The modern Omega PloProf is misunderstood. As the weirdest of the current Omega Seamaster sports watch line, the Seamaster 1200M wrongly finds itself consigned to novelty duty, new-old-stock, or – occasionally – Costco cases. All of this is a shame, because the reborn PloProf is a charmer and ball to wear as a daily driver.
The original 1971 Omega Seamaster 600M “Plongeur Professionnel” was a moon-shot sales pitch by a watch brand well versed in moonshots. COMEX, a deep-sea diving services firm out of France, is best known for its decades-long relationship with Rolex. The Seamaster 600M was a straightforward gambit to conquer a piece of that business and the commercial diving profession in general. Omega’s COMEX bid fell short, but the resulting Seamaster reference 166.002 became a cult classic and an unlikely utilitarian style statement in its time.
This article isn’t about that watch. Nope, you’re reading the apologia for the behemoth dive watch launched in 2009. Omega’s takeaway from Antiquorum’s landmark 2007 “Omegamania” vintage auction was that the brand’s most esoteric and offbeat past watches were a quick path to money; Swatch Group never – NEVER – misses that train. It didn’t work out as planned.
Omega’s reborn Seamaster Professional 1200M is intimidating; there’s no other way to explain its rarity in a hobby that glorifies dive watches and positively worships vintage-tribute dive watches. But the 2009 PloProf offended the sacred orthodoxies of the nostalgia crowd by adopting a more-is-more approach to design and features. It’s the size of a toddler’s fist and occupies the photo slot next to the Miriam-Webster definition of the word, “gadget.” Placed on a desk in a Rolex-rich office environment, the Ploprof give off the general vibe of a bomb detonator.
And that’s a shame, because the Seamaster 1200M is a sweetheart and easily the most fun you can have wearing an engine block on your wrist.
First, we need to talk about the size; don’t be frightened. The watch’s outrageous 55mm dimension runs lengthwise along the wrist, so the PloProf 1200M is long rather than tall, and that matters. Across the wrist – the dimension most critical to fit – the 1200M only measures 48mm, and that’s less than the current Rolex Submariner with bracelet included. In other words, the neo-PloProf is downright ideal for a pencil wrist.
What about the 18.4mm thickness? That, it must be admitted, is as likely as its appearance to consign the PloProf to “weekend watch” and “party watch” status. Or it would be if the big “plongeur” hadn’t appeared in 2015 as a lightweight titanium variant with display caseback, a new no-date dial, and ceramic bezel inserts. Now it’s lighter than a steel Planet Ocean.
Normal people can wear the PloProf. While gigantic watches from Richard Mille, Panerai, and Hublot only ever look at home on the wrists of NFL players or movie types who go by mononyms like “Sly” and “Arnold,” the SMP 1200M looks fine on a regular human being. I know of one watch magazine editor-in-chief of average stature who wears the full-bracelet PloProf 1200 in steel as his daily.
Once a watch collector’s skepticism has been overcome, the logic of the PloProf flows like charisma from a guru. The diving bezel – either the 2009 sapphire-capped or 2015 ceramic – is the best of its kind; as on the 1971 original, the orange plunger unlocks bi-directional mobility. No other bezel operates like this, and that’s part of the 1200M’s charm. Moreover, the dial features extreme legibility, so this watch excels at “job one” for every timepiece. A lefty crown with all-encompassing impact guards keeps the crown structure from digging the wrist.
As for bracelets and straps, the PloProf spoils. The post-2015 titanium “shark proof” mesh bracelet is the one to own. First, it wears like silk, not alloy. That alone would be sufficient reason to sign up, but the authentic vintage vibe of the linked chainmail and gleaming hardware completes the hardcore look of a watch to match. Omega’s SMP 1200M clasp offers the best of everything with a trigger release, a fold-out extension, and a pushbutton slider for fine sizing. Yes, a rubber strap is offered, but opt for the mesh and get the full experience.
Major changes aside, small variations exist in the pre and post-2015 models. The earlier watches benefit from solid casebacks; these are 1mm thinner than the watches with sapphire displays. Dials with dates use gloss lacquer; no-date dials added the option of media blasted titanium. For those who wish to make a statement, a no-date two-tone rose gold/titanium model exits.
Movements are solid across the board. All versions of the Omega SMP 1200M include automatic winding, a 60-hour power reserve, independently mobile hour hands, some type of ISO 3159-based chronometer rating, and an Omega Co-Axial escapement. The post-2015 caliber 8912 version has a no-date dial, a silicon hairspring, and the new METAS “Master Chronometer” certification. All modern PloProfs include a helium gas escape valve not featured on the vintage model.
Omega’s PloProf 1200M deserves to play to a bigger crowd. Consider how many watch collectors routinely buy 44mm+ Panerai Luminors, Rolex’s Deepsea, Omega’s own Planet Ocean, any Hublot Big Bang, and even the AP Royal Oak Offshore. There’s a technically proficient, individualistic, and comparatively rare alternative that offers cult-watch cool for equal or less money. It’s the dive watch that looks like a detonator.