An extract from OMEGA Lifetime – The Ocean Edition
Imaging by The Color Club
TREASURES FROM THE VAULT
Delving into the hallowed vaults of the official Omega Museum, we uncover how the legendary Seamaster 200 gained its enigmatic “SHOM” moniker.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Omega fathered some of the greatest ever underwater watches. The title “Seamaster Professional” has adorned many legendary divers’ watches, and famous nicknames have always been part of the brand’s legacy, starting with the Seamaster 300, the Seamaster 600 PloProf (PLOngeur PROFessionel), the Seamaster 1000 (also called “the Grand” due to its shape and its depth rating of 1,000m/330ft) all the way up to the Seamaster Automatic 120m Chronograph, a.k.a. “Big Blue”. While most of these models shared Omega’s signature ‘pilots’ line’ oval case design, one of the last great members of the lineage featured a surprisingly strong angular case: the Seamaster 200, also called the “SHOM” by avid collectors. Referenced as 166.0177 and powered by Omega’s reliable calibre 1012, the model debuted at Baselworld 1973 and – other than its case made of single pieces of Swedish steel by Piquerez – featured a black dial with high-visibility indexes, sword hands and a depth rating of 200m/660ft printed on the dial.
The model saw active use on the wrists of many divers and, six years later, around 1979, its nickname was born. France’s Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine (SHOM), a government institution specialising in marine studies and the publication of official marine charts and maps, was showing an interest in divers’ watches. “SHOM” was so capable in its assigned tasks that it also became responsible for qualifying many items that were subsequently used by all of France’s marine entities and institutions. Looking at all available options, and quite possibly adhering to a given set of requirements, the “SHOM” approached Omega and enquired about the Seamaster 200. The result was that a production batch was directly delivered to them for their official use. The watches were duly signed and engraved with the letters “SHOM” on the caseback, distinguishing them easily from the regular models that were on the market at the time. Hence, the legendary Seamaster “SHOM” was forever given its name.
But the model’s fame goes even further thanks to another engraving seen on many of the Seamaster 200’s ‘official’ French Marine watches. Upon selection by the “SHOM”, France’s Marine Nationale also adopted the model as their official watch. This resulted in another batch being delivered for official use within their diver units. As with all watches officially qualified by government institutions, the watches featured the special engraving “MN 79” on their casebacks. The fact that this showcased the official appointment and date of the French Navy gave the Seamaster 200 yet one more stepping stone to fame.