Watch of the Month: New vs. Older Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M collection, so to commemorate the occasion Omega refreshed their popular dive watch collection. Let’s find out what the new changes are and how they compare to the preceding versions of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. Plus, in honor of Earth Day (Sunday, April 22 in case you forgot) we also take a quick look at Omega’s other dive watch lineup, the Planet Ocean.

 

What’s New with the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Design?

 

As always, Omega like to go big so they released no less than 14 new Seamaster Diver 300M watches at Baselworld 2018! These new models come in a range of material choices and color options ranging from full steel to two-tone steel and gold (yellow or rose) with familiar blue, black, and silver shades.

New Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (Image: Omega)
New Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (Image: Omega)

While the new Seamaster Diver 300M watches retain the overall recognizable style of the longstanding Omega dive watch, there are a few notable changes. First, the size of the case has increased slightly from 41mm to 42mm. Omega seems to be bucking the trend of scaling down case sizes and proudly going bigger this time around.

New Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (Image: Omega)
New Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (Image: Omega)

Another modification found on the new Seamaster Diver 300M is the use of ceramic for the bezel, replacing the once-favorite aluminum material. This isn’t much of a surprise as ceramic has become a darling in the luxury watch space. Cherished for its striking looks and robustness—especially resistant to scratching and fading—it makes perfect sense that ceramic is becoming the go-to material for high-end sports watches. As a dive watch, the ceramic bezels on the new Diver 300M models only rotate in one direction to prevent divers from overestimating their immersion times.

Ceramic continues on to the dials of the new Seamaster Diver 300M and fans will be delighted that Omega revived the wave pattern on the face of the watch. The signature pattern was a distinct feature of this collection for a long time, such as on this Seamaster Diver 300M 2531.80 circa 2007, but Omega did away with it for a few years. But it’s back, and even more prominent now thanks to the use of ceramic. Moreover, Omega kept the characteristic skeletonized center hands but they have been reshaped ever so slightly.

 

The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M’s New Movement

Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 (Image: Omega)
Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 (Image: Omega)

For the first time in the Seamaster Diver 300M’s 25-year history, Omega has equipped the new models with their new generation METAS-certified Master Chronometer 8800 automatic movement, ramping up the watches’ precision, accuracy, and durability. Omega’s modern self-winding anti-magnetic caliber—visible from the exhibition sapphire caseback—offers 55 hours of power reserve and operates at a frequency rate of 25,200 beats per hour (3.5 Hz).

As a result of the new caliber, the date window has moved from the traditional 3 o’clock position as found on the older Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 2532.2000 to a new position at 6 o’clock. Of course, as the model’s name suggests, the Seamaster Diver 300M retains its water resistance to 300 meters. Also continuing on the watch is the customary helium escape valve protruding from the case at the 10 o’clock position. The valve permits built-up gases to release from the watch during decompression periods, thus avoiding the crystal to pop off from pressure.

All in all, Omega did not drastically change the Seamaster Diver 300M but rather, added a few modern enhancements that’ll surely be welcomed by many.

 

What’s the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Watch?

 

One of the newer collections from Omega, the Seamaster Plane Ocean made its debut in 2005, positioned as the Seamaster Diver 300M’s bigger, bolder, and more robust brother. Take for example the Seamaster Planet Ocean 2200.51.00, flaunting a hefty 45.5mm case! Boasting double the water resistance of the Seamaster Diver 300M, the 600-meter rated Seamaster Planet Ocean is built for professional divers who love to explore underwater worlds.

Emphasizing Omega’s commitment to marine sustainability, the watch brand joined forces with the GoodPlanet Foundation in 2011 to raise awareness of the conditions of our oceans and to promote feasible ways to preserve their wellbeing. Omega has continuously produced special edition Goodplanet watches, including Planet Ocean versions along with Aqua Terra models, where a portion of the proceeds from these watches is donated to the foundation.

While Omega may be famous for having created chronographs for astronauts to take on space explorations, the Swiss watchmaker is clearly as dedicated to crafting impeccable dive watches for marine exploration too. And this is why we have chosen the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (and its buffer brother the Planet Ocean) as our Watch(es) of the Month.

