For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the mechanical worlds worn on our wrists and all the designs, shapes and materials they are made out of.
From my first Seiko Diver, my pops Omega Chronostop and the G-Shock Gravitymaster I got from my best friend at his wedding. Timepieces for me have always marked moments associated with significant events or milestones.
The jump for me down the collecting rabbit hole was no different, but not the occasion or moment you would think.
One of my biggest influences for me as a brand is Omega, not just due to pops watch, but also being a huge James Bond fan. Going back to movies like Goldeneye or Casino Royale and seeing Bond in his element, Seamaster adorned, was just a combo that was far too cool to resist.
The Seamaster Professional for me was always the pinnacle of what a watch could be, but I always attributed it to pie in the sky dreaming. The ‘One-day’ factor. Something cool to own, but I never had the discipline to save for.
One of my oldest and closest friends moved down to Melbourne in 2006 and lived with me for the best part of a year, growing up together, playing ridiculous amounts of Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 and talking about cars, engineering, going to the Grand Prix… It was a great time in my life.
Bryce was a brother in every sense of the word. The other thing we could talk about till the wee small hours was watches.
He was always fascinated with the amount of technology you could fit into them, so he was very much in the G-Shock, Radio calibrated, Atomic Synchronised, Carbon fiber, over-engineered marvels, where I just loved the romance of the old school mechanical movements and heritage of established brands. But we always came back to the … ‘Oh one day I will own/buy one of these’
Fast forward to November 2017 – I remember seeing Bryce a week earlier at the Penny Arcade festival here in Melbourne and having a blast with him and meeting lot of friends who over the past year who I played and Streamed video games online. (shout-out to all my twitch streaming friends)
The following week I had picked up a cold and headed into the GP. I remember sitting in the surgery waiting outside the doctor’s office when my phone message tone goes off.
– It was Bryce’s sister, who was on holidays at the time in Hawaii. At first I thought it might have been the obligatory holiday photos but it was something far more unexpected – She messaged me to that Bryce had passed away the suddenly previous day from an asthma attack and she was on her way back home, but wanted to let me know so I could pass on the news to some of our other friends back home in Newcastle.
I remember sitting there, re-reading the message over and over again, not in tears, but in absolute disbelief. Only last week were we having a blast on a long weekend and now, nothing, gone.
The rest of the day wasn’t a blur, but actually an odd kind of focus. Getting a hold of friends and family up home and passing on the terrible news. But the one thing that I still don’t understand to this day was being so calm about it. I guess it comes down to a form of shock but up until his funeral, it still felt so unreal.
At his funeral speaking to his mum and sister, I remember one thing that stood out that his mum said ‘all the things he had on his plate yet to do’ and it dawned on me that his list of things to do was almost the same as mine – and I had absolutely no good reason for not doing them.
After a few weeks, I started to think about those things that Bryce’s mum mentioned and out of all of them, I thought it would be good to do something that would both cross off a bucket list item as well as something to commemorate Bryce.
I mentioned this to my wife Marcia, and she said ‘you both liked watches, why not get something really nice to remember him by’ not a bad thought. I had quite a few already, but most of them were ones bought on online discount stores or things I just bought on a whim during a sale. Besides one or two exceptions – there was nothing really worth keeping.
So I did a clear-out and posted them all on eBay and started fresh.
BUT I already knew exactly what my first and ONLY target would be.
The Omega Seamaster 300M Professional.
My first stop was to have a look on YouTube and to my surprise, there was a lot more YouTube channels and content on this subject than I thought. But this was a great start as I had more information and perspectives than I could have ever had imagined and it really helped me make an informed choice on this.
Adrian from Bark & Jack, Jody from Just One More Watch and Tim from Watchbox reviews were the 3 that I stumbled upon, which I still watch today and really find their input, knowledge and perspective fantastic. With the Seamaster 300M Professional being a fairly common model, there was a plethora of reviews online so began the journey.
The older Seamaster from the 90s was good, but so many that were available had definitely seen better days, lacking their luster and were starting to look a little dated.
I wanted something a little newer, but going straight into new/retail RRP was also daunting. But as the current edition (3rd) had been out since 2012 – I thought I might be able to get this one in ceramic somewhere second-hand for much less than RRP.
