For quite some time a challenge for collectors of early Omega Seamaster 300 models (see Bill Sohne’s Seamaster 300: A History for a great quick overview of the SM300) has been the bezel inserts on some of the earliest models. The inserts were originally made of an early plastic material called bakelite which was brittle to begin with and gets increasingly brittle with age. Many makers in the period including Rolex and Omega used bakelite for bezel inserts until it was eventually replaced by more suitable and durable materials like acrylic or metals. Collectors often find such watches with the bakelite bezel inserts in poor condition. They’re often cracked, broken, missing large pieces or just missing altogether, and examples with intact original bezels can often fetch enormous premiums.
Previously Seamaster 300 collectors often had little remedy for dealing with broken or missing inserts, as the Omega factory has not had any stock of these for quite a long while, owing not only to the model age but that their relative fragility had led to a strong demand for replacements over the years. A few years back there was a DIY “recipe” in the forums for creating home-grown replacements using things like successive layers of tinted epoxy and number decals borrowed from model railroad applications, a technique that often met with mixed results.
Recently watchmaker and military watch enthusiast Aldo of Italy has started offering his own quality replacement bezel inserts for various early Omega Seamaster 300 models. They seem of very faithful reproductions of the originals and come in several variants, including the “countdown” bezel included on some of the earliest CK 2913 Seamasters.
So if you’ve come across an early Seamaster 300 and need a bezel insert, Aldo’s replacements are an option well worth considering.
Link: The Milwatchmaker