February Watch of the Month: Cartier Tank Française

This month we are talking about one of our favorite classic timepieces. The Cartier Tank Française.

Just last year, Cartier celebrated the 100th anniversary of their famous Tank watch. The Cartier Tank was designed by Louis Cartier himself in 1917, and according to legend, the design was inspired by the new military tanks that fought on the battlefields during World War I.

The distinct ridged lines and rectangular shape of the Tank timepiece was intriguing indeed during a time when watches were typically round. Over the last century, the Tank watch has remained a mainstay in Cartier’s watch collections, with the brand producing countless iterations of the timepiece. The most popular version among them is the modern Tank Française watch, which made its debut in 1996.

 

Cartier Tank Française Watch Design Elements

When looking down at the watch, the case mimics the cockpit of an armored vehicle while the thick sides of the case—known as brancards—resemble a tank’s treads. In fact, to emphasize the military connection, the very first Tank watch was bestowed to American general John Pershing in 1918 to celebrate his contribution to the victory of the Allies.

When Cartier introduced the Tank Française, the Maison took a very contemporary approach to one of their most classic watches. For instance, the case of the Tank Française is squarer in shape rather than rectangular. Yet, the most distinct design detail of the then-new Tank Française was its integrated metal bracelet. The chain-link bracelet watch was very well received, particularly among a younger audience, and continues to be a top-seller for Cartier. Like most Cartier watches, the Tank Française is a unisex timepiece, available in a range of sizes from small to medium to large to extra-large.

In keeping with Cartier watch design codes, most Tank Française watches have the familiar black Roman numerals and blue sword-shaped hands on a white dial, along with the blue cabochon-cut stone mounted on the winding crown. Of course, there’s the “secret Cartier signature” hidden in the VII or X numerals too. There are some exceptions within the ladies’ Tank Française collection however, such as different color mother-of-pearl dials and diamond indexes rather than numerals.

Although the integrated bracelet and full metal look of the Tank Française is the most ubiquitous style, Cartier has introduced a few leather strap versions too. And whilst the stainless steel Tank Française is by far the most popular edition, there are some two-tone, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, platinum, and diamond models too.

In terms of functionality, the Cartier Tank Française collection runs the gamut from basic time-only models to chronograph versions. Furthermore, there quartz caliber editions, as well as mechanical movement versions too.

 

The Appeal of the Cartier Tank Française Watch

Part of the Cartier Tank Française’s appeal lies in the fact that its strong and straightforward classic design works well as an everyday luxury watch. Celebrities have worn different versions of the Tank watch for decades, including Elizabeth Taylor, Angelina Jolie, Andy Warhol, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Princess Diana. And in 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obama donned her Tank Française watch to accompany her black dress and white pearl necklace in her official White House portrait.

The Cartier Tank Française timepiece is most definitely a luxury watch, without going over the top. Very French. Very chic.

 

How Much Does the Cartier Tank Française Watch Cost?

Since the Cartier Tank Française has been around for more than two decades, there are plenty of options to buy them from the secondary preowned watch market. While a basic stainless steel small ladies’ Tank Française starts at $3,250 retail, a pre-owned watch in great condition can be picked up for about $2,000.

Retail prices of two-tone steel and gold Tank Française watches start at about $5,500 for smaller ladies’ models and about $7,000 for the larger men’s versions. On the other hand, full gold Tank Française timepieces start at around $15,000 and can go well beyond $25,000—particularly if you add a dash to diamonds to the mix. Pre-owned prices will save you anywhere from 20% – 50%, depending on the condition and age of the watch.

The Cartier Tank Française watch has rightfully earned its iconic status with luxury watch enthusiasts. One of Cartier’s greatest hits, the Tank Française, is a superbly designed watch that marries timeless elegance and modern approachability.

