The Omega Ploprof is a legend among dive watches, mentioned among greats like the Submariner and 50 Fathoms. The Ploprof is almost unquestionably the most hardcore of the classics, however, with its massive case, a 1200-meter water resistance rating and its unique bidirectional rotating bezel mechanism, extremely rare among diving watches. While the Ploprof has been with us for decades, today's model is powered by a high-tech 8500 co-axial movement.
The Ploprof is, without a doubt, one of the greatest dive watches ever made, both this current model and the original 1970. Jacques Cousteau, essentially the real-life version of the Most Interesting Man in the World, tested it.
Every watch collector will instantly recognize it, but then, in fairness, how could they not. The thing is as unique as it is massive. Probably its single most recognizable feature is that orange pusher, which gives it the rare ability, at least among dive watches, to use a bidirectional bezel.
While this Ploprof has a close resemblance to the original, it has benefited from improvements in technology over the last several decades. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 8500 movement inside, one of the most sophisticated calibres available today. Because we can't see it through the solid case back, and because I've covered it quite thoroughly in several other reviews, I'll be focusing on the case, dial and bracelet of this watch. If you want to learn more about the 8500 family of movements, I'd suggest checking out our Globemaster, Seamaster 300 or Aqua Terra reviews.
The Ploprof is one of the most iconic tool watches of all time, but the dial is actually quite finely finished. It's a very polished, very reflective glossy black. It reminds me of Omega's ceramic dials although I'm not totally sure what it's made from.
Another surprisingly nice touch is the use of applied markers. Tool watches almost always skip these in favor of printing directly on the dial, but this dial is just a lot nicer than its genre would normally suggest.
Interestingly, the original Ploprof had a date as well. The new version has moved it to this spot between 4:00 and 5:00, most likely to keep from taking any space away from the luminous marker at 3:00 where it was originally located.
The hands are really the only aspect of the Ploprof's dial I would describe as prototypically tool watch. We have a fat baton hour hand and a bright orange sword minute hand. Good dive watches usually use two different shapes of hands for hour and minute hands, something that would be a bit odd in a dress watch, but it enhances legibility. Further eliminating the risk of confusing the hands (remember, this watch was intended to operate in dark, underwater environments), one hand is bright white and one hand is bright orange. Graceful it isn't, but you'll never have trouble reading this watch, even in adverse conditions.
This is a good time to talk about one of the unique features of the 8500 movement. On almost all watches with 8500-derived movements, the hour hand can be moved independently. This means that you can change the time zone, or adjust for daylight savings, without setting the entire watch. Simply move the hour hand to the desired point while the seconds and minutes continue to run. This is also how the date is changed on the Ploprof.
How's the lume? Well, it's a Ploprof, so it probably goes without saying that it's pretty much as good as it gets. I really like the fully lumed bezel. If you're lucky enough to get a luminescent bezel on a dive watch, it's usually just the first quarter that has lume.
The Ploprof dial is exceedingly high quality. Normally when we look at hardcore tool watches, we've got a matte black dial with painted on markers. The Ploprof, conversely, is quite nice. If you changed the hands and got rid of the orange Seamaster writing, you could put this on a dress watch and it'd look just fine. You can tell Omega went the extra mile here.
While the dial is surprisingly interesting for a dive watch, as usual, the case is where the real action is. And boy, what a case.
The Ploprof is 55mm across at its widest point, so there's really no way around it: this is a massive watch.
That said, the lug to lug measurement is 48mm. This is by no means small, but it is certainly a lot closer to a normal dive watch.
The large difference in its length and width dimensions is due to a couple of elements, the first of which is this massive crown and crown guard. It's basically the vault door from Fallout, except a little smaller and probably just as tough. The crown guard offers a ton of protection and is easy to operate. Essentially, you just unscrew the crown as you normally would and it'll travel with it.
The other part that increases the width is this unique pusher. This gives the Ploprof the unusual ability to use a bidirectional bezel. In virtually all dive watches, a unidirectional bezel is used so that an accidental impact can't negatively mislead the diver. The bezel on the Ploprof however, is immobile unless that orange pusher is fully depressed, so there is no risk of that accident happening. Ultimately, this makes it a little easier to set the bezel, although it can be a little challenging to do it with one hand. With a little practice you'll get the hang of it.
On the opposite side hides an automatic helium escape valve, oddly much subtler than the less-hardcore Planet Ocean's.
The bezel on the new Ploprof is quite beautiful. Not only are all the numbers luminescent, the entire thing is protected by a sapphire crystal which will vastly increase scratch resistance.
With a depth rating of 1200 meters, it's no surprise that the watch's case is a bit thick, but then you don't really wear a Ploprof to fly under the radar.
The case back is aligned neatly and actually quite elaborate. You can, however, opt for a sapphire back if you buy one of the Master Chronometer versions, which also increases magnetic resistance.
I just wanted to take a brief moment to praise the "shark mesh" bracelet. It looks terrific and it's very comfortable. As the bracelet gets closer to the clasp, the mesh breaks down into individual links which can be added or removed. The clasp itself has a very easy to use diver extension that can add several centimeters to the length. This bracelet is often called the “shark-proof” bracelet, although I’m not sure who offered their wrist up for those tests.
One of the reasons I like the Ploprof so much is that it's unapologetic. It doesn't even attempt to conform to preordained standards as to what a watch case should look like. There's no attempt to be subtle or to fit under your sleeve. It's not trying to blend in. It doesn't want to be your watch for every occasion. It's a watch for one occasion, diving, and it does that as well as any watch ever has.
Tool watches have become a genre now. There is a "tool watch" style, aesthetically speaking. But back before the advent of smartphones and ubiquitous quartz watches, tool watches were simply literal tools. The Ploprof has been substantially updated over the years, but the old definition still applies. It doesn't just look like a tool watch. It simply is a tool watch. It was developed over the course of several years of serious scientific testing.
Because it's literally a tool watch, it feels less of a need to conform to the aesthetic standards of what tool watches are perceived to be. The dial is quite beautiful, with its polished black surface and applied markers. There's no quality difference between the Ploprof and, say, a De Ville. Yet, the different shapes, and colors, of the hands, the heavy (but even) application of lume and the high contrast of the dial in general make it just as legible as any other serious diver.
The Ploprof hasn't grown much since it came out, but then, it was already huge. Still, it wears better than its huge specs would suggest because its lug to lug length is actually not absurdly long and the bracelet is surprisingly comfortable. Still, there's no getting around the fact that it's a big, heavy chunk of watch. You probably wouldn't wear this daily, but what's so wrong with having a watch for an occasion? Not every watch has to be "versatile". The Ploprof is a specialist. It does one thing really, really well, and I think we could use more watches that try to do just that.