The Omega Planet Ocean is well-known as one of the greatest dive watches of all time, but that didn’t stop Omega from improving it, updating the case, dial, bracelet and most of all, the movement.
I think few would disagree with the assertion that the Omega Planet Ocean would appear on the list of greatest dive watches of all time. The PO is perhaps made all the greater by the fact that it’s not just a version of the Rolex Submariner, more than I can say for many high-end dive watches. It’s a very unique and entirely iconic model that is all Omega.
That’s why when Omega updates the Planet Ocean it receives a lot of attention. This new series of Master Chronometer POs is less an all-new model, like the PO 8500 was to the PO 2500, but more an all-around improvement. Of course, it uses the new METAS-certified Master Chronometer movement, but the update is far more significant. It includes a modified ceramic dial, a modified ceramic bezel, a new case back and, most importantly, the addition of a blue model in a steel case (finally).
Of course, the Master Chronometer movement is nonetheless the focus of the update. The new PO features the 8900 which is really an improved version of the extremely successful 8500 co-axial calibre. The 8900 includes advancements found in previous Omega movements (the 8508, for instance), like a near-total immunity to magnetism (thanks to silicon in all the right places), but it’s also METAS certified. METAS is sort of a level of chronometer certification on top of the chronometer certification you already know and love (COSC). We’ll get into that in more detail in the movement section, but for brevity, suffice it to say that it’s a much more holistic test than the ordinary chronometer certification.
The PO Master Chronometer’s dial is still the same one you (and I) love, but with some tasteful updates. We’ll get to those in a moment, but first let’s take examine the dial in general.
We’ll start with these iconic hands. They’re quite massive and have the proper amount of lume to accompany them. Like most movements from the 8500 lineage, it has an independent hour hand. Like other POs, two different colors of lume is used for each of the main hands, a great choice when the hands have the same basic shape to prevent possible confusion.
A ton of blue lume is used throughout, but the minute hand receives green lume. It may seem impossible to confuse hands, but in adverse conditions, like low light or underwater, it’s entirely possible at a quick glance. One way to reduce that possibility is to use two very different shapes of hands, but another is using two different colors of lume like Omega did here. As you might expect in a diving watch of this quality, the intensity of the lume is very impressive. I also appreciate the perfect symmetry of markers despite using a 3:00 date.
The applied markers are a nice touch. Also note that the cardinal markers are quite a bit shorter than the others. That might have been a purely stylistic decision, but having at least one marker be different than the others (a unique shape at 12, for instance) is great for orienting the watch in total darkness. If all the markers are identical, which is quite common, you have almost no point of reference and it can be easy to misread at a glance.
Large applied Arabic numerals adorn the dial as well. These also help maintain symmetry with the gap created by the date complication at 3:00.
I particularly love the ceramic dial. Although scratch resistance isn’t really an issue in dials, it allows Omega to achieve a near-mirror polish. Thanks to the use of matching materials between the bezel and dial, a perfect color match can be achieved as well. Updates here are subtle, but we see the new Master Chronometer writing, as one might expect. The orange depth rating balances nicely with the orange Seamaster writing and it seems to be a trend within the PO collection. It isn’t universally present on the Master Chronometer POs, however, a few of which have gone for a more subdued approach.
Here you can see the flawless reflection of the seconds hand against the beautiful ceramic dial. This is also a pretty good view of the date, a very utilitarian affair, but it is, at least, nicely beveled. In my humble opinion, however, a polished date frame would have matched the numerals really well here. The dark date ring blends into the dial well, although it, by necessity, offers some contrast with the shiny dial due too its matte surface. I suspect that such a small numeral would be very hard to read on a glossy ring. Like most movements in the 8500 family, the date is changed (both forward and backward, interestingly) via an independent hour hand. This also makes changing the time for daylight savings or for travel very convenient.
The 43.5mm case is at once almost identical to previous POs and yet a nice update. For one thing, we finally get the blue PO in a steel case in addition to the existing titanium model. Titanium is a wonderful material for many people, but for myself, I don’t mind the weight and prefer the scratch resistance of steel (the cost savings aren’t bad either). As you may have noticed, we at Timeless have a thing for blue watches, so this opens up the blue PO for us and hopefully to many others as well.
The other big change is this new “alveol” screw-in caseback, which might be best described as a pie crust shape.
Like all Planet Ocean 8500s (shall we say PO 8900s now?) it’s a bit on the thick side. It retains, of course, its helium escape valve. I love the asymmetry it gives the watch.
The crown screws down (naturally) for a still-impressive 600 meter water resistance.
The blue ceramic Liquidmetal bezel has been updated a little as well. The main change is that the circle closest to the crystal has now been broken down into minute segments. This makes it a little easier to precisely line up the bezel to a minute past the 15 minute mark (which were already distinguished). What hasn’t changed, however, is the “action” of the bezel. It’s still a really great all-around feel with medium effort and a very solid lockup.
