Monday, March 9, 2015

Omega Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph Limited Edition Watch Reference - I like the way it is, A Review

When Omega introduced the Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph Limited Edition watch during BaselWorld 2013, it created a lot of buzz. It seems that Omega has finally realized the value of their historical iconic designs and it was time to milk it. This is one of the first modern re-introduction inspired by the 1969 Seamaster Driver Bullhead watch (since then Omega has re-introduced a number of its old icons e.g. the Speedmaster Mark II, among others).

It was love at first sight when I lay my eyes on the Bullhead. I had set my heart to get it, eventually. However, I was deeply disappointed to find out that it was going to be a limited edition piece. The likelihood that I would get it became unbelievably slim. However, fortune shined on me and in 2015, I was presented with the opportunity to realize my dream.

The example that I was lucky to get my hands on is the pure black version with the production number 121 (out of 669). I actually like the number. Although I don’t believe in numerology, the 121, to me, signifies what I like about the watch; the symmetry and utility of the design.

There was another option, the Bullhead with the silver dial. However, after looking at it first hand, the silver surface was reflecting too much light that makes it difficult to see. The black version has a more practical feel to it.

The watch comes is a very substantial watch box. Instead of the typical Omega red, it comes in a black box with the Omega brand printed in red. Although this is not the actual watch box, it comes protected with a sleeve as well as a plain cardboard box. More than a foot long, 10 inches deep and 8 inches high.

The primary watch box is located inside this box as well as a section for all the documents associated with this watch.

The primary watch box uses a black material made out of a mixture of cotton and canvas (I may be totally wrong) with red stitching at the edge of the top surface. The box has a zipper along the middle and it hinges at the back. Apart from the standard instruction manual, guarantee card, a pictorial card and a black leather wallet, it also comes with a unique document to explain at some length about the watch and to confirm the pedigree.

Omega is only making 669 examples of each of the three versions. The one that I got (more on it later) is numbered 121.

The reveal

The watch sits on its pillow at the center of the wide watch box. Red stitching can be seen at the edges of the box floor, ceiling and pillow. With the size of the watch box, I half expected to get some tools to help replace the straps as well as a few additional straps. Unfortunately, the watch is the only item in the box. 

 With a case and dial configuration unlike any other Omega; the original 1969 Seamaster Bullhead that inspired this wristwatch is among the rarest ever produced. The Bullhead’s shield-shaped brushed and polished case, the inner revolving bezel and the unusual placement of its chronograph pushers and crowns made it a favorite among horologists. It’s winding crown at 12 o’clock flanked by two chronograph pushers that gave the watch its nickname. There is also another crown at the 6 o’clock position that controlled the internal rotating bezel.

I love bullhead designs. I currently have two other bullhead designs, the Laco 1925 Squad Atacama “Ninja” and Seiko 5 50th Anniversary SSA171J1 "Unicorn". Why I love bullheads is the symmetry of the design. If you look at the left side of the watch, it is the mirror image of the right side of the watch. The lack of any augmentations on the right or left of the watch casing also eliminates the possibility of the crown (and pushers) from pinching the skin. This makes the watch truly ambidextrous i.e. can be worn on the left arm or the right arm.

The Omega Seamaster Bullhead has a wedge-shaped shield-like casing. With the case measuring 43mm from left to right and 43 mm from top to bottom, the chronograph controls, flat and wide pushers, are mounted at the top of the case main time (and date)-setting crown. At the bottom of the case, at the 6 o'clock position, is a crown that controls the internal reflector bezel. The case is stainless steel and features brushed and polished areas as well as sharp angles.

The dial design is defined by a well spaced bezel and sub-dials at 12 o'clock (timing) and 6 o'clock (seconds). The painted Omega logo is inside the 12 o'clock sub-dial. The Seamaster signage is at 9 o’clock whereas the words “CO-AXIAL” and “CHRONOMETER” are located at 3 o’clock. The date window is also at 3 o’clock. Right at the bottom at 6 o’clock are the words “SWISS MADE” in small font. The surface of the dial has a waffle or stipple pattern and painted black. Omega gave a name to this dial design, calling it a black “Sport Chic” dial with a reversed “Clous de Paris” pattern.

The hour points use straights markers and painted with luminous paint. Only the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock hours are without markers. Apart from the hour markers there is a minute scale with 1/5th minute sub-scale at the edge of the dial.

