Face Value: OMEGA Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph
The late 1960s offered a veritable chronograph smorgasbord, with countless varieties available in any number of configurations and uses — doctor’s chronos, driver’s chronos, astronaut’s chronos, sailor’s chronos. OMEGA was perhaps the most prolific, with chronographs filling out its Speedmaster and Seamaster families. In 1969 the brand released a handwound chrono in a strange shield-shaped case that had the pushers and crown on top of the watch. This so-called “bullhead” style was originally developed for race car drivers, who wanted easier activation of the chronograph and minimal pusher interference. Why OMEGA chose to put this styling in its nautical-inspired Seamaster line is a mystery. At the time, the watch didn’t sell well; perhaps it was even too funky for the 1960s. Regardless, the bullhead has since become a vintage cult item, its rarity making it even more desirable.
OMEGA, never one to shy away from a historical reference, has just released a limited re-edition of the Seamaster Bullhead Chronograph ($9,600) — albeit one updated with modern features. The new Bullhead was first shown at April’s BaselWorld watch fair to a surprised and smitten public. Remarkably true to the original in shape and function, it features the symmetrical shield case and topside pushers, but then borrows the roulette wheel internal ring with 12/24 hour markings in blue and black from another long lost OMEGA, the soccer timer. Though the watch movement does not have a second time zone complication, the bezel can be turned to indicate a travel or home time; a second crown at 6:00 operates the bezel. The watch makes use of a modular co-axial chronograph movement, the self-winding calibre 3113, which is hidden behind an engraved Seamaster caseback. True to the modern Seamaster brief, it has a sapphire crystal and a healthy water resistance of 150 meters.
At Baselworld the new Bullhead Chronograph was shown in several color combinations, but this first release limited edition is perhaps the most attractive blend of blue, black and red combined with a white dial and brown leather strap. No word yet on whether there will be more Bullheads coming from OMEGA — but with only 669 of this version being sold, it may be as rare as the original, and as coveted.