When I saw that a Ploprof was coming up in this sale, I knew I had to include it. This particular Ploprof – the quality ref. 166.077 Seamaster Ploprof Prototype replica watch – is a watch which belonged to Christian Bonnici, a member of the Jacques Cousteau team and one of six Conshelf II aquanauts (a mission to test if people could live underwater). According to Antiquorum, this watch was delivered in July, 1971 and dived its last dive on February 10, 1972.
Boncinni worked with Cousteau at CEMA (Centre d’Etudes Marines Avanceds) from 1968-1972, and was also a COMEX engineer. Now the watch, which is being offered by his family, is a prototype, meaning that it is hard to compare it to any existing Ploprof of its time. When it comes to prototypes, anything goes. I say this because this watch has one defining feature which separates it from its counterparts, and that is the orientation of the crown. The Ploprof is known for having the crown on the left side of the watch, although it is still technically a right-handed watch (this feature existed to aid in one-handed operation of the bezel). You could write this watch off at first glance and call it a fake due to the reversed orientation of the crown. Conversely, you could see this watch for what it is, a one-off prototype owned by a true, dyed-in-the-wool, professional diver. Like I said, with prototypes, you just never know.
Some interesting features to note with this piece are the “Prototype” inscription on the caseback, as well as the inscribed “4 100” engraving indicating that this particular prototype was part of batch number four from cheap fake Omega UK. Boncinni appears to have really put this watch through its paces, as it was intended. You can see a nice healthy chip on the crystal just above the one o’clock hour marker。
This prototype Ploprof comes with a dive log book which – according to the auction house – gives a complete detail of every dive the watch was a part of. While it may very well never dive again, this is a cool add-on, which allows the future owner to re-live those adventures and imagine what they must have been like.