A few years ago, I visited my first Olympics event in Sochi, Russia, with Omega to appreciate the importance of the global event in terms of bringing people together as well as the impactful role that Omega plays as the official timekeeper – a role they have held since 1932 when the first modern Olympics was held in Los Angeles. Seeing the opening ceremony and some of the Olympic competition events in Rio de Janeiro and experiencing the impressive nature of the deeply emotional event, I continue to be enthused by Omega’s participation. The games, after all, are among the last forms of healthy competition between the world’s nations, and while it is designed to have both winners and losers, no one who takes part in it loses in the opportunity to bridge perceptual gaps and find cultural commonalities.
One of the things about the Olympics that I did not realize prior to Rio was how, in addition to the Olympics logos, the only other logo you’ll really see when the events are televised (and spectated in person) is the Omega logo. Given that millions upon millions of people view the Olympics each time it is held, the fact that the Omega logo is presented as part of many things related to timing and measuring must be hugely positive for the Swiss watch brand. So much so that I can only imagine the intense pressure from other major partners and sponsors of the Olympics also wanting their names to be displayed in a manner even modestly similar to that enjoyed by replica Omega UK.
With that said, Omega has a variety of goals in their ongoing work with the Olympics that are in addition to ensuring timing is both fair and accurate. These goals include connecting with consumers and athletes alike. People sometimes forget that athletes and people known for performance are an incredibly important part of the appeal of many sports watches. Athletes are watch consumers too, and Omega actually awards each of the US athletes who qualifies to compete in the Olympics their entry-level 38.5mm Seamaster Aqua Terra quartz watch that retails under $3,000. Omega is giving them a taste of a brand that they will hopefully become fans of for the long term, and rewards their participation in the events with a timepiece to start their journey of timepiece appreciation.
How Omega celebrates the Olympics isn’t always viewable on television or in the media. Being at these events with them grants some special privileges that only luxury companies seem to get away with. In Rio de Janeiro, it was a private cocktail hour and dinner at the top of the city in Corcovado. Most people know this as the location of the famed “Christ the Redeemer” statue which overlooks the city and is one of the most recognizable man-made objects on the planet. The Swiss can be very slick when they want something, and thanks to Omega, myself and other guests of the brand can now say that we haven’t just seen this man-made wonder of the world, but we also drank champagne and ate there while laughing and checking out each others’ watches. That was a good night indeed.
To frame the Rio 2016 Olympic games, I want to focus on my favorite limited edition (among several) for this year’s Olympics, which is the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 Limited Edition reference 5188.8.131.52.01.001 watch. Until now, I’d never actually worn an Omega Seamaster 300M timepiece – even though it remains one of Omega’s most popular watches. Originally released in 1993, the modern-day Omega Seamaster Diver 300M has since undergone changes and was most well-known for being an iconic James Bond watch (among many). Pierce Brosnan famously wore one when playing 007 in the film Goldeneye. Omega also readily admits that, despite not actually marketing the luxury replica Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, it remains a very important product for the brand. In wearing the watch, I think I’ve figured out part of why that is.
Since 1993, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M has changed a lot, but so has Omega’s larger collection of diving watches. It now exists as their more utility-oriented diver next to other equally functional but more “lifestyle”-themed models such as the Seamaster Planet Ocean and the Seamaster 300. Yes, there is some name confusion because there is one watch called the Seamaster 300M and one called the Seamaster 300.
At 41mm wide and 13.07mm thick in steel, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is extremely comfortable. It is also very distinctive. While it would probably be wrong to suggest that no one has emulated the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, the watch has not been copied (either in full or in part) like the Rolex Submariner has, for instance. As a watch collection, this timepiece is very clearly an Omega and nothing else.
I mentioned the Rolex Submariner for a reason, and that is because the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is really Omega’s primary competitor to “the luxury dive watch to beat.” The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is modest in proportions and has a pleasant, medium size on the wrist. It is a touch larger than the Submariner and thinner than pretty much all the other Omega dive watches. Omega does produce a 39mm-wide version of the Seamaster Planet Ocean, but those are easily thicker than the relatively svelte lines of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M which does have a relatively thin profile on the wrist compared to most of the brand’s other sport watches.
The Omega Seamaster Diver 300M five-link polished/brushed bracelet was designed as a sort of diver version of the Speedmaster bracelet with some more curves and a diver’s extension bracelet. It’s a darn comfortable bracelet with a bit of modern retro charm that will bring 1990’s nostalgia to anyone who was a watch lover in that decade. The bezel and dial are totally fresh and have remained thematically the same since the original Seamaster 300M came out.
