Eventually Omega’s relationship with COMEX ended, and not long after, Omega released the very first Ploprof to market in 1971. COMEX themselves soared in popularity, thrust further into the limelight, gaining more success, and alongside that, a requirement for more watches.
Much later, in 1977, Omega commercialised the Ploprof 0 (or Seamaster 1000), which interestingly was developed in tandem with the Ploprof 1 (or Seamaster 600). The backstory here is that in 1968 Omega presented both of these watches to COMEX. They gave the feedback that, although a novel idea, the bezel lock of the Ploprof 1 was not needed, preferring the Seamaster 1000 which had the unidirectional bezel with no lock, as it was the easier to use to design.
Ultimately Omega decided to instead bring the Ploprof 1 to market first. A decision which eventually defined ‘the Ploprof’ as we know it today. Looking to recuperate the large investment in the Ploprof, Omega knew they needed to look beyond the rather small pool of professional saturation divers and target the general public. Built to perform with striking looks to match, the Ploprof 1 oozed hardcore dive watch, perfect for anyone looking to play the part.
Rolex shake things up
Prior to the partnership with COMEX, Rolex had a very different approach to testing their products, they would loan their watches out to divers, in exchange for routine test reports. From 1968 to 1971 Rolex aligned themselves with the US Navy, working closely on their experimental diving unit, most famously their underwater SEALAB habitats. Under this relationship, Rolex issued watches to SEALAB divers – known as Aquanauts. Examples of these SEALAB issued Rolexes are extremely rare, and seldom seen.