Seamaster 1000 ‘Ploprof 0’

In the late 1960s, during the early years of working with COMEX, a French company employing professional divers, innovations in saturation diving gave rise to the requirement to produce a more waterproof deep sea watch than the existing Seamaster 300 (1). Omega’s first attempts included the ‘Super Comprex’ case prototype of 52mm diameter, with a flexible case back thought to be used in helium-saturated environments. The principle of its construction would have the water resistance increasing with increasing exposure to depth and thus increased atmospheric pressure (4).

In parallel to the ‘Super Comprex’ case prototype, also a ‘monobloc’ case type was tested, directly inspired by the front – loading ‘Omega Seamaster Cosmic’ introduced in 1966. So the engineers at Omega’s Marine department, under the supervision of the as of 1967 newly recruited Frédéric Robert (ex Aquastar Geneve), merged a beefy, monobloc, front-loaded case with the newly developed 1000 calibre series (see details in the ‘Seamster 600’ section), giving birth to the Seamaster 1000 (1). The outlines of this case style is shared with the design for the Omega ‘Speedmaster Mark II’ developed in parallel in the context of the Alaska I project for NASA, showing the close collaboration within projects in Omega’s prototyping department. This case style is also used for the ‘Omega Flightmaster’ introduced in 1969 and several other watch models (9).

The front loading system for diving watches was not unique to Omega. Already in 1963/64 Paul Jenny invented the ‘monobloc’, front loading system with a ‘split’ winding stem and a triple safety crown making the watch, named ‘Caribbean’, the first watch water resistant up to 1000m. This model also featured a complex rotating bezel permitting to calculate decompression times (7,8).

The ‘Ploprof 0

An early prototype of Seamaster 1000, the series referred to internally by Omega as ‘Ploprof 0’ (2), using the cal.: 552 movement of the Seamaster 300, was produced in 1967/68 and was delivered to COMEX in mid 1968 to be used in on-shore saturation diving tests and to be used during the project ‘Hydra I’ (1).

According to the thorough research of @t_solo_t, the work on the development of the ‘Seamaster 1000’ began before the one for the ‘Seamaster 600 Ploprof’ not the other way around. Every detail on this professional automatic dive watch has an utilitarian purpose. The massive steel case is a front loading, monocoque construction. The thick mineral crystal of the prototype is made from two separate parts that were subsequently attached securely together. Like this, the complicated form of the crystal’s profile could be manufactured with more ease. The crystal itself is secured to the case by a screwed ring from the top, covered by the bezel. The crown (with split stem) is positioned to the left of the case to avoid any unwanted operations underwater while allowing the wrist to move freely (1).

Dial of the earliest known prototype version for the ‘Seamaster 1000. Picture credit: @t_solo_t

The dial shows a two tone blue color, the brighter blue, internal disc for differentiating the ‘hour’ surface from the darker blue, external ‘minute’ ring with thin hour markers and more precise indexing for timing the minutes. One feature which will be abandoned for this model but later taken over to Omegas electronic line of watches is the red trapezoid Omega logo at ’12’.

The most important timing for underwater application being minutes, the minutes hand is over-proportionally large and highly visible as seen in the Doxa Sub 300 models issued starting 1967. The short, orange, central seconds hands, has no other purpose than to allow to check that the watch is running. While the back of the case for the later prototypes and the commercialised models would be curved for enhanced ergonomics, this early prototype features a flat case with a grooved anti-slip back (2). The bezel numbers are taken from the US Navy decompression table (1).

Seamaster 1000, functional testing series

Further iterations of the ‘Seamaster 1000’ prototypes followed in 1974, with the definitive layout in 1975. The prototypes made in 1974 are coded with 3-1xx, the prototypes made in 1975 are coded 5-0xx, 5-1xx or 5-2xx. These codes are engraved on the back of the case (1). The intermediate codes 4-0xx and 4-1xx were reserved for Seamaster 600 ‘Ploprof’ prototypes, the codes 3-xxx were used for the ‘Seamaster 120 Big Blue’ prototypes (1). These functional prototypes of the Seamaster 1000, as the marketed versions, retain the feature of the disproportionally large minute hand.