One thing that was actually discontinued a few years ago was the wave-style texture on the dial of the original Co-Axial Chronometer Seamaster 300M (debuted 2005 or 2006) that came on the reference 184.108.40.206.01.002. Today’s standard reference 220.127.116.11.01.003 version that was released in 2011 or 2012 has a solid lacquer dial versus a textured one and moved from an aluminum bezel insert to a ceramic one. A lot of collectors miss that wave-style dial look, which is one reason the exact replica Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 edition model should be so cool to at least some people.
Look closely at the black dial and you’ll indeed see waves. Not just any waves, but rather a wave-style pattern borrowed from the design found in some public sidewalk areas of the famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Nearby this iconic ground texturing was one of Omega’s more special fixtures during the Rio Olympics known as the “Omega House.” This special installation has Omega watch-themed rooms and is among the more interesting venues visitors and residents were able to see during the Olympic games.
I don’t claim to know much about Rio de Janeiro – and I didn’t get to see much of it this time around. The topography of the city (not the largest in Brazil) is a picture of urban sprawl and energy. Very densely populated, Rio residents seem to build on top of one another, with Lego-type (both in color and style) buildings framed by electrical wiring and set against a backdrop of dramatic mountains.
As a limited edition, the Rio Olympics theme on this Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 is thankfully light. People at major watch brands like Omega seem to have gotten the message that customers don’t want kitschy limited editions with overly emphasized connections on the dial to whatever associated event a limited-edition watch is meant to honor. Really, all that makes this watch unique are the bezel numeral colors and the special pattern on the dial. What you also have which is cool is an engraving of the Rio 2016 Olympics logo on the rear of the case done in relief. It’s quite tasteful, to be sure. But is the watch appealing to those that didn’t go to the Rio games?
I would say “yes.” The reason is that the watch is cool independent of the relationship to the Olympics. The engraving on the back of the watch actually tells you around when the watch was released (which is a nice reminder for you or future owners years from now), and the design differences (such as the ring logo colors on the bezel) are a reminder of how important the Olympics are to the brand. Thus, while this is a Rio 2016 watch, it is also generally just a cool Omega Seamaster Diver 300M that also seizes the opportunity to take some design influence from the Olympic world.
Not everyone will like the colors printed in lacquer on the otherwise black ceramic bezel. With the black of the bezel itself you have all the Olympics colors found in the well-known interlocking rings logo which also includes blue, yellow, red, and green. The added color does take away a bit from the cold determination of this timepiece as a tool, but it does give some extra character to a classic. Adding a bit of unexpected color is a time-honored way of giving a fun little twist to something otherwise familiar and conservative – that makes it appealing to existing fans (and even new ones) all over again.
Brazil also happens to be a place that is all about color. From the famous Carnival event held annually in Rio de Janeiro to so much of the culture, colors in Brazil are both appreciated and demanded. In fact, it’s something you find all over the world in more tropical environments. Even Rio’s poorest corners have buildings painted in bright, friendly colors. You even see it in the city’s vast array of graffiti art (which to a large degree is much more artistic and visually appealing than that which you see in the United States).
One thing I knew about Brazil prior to ever going there was that the country has a lot of serious watch lovers and collectors. The pride of the people is a force to be reckoned with, and for years aBlogtoWatch content has received significant attention and feedback coming from Brazil. I’m proud of that, even though much of the country doesn’t seem to speak even rudimentary amounts of English. Not that I have any Portuguese language skills to speak of, but I would have guessed a bit more English was spoken in at least Rio. That’s something English-speaking people like me traveling there should know – even though a great many highly educated and traveled people who speak English (among many other languages) populate the city.
Even though Omega doesn’t really take part in the organization of the Olympics aside from working with the planners for event timing and recording purposes, it is a guest of the hosting city given that both its name and many of the brand’s people are present for the entire Olympic games period which spans about two weeks. This means that not only does replica Omega watches take part in the games in various roles, but Omega as a company develops its own internal history and memories of Olympics each two years that there is an event to be a part of. I say all this to mention simply how distinct and truly unique Omega’s relationship with the Olympics is in the scope of luxury watch brand partnerships.
The feeling of joy when an athlete wins, or even when there is a disappointing defeat is almost tangible in the room when you watch any particular competition. Seeing the Olympics on television is simply not the same as being there where the struggle for excellence is truly electric. Anyone who watches the Olympics knows that for the most part seconds and parts of seconds count when determining winners. I was lucky enough to be watching when a Hungarian woman set a new world record in a particular swimming event. She not only won, of course, but beat the existing world record by about two full seconds. In the world of records that is a huge margin, and properly being able to record it is crucial. In another event during that same session, a male Japanese swimmer narrowly beat an Australian swimmer by about 0.15 seconds. If the Olympics doesn’t engender a group of highly influential people to be utterly obsessed with time and timing, then I simply don’t know what will. Many (of course, not all) of these champions from around the world will grow up (or grow into) being luxury watch fans simply because of the importance that timing had in both their training and their success. This is just one of the many interesting and probably unintentional positive side effects Omega receives from its dedicated participation with the Olympics each two years.
