Omega debuted the Seamaster family – like this Seamaster here, an all original 1972 example – in 1948 to celebrate the company’s Omega’s 100th anniversary loosely based upon designs made for the British Royal Navy near the end of World War II, and was, in essence, a “splash-proof” dress watch – it now holds the honor of the longest running model since Omega’s founding in 1848. Omega subsequently debuted the Ref 166.0118 in 1971 and produced through 1980. Of curious note, the Calibre 1480 (17 jewels) and 1481 (21 jewels) were one of few movements developed jointly with Tissot in the early 1970’s – however, Tissot only produced the 21 jewel variant (which Tissot named the 2481).
Omega’s design of the first Seamaster, the 300, drew influence from older waterproof watches worn on the wrists of the British military during WWII. However, what would initially distinguish the first Seamaster from its other predecessor watches from Omega competitors was its rubber O-ring gasket, which separated the dive watch from other lead or shellac gaskets which were more susceptible to temperature changes. Instead, Omega’s rubber gasket prevented any water infiltration in severe temperature changes ranging between -40° C to 50° C.
In 1955, the Swiss Laboratory for Watch Research tested 50 Seamaster cases down to a depth of 60 meters, all with rubber O-rings – all passed with no water infiltration. Omega engineers was so confident of the Seamaster’s durability, they attached one to the outside of an aircraft and flew it over the North Pole in 1956. The Seamaster 300 performed so well, in fact, that Jacques Cousteau’s team used it during experimental dives in 1963 and beyond.
For the past 70+ years, Omega has produced a staggering array of Seamasters to suit a variety of needs; from solid gold dress watches to solid blocks of stainless steel used for dive watches, from soccer timers to world timers, the Seamaster has seen them all. While other watch companies have various families to cater to various customers, Omega’s Seamaster is unique in its versatility: at one point or another there has been a Seamaster for just about everyone.
In the hierarchy of Omega dress watches, the Seamasters were somewhere in the middle; above the Geneve but below the Constellation. Seamasters and Constellations shared many of the same movements, but Seamasters were not chronometer tested nor as elaborately finished.
This Omega comes with its leather strap, nylon NATO strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
1972 Omega Seamaster Ref 166.0118 Calibre 1481 Automatic
DIAL: Original Omega and Seamaster-signed black dial, with original hands. Lumed indices and hands, which shine when exposed to strong light. These did not feature the “Geneve” many other Seamaster’s did, but rather a sterile dial.
CASE: Original 36mm (w/o crown, 38mm with) x 40.5mm stainless steel case, with sharp caselines; original caseback.
CRYSTAL: Domed crystal, no cracks or deep scratches.
BAND: Light brown leather strap, with cream-colored accent stitching (the Ref 1481 originally came on a leather strap, vice bracelet). This Seamaster also comes with a blue, white, and green nylon NATO strap, with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original 21-jeweled Omega Calibre 1481 automatic mechanical movement.
CROWN: Original Omega-signed stainless-steel crown.