Omega Planet Ocean Deep Black: A Week on the Wrist
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black is an apex diving watch. Like a sleek car-show Ferrari, it bristles with that paradox of mechanical watchmaking: technical innovation. That’s a paradox because the basic formula, car or watch, has been around for a long time and technical innovation takes the form of under-the-hood improvements or materials experimentation. Innovation happens in a restricted space generally. The Deep Black’s specification sheet unfurls to disclose a very long list of features and most of them have little to do with haute horology. They are feats of materials and mechanical engineering more than of traditional high-end complications or finishing prowess, though this timepiece has that in spades too. To push the earlier car analogy a bit further, the Sedna Gold version of the Deep Black series I had in for review is also, like an exotic supercar, clearly also an apex luxury tool watch. The gold and the polished ceramic surfaces (other versions have brushed surfaces) remind you that you are wearing a watch that’s very much meant for the luxury buyer. It’s more Aston Martin than GTO. The sophisticated and noteworthy movement is housed in a setting that might be more at home at a dinner party on the Riviera than in the actual Mediterranean timing dives. That contradiction is almost an expected feature for the watches that sit at the top of the also paradoxical luxury diver category.
What’s impressive and intimidating about the Deep Black is its symbolic value. At least in its Sedna Gold incarnation, this Planet Ocean is Omega’s decisive and very authoritative shot across the bow at watches like the Breguet Marine, Calibre de Cartier Diver, and the Rolex two-tone gold Submariner (or even the Smurf), watches that are more about the statement they make on behalf of the wearer, but have serious horological credentials under the hood. The gold Deep Black has a commanding wrist presence, but you have to be ready for a watch that seems to measure you as much as you measure it. This sense that you are wearing a statement of ambition – yours and Omega’s – may be less pronounced in the other watches in the line, which skew more to the sporty in appearance but the sedna gold version requires a personality that is equal to the task. It’s not for wallflowers and it will never fly under anyone’s radar. And this is not just a function of its precious metal or polished ceramic surfaces. The Deep Black watches are BIG. At 45mm wide and 17mm in height, the dimensions match Omega’s ambitions. Fear not, because of the short lugs and the way the rubberized alligator strap falls perpendicular to the plane of the case, the dimensions of the case are all you have to contend with when it’s on your wrist. The weight of a watch with these dimensions is also not a problem because of the materials Omega employed in the case’s production. Ceramic, in addition to being much more scratch-resistant, is also much lighter than steel with equivalent mass. The actual material is zirchonium dioxide [ZrO2] and Omega marked the dial and one of the casing’s lugs as subtle reminders of the technical achievement.
The dial of the Deep Black matches the watch’s name and is an inky black that suggests the deep itself, absorbing all but the most direct light. The creamy black of the dial also serves as a liquid backdrop to the applied gold indices and broad-arrow hour, minute and GMT hands. The Omega logo and dial text are also applied and float on the dark of the dial. I have always liked the arrow hands of the Planet Ocean series and their execution on the Deep Black watches gives me no reason to change that opinion. With subtle, chiselled, folding along their long axis, the hands have a three dimensionality that adds weight and definition to them. In gold, these facets catch the light and play with it no matter what the intensity of the source.
For a 600m-rated watch, the Deep Black is unusual in having a display caseback. Not exclusive, but unusual. Turn the watch over and you’ll find the new, and nicely-finished, 8906 calibre which powers the watch. The case-back’s edges are scalloped in what Omega is calling a Naiad-lock system to ensure the text lines up correctly when replacing the caseback after servicing. The co-axial movement is double-barrelled giving it a healthy 60-hour power reserve. I’ve written about the METAS certification Omega is testing its new watches with before, but it’s COSC and then a great deal more: more accuracy, more anti-magnetic insulation, more rigour in the number of positions the entire watch (not just the movement) is tested in to verify consistent accuracy thresholds. With a state of the art movement and superior execution, it’s hard not to be impressed with the Deep Black.
The watch is a maximal object. All of its features are dialled-up to eleven and wearing it can be audacity itself. Omega has built a luxury diver that can play other watches that comfortably (complacently?) occupy the top of this particular food chain. It’s also priced to be there at ~18k CDN. If you are looking to buy at this price point, that’s not likely to induce sticker shock but it’s a large sum to put down on a watch that’s up against much more established luxury diver players like Rolex and Audemars Piguet. Time will tell if the Planet Ocean’s design becomes iconic in the same way as the Royal Oak or the Deep Sea have. The Deep Black represents a seriously impressive watch that knows what its mission is.
More about Omega at www.omegawatches.com