For some brands, it isn’t enough to have just one dive watch collection; many watchmakers offer a range of diving watch models with different specifications. Take Omega for example, which has one of the most comprehensive collections of divers to choose from.
One of them is the Seamaster Planet Ocean, which relative to Omega’s history, is a rather young collection. Yet, regardless of its age, the Planet Ocean has cemented its status as a modern icon among the various Omega watches. Read on as we shine a light on the history and evolution of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean dive watch.
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Makes It Debut
Like the Diver 300M and the Ploprof 1200M, the Planet Ocean 600M belongs to the Seamaster collection. Omega unveiled the Planet Ocean 600M in 2005 as a modern dive watch with, as its name implies, a water resistance rating of 600 meters. The first Planet Ocean collection offered two case sizes – 42mm and 45.5mm – both in stainless steel, both sporting aluminum unidirectional bezels, and both fitted with a Helium Escape Valve for saturation diving.
Bezel color options included black and orange, and Omega also offered the choice of a steel bracelet, leather band, or rubber strap. Naturally, as a contemporary watch, the Planet Ocean was furnished with a sapphire crystal and Super-LumiNova luminescence.
Modern as it may be, the Omega Planet Ocean did draw a handful of design cues from the 1957 Seamaster 300 watch. Similarities between the two models include the Broad Arrow hands, black dials with a minute track around the periphery, and Arabic numerals at 6, 9, and 12. However, instead of the numeral hour marker at 3 o’clock found on the Seamaster 300, the Planet Ocean includes a date window in its place.
The first editions of the Planet Ocean ran on the Omega Caliber 2500 automatic movement, which supplied the watch with a 48 hours power reserve. While this movement is based upon an ETA ébauche, the Caliber 2500 (released in 1999) was the first to include the Co-Axial escapement – invented by George Daniels, who sold the patent to Omega in 1993.
In 2006, Omega presented the Planet Ocean Chronograph with a 45.5mm stainless steel case and three colorways to choose from: black, black and orange, and black, orange, and white. The chronograph pushers featured colored aluminum rings around them, while the dials included a trio of sub-dials at 3/6/9 o’clock along with a date window tucked in between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Band options included a steel bracelet, an orange rubber strap, or an orange leather strap. The first generation Planet Ocean Chronographs relied on the self-winding Omega Caliber 3313, which is a column-wheel chronograph with a 52-hour power reserve and a Co-Axial escapement.
In 2009, Omega introduced the limited edition (1,948 pieces) Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Liquidmetal as the world’s first watch to bond ceramic and Liquidmetal. Liquidmetal is Omega’s proprietary metallic glass alloy (zirconium, titanium, copper, nickel, and beryllium) that is three times harder than steel. It is used to fill the recessed numbers in the bezel, forming a single solid piece with ceramic insert.
The innovative black ceramic and Liquidmetal bezel of the Planet Ocean 600M Liquidmetal sat on top of a 42mm stainless steel case, which was fitted with a steel bracelet. The watch housed a black dial with the familiar Planet Ocean layout but included the addition of “Zr02” text to signal the use of ceramic. Inside the case was the same Caliber 2500.
In-House Co-Axial Caliber Planet Ocean Models
In 2011, Omega unveiled an entirely new generation of Planet Ocean and Planet Ocean Chronograph, all powered by in-house movements and topped with ceramic/Liquidmetal bezels.
Omega offered this then-new family of Planet Ocean watches in three different sizes: 37.5mm, 42mm, and 45.5mm. What’s more, along with the standard steel editions, there were also titanium models (gold versions joined later in 2012) and the color choices expanded to include blue and white details.
Inside the ladies’ Planet Ocean was the in-house Co-Axial Caliber 8520 automatic movement (50-hour power reserve), while the two larger models featured the in-house Co-Axial Caliber 8500 automatic movement (60-hour power reserve).
On the other hand, the Planet Ocean Chronograph versions were equipped with the in-house Co-Axial Caliber 9300 inside their 45.5mm cases. Similar to the time and date PO collection, Omega also made the Planet Ocean Chronograph available in steel or titanium, along with a wide assortment of colors and bracelet/strap styles.
