Wait, Omega Just Took First Place with Bronze
There are pros and cons to owning a bronze watch.
Bronze is traditionally an alloy of copper and tin – it's a soft metal. So if you're looking for a tough guy watch big on durability then you’re probably in the wrong department (may we direct Sir to the stainless-steel models, instead?) On the other hand, if it’s looks and character you’re after from your watch, bronze would be an excellent choice.
The good thing about bronze is that it takes on a patina. The more you use it, the more worn it'll look – it'll take on character like a beloved pair of brogues. Your watch will become unique to you. Also, since bronze chemically concocts its patina to protect it from damage, it won’t corrode the way that steel and iron can. Even saltwater and brine can’t penetrate the beauty of bronze. Which is why it's used - or at least used to be used - in so much diving equipment. Think the helmets in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
The Swiss watch giant Omega has been quietly tinkering around with bronze, developing its own hybrid alloy from copper, gold, silver, and palladium. The resulting new-fangled "Bronze Gold" (a patent is still pending) forms the main feature of a new Seamaster 300 dive watch. And a truly beautiful thing it is.
Used for the entire case and the buckle, the one-of-a-kind alloy contains 37.5 percent gold, hallmarked as 9K to create a color Omega says sits between its existing "18K Moonshine gold" and its "18K Sedna gold". It already conjures up images of steampunk daring-do from another time, a vibe Omega has doubled-down on with a raft of retro design cues, employed to tweak and modernize the Seamaster's design.
The vintage Arabic “open style” numerals are inspired by Seamasters from the Sixties, the “lollipop” second hand came from a 1959 model and the domed sapphire crystal is slimmed down and integrated into the watch, so it appears flatter than recent versions – another nod to a different time in watchmaking.
The dial has been cleaned up so that only the words “Omega” and “Seamaster” are displayed – all the other info ("Co-Axial Master Chronometer") has moved to the case back. The strap and the clasp have both been slimmed down and redesigned, too.
“Looking at watchmaking from a seafaring perspective, there is one material that is very, very important but has not been used widely in the watchmaking past,” says Petros Protopapas, Omega’s brand heritage director. “As a diver myself I am well aware of the important role bronze played in creating equipment for divers. Bronze has a high resistance to saltwater and to salty-air atmosphere. We looked to the past and created a new alloy, and watch to go with it.”
To our mind this is one of the nicest iterations of the Seamaster in its 70-plus year history, a masterclass in pinching just enough old-school references to stop it feeling like a pastiche, and presenting them into a smart, contemporary watch. (We can imagine this one making customers think twice about choosing a vintage watch over a new - it's the best of both world's here.)
The new Seasmaster is available with a blue and a black dial in stainless steel (should Sir feel that actually, maximum durability is what’s required after all). Each features a 60-hour power reserve and Omega’s latest Calibre 8912 movement, certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS) for superior accuracy.
Omega has also announced another new watch – the “Seamaster Diver 300M Black Black”. As its name suggests, it’s black – black dial, black hands, black case, black markings, black rubber strap... all black. This version of the Diver – the more pro Seamaster line first released in 1993 – uses contrasting shades to ensure legibility, as well as a range of materials from ceramic to rubber. Omega has laser-ablated almost every detail on the ceramic dial. From the waves to the minute track, wording and even the Omega logo – all the details have been crafted in positive relief from a single piece of material. The engineers have also used a laser-ablated finish on the bezel to create the diving scale in positive relief, and in a different texture to the rest of the bezel. Omega says that there are a total of four different finishes applied to these various ceramic components.
It's cool, it's stealthy, it's unapologetically blokey... If James Bond didn't already have his No Time To Die watch, this would be ideal.
Then again, maybe there's still time...
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.