Enormous, yet ergonomic and comfortable. Technologically advanced, yet based on a 70's design. Capable of diving to the deepest parts of the ocean, yet mostly confined to an office desk. The Ploprof 1200 is a brilliant contradiction, and one of the most charismatic watches Omega has made.
Anything But Mindless Good Taste
Many years ago, when the Ploprof 1200 was still the new kid on the block, I would take a lot hard look at it, fogging up the glass of the Queen St mall Wallace Bishop store in the Brisbane city. I absolutely loved this watch, I had tried it on in the store enough times that they were probably getting rather annoyed with me, and it felt perfect on my wrist. Yet when I showed the girl I was dating at the time, she commented that it was the ugliest piece of garbage she had ever seen, and that she wouldn't go out with a man wearing one.
She could not have been more wrong.
Whenever I see a Ploprof 1200, it makes me smile, in the same way that a BMW Z3 M Coupe "Clownshoe", or a Daschound does. I know the bloke wearing it has a sense of humor, is a bit of a character and is the kind of guy I'd love to have a beer with. It's just impossible not to love this watch or the people who own them, it is quite simply the anti-Hublot.
Robert-Jan did an interview a couple of years ago with an owner of the modern version whose dad had a vintage Ploprof 600 back in the day and the photos are exactly what you would expect. A solid looking bloke wearing aviator sunglasses, smoking a durry in every single photograph.
RJ does own a Ploprof 1200 too, while most of the time he's looking dignified in a suit wearing a Speedmaster, there are times when even he feels the need to embrace his inner bogan (Tokkie in Dutch?).
The Ploprof, beyond its specifications and capabilities is a watch that succeeds in evoking emotions, whether that be joy or disgust, and in doing so it achieves something that the vast majority of new watches on the market can't. There is historical significance there too but that isn't why you should buy the Calibre 8500 Ploprof.
Its because you'll grin every time someone looks at it on your wrist and says, "what in the hell is that?!".
Case & Bracelet
The Ploprof case, bezel, and bracelet is what makes this watch and it is very special indeed.
Masking Size With Comfort
The one thing to note is that despite the enormous 55 mm x 47 mm dimensions, this case fits extremely well on the wrist. I would actually argue that this watch is more comfortable and better fitting than the Planet Ocean XL size watches for me at least.
The way the Ploprof achieves this comfort is the asymmetrical case places the longer part of that width on the left, where your wrist does not flex, while keeping the shorter part where your hand needs a range of motion. Secondly the 47 mm lug to lug distance is not only less than the 51.5 mm of the Planet Ocean XL, but is exactly the same as the 42 mm regular Planet Ocean. Finally, the height of the Ploprof 1200 at 17 mm is only 2 mm thicker than the Planet Ocean.
This is how the Ploprof manages to feel genuinely comfortable even though it resembles a Mercedes G-Wagon in wristwatch form. It is one of these things you really need to try on to appreciate, the watch doesn't make sense until it is on your wrist.
The modern Ploprof 1200 case is designed to closely resemble the rough dimensions and shape of the vintage Ploprof 600 of the 70's despite being a very differently engineered design.
The original design was a front-loading monocoque case, a popular design approach in the 70's that was quite successful in ensuring water resistance by taking the case-back seal out of the equation. The modern Ploprof 1200 has a more common screw-in case-back design made from solid steel, with the Omega hippocampus in the center and horizontal corrugation in tribute to the original Ploprof 600.
The bezel lock button from the original design remains, but rather than being a piece of orange plastic, which deforms over time and ends up looking like a well-used urinal cake as the original had, the Ploprof 1200 uses an all-metal button which looks much cleaner. That button serves to prevent the bezel position from being changed accidentally by bumps or knocks, requiring the deliberate pressing of the button with your pinky finger and then rotation between thumb and forefinger.
In many ways the new version is a significantly less extreme engineering undertaking than the original Ploprof, using more conventional methods, materials and techniques and being closer to a regular watch. The Ploprof 1200 features an automatic helium escape valve on the underside of the right "wing" of the watch opposite the bezel unlock. This differs from the original, which was designed to keep helium out entirely, removing the need for an escape valve. It also differs from the rest of the Omega range, which use a manual rather than automatic valve, making you wonder at times why they didn't switch to this better design after the Ploprof launched in 2009.