Quick Ways to Spot a Rolex Zenith Daytona Without Opening the Case

Few luxury watches today are as iconic as the Rolex Daytona. However, unbeknownst to some, Rolex’s signature chronograph had a rough start and things only started to turn around with the introduction of what is commonly referred to as the Rolex Zenith Daytona. Let’s find out what the Zenith Daytona is and how to spot one without opening its case.

 

What is the Rolex Zenith Daytona?

Rolex Zenith DaytonaIn 1963, Rolex unveiled their latest chronograph watch dubbed the Cosmograph. A short time later, the Daytona name joined the Cosmograph as Rolex wanted to align the watch with the city famous for auto racing. Today, this watch is simply known as the Daytona.

While it may be hard to believe today since they are so coveted in the vintage Rolex watch market, early generation Daytona watches were not strong sellers during their era. Consumers found their manual-wound movements to be cumbersome and their look a little old-fashioned.

In 1988, Rolex finally unleashed an automatic Cosmograph Daytona that would change the collection’s popularity forever. The watch grew from 37mm to a robust 40mm, included a sapphire crystal protecting the dial, and came exclusively with engraved metal bezels.

But the biggest innovation to the new Daytona was its engine under the hood, so to speak. The Daytona was now an automatic chronograph thanks to the Caliber 4030, which was based on the famous Zenith El Primero movement. But of course, this being Rolex, the company heavily modified the movement to suit their own exacting standards.

It’s estimated that the original El Primero movement underwent around 200 modifications including a new escapement, reductions in vibrations per hour, and the elimination of the date function, to become the Rolex Caliber 4030.

 

The Hallmarks of the Rolex Zenith Daytona

The Zenith Daytona watches bear 5-digit reference numbers: ref. 16520 for stainless steel, ref. 16523 for Rolesor two-tone, and ref. 16528 for solid yellow gold. There’s also the yellow gold ref. 16518 and the white gold ref. 16519 with leather straps. If you don’t have the reference number handy, however, there are some design details to consider when identifying a Zenith Daytona.

Rolex Zenith Daytona

The quickest way to spot a Rolex Zenith Daytona is to look at the dial configuration. The running seconds register is positioned at 9 o’clock while the chronograph hour counter sits at 6 o’clock. On future Daytona models, these two sub-dials are inverted. Also note that the registers on the white dial versions of the stainless steel ref. 16520 are outlined in black rather than silver.

Furthermore, the three registers are closer together on the Zenith Daytona compared to later Daytona watches. Also, the hour markers and center hands are slimmer on the Zenith Daytona models.

Stainless Steel Rolex Zenith Daytona

The introduction of an automatic Rolex Daytona changed the course of the collection forever. As a thoroughly modern watch, the Zenith Daytona paved the way for the chronograph’s iconic status. While Rolex eventually manufactured their own in-house chronograph movement—Caliber 4130—and vintage manual-wound Daytona watches are the most sought after in the secondary market, it’s important to remember that the Zenith Daytona made all of this possible.

Check out this steel Zenith Daytona here

Watch Highlight: OMEGA Speedmaster Reduced 3534.71.00

The Speedmaster is without a doubt OMEGA’s most famous model. Launched in 1957, the Speedmaster rose to fame as the watch that made it to the moon on the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing. Since its debut, OMEGA has offered countless versions of the Speedmaster chronograph, including this Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3534.71.00. Let’s get a closer look at the details.

What is the Speedmaster Reduced?

OMEGA unveiled the Speedmaster Reduced model in 1988 to complement the Speedmaster Professional collection of watches. Compared to the 42mm size of the Professional, the Reduced measures a smaller 39mm. Furthermore, while the Speedmaster Professional is famous for its manual-wound movement, the Reduced line features automatic calibers instead. As a result, the layout of the dial is slightly different, as are the positions of the winding crown and pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. It’s worth noting that the Speedmaster Reduced is sometimes referred to as the Speedmaster Automatic.

