The late, great Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003), head of Fiat for decades, eventual part owner of Ferrari and longtime chairman of the Juventus soccer club, is rightly regarded as a true men’s style icon. From his pioneering mix of high and low in his day-to-day fashion — work boots with a finely tailored suit, denim shirts and jeans with an ascot — to his signature wristwatch-over-the-cuff look, Agnelli was man of unique and cutting edge personal style.
Perhaps, then, it’s no surprise that Gianni Agnelli began sporting the massive Omega Ploprof diving watch during his vacations and more casual moments in the 1970s. The very avant-garde asymmetrical case design must have appealed to the industrialist in him, as well as its eye-catchingly oversized dimensions. The Ploprof was also engineered to be a true “wrist machine” and not just another wristwatch so wearing one couldn’t help but make a statement, something Agnelli always like to do. A keen yachtsman, the Ploprof’s bona fides as a rugged professional dive watch and a timepiece of superior water resistance must have also appealed to Agnelli’s adventurous nature.
It’s definitely cool that such a patrician, elegant figure could rock a beast like the PloProf and so effortlessly, as well. I never would have thunk it but then these pics don’t lie. Chalk another one up to the maestro of bespoke personal fashion. He certainly anticipated our current culture’s fascination with high-low attire and bold personal statements. But maybe don’t try wearing your PloProf outside your shirt cuff. After all, there was only one Gianni Agnelli and no matter how much of his ingenious, seemingly effortless élan has worked its way into our current sense of fine gentlemanly style some of his signature moves remain impervious being copied. Simply put, you can borrow from Agnelli but you can’t be Agnelli. So rock your Ploprof, old or new, however you see fit and make it part of your own look. You’ll always know you’re in very good company.
This may be akin to Columbus discovering America and this information is likely duplicated in the pricey but hyper focused Ploprof book by John Wallis of Ploprof.com. But I believe there is enough confusion and misinformation in the collector community about what is period original to warrant this post and make it available to all…
So when one searches for “Ploprof dials” one gets directed to the same litany of 3 accepted variations:
The Type I:
(Photo from Ploprof.com)
The Type II:
(Photo from Ploprof.com)
And the Type III (with full depth rating, usually Luminova replacement):
Photo from the Watch-Setter
However there is most certainly at least one more variation from the period of original Ploprof production and I believe it has been conflated with the Type III (I have been guilty of this myself in the past). Here is a dial that most probably predates the currently accepted “Type III” (should we call it the Type 2.5 or…?) from a watch I once owned many moons ago:
As you can see clearly the luminous material is not shiny or puffy like the Luminova of the Type III but still granular like the earlier dials (Tritium? Who knows — Omega never marked the Ploprof with T for Tritium markings so its likely a proprietary blend for their super divers but probably at least somewhat radioactive).
Also the fonts of the dial are clearly different than what is currently called the Type III:
You can see how much more clean and elegant the printing is (much less serif), which to me strongly indicates earlier production than the replacement dials for discontinued models. In fact, it strongly indicates the Luminova replacement dials were based on this last version of original Ploprof dial iteration.
Now you may ask where this dial fits in for such a “short-lived” watch as the original Ploprof if we already have 2 confirmed period original versions from the early 70s — the Type I with “600”-only sandwiched between “Seamaster” and “Professional” and the Type II with “600”-only below the “Professional” and “Seamaster”. Continue reading