Black, Red, White & Blue Glory
Like any “big name” brand, Omega gets lots of love, and on occasion hate, across all media platforms and just about every publication and presenter has made a piece, fluff or otherwise, about Rolex to drum up viewership. My intention here is not to dwell on the Omega brand or the overall Seamaster Planet Ocean (SMPO) line, but instead my intention will be to present to you my impressions of living with an ETNZ Deep Black version of the SMPO, a variant that has not received a great deal of attention I feel.
Special thanks to Stephano with Watches & Crystals for hooking me up with the black Meccaniche Veneziane leather strap.
For this review I acquired this SMPO in trade through the Canadian Watch Collectors forum from a fantastic member co-located here in Montreal, QC, and am extremely happy with it.
Who’s it for?
The ETNZ Deep Black is perfect for someone who appreciates practical precision time pieces and takes care of them. The Deep Black SMPO is a Rolex GMT Master and Sea Dweller wrapped into an unassuming technology demo for those in the know.
TWC Paid: $7,100.00 CAD
Model: Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m Co‑Axial Master Chronometer GMT “ETNZ” Deep Black
Case: 45.5mm black ceramic Thickness: 17.5mm Lug-to-Lug: 51mm Lug Width: 22mm
Bezel: Black ceramic 120-click Uni-Directional Rotating, LiquidMetal™ Ceramic Insert
Movement: Omega Master Chronometer Calibre 8906, 60 Hour Power Reserve, 39 jewel (25,200 BPH), Free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring, two barrels mounted in series, automatic winding in both directions with rhodium-plated rotor and bridges with Geneva waves in arabesque.
Crystal: Domed Sapphire with anti‑reflective treatment on both sides
WR: 60 ATM – 60 Bar – 600m – 2000ft
Lume: Yes, blue and green Super LumiNova
Strap: Rubber with ceramic and titanium clasp
MSRP: $14,000.00 CAD
Finding this watch…
It’s an Omega so finding this time piece is straight forward and you can easily take the reference number and populate a search through eBay, Chrono24, etc… Even Chronext.com has a “new” example for sale at a discounted $10,090.00 CAD + tax.
Now if you like everything about the ETNZ version of the Deep Black but the ETNZ color scheme then Omega has you covered with several single solid colors, including just black and black and gold.
The Cross Shop:
eBay.ca – Est. $13-18k CAD – Panerai Luminor 1950 GMT Ceramic PAM00438 – Ceramic cased wrist watches were a popular trend that quick peaked and have since died off so finding comparable pieces to the SMPO outside of an Omega offering is somewhat difficult. I’ve selected Panerai’s ceramic GMT offering that, while not nearly as colorful and packed with features, offers a warm Italian charm.
eBay.ca – Est. $3.5k-5.5k CAD – Tudor Black Bay Heritage Dark PVD 79230 – Now you could choose one of the Fast Rider Black Shield chronograph models made before Tudor’s recent renaissance of sorts but the better buy I feel is the much newer Black Bay (BB) models; you get the popular BB styling, modern Rolex quality and you can find them new with warranty for around $5k CAD. Keep in mind of course that is not a GMT nor a 600m super-diver nor ceramic nor a master chronometer, but it is half the price when bought even at retail.
Watches & Crystals – 1,848.00 CAD – Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide GMT – Dive styled GMT’s in PVD aren’t all that numerous, and even just reasonably priced GMT’s are somewhat limited in selection, but if that’s what you want then to look at the Nereide GMT. You can have this in several bezel styles such as the “Pepsi” blue and red as seen in the above link and of course regardless of bezel all feature everything you want in a quality Swiss driven time piece. You can order these direct from Venice, Italy, but my experience has been that the quality control for pieces coming direct is poor so I would suggest ordering through a vendor such as Watches & Crystals to ensure that the piece is properly vetted. I would also strongly recommend that you wait for a sale and avoid paying retail as, like all brands, these do not hold much resale value. To this end if you message either and mention this article and ask if they would offer a discount code I’d wager they would throw you an easy 10% or so off your purchase. (I have no affiliation or otherwise with either company so they could also tell you to pound dirt so to speak!)
