Much-loved and extremely popular among Omega fans, the Seamaster Pro 300M Diver 2254.50 spawned 12 regular production variants and two limited editions, including a special model for SAS SFC selectees.
A Cult Classic Of the 2000s
The Seamaster Pro 300M Diver Ref 2254.50 is a piece that never received any real marketing focus from Omega unlike the closely related Bond 2531.80 that came before it. Yet this watch stood on its own and became an instant hit with collectors, selling extremely well in its day and remaining a much loved modern-classic on the secondary market.
The 2254.50 family of watches eschewed the styling of the Bond for a much more focused, austere, legible and utilitarian look, heavily influenced by the Omega Seamaster 300 Ref 166.0324 of the 1960's. At the time of its release in the early 2000's, Omega had priced these watches very cheaply for the quality they offered and with authorized dealer discounts they could be had for not much above $2,000 new, an absolute steal.
This combination of practicality, quality, history and value is what made these watches so incredibly popular in the collector world, spreading by word of mouth without ever appearing on the wrist of a famous spy.
An entire range spawned out of the 2254.50 including titanium and steel bezel versions which will be covered in subsequent articles and even chronograph versions. Yet as quickly as the sword-hand Seamaster burst onto the scene, it disappeared almost as quickly.
When the Planet Ocean was released in 2005, it made quite an impact and instantly grew a following of its own. Yet one couldn't help but notice the similarity between the 2254.50 family and the new Planet Ocean. Both featured Seamaster 300 inspired styling, with some elements drawn from the Speedmaster Pro, delivered in quite a similar package. While the sword-hand Seamasters would survive to around the end of the decade, by the time the Planet Ocean hit its second generation, it was time for the 2254.50 to retire.
Being discontinued however did nothing to quell their popularity, with this forum favorite continuing to change hands for strong money even today.
The Royal Army Special Air Service
The Royal Army Special Air Services traces its origins back to 1941 during the middle of World War II. Over the decades that followed, the special forces unit gained a significant profile both in works of fiction and in real life, reaching a climax with the live televised rescue of hostages from the Iranian embassy in London in 1980.
The Royal Army's SAS also served as a template for special forces units in other commonwealth nations such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The SAS co-exists with its maritime sister unit, the SBS, which was discussed in an article on the Seamaster Pro Co-Axial GMT SBS Limited Edition here.
The Special Air Service insignia is a winged dagger with the motto, "Who Dares Wins", coined by the creator of the SAS, Sir David Stirling of Scotland.
What should be quite noticeable is that the insignia above does differ quite a lot from the case-back design of the watch below. The reason for this is that this particular limited edition is specific to 264 (SAS) Signals Squadron. This squadron provides dedicated communication support to the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment. While they are part of the Royal Corps of Signals and have not gone through the SAS selection process, the 264 do have to go through the Special Forces Communicator (SFC) selection course. The role that the signals squadron play in facilitating operations is an extremely crucial one and their emblem contains the motto and winged dagger of the SAS accordingly.
It should be noted that there are other Omega Limited Editions for the British armed forces including a dedicated 22 Special Air Service Regiment model which will be covered in another article.
The relatively small size of the 264th (SAS) Signals Squadron is the reason for the quite low limited edition number for the Ref 22.214.171.124.01.001 and the 300 will probably serve the squadron for a long time.
These watches were not made available brand new to the public by Omega, only members of the 264th Signals Squadron were able to purchase them. It is however possible to buy these watches on the secondary market, where they carry a slight premium over the regular version as veterans have chosen to sell them over the last decade.
There is nothing wrong with buying these watches used, appreciating and wearing them even with the SAS SFC patch on the case-back so long as you're honest about how you acquired one. Most veterans would likely be reluctant to part with their Seamaster unless genuinely necessary so seeing them get their money's worth for their watches used is definitely not a bad thing.
Case & Bracelets
The case of both the full-size and mid-size 2254.50 family Seamasters follow the designs set out by the Bond Seamaster 2531.80 and its mid-size version the 2551.80. Effectively the sword hand models were a continuation and styling change of the first generation rather than a new generation in their own right.
The full-size 2254.50 features a very comfortably proportioned case at 41.5 mm diameter and 12 mm thick, even with the domed crystal and 300 meters water resistance, while the smaller 2252.50 case is 36.25 mm in diameter and 11.5 mm thick. Both cases feature the typical manually operated helium-escape valve featured on all Seamaster Pro 300M divers, and a knurled crown shrouded by pronounced crown-guards.
