In 1995’s Golden Eye, OMEGA equipped Brosnan’s Bond with a blue dial Seamaster. From then on, the Seamaster was Commander Bond’s go-to wristwear. The twenty-fifth film in the Bond franchise marks twenty-five years of OMEGA sponsorship. In No Time to Die, 007’s OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer is suitably modern – and strangely vintage . . .
OMEGA recently upgraded the Seamaster with new materials, movements and finishing. The changes gave the collection considerable traction among enthusiasts. The 007 Edition OMEGA Seamaster keeps many of the refreshed collection’s upgrades while turning its back some of the characteristics that define the regular production models.
Both watches are 42mm in diameter, replete with OMEGA’s distinctive screw-in Helium escape valve, lyre-style lugs, open-worked hands and a scalloped edge unidirectional rotating timing bezel. The standard Seamaster’s case features brushed and polished surfaces with an engraved ceramic dial and bezel. The 007 Edition’s dial and bezel are both made of matte finished aluminum.
OMEGA describes the 007 Edition OMEGA’s dial as “tropical brown” – romanticizing what looks like a blend of milky tea and London fog. There’s a reason you won’t find the dark gray color on any other of OMEGA’s Seamaster Diver 300Ms – it’s not so much “vintage” as dull.
The dial’s surface has a lightly pitted granular texture, a welcome change from the wavy sea motif on the regular production models. The dial features transfer printed text with markings in beige and bright red. It’s a bizarre color combination – not the kind of understated elegance you’d expect from a secret agent who buys his suits on Saville Row.
The 007 Edition’s applied hour indices are simple circular and rectangular shapes with a double bar marker at the 12 o’clock. The hour indices are finished with some kind of sand blasted look. The handset’s shape is identical to the regular production models.
The ‘brown’ aluminum bezel insert ring is filled with throwback khaki Super-LumiNova. Unlike the regular models, the sapphire crystal is domed. Counterintuitively, it makes the 007 Edition OMEGA Seamaster thinner than the standard Diver 300M.
The domed crystal creates some distortion and warping at its curved edges, marring legibility. Thankfully, the bezel detents are forgiving and crisp, and the 120-click action of the 60-minute elapsed timer can be operated comfortably underwater. The sharply knurled Helium escape valve stands out as a familiar 10 o’clock blemish. The crown is flanked by generously bolstered crown guards, protected against all hazards (save spearguns).
OMEGA’s decision not to equip the Bond watch with fully solid hands is odd. I’ve never warmed to the evacuated design, and fully lumed sword shaped hands would have kept the 007 Edition in line with dive watch tradition. That said, I’m sure the hands are easier-to-read while swimming up to an enemy submarine with explosives.
The lollipop second hand’s tip is dip-coated bright red to match the Seamaster script. Because color. OMEGA blackened the hands and indices – making them both tacticool and harder to read. Generous slatherings of lume make up for some of the lost legibility.
The prominent broad arrow at the bottom of the dial – just above the 6 o’clock – isn’t a “this way up” indication. The Brits use the symbol to mark military gear belonging to the Her Majesty’s Government. Not to quibble, but Section 4 of the Public Stores Act 1875 prohibits its use on non-government equipment. Not to mention that the marking’s a potentially life-threatening heads-up to a keen-eyed bad guy.
Unlike it civilian cousins, the 007 Edition’s dial doesn’t have any cutout windows or subdials, achieving a harmonious symmetrical balance. Credit OMEGA’s choice of in-house Caliber 8806. I don’t know if the Swiss watchmaker chose the movement because they didn’t want the date, or if they went no-date because they used that movement.
The 007 Edition’s case is fashioned from lightweight Grade 2 titanium, given a brushed finish. The caseback is secured by a NAIAD-LOCK (from the Greek for mythological water spirits) ensuring all the engravings stay correctly aligned. The broad arrow returns here, positioned above a series of numbers formatted to resemble military-issue code – just in case the bad guy missed 007’s employer the first time.
The featured model (reference 126.96.36.199) comes on a titanium Milanese-style mesh bracelet with straight barrel end-links. (Reference 210.92 has a NATO strap.) The design is a technical marvel, a distinctly retro move and a first for the Seamaster. It’s a dress watch vibe married to a tool watch aesthetic, completely at odds with both common sense and the collection’s history. [ED: click here for Milanese done right.]
The 007 Edition watch is motivated by the excellent Co-Axial Master Chronometer 8806 – an automatic winding, time-only movement with sweep seconds. For a simple sports watch, the finish is exquisite. The rakishly handsome modern movement boasts rhodium plating, red-filled engravings and 35 jewels. It’s not up to high-horology standard, but Bond wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers.
The promise of OMEGA’s co-axial escapement: less frequent service, more efficient operation. The 88XX series movements deliver on that promise. Their independently certified Master Chronometers are accurate to 0/+5 seconds per day. I’m continually impressed with the accuracy and reliability of my Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra’s caliber 8800. I expect nothing less from the 8806.
The 007 Edition’s construction is robust – ideal for withstanding car crashes or underwater espionage. Riding on unlubricated ceramic rotor bearings, the winding mass winds the mainspring in both directions. The only downside: the slightly grating noise caused by the open bearing system assembly’s interaction with the reversing wheels.
No Time to Die is Daniel Craig’s concluding performance. Bond’s watch appears to belong from his past, with a ‘dark tropical vintage’ appearance and ‘aged’ luminous material and markings. Only it isn’t. There’s no hiding the fact that it’s cutting edge, and brand new. The 007 Edition OMEGA is a particularly poor combination of vintage cool and modern machismo.
Costing in excess of $9,000, delivered in a canvas roll instead of a presentation box, made in unlimited quantities, the 007 Edition OMEGA Seamaster isn’t good value, either. Early “flippers” are making money now, but that’s bound to change when everyone who wants one, has one.
The newly reflective Bond needed a military-spec watch with a vintage appeal and that’s exactly what he’s got. What he didn’t get: a a suave future classic watch like the one he wore when OMEGA picked up the temporal gauntlet.
Nor did Bond fans get a watch that fully and obviously reflects the tongue-in-cheek bravado of previous Bond watches (e.g., the Goldeneye model). Here’s hoping OMEGA caters to our needs when designing the next Bond watch.
Model: OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer — 007 (Reference 188.8.131.52.01.001)
Price: €8,600 ($9,200)
Case material: Grade 2 Titanium
Case diameter: 42mm
Case back: Solid, Grade 2 Titanium
Case finish: Satin brushed
Crown: Screw-down winding crown, Grade 2 Titanium signed with Omega logo in relief, screw-down manually-operated Helium escape valve
Bezel: Unidirectional 120-click rotatable timing bezel, Grade 2 Titanium, 60 minutes graduated ring insert in tropical brown aluminum, Super-LumiNova filled
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal
Bracelet: Grade 2 Titanium mesh with adjustable buckle, signed Omega logo clasp
Movement: Omega Caliber 8806, Co-Axial Master Chronometer, automatic winding, sweep seconds
Power reserve: 55 Hours
Water resistance: 300 Meters
RATINGS (out of five stars)
Design * *
Uninspired vintage military looks detract from an otherwise good watch.
Legibility * * *
Dull but readable. Blackened hands and crystal warp affect readability.
Comfort * * * * *
Large but not oversized, thick but not chunky, Titanium wears light.
Overall * * *
Well-made drab watch that unfortunately takes inspiration from regrettable sources. Bond got what he asked for, but did we?