To say that I'm obsessed with the color gray is an absolute understatement. From fashion, to home decor, and especially watches (shout out to my favorite gray dial watch that I sold and still secretly regret), the color gray has every bit of my heart. And if I’m being honest, I’m a bit of an OMEGA “fanboy”; my first luxury watch having been an Aqua Terra, and owning the iconic Moonwatch. So when I saw photos online a couple of weeks ago of this new Planet Ocean, my heart skipped a beat. Gray AND a GMT - this Planet Ocean was made for me. Instantly to the OMEGA website I went and about three seconds into scrolling online, heartbreak set it once my eyes saw the $22,200 price tag. $10,000 more than the previous ceramic GMT Planet Ocean? So why this major price increase? I was determined to find out what the difference here was!
While the majority of the specs look the same from a distance, I started to look a little deeper and found a phrase that I had never heard before; silicone nitride ceramic. The entire case of this new Planet Ocean is made out of this material so I decided to do a bit of a dive into if this were the culprit. In the words of OMEGA online, this new Planet Ocean is a “light, yet strong new ceramic”. So what exactly is it? And is this just another niche product in the trend of “new materials” that is sweeping the watch industry right now?
Image Source OMEGA
SIlicone nitride ceramic is a type of advanced ceramic material made primarily from silicon and nitrogen. It is known for its excellent mechanical and thermal properties, making it suitable for various high-performance applications. Its mechanical strength makes it resistant to fracture and wear, while also maintaining a high level of hardness and corrosion resistance. The entire case of this new Planet Ocean is made out of this new material, except for the helium escape valve and bezel which are both made out of titanium. While the idea of this new ceramic material sounds intriguing enough, is it really enough to make this watch cost 10 thousand more than the Deep Black GMT? The answer, I honestly don’t know.
My biggest concern with anything that has the word “ceramic” in it comes from the horror photos of chipped lugs, racked cases, and broken pushers seen in countless photos of ceramic watches in various forums. While not exclusive to OMEGA ceramics, it’s a problem that is not spoken about enough when it comes to watches as we look for more lightweight materials to use. Silicone nitride ceramic has promise though. It is harder than traditional ceramic used in watchmaking, coming in at 8.5 on the Mohs scale while traditional ceramic ranks at 7.5. For context, the Mohs scale is a universal scale ranking the hardness of material at 1-10 with 10 being the highest score. This would imply that the new Planet Ocean will be much more resistant to breaking and chipping than the current ceramic models in the OMEGA lineup, but I’m not sure I would want to risk that as a case replacement would be a costly repair!
Image Source Watch Repair Talk
A few other differences in this new “Dark Grey” Planet Ocean compared to the Deep Black is the use of Calibre 8906 which is identical to the brand’s current Metas Certified GMT movement but has a unique black ceramised grade 5 Titanium main plate and bridges with special decoration made by laser ablation. This makes the movement more lightweight than the current 8906 model, and I must say, the blackened coloration looks incredible here. The combination of this new ceramic material and titanium movement also helps to make the “Dark Grey” more lightweight than its “Deep Black” predecessor (107 grams versus 138 grams). That’s quite a cut down in weight and I’d be incredibly curious to see how this feels in person once my local dealer has one to try.
Image Source OMEGA
At the end of the day, you’re spending the additional $10,000 on hope. The hope is that you’ll finally have a ceramic watch that you don’t have to stress about when dropping or hitting it just right. And I’m not sure I can justify that. I’d love to see how the silicone nitride ceramic holds up over the years, but I’d much rather let a few other people try it out first. It’ll be interesting to see how OMEGA uses this material in the future, maybe even a ceramic Plo Prof coming soon. Kudos to them for working to find a solution for a problematic material. At the end of the day, regardless of the price, I can still appreciate innovation and pushing the boundaries in this little hobby of ours.