The final major change is that the bezel and crystal are sapphire on the Ploprof 1200 rather than acrylic and mineral crystal on the original. Technology, and Omega's manufacturing prowess has advanced significantly over the years, allowing for this impressive crystal and stunning bezel insert to be made.
Like the original, the Ploprof 1200 keeps the crown hidden behind an enclosed crown-guard on the left side, where it cannot become snagged on anything while diving. The crown is a screw-down mechanism, combining with the other features on the watch to ensure a depth rating of 1200 meters, twice that of the original Ploprof 600.
The Shark-Proof Mesh Bracelet Is The Way
There are two options for securing the Ploprof 1200, the Omega shark-proof mesh bracelet, or the thick rubber strap, both superb on a push-button micro-adjust deployant clasp.
The bracelet is a modern interpretation of the vintage Omega mesh and is both far better quality than the old and far more comfortable. The look it creates on the watch is such a perfect pairing that it really is hard to pass on, not that the rubber is bad by any means. The mesh bracelet also has seamless extension links which can be added near the clasp for extra length if required.
The rubber straps are cut to length and very comfortable despite their impressive heft and thickness, they do have a finite lifespan as do any rubber straps and are several hundred dollars each, available in black, white and orange.
A solid third-party alternative is the ISOfrane rubber strap which is available in 24 mm to match the wide lugs of the Ploprof. The ISOfrane is very comfortable, suits the watch well and comes in at a much lower price point if you wish to buy the mesh and have a rubber alternative.
It should be noted that both rubber and mesh utilise the same excellently engineered deployant clasp so they can be swapped over at will with relative ease. This clasp is known to be so good that owners buy it to fit to other Omega models including the Seamaster Pro 300M and Planet Ocean.
In 2007, the De Ville Hour Vision introduced Omega's first new in-house movement in many years, the Calibre 8500 and this is the same movement that powers the Ploprof 1200 from 2009. This movement was a monumental departure from the Calibre 2500 previously used by Omega and would serve as the basis for the next 15 years of Omega movement evolution.
It is hard to believe it was 15 years ago that Calibre 8500 was released, it still feels so recent of an event, but in the years since we have seen that calibre evolve into a range of sub-variants and successors. Today we have the Calibre 8400, 8800 & 8900 series of METAS certified Master Chronometer movements with superior specifications and more compact dimensions, but all are based on the original Calibre 8500.
The Cal 8500 featured a 3-level Co-Axial escapement, leaving it immune to the problems associated with early Calibre 2500 movements. It beats at 25,200 vph, is chronometer certified, and features hacking along with a jumping hour hand for date setting and travel convenience. The bidirectional automatic winding system powers two barrels for a total of 60 hours power reserve.
The aesthetic design of the movement is far more impressive than prior Omega models, with Côtes de Genève en Arabesque in a radial, turbine-blade like finishing setting it apart from other watches. Also interesting and somewhat unusual was the Si14 silicon balance wheel, identifiable in matte black against the bright rhodium finishing. Given the effort put into making the Calibre 8500 stand out, it is a bit of a shame that the movement is hidden behind a solid case-back in the Ploprof 1200, but the second generation which we will cover separately did eventually feature a display-back.
While all movements have some teething issues when new, including the Calibre 8500, the movement has been a solid performer over time, with early issues resolved at time of service. These movements can be handled by any qualified watchmaker with access to an Omega parts account and should perform exceptionally well if correctly maintained.
One point of conjecture that comes up often on the internet is whether the Calibre 8500 is truly "in-house" in the strictest sense of the word or not. This is due to the fact that while the Calibre 8500 and 9300, along with their descendent were designed exclusively for Omega's, manufacturing was taking place on dedicated production lines at ETA facilities. Really it doesn't matter in the slightest, ETA is a Swatch Group company as is Omega, and ETA possess greater manufacturing expertise than anyone in the Swiss watch industry. Just as Omega leans on expertise from Comadur SA for high tech ceramics and composites, it makes sense to make use of the best talent available in the group, and this leads to a better product.
All Ploprof 1200 models feature a key set of features and the same basic dial and hands, with the lone 18K red gold being the exception.
The Ploprof 1200 design was heavily influenced by the original, with date being positioned around the 4:30 mark, plongeur hands, and ample lume. All hour markers are applied and luminous, as are the hands and second hand, as are the bezel markings under the sapphire insert.
