“Swimming with the fishes” is a phrase with sinister overtones synonymous with fictional gangsters portrayed on the silver screen. However, there is nothing sinister about the Omega Seamaster Ploprof which safely operates at great depths underwater.
The original Omega Ploprof was created in 1969 for professional divers with a maximum depth of 600 metres (2000 feet) clearly specified on the dial.
The name Ploprof is a compound of two words “plongeur” and “professionnel”, translated, professional divers.
Divers watches clearly have to endure huge pressures when working in deep waters, hence the case has to be robust in manufacture to prevent distortion or catastrophic ingress of moisture.
A helium valve is indicative of a true diver’s watch. When diving at great depths, divers will acclimatise within a diving bell to increase their tolerance to the pressures at the working depth.
On returning to the surface, great pressure within the watch case could result in the watch glass popping out as the pressure returns to atmospheric levels, hence a helium valve is fitted to release the pressure to prevent damage.
In 2009 a modern interpretation of the original Ploprof was launched with a maximum depth of 1200 metres, twice that of the original. This model was new with wonderful legibility, yet faithful to many features of the original.
The case is made of stainless steel with a combination of brushed stainless steel and polished highlights to the bezel and orange coloured pusher.
The crown is featured on the left hand side of the watch to avoid inhibiting the dexterity of the diver’s left hand and make it unlikely to move inadvertantly whilst working underwater. Moreover, the crown is protected with a screw down cover which protects the crown from damage or working loose.
Whilst I always admire tradition, sometimes the modern era does provide progress worthy of praise and this is exemplified by the Co-Axial calibre 8500.
The Co-Axial escapement was invented by an Englishman, watchmaker Dr George Daniels, in conjunction with Omega.
The Co-Axial escapement features a dual escape wheel, an anchor with three pallets and a free silicon balance all working in harmony with less friction than a traditional escapement, reducing the need for servicing.
The movement features twin barrels providing the watch with a power reserve of 60 hours.
The dial is exemplary in its clarity, aiding interpretation when potentially working in hostile conditions.
The minute hand is oversized and is white with contrasting orange border to distinguish it from the smaller hour hand which is again white but with a silver coloured border. The minute hand as any diver will attest is the most important hand on a watch.
A date window is shown on the dial between 4 and 5 o’clock and the black bezel features large text and indices in a clear white font.
It is the bezel which is another example of the considered design of this diver’s tool. A brightly coloured orange pusher needs to be depressed to allow the bezel to rotate. This prevents the bezel being accidently adjusted whilst working underwater and is faithful to the 1969 model, albeit the colour has changed from the original red to a vibrant orange.
The bracelet is not just merely a perfunctory item to allow the watch to be worn, it is fashioned in a wonderful stainless steel mesh design. “Sharkproof” sounds intriguing, however it shares similar properties to the chainmail shark suits worn sometimes by scuba divers.
The bracelet has a “double extension system” allowing precise adjustment, to ensure a comfortable fit whether in direct contact with the arm or over a diving suit. The clasp features the Omega Seamaster Seahorse design and I have no doubt will offer robust and reliable service for many years.
Alternatively, some watch enthusiasts may be tempted by the two rubber straps available, a black version or a cheery coloured orange strap which provides the watch with a unique appearance which I adore because it is unusual and fun.
The Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200 M symbolises the adage “form follows function”. However, what a fantastic form this watch has, with robust design and great legibility.
I have enjoyed scuba diving, working in shallow depths, marvelling at the fishes and delight in “swimming with the fishes”, but working as a professional diver at great depths can be a hazardous profession. If I had to dive at 1200 metres under the surface of the sea, I would certainly place my faith in the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200 M.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.