The screw-in case-back features the standard wave pattern with hippocampus logo in the center on the standard series production models. On the Royal Army SAS Limited Edition and the Maccabiah Games Limited Edition, Omega fits a special display-back with the respective logo painted on the inside of the sapphire to give a durable finish.
All models in the aluminium bezel 2254.50 family have a black bezel with silver indices. There are other sword hand models with metal bezels, but we will cover those separately. While the black bezel looks great and suits the dial very well, it should be noted that if this bezel is significantly damaged, that is an expensive issue to solve, so the bezel should be a priority in any condition assessment. Also, as the case design is carried over from the Bond Seamaster, any bezel from the first generation Seamaster Pro 300M of a given size will fit another other watch. This compatibility allows some interesting combinations and custom builds to be made all with Omega genuine parts, however there are also non-genuine parts that fit and must be avoided.
In terms of bracelets, the standard 2254.50 is fitted with the Speedmaster style bracelet, but there is also the option of a Bond bracelet with the reference 2054.50, both with a Seamaster clasp and diver's extension. As the full-size 41.5 mm models all feature 20 mm lug width Seamaster cases, these watches are compatible with a great many other strap and bracelet options including NATO straps, Milanese mesh and vintage diver mesh.
The mid-sized 36.25 mm cases have smaller 18 mm lugs and are not compatible with the full-sized bracelets.
Both case sizes also have the option of a black leather strap on deployant clasp, carrying the reference 2954.50.91 in full-size, and 2952.50.91 in mid-size, although these are highly uncommon compared to bracelet variants.
The movement powering all mechanical variants of the 2254.50 family is the Omega Calibre 1120 chronometer, which is an excellent, durable, accurate and highly regarded movement.
This movement is the predecessor of the Co-Axial Calibre 2500 and is based on the ETA 2892-A2, with some significant modification carried out by Omega. It oscillates at 28,800 vph, features quick-set date, hacking, and a 44-hour power reserve along with being chronometer certified.
These are highly respected movements which are known for being trouble-free and performing to specification over long periods of time. They can be serviced easily by any qualified independent watchmaker with access to an Omega parts account for less than the cost of a factory service.
At this point in their lives, all Seamaster Pro 300M Divers of the 2254.50 generation will either be due for service or well overdue for service. Due to this you should factor the cost of a service into any purchase as the damage done by letting metal on metal wear occur in a watch with dry lubricants will add to your eventual servicing costs.
The quartz versions of these Seamaster Pro models such as the 2264.50 are powered by the Omega Calibre 1538 movement. This movement is a modern, highly accurate and reliable quartz calibre with an end-of-life indicator function, a 42-month battery life, and rhodium finishing. Watches powered by these movements should have their battery changed by an Omega certified independent watchmaker to ensure that the movement is tested and verified to be in good order, and the case is re-sealed and pressure tested afterwards.
Dial & Variants
As mentioned, the dial takes a great deal of inspiration from the Seamaster 300 166.0324, with quite similar lume to the "Big Triangle" military version in particular. That lume does a remarkably good job of making these watches highly legible at night along with the very prominent sword hands.
Unlike the Seamaster Non-AC, there is no applied dial furniture or logo on the 2254.50 or its relatives, just flat painted lume and dial text. The date window has no surround and features a black date wheel which blends into the dial, another nod to the Seamaster 300 models of old.
When looking at these watches in sales listings, it's easy to get confused as there are so many different versions that are almost exactly the same in photos but there are two points to remember.
Firstly, the difference between an automatic like a 2254.50 and a quartz model like a 2264.50 is that the automatic will have "Chronometer" on the dial, while the quartz models will not.
Secondly, on automatic models the difference between a full size model like a 2254.50 and a mid-sized model like the 2252.50 is that the full-size has a small trapezoid shaped piece of lume next to the date window at 3 o'clock, while the mid-size version has no lume at all at 3. This is because both automatic models share the same movement and thus date position from the center of the dial, so the outer edge of the has to be reduced, eliminating the lume from the 3 o'clock position on the mid-size. This does not apply to quartz versions which have lume at 3 o'clock on both sizes.
The SAS SFC 1/300 Limited Edition Ref 126.96.36.199.01.001
As mentioned earlier the Special Air Service Special Forces Communicator Limited Edition of 300 units was only sold to members of the 264th (SAS) Signals Squadron and few have made it into the hands of collectors. These watches are directly based on the full-sized 2254.50 with Speedmaster style bracelet and automatic movement and feature the 264th (SAS) Signals Squadron insignia painted on the inside of the display-back.
The Maccabiah Games 1/118 Limited Edition Ref 2255.50
The Maccabiah Games Limited edition is a very low production watch made in 118 units. This number comes from this being the 18th Maccabiah games which was held in Tel Aviv in 2009.