Orange is not equal to orange

One ‘normal’ orange (top) vs. one ‘fluorescent’ orange (bottom).

Tests made by Doxa in Lake Neuchatel towards 1966 have empirically shown, that a black hand on an ‘orange’ dial would be the best visible under water (30m). Omega has improved on this principle but inverting the colours making the minutes hand fluorescent orange against a very dark blue dial. Indeed, scientific research published in March 1970 has proven, that ‘fluorescent’ colours are better visible under water than ‘normal’ colours, more so for ‘fluorescent orange’ which independently of the quality of the water is the best visible color on short distance (10), which makes this exact color ideal for the use on watch hands for diving watches. If this scientific reference was known to the Omega engineers developing the dial / hands combination for the professional diving watches can unfortunately not be determined, but it is highly probable, as before 1970 there is no evidence (yet) for the use of fluorescent coloured hands neither for the development of the ‘Seamaster 1000’ nor for the development of the ‘Seamaster 600’. The minute hands of prototypes pre 1970 seem to be orange in color but more towards ‘red’ and not fluorescent. As most original minute hands of the period have faded to pale orange, white or yellow, it is impossible to be absolutely sure which variant of orange color they were originally coated with (11).

The ‘Seamaster 1000’ was functionally tested alongside the ‘Seamaster 600’ and was also attached to the outside of the ‘International Underwater Contractors’ submarine ‘Beaver Mark IV’ to measure the effects on the crystal at a depth of 1000m and more. Independent evaluations of the watch pronounced it more water-tight than a submarine or even the Apollo capsule and impervious to the helium ingress problem making the use of a helium escape valve unnecessary (1).

The ‘Seamaster 1000’ was the most waterproof watch ever made by Omega, until the ‘Ultra Deep’ was developed, and even when tested at depths considerably deeper than its rating, its water resistance never failed (1).

Seamaster 1000, ‘electronic

As early as 1973/74, in parallel to the on site functional testing of the mechanical prototypes, also the compatibility of electronic prototypes for under water use was tested. Again, a close parallel can be drawn to the prototypes simultaneously tested for NASA during the Alaska III project, also verifying the aptitude of electronic watches but for use in space.

At first using cal.: 1250, a tuning fork regulated movement, which has proven unreliable with the suspicion that cold water would give rise to high battery consumption. In addition, the requirement for regular battery changes probably didn’t sit well with professional underwater divers often working in isolated locations for a long period of time (1).

The next step was to use the new ‘Megaquartz 32KHz’, cal.: 1310 base movement, however, the ‘Megaquartzes’ were not thermo-compensated and in a cold water environment they could lose significant amounts of time. In addition battery life was still a problem, as battery consumption increases with cold temperatures as mentioned above (1).

Material Optimisation

Despite the increasing release of quartz driven diving watches by other watch manufacturers, by 1982 Omega had abandoned the trials with electronic movements and one further prototype with automatic caliber was developed: The Seamaster 1000 T1 Titanium. Based on cal.: 1110 or cal.: 1111, these prototypes reputedly made subject to a tryout for the ‘Marine Nationale’ (French Navy) but were ultimately rejected due to expense (1). The ‘Marine Nationale’ ordered later a small batch of about 60 watches developed by Jacques Bianchi (model JB200) in Marseille, which were mostly French made and featured ‘France Ebauche’ quartz movements.

The very last prototype for this reference was made in 1983 featuring many innovative materials such as a titanium case and bezel, graphite and carbon fibre bracelet links and a sapphire crystal.

More detailed information about the evolution and the differentiation of the marketed versions of the ‘Seamaster 1000’ model can be found on this excellent site.


  1. Omega Seamaster 1000
  2. Monochrome Watches
  3. Watchtime
  4. Richon M; Reise durch die Zeit; Omega SA, 2007
  5. Watchesbysjx
  6. Phillips Auctioneers
  7. Le Calibre
  8. Dive into Watches
  9. Personal communication with Petros Protopapas; Head of Brand Heritage, Omega, Bienne
  10. Luria S.M., Kinney J.A.S.; Underwater Vision, Science, 13 Mar 1970, Vol 167, Issue 3924, pp. 1454-1461
  11. Personal communication with @t_solo_t