Due to the sub-dials, this watch uses five hands. Only the hours and minutes hands are painted with luminous paint. The small timing sub-dial hand and the large chronograph hand are painted red without any luminous paint. The small seconds sub-dial hand is just polished steel. Based on the timing sub-dial, the watch is capable of a 30 minute chronograph timing operation.

On the chapter ring is the black bi-directional rotating inner bezel that has a 12-hour scale with Arabic numerals. To manipulate the internal bezel is by using the large crown at 6 o’clock.

The watch is fitted with a nice sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides that provides excellent readability of the time at any angle.

This model is presented on a black leather strap with red stitching. It also uses a deployant clasp. What is more interesting is the shape of the casing when seen from the side.

As you can see from the photo above, the casing is not flat. In fact, the already thick casing is thicker at the North side of the watch and slightly curved. This has the effect of positioning the watch on the wrist at an angle, allowing the wearer to look at the time without needing to turn the wrist.

The Omega Seamaster Bullhead utilizes hidden lugs. This has a number of benefits. First of which is to minimize lug overhang on wrist especially for larger watches. In this case, despite the 43 mm by 43 mm dimensions of the watch, those with smaller wrist can still comfortable wear this watch. The second advantage is keeping the maximum amount of strap surface on the skin. This minimizes the tendency of slippage without the need to put on the strap really tight. This advantage is especially obvious with this watch due to the weight of the casing. The third advantage is the overall view of the watch. The hidden lugs eliminates any unsightly view of the strap and lugs interface.

Another beauty of a bullhead design is the view. Looking from the right side or the left side, it still looks the same.

The watch is fitted with a solid screw-in case-back that is stamped with the polished Seamaster Seahorse logo and the limited edition engravings. Under this case-back is the Omega automatic Calibre 3113. This new movement, besides being self-winding, features a column wheel chronograph mechanism, co-axial escapement and a power reserve of 52 hours when fully wound. This watch is water resistant to 15 bar (150 metres / 500 feet) and is delivered with a full three-year warranty.

In between the flat pushers sits the winding crown with the Omega logo on a black background. It has four positions; the first is the lock position. Instead of being a screw down, it uses a bayonet twist lock system, secured by a single turn. That means the Omega logo on the crown is always facing the right way up. One you unlock the crown, it will be in its second position. In this position you can manually wind the watch by turning the crown. The third position allows you to adjust the date and the fourth and final position allows you to adjust the time. In this position, the seconds hand will stop moving.

On the other side of the casing, at 6 o'clock is the crown to rotate the inner bezel around the dial. A much bigger crown and it is not locked in anyway. Unfortunately, if you are using the inner bezel as a form of second time zone (i.e. like a GMT function), the lack of a locking mechanism makes its susceptible to accidental manipulation if the crown was to brush against anything. A similar bayonet twist lock system would be most helpful.

In this picture too you will see the special slot cut into the strap to allow the large internal bezel crown from being caught in the strap. This means the Omega Seamaster Bullhead uses a unique strap design that would be extremely difficult or even impossible to find from independent strap makers. I just hope my straps last as long as possible before I have to go back to Omega for a replacement or order a bespoke tailored-made strap from someone.

The deployant clasp is easy to use. It is also small in design. The small lip at the clasp has the Omega brand stamped on it.

As highlighted earlier, the watch wears smaller than it looks. The hidden lugs give the assurance to smaller wrist owners the confidence to wear the watch. Despite the thick watch casing, due to the polished beveled edges, it slips rather easily under shirt cuffs.

From a wrist presence perspective, this watch has the styling that is unique and a real conversational starter. It has the size and weight to grab the attention of those around it without the need to ‘bling’ or be ‘loud’. Being a limited edition piece, owners can rest assured what they are wearing is distinctive (yes, I am owner and this comment can be construed as a partisan view. However, I am not embarrassed to say that this is what most, if not all owners want for their watches. Let’s face it, a chance to brag, even a little, is a secret wish we all have).


This watch does have its perceived flaws. The lock-less crown for the internal bezel and the unique strap are areas that Omega could look into if ever they want to incorporate similar complications in newer models. Even the illumination (see below) is something less then desirable. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t complain much as this makes it what it is. Honestly, I do like it the way it is.


Photo Folio

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