While being sized for an Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M ($8,140), I do some thinking. Namely, on the Lamborghini Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, the sports car. Every angle, crease and integrated duct of that rolling testament to speed serves to manipulate air — some slicing, others inhaling — to maximize propulsion generated by the naturally aspirated, 740 horsepower, twelve-cylinder heart lying amidship. Some drivers will wring its neck, sure, but most will merely trundle along in traffic, being seen, at the pace of a mailroom temp during afternoon deliveries. Not that that matters. The world is a better place solely because the LP 750-4 exists; it reminds us of what can be possible — what a singular focus and dedication to creating the ultimate can reap.
These thoughts roll through my mind while the Omega is fitted on my wrist. And, although in terms of raging bulls, the Ploprof more closely resembles the Rambo Lambo of the late ’80s, I knew long before the first slice was made into the orange rubber band that the dive trip I had planned would never come close to exploiting the full potential of Omega’s underwater alpha. Not that that matters. This is an exercise in experiencing an ur-creation — the ultimate dive watch. I close and tighten the ratchet-action diver safety clasp, pack my fins and bid adieu to the last remnants of a frigid Toronto winter.
Omega’s original ultra water-resistant dive watch debuted in 1970. Dubbed the Ploprof (from the French plongeurs professionels, meaning professional divers) during its four years of testing and development by Comex (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises) divers (and the legendary Jacques Cousteau), the Omega Seamaster Professional 600 was unlike any timepiece before it. Its uniquely shaped case was crafted using an innovative monobloc design.
Calibre: Omega Co-Axial 8500 Automatic
Frequency: 25,200 vph (3.5Hz)
Power reserve: approx. 60 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date
Material: stainless steel
Diameter: 48mm (55mm at crown)
Water Resistance: 1,200 meters
Dial: black with applied and polished Super-lumiNova markers
Bezel: steel, bidirectional with scratch-resistant sapphire coating
Strap: rubber band with push-button clasp and diver’s double extension system (mesh also available)
It featured integrated insulation to prevent failures during saturation dives — instead of the helium relief valves Rolex and Doxa were using at the time. This enabled the Omega Seamaster Professional 600 to survive dive depths up to 600 meters (2,000 feet) below the surface. In fact, it easily survived testing beyond 1,000 meters. So solid was its construction that the American diving research center Ocean Systems Inc. proclaimed the Ploprof was more watertight than a submarine. It earned much of its initial fame when, during Operation Janus, three Comex divers equipped with Ploprofs explored the seafloor of the Gulf of Ajaccio for eight days, at a depth of 250 meters.
The reefs of Cozumel start and end a far cry closer to the chop than 250m. Most of their beauty is found within the first 60 feet. Testing an Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M — a dive watch rated to beyond a kilometer under water — in this environment is kind of like of strapping on a Moon watch for a commuter flight from Newark to Cincinnati, just to make sure it is still ticking in Ohio. Yet, for an amateur open-water explorer with less combined bottom time than the flight to get here, these reefs seemed the perfect place to take the Ploprof for a plunge.
Suited up, tank hanging over the side of our boat above Palancar Caves, I press and hold the anodized orange pusher to release the unidirectional bezel with my middle finger. My thumb and index finger hop into the mix to spin the orange dot around to meet the tip of the Ploprof’s oversized minute hand. Describing that process is infinitely more complicated than doing it, although southpaws may not agree. A quick shoulder check and we’re wet.
Marine life is abundant. Reef sharks, sea turtles and barracuda compete with various schools of colorful parrot and butterfly fish for attention, while the coral itself truly takes center stage. Instinctively, I overcheck my gauges, but soon I reach a rhythm with my breathing and rely on the Omega for cues. I tend to burn through my air quicker than I’d like, averaging 1,000 psi per 15 minutes at around the 75-foot mark, which makes monitoring requirements easy. The slim, white, polished and Super-Luminova-coated indices stand out three-dimensionally from the deep black dial. They are legible at any angle — the 5mm-thick sapphire crystal not only keeps the Ploprof’s innards from taking a bath at depth, but its flat finish doesn’t obscure vision at angles under water like a domed crystal can — so keeping track of things is effortless.
Its singular focus hasn’t been muddied by the dogmas of style: the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M was designed to be and still is the ultimate diver’s watch.
I dip fins into triple-digit territory and continue with eyes as wide as saucers. An enormous lobster begins posturing to my right and I wonder if he knows how much he’s worth in tail weight alone. 40 minutes in, I begin to ascend. I spin the bezel again to mark my time and hang out between 15 and 20 feet for a mandatory decompression stop. I can still see most of the activity below; the water is impeccably clear.
On the surface the size, shape and weight of the Ploprof are a constant reminder of its presence. Wearing it “under” anything other than H2O is impossible. Its bulk alone commands an attention that makes the bright orange band seem subtle. Setting the time or simply making adjustments can be a chore. The 9 o’clock-positioned, heavily protected crown means it’s best adjusted from off the wrist. Personally, I find its quirks — the shape, bezel lock, ratchet style diver’s clasp and the fact that it can travel 4,000 feet below water — part of its appeal. I love that its singular focus hasn’t been muddied by the dogmas of style: the Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M was designed to be, and still is, the ultimate diver’s watch.
Sure, there are other timepieces that rival and even beat the Ploprof’s depth limits. Most of those are built to perform as well diving into desks as they do in salt water. Good for them. The potential Ploprof customer inevitably has something else at home already, if not a tailored selection. He’s looking for a dive watch that speaks to limitless exploration and doesn’t hide that fact. He’s looking for something that’s created in purity of intention and executes with purity of form. An ultimate creation, worthy by existence alone, perfected in use.