Hands on with Omega’s 2014 Basel Highlights

Over the last few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of viewing some ridiculous watches, but much like the cars we drive our experiences are always enhanced when we’re able to take the product home and spend a few days enjoying it, which is exactly what we did with Omega’s 2014 Basel highlights.

After viewing the entire collection of 2014 watches in store at Omega we picked a few favourites to photograph and give you a little more insight and detail on. Firstly we chose to take home the Speedmaster Mark II and the Seamaster 300 Co-Axial followed a week later by the De Ville Trésor. We hit the streets with the Speedmaster Mark II and the Seamaster 300 to get a feel for the watches on the wrist and later stacked them up against each other.

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When you talk about classic cars someone almost always says, ‘imagine if you had an original DB5 chassis and interior with a modern engine and suspension system that was reliable enough to be driven everyday’. It’s safe to say that same statement can be applied to watches, especially the Speedmaster Mark II and Seamaster 300. Both are re-releases of iconic models featuring modern clasps, new lumes and new refined movements – they are brand new versions of watches already adored by so many and they too will become classics, there’s no arguing that.

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When I saw the watches, shortly before their Baselworld unveiling, I was seriously excited to get my hands on them, probably more so the Seamaster 300. The dial on the original is always something I’ve loved, it was outrageously ahead of its time and still looks as good as the day it was made. Somewhere along the way though my adoration turned to the Speedmaster Mark II, an undeniably masculine watch that grew and grew on me. I found myself sitting staring at it wear after wear, and I think that’s the tell tale sign of how much you like a watch. If you’re still looking down at it everyday stoked to have it on your wrist then it’s the watch that deserves to be there – if not, it’s time to move on.

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One of the biggest differences between the two watches (which you can see in the photos above) is the presence of glare, not just from the choice of crystal but from the finish of the steel. The Seamaster features domed scratch proof glass that protrudes above the bezel, naturally the dome shape reflects light more, both in photos and real life. I did however feel the amount of glare was enhanced by the choice of case and bracelet finishing. Unlike the Speedmaster the Seamaster 300 features a case and central bracelet links that are polished, again reflecting the light a lot more. On the Speedmaster the tonneau shaped case is a lot thicker and the glass sits flat and flush with the inset tachymeter bezel and I found it a lot more legible in the sun, in fact it was almost a thing of beauty with the sun kissing the glass making it appear a pale blue, almost like a faint mirrored lens.

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After all my own anticipation about the Seamaster 300 it turned out to be my least favourite of the three Omegas we photographed. It was however only one of SIX variations of the watch and they are:

  • Stainless steel – black dial/bezel – Ref. O233.30.41.21.01.001
  • Grade 5 titanium – blue dial/bezel – Ref. O233.90.41.21.03.001
  • Bi-colour stainless steel and 18K Sedna gold – Ref. O233.20.41.21.01.001
  • Bi-colour titanium and 18K Sedna gold – blue dial/bezel – Ref. O233.60.41.21.03.001
  • Full 18k Sedna gold – black dial/bezel – Ref. 233.60.41.21.01.001
  • Platinum – limited to 357 pieces – Ref. 233.90.41.21.03.002

At the Omega boutique I tried on the 18k Sedna gold version and absolutely loved it – rather expensive though!

I’m not 100% sure why the Seamaster 300 didn’t end up floating my boat. I’m really not a fan of the polished steel at all – reminds me of the steel/gold Rolex Submariner which I can’t stand. The unidirectional bezel felt a bit tinnie and the movement didn’t wind very confidently (I did however have a sample watch so that can be forgiven). On the positive side the watch is undoubtedly a functional tool boasting COSC-certification, a 60-hour power reserve, 15,000 Gauss of magnetic resistance and of course 300m of water resistance. I do also enjoy the 1950’s vintage styling and the exhibition case back is a fair choice considering the impressive Co-Axial movement beneath (even if it looks a bit dull). On another note I also enjoyed the size of the Seamaster, much easier to wear under a suit sleeve.

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The Speedmaster Mark II is glorious. Rotating your arm to look into it gets better every time. The sunken dial beneath the inset tachymetre bezel really grabs your attention, you feel like you’re looking down into the heart of the watch. The bracelet hugs your wrist and the tonneau case wears a lot smaller than you’d expect. The chronograph pushers are a great size for use with your thumb and like the rest of the watch feel rock solid. Under the iconic Hippocampus is a Co-Axial Calibre 3330, an automatic movement with durable silicon balance spring and column-wheel chronograph (which we unfortunately couldn’t use because the watch was a dummy). The Speedmaster Mark II utilises the same clasp as the Seamaster 300 which is very solid and operates via a push to realise function. Finally I must mention the brushed steel which is a real highlight, catching and dispersing rays of sunshine down the side of the case. Buy it!

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So finally we’re down to the De Ville Trésor, another modern spin on a classic 1950’s dress watch.

I’ll start with my only qualm, maybe they made it a couple of millimetres too big. Can you call a 40mm watch too big? I think for a fellow with large wrists this watch is perfect, personally I would have preferred it at 38 or 38.5mm but I’m being picky – I loved wearing this watch. It has a lovely weight and presence about it, not just on the wrist but also as a part of your greater outfit. The watch is unmistakably gold without being in your face and the honeycomb dial and thin case scream class. On the flip side it’s a delight. The rotor-less Omega caliber 8511 hand wound movement is finished to a standard that deserves an exhibition case back – complete with gorgeous gold balance bridge. Destined to become a timeless classic.

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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