Rolex – Est. $10-29,000 CAD – ROLEX GMT-Master II Custom DLC – While Rolex doesn’t do ceramic cases you can find business’ that have applied custom PVD coatings to various models. Keep in mind that you typically pay a premium for these and if you ever want to sell them then you’ll take a hefty depreciation as well. Of course, as always, if it must be Rolex and it must be “blacked out” then you have the GMT-Master II or Explorer II, both in 40mm case sizes, to choose from.
For reasons known only to Omega you can only get a dive styled GMT with a diver’s bezel and not GMT bezel in ceramic. Personally, I love that I get the functionality of a dive bezel but also the benefit of a GMT complication, but more on that later. Also interesting is that Omega also offers a 300m SMP diver in ceramic for $10k CAD and considering that most have dropped their ceramic offerings entirely I imagine that these will finish running their course once Omega runs out of all the case they have made.
The ETNZ variant of the Deep Black series is tribute to Omega’s on-going support of the Emirates Team New Zealand yacht racing team and the America’s cup. This means that the color scheme is based on the ETNZ’s colors and rather than have an exhibition case back to view the beautiful co-axial movement you have a solid ENTZ red logo instead. If you want to delve into the specs check out the many SMPO Deep Black YouTube “reviews” out there and in the meantime, we will look at how this piece wears day in and day out in the real world.
A staple of both modern Omega and modern watch brands, the packaging for the ETNZ is both impressive and over sized. I would be more than happy to have this on my dresser if I didn’t have a dedicated watch box and if this were a gift for someone else, I would expect that the high-class materials and accessories would impress.
The massive proportions of the case mean that the swooping lines of the classic Seamaster case stand out even in all black. If you’ve read or viewed anything on the SMPO you’ll know that Omega has been criticized for the thickness of it’s modern wrist watches and at 17.5mm I can see why many have highlighted this fact. If this were made from a heavier material, then that the size and weight would make this a potentially uncomfortable all-day watch but because of the liberal use of ceramic and titanium here the watch wears like a good steel 42mm diver would. I do get that it is thick and sits high off the wrist, its 17.5mm, but this is a strictly practical sport watch and isn’t pretending to be otherwise.
When I was working out the trade for this I, out of habit, initially asked what condition the case was in. Of course, the response was “like new” given the case material. If you are like many people these days and abhor obvious signs of wear, then a ceramic case could be a big deal. Yes, if you smash the case it could crack but I feel like this is a worth while trade off for it always looking like new, though I understand if you are particularly heavy handed and this risk is not worth it for you. The ceramic case has a sheen to it that when hit by light flows from the case and all the way through to the bezel insert. The ceramic of the case side has a soft brushed look to it despite being completely smooth to the touch that helps hide fingerprints and is part brushed finish, part gloss finish.
Like so many other watches the area of case between the lugs is scared with an obvious heat stain that would normally be covered by the stock strap. It’s unfortunate to see this here given Omega’s attention to detail on every other aspect but its all too common for brands to ignore this less obvious space when they’re intention is for it to be hidden by the lug ends of the strap or bracelet.
3. Bezel & Rehaut
Unlike the case, I’ve found that the bezel insert perpetually attracts fingerprints and other smudging and always looks like it needs a wipe down. The Liquid Metal™ print looks like it’s a part of the insert and I can only imagine that it will look pristine for years to come. Like wise, the bezel ring itself which, if it were in PVD, would otherwise succumb eventually to wear, exposing the steel beneath, will look black and new indefinitely. Rotating the bezel results in distinct thudding and is very easy to rotate being light but accurate when used. There is a small amount of play between stops, but it is minor and given the materials used is, for me at least, an acceptable amount.
One thing that you’ll only notice in person is that the bezel ring, depending on the light, comes off as a different shade of black. This may be because it is a solid black when compared to the very subtle brushing of the ceramic, but it was one of the first things I noticed after wearing the SMPO for a few days.
Looking inside at the rehaut you’ll find it mostly unnoticeable until you look closely and realize that the day/night GMT track in red and blue is actual part of it and separate from the dial itself. In this regard the GMT track is functional and adds to the overall appearance of the watch face but is still visually unobtrusive until needed.
With a standard sport width of 22mm and the beautiful curves of the standard Seamaster case the ETNZ lugs most important characteristic is their length. The lugs here work visually and despite the case’s larger proportions the overall length remains relatively reasonable at 51mm. Compare this with other 42mm sports designs that are often paired with longer lugs that make the watch too large for many and you’ll find the large SMPO much more wearable than you might expect. If you are planning on changing straps around, you’ll be pleased to know that Omega has placed the spring bar holes such that heavy leather straps won’t rub against the case and a thick NATO strap slides perfectly.