This new Planet Ocean features the 8900 instead of the more typical 8500. Despite the name change, however, the biggest difference between this movement and older 8500s is actually the new METAS certification. In fact, it’s the METAS-certified movement that gives it the “Master Chronometer” title on the dial.
Because we’ve covered 8500-family movements in so many other reviews, I wanted to do this movement section a bit differently. For starters, I’ll be focusing on the METAS certification itself. But, secondly, through the magic of Photoshop, we removed the rotor so you can see the 8900 in all its glory. Of course, the rotor itself is beautiful, so we’ll be using both rotor and sans-rotor shots going forward.
The first thing to clarify about METAS certification is that it’s not directly competing with COSC certification. In fact, a condition of passing the METAS test is to have already passed the COSC. Therefore, all Master Chronometers (watches that are METAS certified) are also chronometers in the conventional sense. Once a chronometer enters METAS testing, its magnetic resistance will be tested. Omega has been gradually updating the 8500 family of movements with silicon components that allow them to operate under intense magnetic fields, but METAS is the first independent certification of their performance. Here, the movement will be tested in a magnetic field of 15,000 gauss in two different positions, far more powerful than someone would experience in their ordinary life. The movement is then “cased” (placed inside the watch it will be sold in) and tested again.
In addition, there is a four-day examination of the average accuracy of the watch in 6 positions and two temperatures. This differs from the COSC examination in two major ways: first, it’s a cased movement (instead of a movement on its own) and second, it tests 6 positions instead of the COSC’s 5, which is quite rare. Another test is carried out between day 2 and 3 of the accuracy test, essentially doing a before and after magnetism exposure measurement to determine what deviation, if any, the movement suffered from its exposure. It is this period Another METAS test that you won’t find in the COSC is the power reserve test, which ensures that each watch can achieve its manufacturer’s advertised power reserve specifications.
In addition to testing the average accuracy across six positions, the watch’s maximum positional variation is also tested. This is a fancy way of saying that a watch might achieve a good average accuracy but still have one or two unacceptable outliers in a particular position. The maximum deviation results will prevent those from slipping through by comparing the positions with the greatest difference. Differences above a certain threshold will fail the test. The accuracy of the watch at various levels of the power reserve (100% and 33%) is also tested, ensuring that a high or low power reserve doesn’t result in an inaccurate watch. One of the more interesting METAS tests actually has nothing to do with the movement, which is simply pressure-testing watches to their advertised WR numbers. If you want to learn more about METAS testing, I recommend going here for Watch Insider’s excellent in-depth photographic discussion of METAS testing.
I also wanted to discuss the bracelet which received small but very appreciated updates.
Namely, we get a very easy to use micro-adjust system for the clasp. Diver or not, I think this is a great benefit because I always find my watch bracelets either too tight or too loose for a particular activity. Now we can get it perfect on the fly with no tools.
Of course, if that’s not enough flexibility, you still have a divers extension.
That’s a lot of length that can be added (or removed) in a few seconds.
Believe it or not, the Planet Ocean is actually my favorite dive watch in the entire world, no qualifiers. It’s just so much more fun-loving than the deadly serious Rolex Submariner or the Grand Seiko SBGA029. Thus, as a longtime fan of the PO, I think I have a bit of extra perspective on the Master Chronometer version.
Naturally, becoming a Master Chronometer necessitated a movement update. On a functional level, the 8900 is virtually identical (as far as I can tell) to the 8508, the extra silicon-imbued 8500 (many 8500s had silicon components too) that debuted Omega’s newfound resistance to magnetism. The key difference is in the independent METAS testing which certifies that magnetic resistance. But METAS extends even further than that, guaranteeing attributes like the power reserve and water resistance. Because the 8900 is tested to more stringent standards than other 8500s, it stands to reason that it probably outperforms them as well, if only in virtue of superior adjustment and weeding out weaker performers that would have otherwise survived the COSC but failed METAS.
It would have been easy and entirely forgivable to just update the movement, throw some Master Chronometer verbiage on the dial and call it a day, but that’s not what Omega did. The PO Master Chronometer is a full-fledged refresh of the model with updates to the bracelet, the dial, the bezel writing and even the case.
The Planet Ocean Master Chronometer is a great watch. It manages to subtly improve this classic in almost every way. The 8500 was already one of the best mass-produced movements in the world and now it’s even better. I love the addition of an easy micro adjustment system on the bracelet. I especially love that I can get the blue model in steel now. Of course, you don’t have to get it in blue. As is always the case with Omega, you have a nice variety of versions to choose from, including new full ceramic models.