While there is a fairly significant amount of dial text, this fades away from view thanks to the light-weight font, and legibility is quite excellent overall. All models feature an applied Omega symbol at the top of the dial, taking pride of place, with an orange Seamaster below it.
Stainless Steel Black Dial
The black dial models were the original Ploprof 1200s, and feature the greatest legibility. On the black dial, all of the white markings on the bezel are luminous, giving a great deal of clarity but not necessarily glowing like a torch. These tend to be the most common of Ploprof 1200 models given they have been around the longest but are also the most popular.
Stainless Steel White Dial
The white Ploprof 1200 is definitely a more acquired taste and not for everyone. Despite only officially being available with the shark-proof mesh bracelet and the white rubber strap, the black and orange can also be fitted for a rather unique look.
The major difference on the white dial is the bezel, where the luminous part is inverted. As strange as it might be to believe, the entire white section of the bezel lights up like a torch, with the indices themselves being dark. While not the most legible approach, it is nothing if not impressive.
The white dial similarly is a bit less legible than the black dial and can suffer from glare, as there just isn't a great deal of contrast on offer. If you're into the look, these watches tend to be cheaper on the secondary market even though less common simply because the white is a more polarising option.
18K Solid Red Gold Limited Edition 1/1
Finally, we have the 18K solid red gold Only Watch 1/1 edition, which is frankly the coolest Ploprof of all. I'm almost loathe to write about it because I hope everyone forgets about it so I can buy it one day when I have the money.
This watch was produced in 2009 for Only Watch, a charity raising funds to find a cure for the genetic disorder Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy under the patronage of HSH the Prince of Monaco. The watch sold at the time for 50,000 euros with the owner not being known.
10 years later, this exact watch appeared again at auction in 2019, with an estimate of 60,000 - 120,000 at Monaco Legend Auctions, where it passed in.
Interestingly, in its second appearance at auction, the watch was fitted with an orange strap, and showed evidence of wear and some moisture under the sapphire bezel, indicating that this watch has been legitimately used, not just kept in a safe.
While the watch hasn't been seen in the 5 years since then, I'm sure it will turn up again one day and when it does, what a watch that would be to own.
Like the steel white dial models, the entire white section of the bezel glows with lume, and this watch also features a unique dial with red-gold hardware, unique red-gold hands a unique bezel with red-gold indices and a unique red gold and white bezel-unlock button.
Buying a Ploprof 1200 is a fairly uncomplicated affair, mainly being a matter of do you want the black dial or the white dial which is an entirely subjective choice.
Condition is an important factor in purchasing one of these as they are tall, sharp-angled watches that can collect some damage if mistreated. The first thing to look at is the bezel, to ensure that there are no cracks or chips in the sapphire and to make sure that the sapphire is not delaminating, which is rare but can happen. This bezel insert is very costly to replace at over $500, so it is important that it be in good shape, it should also be noted that the bezel and insert are only available as a single piece, not separately.
The case, clasp and bezel-unlock button should be free of major scratches or dents and should not be over-polished as the Ploprof looks very odd when it loses its edges to harsh polishing. There should be no evidence of moisture intrusion or damage to the dial and hands given the impressively water-resistant case. All of these watches are now due or overdue for service, and this can be handled by any Omega certified independent watchmaker.
These were very expensive watches when they came out, and the second-generation titanium models pushed that price even higher, yet there are quite good deals to be had on these watches in the secondary market.
Typical sale prices for a model on bracelet as of mid-2023 are around $6,250 to $7,000 depending on condition, which is substantially less than the titanium, yet the heft of the steel in my view actually makes these feel better on the wrist.
These watches sold all over the world, albeit relatively slowly and can be found in all countries and in decent numbers on eBay, forums, and Chrono24.
It's difficult for me to restrain my enthusiasm for the Ploprof 1200 as it is one of my absolute favorite modern Omega watches, but there are downsides to acknowledge. Your partner will think you look silly wearing this watch, your kids might find it embarrassing and it is almost impossible to justify owning given 99.9% of them are desk divers and it draws attention like wearing a crash-helmet in public.
None of this is even remotely relevant though in my eyes as this watch brings a smile to my face, and a sense of theatre to any occasion. It is vulgar, crass, pointless, over-built, extreme and excessive, and it is absolutely bloody perfect.
Discussion thread on Omegaforums can be found here: