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Omega Ploprof Seamaster 600 - The Instrument Watch of Professional Divers

 
 By: Bill : July 4th, 2020-15:02




Omega Master Waterproofness with the SEAMASTER 600

The Instrument Watch of  Professional Divers

Watchmakers have always been occupied by the problem of water- proofness. Water, vapours, dust and volatile chemical agents arc cunning and formidable enemies of a watch. We have solved this problem, and our waterproof models are perfectly safe for normal everyday use.






THE DIVER’S WATCH : A WATCH APART

However, other qualities than normal waterproofness are needed in watches for serious underwater work and underwater sport. Skin - and SCUBA - diving are both rapidly growing in popularity. Now, no-one takes deep-sea diving lightly; the deeper you go, the more pressure you are under. And this same pressure is felt by your watch, so it must be absolutely waterproof. It must indicate exactly how much time the diver has left, without the need for manipula­tions and complicated calculations. It must be clear enough for the diver to check his decompression stages accurately, and it must be luminous enough for the darkness of the deeps. Finally, it must be tough enough to stand up to bumps and bangs that would throw a lesser watch off balance.

All these qualities can be found in the Seamasters 120 and 300; both were built to last, built to play a vital role, and built to take anything the amateur diver could hand out to them.

A WATCH FOR PROFESSIONALS

'Die exploration and exploitation of the sea has begun in earnest. The untold riches of the oceans are attracting international enter­prises, and with them professional divers; divers who need equip­ment of absolute and guaranteed reliability. The last simulated caisson experiment made it possible for men to live at minus 1,500 ft, and foreshadows exploits which in daring and value will equal those of the astronauts.

And so, to complete and crown the Seamaster range we developed the 600, the most highly perfected and reliable watch for profes­sional divers.

OMEGA SEAMASTER 600

Perfecting the 600 was a long and costly procedure. Years of re­search, the help and advice of specialists, public relations efforts in professional quarters, all went into the 600. Our prototypes have taken part in experimental diving tests to 1,800 ft in helium and 750 ft under water. They are being used at present in all the great experiments, especially those of COMEX; the last of which, Operation “Janus”, was resoundingly successful.

NOTHING LEFT TO CHANCE

In the conception of the 600, we left nothing to chance. Every risk was calculated, and the slightest details were minutely considered, so as to give the new Seamaster maximum reliability.






Our technical department has specially adapted a helium leak de­tector for intensive tests of the 600’s waterproof qualities. The results of these tests were absolutely conclusive. We use helium because this gas has an infinitely greater penetration than either water or air. The helium molecule is thirteen times smaller than a molecule of air, so that if a watch is helium-proof, that is a gua­rantee of absolute waterproofness.

Therefore, the use of a helium leak detector amounts to a virtual guarantee for the 600.

Helium leak detector

-      the helium leak detector checks on waterproofness.

-      helium penetrates across a constant magnetic field, checked by a mass spectrometer.

-      a pressure-reducing manometer makes observation possible to 100 atmospheres (3,000 ft)

-      even the most minute leak can be charted.







Let us put it this way; if a Seamaster 600 was tested to the equi­valent of 1,800 feet, it would take 1,200 years to fill with helium !

Testing to 3,000 ft a watch which will not be used at more than 1,800 gives a margin of safety which illustrates our conscientious, professional approach, and which will be of great value in our ad­vertising.

We should mention here that the depth of 1,800 ft could only be reached in a bathyscape, with a helium atmosphere. Outside a bathyscape, for amateur or semi-professional divers the limit is 270 ft, which highlights the outstanding waterproofness of the 600.

The case is mono-bloc, of special steel, ultra-resistant to shock and salt water corrosion. The back is grooved, so as not to slip on the wrist. The design of the case, with a promontory to protect the crown, gives the watch a kind of functional beauty. The red push- piece is an indication of its advanced techniques.


The crystal is of mineral glass, chemically tempered by a treatment which ensures the best possible distribution of the hard coating, and improves its stability. The glass is anti-reflective and anti-abrasive. The crystal is surrounded by a super-compressed “O’* ring, so that the pressure exerted on the joint is always greater than the hydro­static pressure. The case and crystal are thus hermetically sealed against any infiltration.

The crown has three positions : for winding, setting the time and setting the date. During this last, the movement stops, so the hands can be set to the second. Unlike ordinary watches, the crown is placed at 9 o’clock, thus allowing the wrist greater freedom of movement. It is built into the case so that there is no risk of snag­ging. The crown is locked by a safety device, and a patented twin- lock system assures it of perfect waterproofness. The turning bezel, graduated from 0 to 60, is protected by a locking system governed by the red push-button. The graduations and numerals of the bezel are highly luminous, for greater safety. The bezel has a triangular guide mark, which is set opposite the minute hand at the start of a dive. Thus elapsed time can be quickly and easily read off.

The movement. For the Seamaster 600 we have adopted the calibre 1000. This high-frequency, self-winding movement is eminently sui­table for a diving watch. It gives the diver additional security, as he does not have to remember to wind the watch.

The calendar has an instant corrector, and the date changes auto­matically.

High luminosity. The bezel, hands and dial are treated with tritium for greater luminosity at depth. The oversized minute hand adds to legibility, and the bezel is outside the watch, to leave the dial free. Confusion between the bezel and the minute markings on the dial is impossible.

Ultra-durable bracelet. After intensive research, we chose a truly exceptional material for the bracelet : Isofrane. This synthetic ma­terial has unique physical and chemical characteristics. It is resis­tant to tearing, deterioration, abrasion, temperature fluctuation and corrosion. It keeps its shape, does not cause allergies, and is very light. It can easily be delivered in larger sizes, when the watch is to be worn over a diving suit.

 

 

A NEW EMPIRE

The Seamaster 600 is the surest watch for the men who work on the seabed. Already it has a great reputation. Soon it will be talked about even more, like the Speedmaster, and will profit from the fame of the whole Seamaster range.

Naturally, the number of buyers who are real professionals will be small; but the potential of the watch among amateurs is enormous. Like the Speedmaster, it will benefit from the exploits associated with it, and like the Speedmaster it will be worn by numbers of people who do not at all need an instrument watch. These consi­derations seem to us to justify an initial manufacture of 4,500 watches.

The Seamaster 600 is a lead product which fits perfectly into our general policy; that of leading every field of timekeeping.After the heights of space, we are about to conquer a new empire; that of the deeps.

*Source original press release from the 1970's


A piece of history ...

 
 By: nilomis : November 3rd, 2013-12:37
Thank you, Bill for sharing this detailed document about the Ploprof. 

For no personal reason (I don't dive) I admire all dive watches and the brands quest to conquer the deeps. 

Years back I took pics of this model and it wears very nice, despite the very unusual case. 

Cheers,

Nilo

Was price really the issue???

 
 By: Bill : November 3rd, 2013-17:17
"waterproofness" - The race was on to conquer the deep between Rolex, Omega and even Doxa in late 1968 - 1969 period.  While it is true that the Omega Seamaster 600 "Ploprof" was the technology leader it was rumored that  their price point was double that of Rolex at the time which proved to be an insurmountable marketing challenge. 

I can't find evidence of that as we can see from the Rolex price list and the Omega price list.  I would love to here what others think about why the Ploprof fell behind.

The price below from Rolex set at 80-100 pounds sterling in 1968 and the Omega brochure with a price of 104 Pounds sterling in 1972.




Omega price list 1972

Omega price list 1972


Rolex price list 1968

Rolex price list 1968


Thanks for posting this vintage press release. All an era!

 
 By: amanico : November 3rd, 2013-23:41

Great stuff Bill ! Thanks a lot for sharing !! [nt]

 
 By: DrStrong : November 4th, 2013-02:01
No message body

So what do you think about the lack of early success

 
 By: Bill : November 4th, 2013-07:05
Was it price in the market.  Or was the design too avant garde.

Bill

Thank you, Bill!

 
 By: blomman Mr Blue : November 4th, 2013-13:41

This is great information.

Thank you!

 

Best, my friend

Blomman

I reproduced it faithfully

 
 By: Bill : November 4th, 2013-14:08
All the pictures and text are as they were in the original press release.

Best

Bill

Very informative!

 
 By: Hagen : November 6th, 2013-17:32
Thanks, Bill, for posting this. I must admit not really being a Ploprof fan, mainly because of the size and thickness. Not to mention the fact that I am not a professional diver.  However, when I read the article you post, it gives a new perspective. I recall many times not initially being too impressed by certain watches, but after doing a bit of research, a certain fondness emerged! As indeed it is with this article. For years, as a matter of fact, I never paid a lot of attention to the Speedmaster. However, when I found out more details and history, I ended up buying one. Even the aesthetics of the watch which didn't always appeal, soon became beautiful.

I had no idea about the "O" ring surrounding the crystal either.

On another note. I recently attended a Watchmaker Event at the local Omega Boutique. The Customer Care Manager for Swatch Group Canada was there. He was wearing a new Ploprof 8500. If I had more time, I would have looked at it more closely.

Your post gives me a new respect for the Ploprof!

Cheers,
Carl

That is the beauty of collecting

 
 By: Bill : November 6th, 2013-19:13
Our tastes change and evolve over time and we start to get different pleasure that we otherwise did not get in the past like fine wines.

The Ploprof is a great example of technology that was mastered but due to reasons unknown (design / style) it was left behind for the Rolex Submariner to take the lead in professional and recreational diving.  Onother such brand I like very much is the Doxa with the Doxa Sub 300 which in the late 1960's was rated for a depth of 300 meters while Rolex was limited to 200 meters.  The Doxa enjoyed a lot of success with Divers on the west coast of the US but it too fell victim to the pressure of Rolex.  The Quartz matches made it extreemely difficult to compete as the 1970's came to a close even though Doxa did produce Divers in quartz models.

Long story.

I am pleased you enjoyed the article.  In closing I will say the vintage Ploprof fits comfortably on the wrist even a small one like mine as it is wide but not tall.  The fact that the crown is on the opposite side your hand does not bump into it.

Bill

Glad to see this thread resurrected! Two comments to add . . .

 
 By: Dr No : July 4th, 2020-14:40
. . . to the discussion: first, your observation regarding the Ploprof's suitability for smaller wrists is on the money.  It's a wide and thick design, which normally doesn't bode well for the wrist-challenged.  The asymmetrical case and sloping bezel are the main reasons why it works for those of us with slender wrists.  There are Panerais not nearly as large I couldn't wear.  It's not so much the Ploprof doesn't seem large - it does, especially when viewed in a display case.  It's that the randomness of its shape that mitigates its presence on the wrist.

Here's a pic of a titanium Ploprof on my wrist . . .




. . . taken four years ago.  Large, yes, but not overwhelming.  The sensation of lightness coupled with its appealing presence almost lead to an acquisition.  It's that compelling a watch.

Second, when it comes to vintage Ploprofs, there's confusion over reversed crown positions.  Even Omegamania was in on the act.




[photo credit: Antiquorum]

There were no 'left-handed' Ploprofs made to the best of my knowledge.  Inverted examples are the result of uninformed watchmakers ordering date wheels for the cal 1002 movement.  The Ploprof has a cal 1002 movement, but the case with crown at 9 mandates a specific wheel with a different part number.

And yes, these case-specific date wheels are difficult to source now. 

Art


Interesting perspective on this subject Art ...

 
 By: Cpt Scarlet : July 5th, 2020-12:47
Especially the issue of left-handed versions.

King

 
 By: Weems@8 : July 5th, 2020-14:45
An orange Ploprof.
For me a king.

Holy moly, it is a watch i wil catch if it cross my path.
How it wil be fit on my wrist? It’s a gamble. 🎲

The quartz crisis/Omega Planet Ocean/Doxa etc.

 
 By: Weems@8 : July 5th, 2020-14:35
You say it right.
When Doxa put quartz calibers in it’s cases to fight against quartz opponents.
It hurts Omega.

The ploprof has become a cult classic, while the quartz equipped dive watches are not wanted.

The space race and the depth race.
I think the depth race is for watch enthusiasts the importants race, because there are more divers than astronauts.
A mix between space and diver wil be interesting.
A Planet Ocean chronograph is maybe the best watch that unite both worlds.


Bump [nt]

 
 By: Bill : July 4th, 2020-08:30
No message body

For me personally, my preferred diver (modern or vintage) along with the FF [nt]

 
 By: holdemchamp1225 : July 4th, 2020-11:30
No message body

A pleasure to re read this document! Does that mean that there were " only " 4500 made? [nt]

 
 By: amanico : July 4th, 2020-15:26
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Hi Bill ..

 
 By: Cpt Scarlet : July 4th, 2020-16:08
I think the answer is down to design. Back in the day the Ploprof 600 had the technical edge for professional divers. This was a a huge watch in the 70s and regarded as more of a technical instrument than purely a wrist watch. 
Thanks for posting this fascinating information. 

" . . . more of a technical instrument . . .

 
 By: Dr No : July 4th, 2020-16:27
. . . than purely a wrist watch" - truer words never said.

Same goes for its contemporary, the Flightmaster . . .


I completely agree Art ...

 
 By: Cpt Scarlet : July 4th, 2020-16:41
The two manufacturers had different views of what constituted technical ability and the Flightmaster is part of this history.

I’m beginning to wonder if those were better times [nt]

 
 By: aperna : July 4th, 2020-16:12
No message body

Better times? . . .

 
 By: Dr No : July 4th, 2020-17:34
. . . I'll say.  Try doing this . . .


. . . today.

This clip is well worth watching . . .


. . . if you can remember the old days, and essential if you can't.

Art

Too good, Art. Nowadays, you would end in jail before you throw the kid in the water. :) [nt]

 
 By: amanico : July 4th, 2020-22:02
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Thank goodness I can swim 👍 [nt]

 
 By: Cpt Scarlet : July 5th, 2020-03:10
No message body

Retro cool

 
 By: Cookies : July 5th, 2020-05:26
Nice post Bill

Superb write up dear Bill

 
 By: Seeks : July 5th, 2020-08:27
I learnt a lot.

Thanks for bumping it up!

Late to the party, but a big fan. Thanks so much for all this digging. So interesting to read this history. Brings back a sweet memory of my first visit to a major, big-city AD, in

 
 By: halgedahl : July 5th, 2020-09:42
San Francisco. 

Had a long list of pieces I was interested in seeing—Omegas notably absent from the list. But my flight was cancelled next morning, so back I went, for another afternoon of ogling. Of course there was a large Omega section—the largest in the store, actually. Thus, I tried on my first Speedmaster—agast to find that it looked perfect! on my wrist. And then there was this funky-looking chunk of metal. What in the world was that? Well, here it was. I couldn't resist trying it on.


Surprise surprise, it didn't loo too large (wrist 18.4 cm/7.25 in). How was this possible? Had I been then where I am now, as a collector, that watch would have left the shop on my wrist. And now we have grey, blue, and orange bezels beckoning! Oh, dear… Perhaps someday. I must allow myself only one dive watch. What will it be? One of the enticing Doxas out there? (A friend has one.) A very affordable Ball DeepQuest? Or would a long-held fantasy come true to own a pristine, full kit Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Professional 1,000 with the marvelous saw-toothed bezel….


Time, as they say, will tell. But many thanks for taking so much time on the forum's behalf. Forever in your debt.    FH

Highly beloved Omega

 
 By: Weems@8 : July 5th, 2020-14:51
Never to late at the party.

Discovering Omega is like walking into space.

I enjoy the F.P. Journe journey, and Omega is running up to become a next beloved subject for many here.

What Omega makes so special, it put all boundaries to next levels.

For Seamaster fans

 
 By: Weems@8 : July 5th, 2020-14:23
For sure, i become a Seamaster fan.

The ploprof is an interesting Omega.
The first 600.

The picture in the advert have that Jaques Cousteau era style.
I watched many documentaries about Jaques Cousteau ocean discoveries.
I like scuba diving, and i must inaugurate my own Seamaster to the sea. How deep i will go? Not deeper then 10 meters i think, so water resistance is important for all water rich envoirments.

I wil not met a shark or a manta ray. Some sardines are enough 😀.

thanks for sharing it [nt]

 
 By: Passionata_george : July 6th, 2020-12:30
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