The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial watch hands-on
I will be honest: when I first saw the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial at Baselworld 2014 I was not particularly impressed. It was displayed in a cabinet at the entrance of the Omega stand, and so far that had been the only occasion where I had seen a timepiece so widely teased before.
The official opening of the new Omega boutique in Via Montenapoleone offered me the chance to see for myself a very nice selection of Omega timepieces, including the Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial and, in that occasion, to discuss them with President Urquhart himself. The Seamaster 300 (without the “m”, so as not to mistake it with the sport diver) is a modern version of the Seamaster 300 launched in 1957.
Rather than a modern new version, it would be best to consider it as an “Iconic Avantgarde”, such as its predecessor had been about 60 years ago: water resistant up to 200m, the original Seamaster 300 has been much appreciated for its robustness and reliability, which made it one of the watches chosen by professional and amateur divers of that time. Its design was ahead of its time too: if you were wearing a new old stock today, you might easily mistake it for a modern elegant everyday sport luxury watch.
A timepiece beloved on both sides of the ocean: American diver Mr. Kendall and French diver Alain Julien agreed in describing it as exceptionally robust and precise even in the harshest conditions. The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial embodies the 1957 Seamaster's spirit and aesthetics but, even if it can very well face marine depths, in my opinion it is utterly different.
Today's dial is the natural heir to the 1957's model: triangular recessed vintage looking indexes covered with blue Superluminova, with the exception of the minute hand and the small dot at 12 which glow green in the dark, applied to a sand-blasted black or blue dial. The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial comes in 5 variations which include all the latest technologies developed at Bienne on materials such as Liquidmetal, Ceragold, Grade 5 Titanium, Sedna Gold 18K.
The black dial version is the only Omega to date, if I'm not mistaken, to adopt a Liquidmetal bezel also on a stainless steel case, a technology which has usually been reserved for the titanium timepieces and blue bezel or, in the past, for the Planet Ocean limited edition. I believe that in this case, engineers felt obliged to use it in order to provide the watch with the perfect 1957 Seamaster 300 look and feel. If this weren’t the case, it would still be good news, as it could mean that Omega is beginning to widely adopt the Liquidmetal technology on all its sport collections.
The Omega Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial adopts caliber 8400 (or 8401, depending mainly on the winding rotor and a bridge) which is still unrivaled in its own category as it has been designed to withstand magnetic fields greater than 15000 Gauss. Co-Axial escapement and a silicon balance spring are standard equipment to caliber Master Co-Axial; for Omega this is so avant-garde and precise that it not only guarantees it for 4 years but, most importantly, the company has set up a cooperation agreement with the Swiss Metrology Institute METAS, to provide a certification standard which would go beyond the requirements usually expected by COSC.
On your wrist this is one of the nicest Omegas ever conceived: the almost flat dial, paired with the slightly curved straight lugs as well as a crown with no protectors, exactly as it was on the original model, make it one of the most appealing sport watches on the market, especially with blue dial and bezel, an Omega's hallmark since the first Omega Blue Speedmaster Co-Axial was launched some years ago.
I am not totally convinced by the bracelet, which looks a bit too much like the other Seamaster's, while I'd have gone for the 1957 link design; if you compare the vintage dial and bracelet, it feels as if they do not fully fit aesthetically. What I would also improve is the feel of the bezel notch during operation: I'm used to a 120 notch bezel on an ISO certified Japanese watch, which is in my opinion the benchmark in terms of smoothness, acoustic performance and vibration while notching.
A few things that cannot anyway change my evaluation of a timepiece whose starting price is 4,950€ for the stainless steel model, up to the 6,750€ needed for the titanium version. In both cases the price is well spent and amply justified, as you are buying a timepiece whose features are not just about excellence but mostly about exclusiveness, such as a unique high-end fully antimagnetic movement, coupled with a superb finishing.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Omega; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®