A serendipitously timed article: The Omega Seamaster 1948
Those who know me will know that I am a big Omega fan with my collection consisting of mainly modern and vintage Omega and Seiko. As an Omega fan I am a particular fan of 2 famillies: The Speedmaster and the Seamaster. Therefore, the last few months have been very exciting for me with the reissue of the Calibre 321 movement and now the reissuing of another absolute classic: The original Omega Seamaster launched in 1948. This also ties in perfectly with a 1950s Seamaster with automatic movement and original case shape hitting the Young Horologist. Although made probably around 4-5 years later than the original this seamaster sports the same case configuration as the original 1948 Seamaster, making it a very desirable time capsule. I know- you never believed that we were this in sync with the watch market but here we are!
Firstly a bit of history. From 1940 to 1948 Omega produced watches for the British navy and Air force. These piece were highly revered for their technical capabilities, durability and water resistance. Post war, the combat robustness was not required by the market, so the best aspects of the military pieces were carried over into a civilian watch. Thus the Seamaster was born in 1948. Understand the name of the re-issue now?
The new Omega Seamaster 1948 in steel with the central seconds hand. Below is the vintage 1950s Omega Seamaster automatic (£475)
Weirdly, Omega launched this piece very quietly, prompting me to write this article to inform all those Omega nerds who may have missed it. When I initially saw this I was filled with a mixture of sheer elation, excitement and nerves (Kind of like loosing your virginity or going to your first heavy metal gig - Felix can't relate to the later). I was nervous because often modern reissues of iconic vintage watches involve the original design being blown up to 44mm, killing the charm and classic tasteful aesthetic. However, I needn’t fear as Omega have consistently kept their nerds in mind when designing reissues, evident in the recent Speedmaster Ultraman and the 1957 trilogy reissues. This new Omega Seamaster comes in a 38mm steel case but with their Calibre 8804 automatic co-axial chronometer with 60 hours power reserve. This piece also has a domed sapphire crystal instead of the vintage and more delicate hestalite crystal. What else? Yes, a clear case back! This really is the combination of vintage style meets modern technology.
The case back shows an engraving making reference to the 70th Aniversairy and military history of the original Seamaster military history
So far, they couldn’t have gotten this better if they tried. Next, the first seamasters either had a sub second hand at 6 or a central second hand. So, with the 1948 reissue they recreated both. Well played Omega. They also interestingly offer both in a platinum version (the standard offering being in steel) limited to 70 pieces. I can assume this piece is for the Omega nerds within the Saudi Royal family, I guess? A final touch that Omega have included just for the nerds, is that this piece comes on either a classic brown alligator or a perforated dark blue strap (Similar to the Heuer Carrera reissue) as well as a nato of your choosing. On their website you can see the full list of their natos and I now know Felix will be looking when his girlfriend goes away………. Basically, there is a large array of natos with both basic colours and pretty interesting patterns.
The Omega Seamaster 1948 comes in both a central second hand and a small second hand. They both come in a Platinum cased edition in limeted run of 70 pieces.
The one thing that may bring my excitement down, is the thickness of the watch. I can’t find any information yet but this is the next generation movement that is in my Modern seamaster ceramic. This is a fantastically thin movement for a 40mm dive watch but it could be too thick on a 38mm dress watch. However, I haven’t seen this watch in the flesh yet so I can't comment. I guess we shall wait and see. A confirmed down side is the cost. The boutique are offering the central seconds model at £4,720 and the sub-seconds model at £5,120. Now this sounds a lot to me considering you can get a vintage Seamaster with the authentic vintage aethstetic and charm (cough cough) for around £450-500 (cough cough). Then again, on the other hand, Omega may be attempting to relaunch a more dress watch orientated faction of the Seamaster family which slowly went extinct around the 90s. This I am all for and having this model at a price point that exceeds that of the regular conventional dive watch Seamasters, puts this line on a pedestal.
At this point it is worth mentioning that the Steel model does come in a limited run of 1948 pieces (Get it?). This suggests the Seamaster 1948 may not become a regular production model, contradicting my point about this becoming the new dressier segment of the seamaster family. However, this isn't to say a regular production model may not be in the pipeline. Only time will tell I guess. Would I personally buy this piece? No. Why? Because, although an exceptionally cool piece with perfect vintage design combined with a fantastic modern movement, this isn't the real deal. It's like one of those reissues of vintage E-type jags: Exceptionally cool and far better than the originals mechanically but way overpriced and doesn't possess the same charm and prestige. Also for the same price you can buy a vintage Rolex Explorer 2 Polar so...…..
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