Speaking of timekeeping, let’s return to the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 Limited Edition, which with its colors both matches the personality of Rio de Janeiro as well as the Olympic games themselves. Inside the watch is the Omega caliber 2500 movement which is an interesting mechanism. The 2500 was one of the first movements to use a working industrial version of the Co-Axial Escapement technology Omega purchased from George Daniels and spent years trying to mass produce. The 2500 automatic movement begins with a base ETA caliber (Omega is owned by the Swatch Group that also owns the watch movement-maker ETA) and then uses a special Co-Axial Escapement system. Even though Omega could probably get away with calling this movement in-house, it is in truth a hybrid between their own parts and those from ETA (again, same parent company). Omega instead uses the more accurate term “exclusive” to define the movement.
You should further know that this modern version of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M uses the latest version of the 2500 movement (known as the caliber 2500d, which is the fourth iteration of the movement). Since its debut Omega has made a series of changes to it in order to improve its reliability and performance. When the latest version of the Diver 300M came out, Omega upgraded the movement from the 2500c to the 2500d which finally offers a full three-level co-axial escapement (which is what George Daniels wanted all along) that Omega was finally able to industrialize and offers the greatest stability. The Co-Axial Escapement technology was intended to increase the accuracy of the movement over time, and further decrease time between service intervals (it is claimed that a Co-Axial Escapement in the 2500d has twice the service life as a traditional Swiss lever escapement). When Omega moved from the 2500b to the 2500c, they made the interesting change from a 4Hz (28,800bph) movement frequency to the exotic 3.5Hz number (25,200bph). Power reserve for the automatic caliber 2500 movement is 48 hours, and the movement is a COSC-certified Chronometer. Rob at Topper Jewelers offer more information about the modern history of the Omega 2500 Co-Axial movement family in this article here.
The original Omega Seamaster Diver 300M watches did not have ceramic bezel inserts, but the modern versions do (both blue and black options exist). This is among the more desirable modern touches of this otherwise still modern dive watch design. As the name implies, the case is water resistant to 300 meters and also has a manual helium release vale at 10 o’clock. Even though this feature is mostly useless to all but some professional divers, it has become an iconic and distinctive element of many Omega dive watches, which was carried to the Seamaster Planet Ocean dive watch family as well. That, combined with the dial, bezel, case, and five-link bracelet design make for a timepiece which has few parallels and a lot of personality.
When Omega presented this Rio 2106 version of the Seamaster Diver 300M to retailers, it was so well-received that they decided to increase the volume of the limited-edition run. The original limited edition number was of course supposed to be 2,016 pieces. Omega later upped that amount to 3,016 pieces due to popular demand. Trust me in saying that the typically conservative and inflexible Swiss likely needed some serious persuading by their sales team in order to create a number for the limited-edition run that was more than 2,016 pieces.
You don’t need to get the Rio 2016 edition of the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M to enjoy this iconic modern dive watch, but it might be the one for me since I like classic designs with a twist. It might even be up there with a basic Speedmaster as a must-have watch for collectors seeking a truly well-rounded assortment of watches which epitomize the contemporary landscape of timepieces that not only look good, but that helped so many people get into nice watches to begin with. Limited to 3,016 pieces, price for the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 Limited Edition reference 518.104.22.168.01.001 watch is $4,900.
>Model: Seamaster Diver 300M Rio 2016 Limited Edition ref. 522.214.171.124.01.001
>Size: 41.5mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Traditionalist Omega dive watch lover wanting something classic with a twist.
>Best characteristic of watch: Despite the aging platform (with some modern updates like the ceramic bezel insert) this relatively affordable and sturdy dive watch has a good movement, distinctive sense of brand DNA, and a classic tool watch look that will continue to look good in the future. In this particular model, the subtle nods to both Rio de Janeiro and the Olympics are tasteful and fun. Good medium size for those less interested in larger sport dive watches.
>Worst characteristic of watch: An aging platform means some drawbacks such as a rotating bezel without the same tactile experience of some modern watches and a bracelet that lacks a micro-adjust feature. The particular colorful look of this limited-edition model isn’t for everyone (but it isn’t meant to be).