Or should I say crown’s? The SMPO features a simple, straight forward design that is a good size for easy manipulation. The liquid metal writing looks clean on both crowns and should look like new for a long time. Both crowns screw in and out without feeling like you’re threading and unthreading a rough metal stem and even better once you get the main crown undone you are rewarded with a firm but buttery smooth winding of the movement. I also appreciate that both crowns screw fully into recesses in the case giving them a clean look.
I was concerned, given the large dimensions of everything on the SMPO, that at least one of the two crowns would be somehow uncomfortable when worn on the wrist. Thankfully, neither crown has given me any discomfort.
Clear and if it weren’t for the slight doming of the crystal it would be flush and well protected by the bezel. The only time I notice the crystal is when I can see smudging or fingerprints on it.
My favorite part of the dial has to be the applied red Omega logo and writing at the 12; it stands out and contrasts the applied blue “GMT” beautifully. I didn’t realize for some time that the blue “GMT” lettering was in fact applied since the colored printing has an almost raised edge to it. The white gold used for the indices and the 6,9 and 12 numbers have been given a brushed finish and while this makes perfect sense given the SMPO is a sport watch any benefit of them being white gold to me is lost. Along with these numbers are those found within the date window. The date wheel goes so far to match the other numerals on the dial by featuring color matched silver, maybe even white gold, numbers. Its one of those things you won’t be able to un-see now but in this case it’s a positive and illustrates the close attention to detail Omega has put into the design of the SMPO.
The dial plate that all this sits on is a softly brushed black ceramic disk that from any distance looks like flat black. I suppose it makes it easy to read the dial, but I’ve found the it to be underwhelming though practical. My few other experiences with ceramic dials mind you have been similar, and such is the trade of for the benefit of the material I suppose. Thankfully Omega knows how to balance their use of colors and even with red, white, blue, silver and white gold the dial as a whole works well and is appealing to my eye.
While I’m not partial to Omega’s broad arrow hour and minute hands, they do match the tapered indices, so I understand why they work here; I still don’t like them though and I feel like they are the weakest part of an otherwise strong dial, though again this is purely preference. What I will say with certainty about them though is that Omega proudly states that they, like the indices and numbers, are white gold, which is great expect that they’ve been given a brushed finish and I really can’t tell them apart from any other metal application. I guess it’s better than plating of course.
At a glance I do find that the red tip of the second hand gets lost over the dark dial and because the red they’ve used is dark it takes my eye a second or more to acquire. The blue GMT hand is, I feel, purposely lost on the dark background and in no way clutters the dial while still being easy to use when needed. The blue used for the GMT hand also has an almost rounded edge to it which gives it a playful look about it and although I can’t find the words to describe why I like it, I just do.
One of the most recent things I’ve noticed is that none of the hands seem to have a purpose in terms of length. The hour hands don’t track along the indices, neither the minute nor the second hands reach any specific marking and even the GMT hand only manages to be as long as the second hand. My guess here is that Omega has chosen to make the hands as long as they need to in order to be visually appealing while being appropriately sized to match each other.
If you haven’t heard the lume brightness isn’t the best here and considering the width of the indices I would have expected the SMPO to have performed better given the extra space provided for more Super Luminova material. Unfortunately, this is not the case and you’ll find the lume found is say a Submariner or Yacht-Master significantly brighter. This said Omega has used green lume for the bezel pip and the minute hand and blue lume for everything else which is great when you can see it. When lite up it really reminds me of the Rolex Milgauss and I’ve found the lume here more comparable to the non-dive style Rolex sport designs.
10. Movement / Functions
If you are familiar with Omega, then you should also be with their marvelous co-axial movement. If you’re not, just google or YouTube “Omega co-axial 8900” and you will find plenty of details on its history, evolution and application. For us lets look at the caliber 8900’s application here and how it realistically applies to our everyday use.