The Maccabiah Games date back to 1932, when the first was held also in Tel Aviv, and continues to this day with the most recent being the 20th event held in Jerusalem in 2022.
This limited edition is also based directly on the 2254.50 and features the official 18th Maccabiah Games logo painted on the inside of the watch's display-back. The clasp of the 2255.50 has a special engraving to commemorate the games, and the side of the case has the LE number engraved below the helium escape valve.
Presumably these watches were available during the event and the majority are most likely still in Israel with very few appearing on the secondary market over the years.
The standard and most popular variants of this family are the full-sized automatics, particularly the 2254.50 itself. The reason for using the term 2254.50 family is that there are no less than 12 unique references in total aside from the two limited editions that all look almost the same with minor differences.
The full-sized automatic on Speedmaster-style bracelet is the Ref 2254.50, the leather strap version is Ref 2954.50.91, and the Bond-style bracelet is Ref 2054.50.
As can be seen below, the mid-sized versions omit the lume from the 3 o'clock position which is how you can differentiate mid-size from full-size among automatics. Everything else is identical but shrunken, including features like the helium escape valve which is much larger compared to the case on the mid-sized than on the larger version. The Speedmaster-style bracelet version was Ref 2252.50, the leather strap version was Ref 2952.50.91, and the Bond-style bracelet version was Ref 2052.50.
The quartz versions are actually very practical and were quite popular as there is a lot to be said for the accuracy and reliability of quartz when actively diving or participating in water sports. The Speedmaster-style bracelet version is Ref 2264.50, the leather strap version is Ref 2964.50.91, and the Bond-style bracelet is Ref 2064.50.
Finally, the mid-sized quartz is the most affordable of the family and still great watches to wear and enjoy. The Speedmaster-style bracelet is Ref 2262.50, the leather strap version is Ref 2962.50.91, and the Bond-style bracelet is Ref 2062.50.
The 2254.50 Seamaster family was made for many years, in very great numbers and sold all over the world. The serial production versions are extremely plentiful and there will always be hundreds for sale at any given time due to that, so you have every ability to be picky about the exact version you want.
The first decision is really do you want full-size or mid-size, and I wouldn't rule out mid-size for men with smaller wrists as even Prince William wears this size of Seamaster still. That said they are a great unisex piece that works really well for women especially given the neutral color. Mid-sized models do tend to be cheaper on average so money can be saved here.
The second choice is automatic or quartz, which sounds like an easy call for most collectors, but I would not underestimate the quartz. This is a modern, high quality quartz movement and there is something to be said for having a highly durable watch which you can just pick up and wear without worrying about winding or setting. As a watch for an actual purpose like diving, the quartz really does have a place and professional divers such as Mehgan Heaney-Grier have chosen it over the automatic for good reason. Typically, the quartz does also tend to be slightly cheaper than the automatic.
Finally, there's the choice of bracelet or strap, and while the Bond bracelet does look good, I find it better suited to the more elegant skeleton hands fitted to the 2531.80 while the Speedmaster-style bracelet looks the part on the 2254.50. There is little to no price difference between the bracelet types except for the strap which comes in a bit cheaper.
Condition wise, these watches are very durable, have excellent water resistance and stand up to abuse well. Dials should be in perfect condition with no signs of water intrusion and cases should be as dent and scratch free as possible without overt signs of polishing. The biggest concern with these watches is the bezel as if it looks damaged or in need of replacement, it costs several hundred for an entire new bezel assembly including outer metal ring. Some sellers fill in scratches on these with black sharpie to hide damage so look closely for damage in images and ask for high resolution if needed. All of these movements are now due or overdue for servicing but that should not be costly at a quality independent watchmaker. Finally, keep in mind that links can cost a bit of money each and short bracelets can end up being costly if you have a large wrist.
The limited-edition models can vary wildly in terms of price, just due to the lack of data points for reference and the desire of some dealers to make a big profit. When sold at auction, the SAS SFC Limited Edition has sold for a small premium of around a thousand over the regular 2254.50, yet some sellers have tried to get crazy numbers for them. The Maccabiah Games Limited Edition models carry less of a premium if any, as they likely hold a great deal of sentimental value to athletes or spectators who actually attended the games in Tel Aviv but that probably is not shared by the rest of the market.
Prices for the 2254.50 itself tend to be around $2,500 USD used at the moment give or take a few hundred for condition, with quartz and mid-size models stepping down in price a few hundred each from there. At that price point it really does represent quite exceptional value for money and given how well loved it is, this is a watch likely to hold its value in the long term very well.
Discussion thread on Omegaforums can be found here: