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Omega Seamaster 300 Watchco; The best modern vintage money can buy

It was only this summer that I posted a review about the PRS-14. An amazing homage to the legendary Seamaster 300. Shortly after the review and as I was browsing ebay I stumbled across a really nice Seamaster 300 Watchco. I put in a cheeky offer and forgot all about it only to wake up two days later to be welcomed by the fact that the offer was accepted. I paid on the spot and waited for the postman to arrive....

Before we dive deeper into the Watchco lets first put some common misconceptions straight. Recently, Craft+Tailored, a well known vintage dealer and content creator, in an attempt to milk even more cash from uninformed enthusiasts has been stating that Watchco Seamasters have been assembled by NOS (New old stock) Omega parts. This couldn't have been further from the truth and once again it either highlights the ignorance of some of the "experts" or worse, reveals their attempts to intentionally misguide the public in favour of their bottom-line and figures. It is important to understand, and I cannot stress this enough, that the only vintage part of a Seamaster 300 Watchco is the Omega movement that powers it and nothing else. Omega still, to this day produces, all other parts required to build a Seamaster 300 that looks and feels the same way the watches of the 60s and 70s did. This includes cases, casebacks, crystals, hands, dials and even crowns, bezels and bracelets. All these parts are newly made and are called "service replacements". What is even more interesting is that different versions of these service replacement parts are emerging, depending on the batch run and probably on the manufacturing procedures used. These parts could be found cheaply and freely in the past and a number of enthusiasts and outfits would buy them and start assembling watches from scratch using donor movements.

To the next question then; what is essentially a Watchco? Some people call them Frankens, some others homages and some hardcore enthusiasts outright fakes. I prefer to see them for what thy are. Watches assembled from genuine Omega service parts that house period correct vintage movements and this is good enough for me. They are definitely not fakes and there are a lot of stories around of people who have sent their Watchcos to Omega who happily serviced them.

The Semaster 300 of the period is an iconic toolwatch that assumed legendary status after it was issued to the British Royal Navy. The issued watches benefited from a big triangle, dateless dial and fixed bars. If you ever find a Watchco with a Big Triangle Dial, run away. Omega has not produced them since, instead, it still offers two versions of the Arabic dial with both dateless and date design.

I know that some of the WIS crowd love a dateless design but for some reason I just cannot get along with a dateless diver or a GMT watch. I can forgive it on a chronograph but ideally, I would still like to have it...

So, is there a benefit in getting a Watchco over hunting down a vintage 300? If you ask me there are a few; First of all they are a bit cheaper, and that is always welcome. Secondly, they have amazing, functioning lume, and if someone intends to use the watch for its original purpose which was diving, this is a huge bonus. Third, all components - bar the movement - are basically new and all their parts are expected to be performing according to the manufacturer's specifications. Archer, a member of the Omegaforums and a certified omega watchmaker has been testing these cases at 20 bar and they have been passing with flying colours. Fourth, you know what you are buying - the vintage Omega scene is mind boggling and it is always very difficult to distinguish which parts are original to the watch, which are not and which have been tampered with....

Some of the purists will probably find a few drawbacks with the most obvious one being that the buyer does not get to experience the warm lume hue of a nicely patinated watch which is valid but it can always be replicated with a nice relume job - although I would steer clear of that - the bezels are apparently a pain to seperate and relume and might not be worth the effort. The most valid concern that has been expressed is about the state of the movements used. These are usually donor movements from less desirable timepieces and are already 60 years old. Unless they are properly serviced and looked after they may lead to a number of problems. The watch I got houses a 565 movement, with a quickset date but it arrived to me with a 562 main bridge on the movement and the 565 bridge as a spare since the jewel on it had failed. Thankfully these movements are plentiful and Omega still stocks a number of spares so an Omega accredited watchmaker should have no problem bringing them back to spec.

So how does it wear? F****ing amazing! it is so much thinner and lighter than any of the modern diver watches I have tried on and it just feels like it hugs the wrist! Despite the 42mm size it had a modest lug to lug and hence sits nicely even on smaller wrists. The mate black dial contrasts amazingly well with the white writing and the puffy lume plots making reading the time a breeze. The date window on mine is nicely framed and the black mate date wheel does not detract too much of the balance some of the purists crave. the numerals on the bezel are also lumed and shine brightly in low light conditions. The oversized sword hands are slightly curved ensuring that they always catch the light and the sweeping seconds hand is painted white enhancing legibility. No wonder the combination of this dial, handset and bezel became the archetype of the Royal Navy's requirements when procuring a new watch...

Just like the later versions of the original the crown is screw down rather than the naiad type and is really easy to grab, unscrew and set the time.

But if there is something that really sets this watch apart is the amazing case with the twisted lugs... hard to believe that so much elegance can be found in a toolwatch!

One of the best features of the watch is that it is an absolute strap monster. It looks amazing on pretty much anything you decide to pair it with, leather straps, natos and even a multitude of bracelets always look like they were made for the watch! Thankfuly, uncleseiko and forstner bands have recently started offering vintage inspired bracelets for Omegas, giving owners a number of options to suit all tastes. After a lot of trial and error I decided to go for the authentic look of the watch on a polished/brushed flat link bracelrt.

In my book, the Watchco is a great all rounder and one of the best kept secrets of the watchworld. Since Omega decided to restrict the supply of the parts, they have started becoming rarer in their own right and not many of them are available for sale at any given time. Considering the virtues of the watch I guess it makes sense since they turn out to be keepers for most of the collectors.

So, how does it fair up to its arch-rival, the mighty sub? Well, I have had the luck to experience a few submariners of that age and I would go for the seamaster every single time.....