Written contributing writer, Furry Wrist Abroad
After its release in the 2014 Baselworld Show, I was in love. I wanted a desirable watch to accompany me on my dives and the Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial was it. I quickly placed my order for the watch and eagerly awaited its arrival. Promising vintage appeal in a resoundingly ground-breaking and modern package, this watch made me a one-watch person for two years.
Design (case, dial, bracelet)
The proportions of the watch are essentially perfect. Coming in at 41mm with a perfectly proportioned 21mm lug width, this watch is well-suited for all occasions. With a lug to lug measurement of 48mm, it ensures wearability for those with smaller wrists. The 15mm thickness also means that it has no problems being worn in formal scenarios. The sand-blasted ceramic dial is an absolute treat. Shifting from a near black to a shimmering grey, this dial never stops impressing me and others. The laser-cut dial with recessed hour markers adds unexpected depth to this vintage-inspired watch.
One aspect of the vintage styling which may go too far is the luminescent paint colour used. Though very stylish, it is not nearly as powerful as the luminescent paint used on Omega’s Professional series of watches. The minute hand and the pip on the bezel are coloured green, while everything else is blue. This is a nice touch, but the chance to enjoy this is marred by its inability to hold a charge. My example was worse than others who also own this watch, however (but that changed later). My watch would only hold a charge for about an hour and a half before fading into the darkness. Every other 300 I encountered had better-performing lume.
The sapphire caseback proudly displays the pioneering caliber 8400 movement. It has a 60 hour power reserve, industry-leading anti-magnetism and the beautiful yet quirky co-axial movement. Beating at an irregular 25,200 beats per hour, the multi-levelled circular escapement is a joy to watch. Seeing this movement in action is a great pleasure and a great reason alone to purchase an Omega dive watch. The greater than 15,000 gauss magnetic resistance also offers a peace of mind that is appreciated.
The mixture of polished and brushed finishing on the case and bracelet is immaculate. Unlike most others, I prefer the polished surfaces as they dress up the watch. They also wear their scars over time proudly making the watch yours.
The clasp with the sliding dive extension was new for Omega with this release. It proves very capable and useful as the day progresses and your wrist expands and contracts. I never dove with the bracelet on however and we will visit this soon.
The First Two Years
The watch performed admirably in its first two years. The only issue occurred with the clasp and was taken care of under warranty. The spring responsible for keeping the clasp closed failed, resulting in the watch coming loose. The watch kept time within +2 seconds a day before rising to +4 seconds a day in the second year.
I wore this watch every day and had started to wear it on many different straps. I preferred wearing it on NATO or pass-through straps for ease. This watch truly became the only watch I wore for its versatility. It was able to be paired with any strap and any outfit.
The Third Year Onwards
At the start of the third year however, my Seamaster started performing erratically. The watch would vary from running 7 to 15 seconds fast a day. By comparing my watch to that of others, it seemed that most owners who truly wore this watch on a daily basis needed to service this watch around the three-year mark. This raises an interesting point regarding warranties and we will come back to this in the conclusion of this review. After giving the watch in for service, I waited a couple of months for it to return. When it did return, it once again told time accurately. I did however notice some dust through the exhibition caseback twice and had the matter quickly resolved. If you can visit the servicing centre yourself it is highly advised. You will receive great service and attention by doing so.
After taking it on a couple of dives however, I noticed that the bezel had started to disintegrate. With the help of others, I discovered that this was not an issue just on my watch. Swatch Group Canada quickly replaced my bezel as a goodwill gesture. I was very grateful for this because the LiquidMetal ceramic bezel costs around $900 Canadian.
Performance While Diving
The Seamaster performed admirably underwater except in one instance. The crown of the watch never felt as smooth as other Seamasters that I had tried. On a day with multiple dives, I found that the crown of the watch was coming loose. It never came loose enough to disengage the gasket and let water in, though. The constant expansion and decompression of my wetsuit watch against the watch was to blame. The crown would come loose due to the friction of moving with the suit. This issue was resolved after its first servicing and never happened again while on a dive.
The reflective rhodium-plated hands offered great visibility underwater. They reflected light at every opportunity. The white seconds hand was also highly visible underwater. It came in handy when training novice divers with various timed exercises. Many who had reviewed this watch complained about the seconds hand, but I prefer it as it was designed.
The aforementioned poor performance of the luminous material on the hands and dial never became an issue underwater. In scenarios where I dove at night or there was very little light, I had multiple lights on my kit. As a result the watch was always lit whenever I viewed it.
Would I Recommend This Watch?
After four years of ownership I would recommend this watch and that of any other mechanical luxury watch – but with a substantial series of caveats:
• if you are willing to part with your watch for a few months every two to three years for servicing
• if you are willing to get to and hand off your watch to the service centre in person
• if you are able to speak in person with the watch company, this being Swatch Group for example
• finally if you are willing to pay for regular servicing every few years
If you are willing to endure the above, the watches such as this Omega will give you a lifetime of joy. I would like to leave you with one point, however.
Over the last decade, the prices of Swiss watches have gone up substantially. They have also gotten into an arms race when it comes to extended warranty periods. If these watches are worn on a daily basis, they will need to come in for servicing well before their warranty is up and the manufacturers know this. Thus it is easy to conclude that they have built in the cost of your first service into their raised prices. Luxury car companies openly do this with lease payments and final prices. These extended warranties are simply a marketing tactic to gain new consumers with falsely perceived extra value. Do not use the warranty as a deciding factor when choosing between watches. Get the watch that you love and enjoy it to its fullest capabilities.
More Images of the Omega Seamaster 300 Co-Axial
Check out the Omega website