I remember speaking to one of the managers at work who not only has a black dial Planet Ocean (which looks epic by the way) but also likes his timepieces and is a Bond fan – I remember him speaking to me and asking what colour I was considering.
His black Planet Ocean did look fantastic, but the James Bond factor from growing up with Goldeneye and following Bond Movies – There was only ever one choice. That Brilliant Blue just resonated beyond all others.
In the CBD of Melbourne, there are a few second-hand boutiques and all of them have their catalogues/stock listed online. So I began browsing through, hoping to find one of the current models in good condition without going through the roof on price.
One place in the city had a Blue one in really good condition, with box and papers – and most importantly roughly about ½ RRP new.
I spoke to Darryl (one of the owners) on the phone and he was so pleasant to speak to – explained that I was interested in the Seamaster and I would like to have a closer look at it in the flesh (metal) – but as it was my first luxury watch purchase I wanted to 100% be sure before pulling the trigger.
He was more than happy to put it aside for me to come in and view it the next morning if I was in the city. I spoke to Marcia that night about finding an Omega I thought was promising. She said if it was what I was after and I was happy with it, she would transfer some money and I could pick it up tomorrow.
So I came into work extra early the next morning to get a few things done so I could duck out for an hour to have a look at it. Darryl’s shop is in one of Melbournes cool little laneways In the CBD.
I get to the lobby of the shared building and catch the lift to the little boutique and buzz the door.
Darryl greets me and shows me in to what I can only describe as watch boutique chic mecca: Checkerboard carpet, warm mid-century furniture, vintage watch posters, Chillout jazz playing in the background. I felt like sitting down, putting my feet up with a nice glass of scotch while reading a good book.
Darryl asked me if I would like to take a seat and anything to drink. Nervous and excited at this most probable purchase I politely declined and just enjoyed the atmosphere while he ducked into the next room to grab the Omega.
After soaking in a room, which I can only wish was my living room at home, Darryl comes back with the Seamaster Professional. Pictures do speak a thousand words, but in my hand, this only had to say one – YES! – And it was screaming it at the top of its mechanical lungs.
After looking at 100’s of images of all sorts of variations and models, this version was just Epic… The sum of all of its parts in glorious swiss perfection:
– Blue of the ceramic dial and bezel changed from midnight blue in the shade to a brilliant royal blue in the light
– Ultra polished skeleton hands and applied logo which when light hits it just shimmers like platemail on a knight in brilliant armour.
– Black calendar wheel with the small silver embossed numbering (which I still think to this day) is the best looking date complication by any watchmaker.
– and the bracelet is one of the most comfortable and striking to wear.
I think I sat there with my mouth open not saying anything for a good ½ minute before Darryl asked me my thoughts, I still don’t remember if anything remotely logical came out but I think he could tell I was smitten.
He sized it for me and we were chatting away. He mentioned if this was my first swiss watch purchase, I replied that it was… but I wanted something to commemorate one of my best friends and it could really only be this.
– remembering all those weekends sitting with Bryce, Justin and Josh my 3 best friends back in Newcastle – watching the James Bond movies, playing hours and hours of Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64
(I’d Like to state for the record that licence to Kill mode with Pistols is still my all-time favourite gaming memory – and arguing with Josh that he couldn’t choose Odd-Job, as its akin to cheating)
After a chuckle from Darryl recalling my geeky youth, he said ‘well, with this you’ll definitely capture the James Bond vibe’ – I replied ‘Bryce looked like Bond, where I look like Benedict Cumberbatch’s stunt double… But this watch is to remember him and it is perfect’
With that I planted my credit card on the table and said ‘Well that ‘one day’ is today’
It was my first serious watch purchase and from that point, it led me down the rabbit hold of more reading, research, YouTube videos, watches and expanding/flipping ones in my collection.
This has led me Into a world I thought I knew pretty well, but have learned so much more, enjoyed collecting, meeting some amazing people and refining my collection.
But the Omega Seamaster Professional has always remained, always been my favourite and its one I’ll always keep and treasure.
Vale Bryce and thank you for the memories.