Seamaster chronometers are an odd bunch. Chronometer certification was mostly reserved for the Constellation line-up, and by default, any Chronometer Seamaster is going to be more rare than a Constellation. In addition, they are also less expensive than Constellations making them attractive for entry-level collector. Chronometer Seamasters come in three movement categories distinguished by their movements: 564, 752, 551 and 352.
|167.070||551||Rare, Factory redial|
Of these, the cal 551 can be considered an edge case, because it is actually an Omega Geneve that has had dial changed by the factory. It has been listed here, because some completionist collectors may want to add it to their collection. This blog post focuses less on the day/date versions, because my personal interest resides in the date versions.
Omega Seamaster 168.024
This is probably the most popular of the chronometer seamasters due to the classic oyster-style case familiar from 14700 and 14744. They are characterised by a massive case with beefy lugs and they came with a beads of rice bracelet, a must have for an Omega dress watch enthusiast. It is possible to find these watches with and without cyclops on authentic Omega crystal. Apparently, cyclops was an option you could choose when buying the watch at the time.
The caliber 565 non-chronometer reference 166.010 shares the same case. In the end, there isn’t that much difference. While there is not certainty whether the chronometer version ever shipped with black dial, it is possible that there have been crosshair dial versions both with crosshair piercing the text and crosshair not piercing the text. I haven’t personally handled these watches or seen authoritative take on their existence. I treat all black dial Seamasters without visible radium / tritium plots as redials.
Omega Seamaster ‘Sparkle’ 168.022
The 168.022 comes in a large 36,5mm case and has a nice radial finish. It comes in a few dial variations, with most notable being the ‘Sparkle’ dial. 168.022 features a cal 564 movement and wears well.
The 168.022 have few different variants. Among these, there are a champagne dial and a white dial sparkle. The watches can have T SWISS T dials to indicate presence of tritium plots, but they can also be without tritium plots. Redials are easy to spot, because the dials are hard to reproduce. One should watch out for overly polished cases and cases where the radial finish of the bezel is gone. I haven’t personally seen a legit black dial version yet. They may exist, but July/2021 I assume they don’t.
Omega Seamaster 168.035
These watches are for the quirky 70s cushion case lovers. They are slightly bigger and wear a lot differently from the 36,5mm case Seamasters. The watches measure at 38mm diameter, but they wear a lot smaller due to the short lugs. In addition, the lug width is 22mm and the bracelets are nearly impossible (read expensive) to find loose. It is possible that there have been black dial version of these, but as of now (9/11/2021) this is unclear.
Suspicious black dial variant of the non-chronometer version 166.065. I was initially fooled by the tritium plots, but it may be that the dial is not original.
The 168.022 and 168.024 share the same case with Seamaster 60 ‘Big Crown’ ref 166.062 and various De Ville Chronographs (145.018, 145.017 and 146.017 among others). In addition the bracelets go to the Seamaster 120 case 135.027 / 136.027. Unsurprisingly, because the 1069/524 goes many, much more valuable watches, it is highly sought after by collectors and thus getting scarce and valuable. Interesting history behind 1069/524 is that there are also unbranded ones manufactured by JB Champion which can be used to provide extension links.
It is common to find collectors with 100s of bracelets that they have detached from watch heads and hoarded overtime. One can only speculate the reasons, but one of them is that selling a bracelet and watchhead separately will typically yield more money. As the result, it is not that common to find a chronometer Seamaster on its original bracelet as somebody has collected it into their dragons hoarde of vintage omega parts or mounted it on a more expensive watch.
Omega cal. 564 Movement
Cal 564 movement is beautifully crafted. The movement should be easy to wind and setting time should be smooth. Only thing to watch out for is a broken quickset date. The parts are not available outside of Omega and they are quite expensive. If one finds a watch with broken quickset date I’d consider not repairing it. In my eyes, broken quickset date doesn’t lower the value of the watch considering how easily they break.
The cal 564 movements are true workhorses. If the movement is not broken, they will wind and run despite years of neglect. For wear, service is recommended.
Aside from the 2577, all of the watches can be relatively commonly found with Türler print. This is also a common thing that dodgy entry-level Rolex investors add later on, sometimes with a Sharpie and often completely ruining the dial.
Based on my experience, Meister dials are applied in similar fashion as Türler, but less common (in my experience) than Türler dials. All the same, they can be found. Another favorite thing to add when preparing to make maximum profit.
The chronometer Seamasters are a nice category of vintage Omega watches from collector’s perspective. There are enough references and variants to offer plenty of challenge. Their overall collectibility is still quite low, which makes their prices still quite affordable aside from the elusive bumper chronometer. They are also common enough that there is a market and not all of them are yet in watch collectors dragons hoardes. In addition they are great watches to wear with eloquent dressy designs that stand time.