Review of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
Review of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
By: John B. Holbrook, II
November 23rd, 2010
Luxury sport automatics are the hottest segment in the watch industry, and Omega has been a leader of the segment since their founding by Louis Brandt in 1848 in La Chaux-de-Fonds. So when Omega announced the release of the Seamaster Plant Ocean – a brand new entry in this ultra-competitive sport watch segment at the 2005 Basel World watch show, the entire industry stood up and took notice.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean is the first significant redesign of the Seamaster since the introduction of Omega Seamaster Professional in 1993. The Planet Ocean is offered in two different size variations – one in 42mm, and one if 45.5mm, and is available with either a strap or bracelet. Comparing the new Seamaster Planet Ocean to the previous Omega Seamaster Professional, the 42mm Planet Ocean is nearly identical in size proportions. However there are several cosmetic differences. Gone is the scalloped bezel shape of the Seamaster Professional, and it’s place on the Planet Ocean is a coin edge bezel that’s quite reminiscent of the old Seamaster 300 from the later 1950’s. The Planet Ocean dial also pays homage to the Seamaster 300, as the marker design and layout is almost identical in appearance. However the Planet Ocean hands seem to draw from both the Omega Broad Arrow and Aqua Terra with their arrow head shape.
While the case design of the Planet Ocean is very similar to the Seamaster Professional, water resistance is significantly improved on the Planet Ocean – 600m/2000ft. vs. 300m/1000ft. on the Seamaster Professional. The upper left hand quadrant of the Planet Ocean sports the familiar helium escape value first introduced on the Seamaster Professional, but the winding crown on the right hand side of the case is significantly larger in diameter and easier to grip than the previous version.
As gorgeous and exciting as the rest of this watch is, I believe the Omega Caliber 2500 movement within the case is the most interesting feature of this watch. Like the Omega Caliber 1120 which is commonly used in the Seamaster Professional line, the self-winding Caliber 2500 is based upon the ETA 2892-2. The use of the ETA ebauche means that the Caliber 2500 isn’t considered an “in house” movement, or manufacturer’s caliber in the strictest of sense. But, given that both Omega and legendary movement manufacturer ETA are owned by the Swatch Group, the Caliber 2500 might just be an “in family” movement even if it isn’t manufactured completely “in house” by Omega. The Caliber 2500 ads 2 more jewels as compared to the Caliber 1120 (27 jewels in total) as well as employing the revolutionary Co-Axial Escapement designed by George Daniels. The primary engineering advantage gained by this design feature is greatly reduced friction. Thanks to this reduction in friction within the movement, the Caliber 2500 requires minimal lubrication. The Planet Ocean can go an amazing 10 years between servicing, and has a warranty period from Omega one year longer than other watches they sell (3 year manufactures warranty).
Additionally, the Caliber 2500 is equipped with a simplified regulating system called a free-sprung balance which greatly improves the timing precision of this COSC certified movement.
The Caliber 2500 vibrates at a speed of 25, 200 VPH – an unusual beat speed that to my knowledge has never before been used in a movement balance. Apparently the odd balance speed is attributable to the complex co-axial escapement, and the somewhat narrow parameters in which it operates optimally. I’ve gone on record many times lamenting the beat speed of the caliber 2500, so I won’t beat a dead horse here except to say that I would prefer the caliber have a standard high-beat speed of 28,800 VPH. Even though the Caliber 2500 is hidden behind a solid case back on the Planet Ocean, Omega has applied a premium level of finishing to the movement. The rhodium coating and Geneva waves on the rotor and bridgework are quite stunning. The rotor is also signed with the Omega logo and caliber number. While it is too early in the Caliber 2500’s production history to make any definitive judgments, it is clear that the movement has the potential to take a seat at the table which includes the world’s greatest automatic movements. Many watch makers consider the ETA 2892 a legendary movement in its own right. With the impressive modifications that Omega has applied to create the Caliber 2500, the horological significance of the movement is increased by an order of magnitude.
Omega is not the first manufacturer to make use of George Daniels innovative design feature, but they are the first to include it in a mass production model watch. The free-sprung balance is another somewhat rare engineering enhancement rarely seen in watches with prices attainable by mere mortal men (Rolex has used a similar regulation system for several years as a cornerstone of their movements precision).
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is a worthy successor to the Seamaster Professional line, and a strong contender in the hotly contested luxury sport watch segment. My personal tastes tend to lean more toward the previous Seamaster Professional models, but since the Planet Ocean’s introduction, it has proven to be an extremely popular model.
*All text and images contained in this review are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.