Watch Review : The Planet Ocean – Omega’s Depth Charge

Was that your phone ringing? Was that “the call?” No? Still, waiting on that steel sports model from Geneva? Good. Let me give you something to think about while waiting by the phone. While you are waiting for “the call” there is no reason why you should not enjoy another great watch on your wrist, especially considering the reported waitlist times. I think the Omega Planet Ocean is a watch that can keep your wrist warm enough that when “the call” finally comes you may end up saying “wrong number.”

I recently added a Planet Ocean (“PO”) to my collection[1]. This was not a heartstrings purchase but a cold-hearted logical purchase. I say this is a logical purchase because the PO represents unparalleled value for money, when bought used, in my opinion. The PO is a relatively new watch line being launched in 2005[2]. The PO is a modern dive watch with vintage aesthetics. Omega’s use of vintage aesthetics is complemented by the modern ingenuity of the co-axial escapement, the 37.5mm uses the in-house 8520 co-axial caliber. The PO also has Omega’s Liquidmetal bezel. The mechanics of the co-axial escapement[3] and the way Omega adds the metal alloy to the ceramic bezel insert is impressive and over my head to explain so I am just going to go with hyperbole and say that these are accomplishments on par with putting a watch on the moon. This combination of old and new has made the PO the perfect counterpoint for the “Sub” from the Geneva behemoth.

In true Omega fashion, it has a reference number with more decimal places than Pi. My Planet Ocean is the now discontinued reference 232.90.38.20.03.001[4]. Speaking of Pi, my Planet Ocean is approximately 37.5mm in diameter, with a 27mm dial diameter, a lug-to-lug measurement of 44mm, and a lug width of 18mm. Those are dimensions that depending on the marketing department’s mood will either be described as a vintage diver or a modern women’s watch in size. As someone with a vintage size 16.5cm wrist, I find this watch is the perfect size albeit it wears more like a “dressy diver.” I think this watch in this size was best summed up by Tim Mosso as the unlikely progeny of a Sea-Dweller and a Datejust in 36mm[5]. For me this watch wears similarly to a Seiko SKX013 so if you preferred the SXK009’s smaller sibling, err I mean more reasonably sized sibling, the 37.5mm PO may be the watch for you. My PO is the blue variant, which has a mesmerizing almost navy blue dial whose versatility makes the watch perfect for all but the most formal situations.

Anyone who is familiar with the Planet Ocean line knows I was trying to avoid the critical measurement, the depth. This PO has a depth of 15.4mm, which, almost unbelievably, is on the thinner side for Planet Ocean models. While that is chronograph depth, automatic chronograph depth at that, this PO does not wear like its depth would suggest. This PO wears slimmer because this PO is titanium on titanium. The weight saving magic of titanium allows the watch to wear slimmer, keeping it from wearing top heavy which also reinforces the “dressy diver” feeling of this reference. Adding to the “dressy diver” feel are the applied indices, numerals, and logo the only printing on this dial is the text, a novel idea for a luxury dive watch in this segment. Does no one else find printing a coronet ironic?

James Porter and Son

So, what are the weaknesses of this watch? For me, the first is the name, “Planet Ocean.” It sounds like a rejected title to a Kevin Costner movie. I cannot help but feel Omega agrees with me too. Perhaps this is why the moniker only appears on the case-back and the famous “Seamaster” name appears on the dial. The more pressing negative though is the clasp. The clasp has a diver’s extension, which is great if you are actually a diver. But let’s be honest, despite the watch’s capabilities, the watch is rated to 600m, the only diving it’s going to do is some “desk diving.” As a desk diver, a diver’s extension is worthless. What would be priceless though is an on-the-go adjustment system or some micro-adjustment at the very least. The lack of either for a watch at this price point makes me sound like my parents, “I am not angry Omega, I am just disappointed.”

Now that I have sung the praises of the Planet Ocean, this is where you are expecting me to conclude by telling you to buy a PO instead of a “Sub.” Well you are half right. If you prefer to wear a watch below 40mm then yes you should seriously consider the Planet Ocean.  The PO offers two sub 40mm sizes the current lineup’s 39.5mm offering and the now discontinued 37.5mm. However, for those of you who prefer a larger watch, the Planet Ocean has another challenger to worry about that does not even wear a coronet. Omega’s own Seamaster Professional Diver 300m (“SMP”) is a worthy competitor not only for the PO but for the “Sub” too. On paper, I think most would agree with me that the PO is the better watch. However, I cannot argue with the fact that the PO is missing that one all-important thing in today’s market, that coronet on the dial. Unfortunately, I think because of this missing coronet the PO will always be viewed as the pauper, the watch one gets when they cannot afford a Sub, or the watch one gets when they do not also want to have to buy an all gold bejeweled Rolex from their AD to just be able to buy the steel sports model they really want. This is sadly one of the great travesties in the watch space, as the PO deserves more respect and more wrists.

The Planet Ocean is an amazing watch especially when picked up from the secondary market. In a world of waitlists and inflated secondary market prices it’s time to treat your wrist to something impressive and most importantly available. If the PO is only there to keep your wrist warm while you wait for “the call” I think you will be impressed with the Planet Ocean and might find the room in your collection for both a PO and a Sub.

Words and Photographs by: Sean O’Tormey

(IG: @the_complicated_wrist)

 

[1] I wrote this article after having the watch for about a month this past summer. I have since sold the PO because I had to free up funds for other purchases. I am still considering adding a 39.5mm PO to my collection.

[2] For a complete overview of the history of the Planet Ocean line check out this wonderful article. https://www.ablogtowatch.com/planet-ocean-full-story-omegas-iconic-modern-dive-watch/

[3] Omega’s explanation of the co-axial escapement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ID9bGj_gtY Also, see Monochrome’s explanation, https://monochrome-watches.com/omega-co-axial-escapement-technical-perspective/

[4] Omega has recently discontinued the 37.5mm but Omega still has some variants listed on the site at the time of writing. https://www.omegawatches.com/en-us/watch-omega-seamaster-planet-ocean-600m-omega-co-axial-37-5-mm-23290382003001

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv9PoSgrH_s

 

Words and Photographs by: Sean O’Tormey

(IG: @the_complicated_wrist)