The Omega Speedmaster Mother Of Pearl

The particular OMEGA Speedmaster Reduced watch is the ref. 3534.71.00 sporting a 39mm stainless steel case with the characteristic tachymeter bezel. Flanking the winding crown on the case are the chronograph pushers. As we mentioned, these are positioned differently to the Professional models. Rather than the straight alignment on the Speedmaster Pro watches, the winding crown of the Speedmaster Reduced is positioned lower than the accompanying pushers. This is due to the movement within, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. Housed within the case is a white mother-of-pearl dial with blue oversized Arabic numerals. Also on the dial are the three registers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Compared to the Professional models, the Speedmaster Reduced watches have the subdials placed further out from the center and closer to the edge. Additionally, the arrangement is slightly different where the registers at 3 and 9 o’clock are reversed, thus placing the small seconds at 3 o’clock. Protecting the face of the watch is sapphire crystal and the Speedmaster Automatic ref. 3534.71.00 can safely plunge down to 330 feet (100 meters) deep underwater. This particular stainless steel model is presented on a matching stainless steel bracelet where the center links are decorated with fine lines for a dressier effect. Super comfortable to wear and great to look at—the perfect combo.

Omega 3220 Caliber

OMEGA introduced an automatic caliber to the Speedmaster line in 1972. That was the Caliber 1040, which was developed in collaboration with Lemania. Driving the Speedmaster Reduced ref. 3534.71.00 however, is the newer and updated Omega 3220 caliber. A self-winding caliber that was introduced in 2000, this particular movement is based on the ETA 2890-A2, along with a Dubois-Dépraz 2020 chronograph module. With 46 jewels and a rhodium-plated finish, the Omega 3220 caliber offers 40 hours of power reserve. Among the wide selection of OMEGA Speedmaster watches, the Reduced ref. 3534.71.00 is a great choice for those looking for a smaller and less expensive model. Plus, thanks to its automatic movement, the Speedmaster Reduced is a practical watch to have on hand.

 

Part sporty, part elegant, this unisex OMEGA Automatic is undoubtedly a great everyday luxury chronograph.

Watch Highlight: Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex certainly doesn’t have a shortage of “firsts” to its name. It all started with the world’s first waterproof wristwatch in 1926 with the Rolex Oyster. Then, in 1931, Rolex followed up with the Oyster Perpetual—the world’s first automatic watch mechanism equipped with a Perpetual rotor. A little over a decade later, in 1945, Rolex offered up yet another groundbreaking innovation with the world’s first self-winding wristwatch with a date indicator on the dial. An automatic watch that could indicate both time and date was an incredibly big deal in the 1940s. Rolex named that watch the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, or Datejust for short. While the inaugural model was crafted in 18k yellow gold and presented on a Jubilee bracelet, there have been countless iterations of the watch since it was first released. In fact, a major appeal of the Datejust is the immense variety of the collection.

The Design of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex produced the stainless steel Datejust ref. 16220 from 1989 to 1996. Like other Datejust models such as the Datejust 16014, 1601, 16234, and 16233, it sports the traditional 36mm Oyster case. It’s important to note that although 36mm sounds small — particularly considering today’s watch trends — the Datejust wears larger due to the design of the case and lugs. Many are surprised at just how great it fits on a man’s wrist. As with most Datejust models, this reference offers plenty of dial options including different colors and indexes. Furthermore, the Datejust ref. 16220 also comes paired with either the dressier Jubilee five-link bracelet or the sportier three-link Oyster bracelet. The most distinguishing detail of the Datejust ref. 16220, however, is its engine-turned stainless steel bezel, which is not too common when considering Rolex catalog. Stainless steel bezels on Rolex Datejust watches are typically smooth. On the other hand, the iconic Rolex fluted bezel is always in gold, whether white, yellow, or pink. As a result, the Datejust ref. 16220’s engine-turned bezel offers a great balance between the classic elegance of the fluted bezel and the contemporary appeal of stainless steel.

 

 The Mechanics of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.

The quintessential Rolex timepiece, the Datejust is a luxury watch that offers a rich history with a distinct and timeless design, along with modern practicality. And thanks to its intriguing bezel, the Rolex ref. 16220 is a Datejust that proudly stands out among its siblings.