When it comes to function, I feel that having the divers rotating bezel as the primary function and GMT hand and track as secondary is fantastic. The way in which these two functions have been simply yet effectively applied here is phenomenal and I wish more brands offered this level of versatility for those of us who want the GMT function but without a GMT bezel. Meanwhile, when worn on the wrist I’ve experienced no loss of seconds which is phenomenal, and I appreciate that the METAS certification means that while I may gain a second every so often I will never loose one. Other features such as additional shock testing, anti-magnetism and longer service intervals all add to the incentive of Omega’s METAS certified movements and goes well beyond just simple claims of accuracy. These METAS improvements add true practicality and now when I look at pre-METAS co-axial driven Omega’s a part of me hesitates to not have the added security of a METAS Omega.
11. Case Back
The lack of an exhibition case back is admittedly a disappointment to me and any who would appreciate the beautifully decorated and machined movement inside. If you really need to see the movement then you’ll want to bypass the ETNZ version of the Deep Black line.
12. Strap / Bracelet
The issued rubber strap with titanium clasp is more comfortable than most rubber straps though for me it’s still not as comfortable as other material choices. Because of this I reserve the rubber strap for the water and otherwise wear the SMPO on either a fun and vibrant red, white and blue premium NATO by Moose Straps Co or an Italian black leather strap by Meccaniche Veneziane for more subdued occasions. Whatever your preference is, if you are going to swap out the strap consider also changing around the issued Omega deployment clasp as it really is as good as others say and even better longer term given the combination of titanium and ceramics used. One tip, if you’re going to rock a NATO make sure you use good, heavy duty spring bars as the size SMPO’s size will put a good amount of strain on them; I initially used a pair if thinner ones and they ended up bent and in the garbage.
13. Gravitas / On the Wrist
Even if you do change out the strap for a leather one the blacked out SMPO is solidly a practical sports watch and wears on the wrist as such. A heavy black leather strap gives the SMPO a much more subdued look and a broader versatility than the more colorful NATO or stock rubber straps and although the NATO is probably my favorite strap to wear because of it’s colors, I still get much more regular wear out of the straight black strap.
Despite the extensive use of light weight exterior materials, the SMPO still has a solid weight to it so don’t mistake it for your typical “too light weight” titanium time piece. I have quite a few 42mm diameter pieces and find that the SMPO fits similarly but wider and if you’re not sure about the SMPO’s size, I’d say that if you can work a standard 42mm diver then this should fit you fine.
The ENTZ SMPO has replaced my Rolex Explorer II GMT 16570 as my daily work watch and as you might imagine the two timepieces are very different in size. The only time I really notice the size difference is when I’m wearing a tight cuff that would have accepted the thin profile of the Explorer. I was always happy with the Explorer but found it less versatile than a diver and too anonymous styling wise. I have played with watch sizes over the years and have found that for me a 42mm diameter watch tends to fit my 7in wrist best and because of this the Explorer was just a bit too small for my preference.
14. The Wife Check
From my wife’s perspective the ETNZ SMPO appears to be nothing special. As she puts it, “…a running watch but it’s heavy, but it looks like a runner’s watch.” And she doesn’t know watch brands so this being her first Omega she was a little confused why there was a Lululemon™ symbol on it that also said Omega. Overall, she thought it was similar to other divers such as the many Meccaniche Veneziane Nereide pieces, which she mentioned by name, that she has handled previously and was unimpressed by the overall design and color scheme. To me this illustrates that this really is a piece for those that are in the know and appreciate what the Deep Black line has to offer.
The Deep Black was never on my radar until it came up in trade and I am forever grateful for it entering my life as it has given me a renewed appreciation for Omega time pieces. Now is the Deep Black version of the SMPO for everyone? Definitely not. It is unfortunate that the dive bezel / dial-based GMT design has been limited to this series that is firmly more niche than not due to the ceramic case but if you can get passed that then there is a lot of watch in the SMPO.
Would I pay MSRP for any of the Deep Black SMPO models? Never. Thankfully you if you look around and are patient you can find them well discounted and I recently saw a retailer clearance with two for $8.5k CAD ($6.4k USD) which is right around my person perceived value of the ETNZ SMPO. Will anyone ever believe you that you have $14k CAD on your wrist? Not if they don’t already know, and that’s okay because the Deep Black SMPO isn’t about that; it’s not a Deep Sea or a Sea Dweller and that is perfect. For me, the Deep Black is the perfect daily work watch and I’ll have it I feel for a very long time.