The battle of the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200
If there is a timepiece that needs no presentation that’s the Omega Seamaster Ploprof. If you are a professional diver or if you are familiar with the adventures of a man called Jacques-Ives Cousteau, you will definitely know that the Ploprof was a big star among diver’s watches in the 70s and it was also one of the famous watch-making idols of that time. It became such a cult that today there are quite a few groups and forums that are exclusively devoted to this particular timepiece, to its owners or simply to those people who would love to get their hands on one of these timepieces.
The Omega Seamaster Ploprof seems to be from a parallel universe and it is some sort of a disruptive factor among those collections who have always based their principals on symmetry and scalability. The original model was characterized by an extremely asymmetric shape, a position-blocking mechanism of the bezel through a button located on the right hand side of the case that was elegantly built as a single-block-unit, a smart solution that only a few brands (actually only one brand) have decided to opt for, the case was also coupled with an Isofrane-type strap made of rubber.
When Omega presented its modern edition of the Omega Seamaster Ploprof it tried to preserve, as much as possible, both the style and the spirit of the original model by reinterpreting it according to the demands of modern sports timepieces and by accentuating even further the main characteristics of this timepiece’s personality. The case’s thickness has increased, the bezel has become even taller than before, thus transforming itself into the perfect diver’s bezel that can be easily reached and handled even while using scuba diving gloves. In the course of a few years, the Omega Seamaster Ploprof has reached its second generation without compromising its distinctive traits, however, Omega’s latest developmental achievements – like the Master Chronometer certification – have affected this timepiece also and quite a few of its details have been modified, so much that I felt compelled to review this timepiece by making a direct comparison between the first version and the second edition.
Let’s start off with the 2016 series that was presented in Basel and that won’t replace but, for the time being, only integrate the original collection (that’s according to the information available on the manufacturer’s official website.) Given the many versions that have been released, I decided to go for a combination that represents one of Omega’s trademarks, namely Grade 5 titanium coupled with orange ceramic. This year, this particular material/colour mixture has appeared already on the new Planet Ocean. The use of titanium helps to overcome one of the limits of the first Proprof’s version, namely its weight.
The stainless steel-made version with its rubber strap might appear quite “challenging” to wear but there are some better crafted characteristics on this version that prove that all the hard work has finally paid off; the case-back is closed as it should be on a real diver’s watch and the strap displays the Ploprof writing. The drawing that appears on the case-back is not ordinary at all and I am not talking about the presence of the seahorse icon, the very symbol of the Seamaster collection. The whole locking system, the fact that it is leveled with the case, the diameter of the holes that has been reduced to the minimum required size remind us of the first Omega Seamaster Ploprof’s single-block structure.
Pity that the case-back on the Ploprof 2016 has been made open-view, possibly to let users behold the new 8912 caliber with a Master Chronometer certification that has replaced the original 8500 caliber that was Omega’s first in-house built caliber to equip the Planet Ocean. It is a pity because the orange ceramic-made bezel is really well crafted, it is not better than the original sapphire-made bezel but it has a different touch and feel.
Very few manufacturers still use sapphire-made bezels for their timepieces, among these I can think of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. The final result between the two solutions is quite different; the ceramic-made bezel is shimmering and it sports a polished orange colour, while the second bezel looks transparent, it gives the dial an iridescent effect and a vintage and multi-layer appearance too. It is a simple matter of different taste.
Both timepieces come with a metal mesh that looks like a Milano but it is broader and more sporty-looking, Omega renamed it “shark-proof” in one of its ads some years ago where the famous Greg Norman appeared to be challenging a shark while trying to protect himself from within a cage. The mesh closes with a folding clasp that represents the “best-in-class” within this particular niche, it is exceptionally extended and well crafted, it features a quick system to extend it even further that helps to make the Omega Seamaster Ploprof perfectly adhere to your wrist while giving you a feeling of safety, knowing that you won’t lose your timepiece even when you plunge into the big blue. From this point of view, the choice to craft a Ploprof using titanium is spot on and it is also absolutely necessary from a commercial point of view.
On the left hand side of the case, an elongated C protects the big winding crown, a particular setting that was devised so that it doesn’t interfere with the wrist at all. Once you have unlocked this special locking system, you need to turn the crown at the same time and push against the C until it has overlapped the case, it is quite a simple and easy-to-understand system that makes you immediately realize that the crown has been closed correctly and that you can now go diving. From the point of view of the use, the position of this locking system on the left hand side of the timepiece makes it, involuntarily, the perfect timepiece for left-handed people too.
In the bottom corner on the right hand side, is a small automatic valve that is used to release helium so that the Omega Seamaster Ploprof can be used during mixed-gas saturation diving sessions. We haven’t talked much about the caliber just yet; it is obvious that the Master Chronometer is far superior than the original 8500 caliber which, according to two illustrious international magazines that have tested it, it is one of the best calibers when it comes to running precision rates in the long run, among its characteristics is the possibility to independently set the hours hand from the minutes hand, a double barrel, a silicon hairspring and the fine Cotes de Geneve (Arabesque) decoration motif on the bridges and on the rotor also. There is no doubt that the Omega Seamaster Ploprof is either a timepiece you immediately fall in love with or that you hate, it is a big watch with an almost cheeky personality but, at the same time, it is quite unique too.
Again, I prefer the first version because it is closer to the original but I have to admit that the ceramic-made bezel of this (no date!) version and of the other ones too is superb as far as the finishing goes and that the use of titanium is a great solution to consider if you are aiming at reducing an item’s weight. This particular material, however, makes the retail price - along with the new features also – spike upward till it reaches the 12,000-euro-threshold for the version that you can see in this picture. It is quite an important retail price if you compare it to the previous stainless steel version that retails at 8,200 euro. The choice between the two versions is yours and yours only. What I feel like suggesting Omega is that it should continue developing its Omega Seamaster Ploprof so that it can soon become a point of reference for all divers; take this timepiece above the 1,200-meter-level and get rid of the helium valve, at that exact moment, this diving icon will be on top of the world.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®