explorer is always appropriate.

The Dial

The Explorer 14270 has one of the cleanest, most balanced, and well-proportioned dials that you’ll find on any watch. The dial design is up there in elite company with other iconic watches such as the Speedmaster Professional and the Patek 5711. So simple, yet so powerful.

I’ve never been a fan of 3-6-9 Arabic hour markers. The Explorer 14270 gets a pass. It’s one of the most legible dials that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been guilty of getting lost within the stick indices with certain dive watches. The Explorer is about telling the time in the purest way possible.

The numerals aren’t lumed, but the sticks and hands are. I was amazed that the lume-treated areas still pop with green luminova and last into the night. The hour sticks seemed to hold their luminescence longer that the signature sword, Mercedes, and lollipop hands. Not too shabby for a twenty-year-old watch.

The Movement

The Rolex Explorer shares the same in-house caliber 3000 movement with the Submariner (no date), and the Air-King from the same era. The specs for the movement are all in my review for the Rolex Air-King. I won’t bore you with the technical details that can be found in the other article. Instead, I’ll give you some additional thoughts about it.

This watch has been a “Safe Queen” for the last twenty years. Besides special occasions, this particular watch has been seldom worn. It still amazes me how quickly the movement will self-wind and start running after being dormant. It’s fast − the sweeping seconds hand was already going before I could even unscrew the crown to “hack” and set the time.

Remarkably, the rotor is still virtually silent as it rotates to automatically recharge the 42-hour power reserve. I bet that it’s still very close to the nominal reserve. This un-serviced Explorer is still keeping about -4 seconds per day and winds buttery smoothly. The Explorer was also regulated and tested for COSC certification at the time of manufacturing. The Air-King with the same caliber 3000 movement was not.

The Bracelet

The 20mm (tapering to 15.5mm) Oyster bracelet is something that should at least look familiar. It is the reference 78790 that was used for years (decades, really) and shared with various other Rolex sport models. Maybe too many years.

The clasp is stamped with a faux three-link bracelet pattern and the 558B endlinks are hollow. The updated modern Rolex bracelets that come on six-digit referenced models are a big upgrade from their predecessors. In hand, a modern Monta or Nodus bracelet is going to feel higher quality than a vintage Rolex five-digit bracelet.

This is not to be confused with feeling “cheap”. Despite the aging technicalities, the overall finishing is superb. There is no lack for charm and the “Oyster” three-link is distinctly Rolex. I would recommend keeping the 14270 on the stock bracelet for the full experience.

Final Thoughts

After the holidays in 2000, my uncle broke up with Rachael. Besides the emotional baggage, he had a loose end to tie up at the AD. He had two payments left on a Ladies Oyster Perpetual and was single. He walked in, paid the balance on the Ladies Oyster Perpetual and walked out with an Explorer instead. The rest is history.

By the summer of 2001, Rachael Ray had a $10 million contract with the Food Network and my uncle continued to enjoy some of his most successful years as a professional musician. My uncle is gracious enough to let me borrow his Explorer from time to time. It’s great looking down at my wrist and having that family connection to my uncle Rick. Feeling like I stole Rachael Ray’s Rolex when I’m wearing it is priceless.

Is it easy to tell time? Yes.

Could I #watchfast it? Yes.

5 Things That I Love

    1. Such a clean dial
    2. Super legibility
    3. Refreshing 36mm case size
    4. Classic steel “Oyster” bracelet
    5. Understated elegance

5 Things That I Hate

    1. Doesn’t make me feel like an “Explorer”
    2. It epitomizes the pre-owned Rolex “bubble”
    3. Can feel small at 36mm
    4. Hollow endlinks
    5. The lack of weight to the bracelet

Featured Insights
 

• Model reference 14270
• 36mm x 44mm x 11mm case dimensions
• Steel Bracelet, 20mm lugs
• 904L Stainless steel case
• Flat Sapphire Crystal
• Super Luminova lume
• Cal. 3000 (in-house) movement
• Price $3,000-5,000 USD (pre-owned)

*layaway: first becoming popular during the Great Depression, layaway is a purchase agreement in which the seller reserves an item for a consumer until the consumer completes all the payments necessary to pay for that item, and only then hands over the item. In modern times, people prefer crippling credit card debt as an alternative.


Oris Aquis Lake Baikal Limited Edition

Siberia’s Lake Baikal, for those unfamiliar, is the world’s largest freshwater lake which has been under threat for some time due to pollution from both industry and the impact of tourism. Continuing their commitment to raising awareness about various issues threatening the world’s great bodies of water, Oris has released a new, “high performance” dive watch inspired by, and in commemoration of, efforts to preserve this treasured natural wonder. According to Oris’ website, this newest addition to the Oris Aquis collection was “made in partnership with the Lake Baikal Foundation, a research center working to preserve Siberia’s Lake Baikal.” The Oris Aquis Lake Baikal is the most recent in a series of limited-edition Aquis divers (this one, to 1,999 pieces to mark the year Russia passed a law protecting the lake) focused on such environmental issues, which include other models such as the Great Barrier Reef, Clean Ocean, and Blue Whale.