In 2013, Omega released the Planet Ocean 600M GMT model, which featured a new case size for the collection at 43.5mm. Like the three-hander and chronograph versions, the Planet Ocean GMT also ran on an in-house movement: the Co-Axial Caliber 8605 to drive the hours, minutes, seconds, and additional 24-hour hand. Of course, as a GMT watch, the ceramic bezel of the Planet Ocean 600M GMT model was bi-directional and marked with 24 hours instead of the standard unidirectional dive watch bezel marked to 60 minutes.
Since orange is the color most associated with the Planet Ocean collection, it was understandable that Omega wanted to create an orange ceramic bezel (orange bezels were always in aluminum) for the watch. And in 2014, the limited-edition (eight pieces) Planet Ocean 600M GMT “Orange Ceramic” made its entrance, with a 43.5mm platinum case and an orange ceramic bezel.
Master Chronometer Seamaster Planet Ocean Models
In 2016, Omega revamped the Planet Ocean collection yet again, and these are the models that are in the current lineup. This time, the watches include the latest METAS-certified Master Chronometer movements and Omega reorganized the sizing of the different models. The ladies’ Planet Ocean 600M has a 39.5mm case, the men’s Planet Ocean 600M has a 43.5mm case, the Planet Ocean 600M GMT has a 43.5mm case, and the Planet Ocean 600M Chronograph has a 45.5mm case.
In order to be labeled as a “Master Chronometer,” the in-house Omega movements had to pass eight stringent tests set by METAS (The Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology), along with the chronometer tests set out by COSC (The Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute).
The Planet Ocean 600M 39.5MM runs on Master Chronometer Caliber 8800, the Planet Ocean 600M 43.5MM runs on Master Chronometer Caliber 8900, the Planet Ocean 600M GMT runs on Master Chronometer Caliber 8906, and the Planet Ocean 600M Chronograph runs on Master Chronometer Caliber 9900.
As is standard with Omega, the assortment of materials and colors within the Master Chronometer Planet Ocean collection is vast. Along with steel, titanium, and gold, there are also two-tone iterations as well as full ceramic models with names like “Deep Black” and “Big Blue.”
While all current Planet Ocean watches have ceramic bezels, some include versions with rubber blended into the ceramic to create the first 15 minutes of the dive timing scale. Furthermore, for the first time, the Planet Ocean GMT now comes with a bi-colored black and white ceramic bezel. And just this summer, Omega announced brand new stainless steel Planet Ocean and Planet Ocean Chronograph models with orange ceramic bezels that are set to hit stores in October.
Three Generations of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Over 14 Years
In less than 15 years, Omega has produced three generations of the Planet Ocean dive watch, culminating in four main models – ladies’ Planet Ocean, men’s Planet Ocean, Planet Ocean GMT, and Planet Ocean Chronograph – in a dizzying array of executions. And we haven’t even mentioned the bevy of limited edition Planet Ocean models in honor of James Bond, Good Planet, the Olympics, and more.
With each new family, Omega has furnished the Seamaster Planet Ocean with design improvements, material innovations, and mechanical advances. Despite its short history, the Planet Ocean has undoubtedly risen through the ranks to become one of Omega’s most important models.
UPDATE September 2019:
Since we initially published this piece, a rather noteworthy record has been set by a concept watch from the Omega Planet Ocean collection. In June 2019, businessman and explorer, Victor Vescovo, successfully broke the record for the world’s deepest dive by taking the Limiting Factor submersible down Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench to a depth of 10,928 meters (32,853 feet) – beating the record set by Rolex by roughly 20 meters.
Along for the historic dive were three Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep watches – concept pieces crafted from titanium that were specifically designed to real-world test some of Omega’s latest and most advanced technologies in the most extreme underwater conditions possible. When exactly Omega plans to have some of these new tech implemented in future Planet Ocean watches remains unclear; however the success of the mission (and the watches) likely means that the Omega Plant Ocean collection will start seeing some serious highly-advanced technology in the coming years.