Chicagoland Chuck Maddox Posts: If you're not going to be in the water, I'd recommend the... [May 31, 2005 - 07:15 PM]
If you're not going to be in the water, I'd recommend the Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II. Same components as the NASA tested Moonwatch, with a stronger case (in my opinion) and a tougher Mineral Crystal.
If you're going to be in the water, I'd recommend the Seamaster Professional Chronograph-Chronometer Diver 300m (the orignal Valjoux 7750 model, not the c.33xx's) in your choice of SS or Ti.
If you aren't going near the water but need Date and automatic capability: I'd recommend the ST 176.0012 (Mark IV case c.1045) Speedmaster Automatic Day-Date c.1045)... This model is the most commonly seen Speedmaster variation (along with the Mark II Pro) with a very similar tough as nails case and mineral crystal and the tough as a sledgehammer Lemania 5100 ebauche...
Hard to go wrong with any of these.
But those would just be my choices... I'm sure there will be plenty of varying opinions...
Having said all that, I'll share a few more insights...
The topic is rugged chronographs made by Omega...
We all know that just about the toughest testing any chronograph has ever been subjected to was the NASA testing for Astronaut watches. The only watch we know of that has consistantly passed these tests have been the Omega Speedmaster (both Pre-Pro and Professional) Moonwatch in both c.321 and c.861 versions.
The Mark II Professional is the closest watch to the Moonwatch but with a better (60meter) W/R rating (not that I'd trust that with a vintage watch), a much tougher mineral crystal, and a case that I feel is stronger than the moonwatch's. Put a Mark II on after having a moonwatch on your wrist ... if you're going mountaineering, you're not going to ask to switch back to the moonwatch, in my opinion. That said, since the Mark II and the modern moonwatch are built around the c.x861 (Lemania x873) nearly any c.861 that Omega has made is a viable candidate for a rugged watch. A "Darth Vader" style Seamaster might be a good choice for some people, a Flightmaster (which uses a more complex version of the c.861) might be a better choice for others. I can say that in my experience the Mark II Professional is the toughest mechanical chronograph I've ever used bar none and it also has the added benefits of being the most common Speedmaster variant, so there are plenty examples out there, at reasonable prices and spare (dials, hands, crystals, etc.) are plentiful, available and won't break the bank account. The Mark II gets the nod because there is no tougher watch and the fact it's easily available, economical and easily maintainable are bonuses.
The 176.0012 Mark IV cased c.1045 is very similar to the Mark II in many ways, looks, shape, toughness. Same style of rugged case, same mineral crystal, same W/R rating, etc. Biggest difference is the c.1045 (Lemania 5100) movement. If there is an automatic movement that is as tough and rugged as a manual wind it's the Lemania 5100, and save perhaps Alain Silberstein, no one does a better job of preparing the 5100 movement for use than Omega. The 176.0012 is the most commonly seen c.1045 Speedmaster variant and is more often seen than any of the Teutonics or the Mark III or Mark IV (c.1040's) or their c.1040 Seamaster breathern. The c.1040 (and c.1041) is another fairly rugged movement, but I don't think anyone will seriously make a case that the c.1040 is as tough or tougher than the c.1045. While spares for the 176.0012 aren't as easy to come by as the Mark II they are available and obtainable. Again the commonality of this model compared to the alternatives work in the favor of someone looking to get into one of these models because in an equation of supply and demand, these models are easier to get into without a huge investment. In fact the Mark II was my first Omega, and the 176.0012 was my second.
The SeMPC original Valjoux 7750 version) probably needs the least elaboration of these three. Simply put, it is in my (and many other peoples's) opinion the best all around Sports chronograph ever made. It's a chronometre rated Chronograph, has a 300m W/R, one can operate it's pushers under water, it's tough rugged reliable. It's this last point where the newer ACC and post-ACC models fail... You don't want to be a football pitch or more under the ocean's surface when your chronograph fails on you. The only watch I'd consider a possible contender at this time for the "all around sports" title is the TAG-Heuer Aquagraph 2000. And the TH-AG2k is a very capable chronograph... It sports a better W/R rating: 500m, an automatic He escape Valve, some potentially nice added features (the visual crown screwed-down indication, and locking uni-rotatable bezel), but it's not a chronometre (unless I missed something), features a piggy-back module chronograph movement, and isn't a very "business formal friendly" watch... One can wear the SeMPC at a board meeting and it'll look fine peeking out from behind a dress shirt's cuff, the AG2k will make people ask "You just come from Scuba practice or something, and forget to take off the regulator"? The SeMPC is still in the active production list at Omega for the Stainless Steel version. Earlier versions in Titanium and various Two-Tone flavors still show up on the Sales Corner and on eBay at reasonable prices should second-hand be your prefered acquisition method. As this watch is still in production, spares are not an issue.
Again, these are just my recommendations, Omega makes a multitude of rugged capable chronographs. Now you have a better idea as to my rationale for recommending what I have.