The Oris Aquis Lake Baikal, as other Aquis divers, is a substantial watch with a 43mm case size. Its design is equal parts rugged tool watch (ceramic bezel, bulky crown guards, SuperLumiNova indices) and luxury piece (domed sapphire crystal, gorgeous sunburst gradient dial, signed crown). The dial is really what shines here and what elevates the Lake Baikal from function-only to a handsome dress watch. The environmentally-conscious watches in the Aquis line all have dials that pay tribute to bodies of water. But, while the Clean Ocean or Blue Whale have deep blue dials to emulate the depths of the ocean, the Lake Baikal’s blue reflects the icy surface of the lake. It is a blue with depth but also a surface glow of silver and frosty white, a combo that makes the Lake Baikal stand out from the rest of the Aquis pack, in my opinion.

The caseback, as is the case with the other Aquis environmental watches, is also something to behold. Oris has done some neat things with these limited edition case backs including a recycled plastic medallion on the Clean Ocean. Here, Oris delivers what I think is perhaps the loveliest case back design of the series: an engraving portraying the star cracks in the ice covering the lake’s surface. The backs of these limited edition Oris watches are consistently an added treat and the Lake Baikal does not fall short in this respect.

Oris Aquis Lake Baikal Specs

  • 43mm case diameter
  • Domed sapphire crystal
  • Blue gradient sunburst dial
  • Multi-piece stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp and diver’s extension
  • 300m/30 bar water resistance
  • Oris 733 Movement, based on a Selita SW-200-1 / automatic winding / 38-hour power reserve
  • Price: 2,200 Swiss francs (or about $2,260 USD)

I hope that the environmental conditions of the earth’s lakes and oceans improve rather than regresses in the coming years, though this fight for the preservation of clean water has, in my opinion, produced some of the most inspired moments in Oris’ recent catalog.

Oris


New Steel Omega Speedmaster 321 "Ed White" Just Announced (ref. 311.30.40.30.01.001)

There was no big reveal at Baselworld or press event at the Kennedy Space Center. Omega softly announce the new Speedmaster Moonwatch in stainless steel with the legendary caliber 321 movement (ref. 311.30.40.30.01.001). This is really big news for watch enthusiasts and space geeks. I happen to be in both camps. The vintage Omega Speedmasters 321 calibers have been steadily climbing in price. Omega did a limited edition 321 in platinum at an outrageous price point in 2019 (not even the limited edition for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing had the Omega 321 Caliber). However, we still had no modern steel Speedmaster Moonwatch with the 321 moment.

The Speedmaster Professional is one of the most common luxury tool watches in the horological enthusiast space. Of course there are nuances in the details between reference numbers. Still, the modern version has been in production for so long that there is no shortage of them (new or used). How does Omega get the regular Speedmaster Professional owner to buy-in again?

Omega has delivered on what the Speedmaster community has been demanding for a while now. The big difference between the previous Omega 1863 Caliber and the new Omega 321 Caliber is that the 321 has a column wheel actuator for the chronograph. This is in contrast to the 1863 Caliber's cam-actuated chronograph function.

You can spot the difference easily because the top of the column wheel looks like the turret on a castle tower. Of course they will show it with a transparent case back. Can you spot it?

Purists say that there is less "jump" when engaging a column wheel chronograph complication. I say that it gives you a closer connection to the astronauts that originally used them. Classic Speedmaster features are combined with modern elements on the Speedmaster Moonwatch 321. The punch list reads like a roster for the all-star game. Here’s what you need to know.

New Steel Speedmaster 321 Specs

Featured Insights
 

• 39.7mm case
• Flat lugs
• Caliber 321 manual-wind movement
• Exposed pumpers
• Flat link 19 mm bracelet
• Exhibition caseback
• Sapphire Crystal
• Ceramic DON* bezel *”dot over ninety”
• Fauxtina Hands
• Stepped dial

Despite being a regular production piece, I don't see Omega opening the floodgates to make a ton of these. I am also predicting that the Speedmaster Caliber 321 reference 311.30.40.30.01.001 is going to be the first Omega regular production watch with a waiting list.

A hefty MSRP of over $14,100 USD (after the Swiss franc conversion) puts the Caliber 321 Moonwatch is in Daytona MSRP territory. However, the Daytona pairs with a tennis sweater and the Moonwatch pairs with an EVA suit. You tell me who the real badass is...

Image Credit: Omega


Sinn Announces New Tokyo Boutique

Sinn Announces New Tokyo Boutique

By: Michael Penate

For the first time ever, Sinn is opening its doors in Tokyo. This month, the brand announced that it would be opening SINN Depot, a shop located in Koen Dori, Shibuya, Tokyo. Here, enthusiasts will be able to browse through a selection of Sinn models, accessories, and specialty goods. The brand also mentioned that several Sinn historical watches will be on display. With so many cool watch spots to visit in Japan, it's nice to see a brand like Sinn joining the party, especially if you consider that Tokyo is quickly outpacing other cities in the realm of unstoppable watch enthusiasm.

The Sinn Shibuya Depot will likely provide a similar experience to what you'd find in their Frankfurt store. The best part is definitely having a spot where you can try watches on in person. Hopefully, it's successful. And you can bet that we will be adding this to our list of spots to visit when we finally make it out there. Congratulations to Sinn!

To learn more, visit Sinn Spezialuhren.

Image credit: SINN Depot, Shibuya